Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Dukes See a Movie: The Campaign

This movie is one that I was not quite sure about. As I get older I seem to become more jaded about the political system. The smear campaigns, the whisper campaigns and the focus on facts that have nothing to do with the political office cheapen the process. It has gotten to the point that we are aren't voting based on policy, but strictly on who we think beats fewer baby seals and who isn't secretly a Satanist. It is ridiculous and because of this I didn't know how I would handle this movie, and its theme of dirty campaigning.

I also was a little worried because Will Ferrell's movies can be hit and miss. He enjoys the crude humor, but at times it goes too far for my tastes. It also stars Zach Galifianakis who can be quite funny at times. I was freaked out by the lack of beard since he has had it forever. It might be because I feel betrayed when people shave, it also could be the fact that people trust guys with beards (actual study this time not random nonsense spawned from my mind).

You can't help but trust that face.

So feeling betrayed and confused by both the actors on screen and country I live in I went to see this movie.

The End

No seriously nothing much stood out to me about this film. It had its funny moments, but they weren't so amazing that I can still quote the lines for hours (or even minutes). The acting was decent, but it didn't stand out. The best role for me was that of Dylan McDermott. He plays a soulless campaign manager who during the race switches sides. Having seen him recently in the show American Horror Story (which was pretty awesome) I was glad to see him branch out and succeed.

Two screen legends also had roles in this movie as the Koch brothers...oh wait I mean the Motch brothers. Dan Aykroyd and John Lithgow are uninspired in their roles as two devious rich brothers who use their wealth to manipulate the political system for their advantage. They are blatantly based on the Koch brothers, who for good reasons were none too pleased with the portrayal.

According to the Internet they also eat babies and might be cthulhu.

In the end I didn't hate the movie but I can't think of a ton to say for it. If you pass a redbox and want a movie you might as well get this one. Although if you only want to see one rated R comedy this year I would say skip this and go see Ted instead.

Rating: 2.5 Stars

Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Dukes See a Movie: Total Recall

It is official; Hollywood has run out of original ideas. I had been gradually losing hope as we were faced with movie after movie that had been done before in some fashion, but this was the final straw. I am still not quite sure why this movie was remade. The original with Schwarzenegger was made a mere 22 years ago and has actually held up quite well. Sure some of the graphics could be better, but as a whole it isn't something that feels out of place now. The original had a budget of 65 million for goodness sakes. That was a ton of money for a movie and it shows in its production values.

The original idea came from a story by Philip K. Dick called "We Can Remember It For You Wholesale". This is actually the second movie adaptation from a Philip K. Dick story that Colin Farrell has fielded. As you may or may not know the first was Minority Report, which incidentally was originally planned as a sequel to the 1990 Total Recall. They had to scrap those plans because the company that held the rights to Total Recall refused to give them up. Once again my love for random trivia shines through. You are welcome, maybe?

My unofficial nickname that no one has even heard of or ever used.

As the story starts we see Douglas Quaid (in the first draft his name was Douglas Quail. His name was changed due to the fact that the original was being filmed during the Bush administration and his VP was named Dan Quayle.) trudging along as a factory worker. He seems to feel like something is missing, even though he has a super loving attractive wife and good friends. He lives in a place called the Colony and they are considered inferior to the people living in the Republic of New Britain or something like that (the original is on Mars).It an attempt to seek what he is missing he goes in for a procedure to implant fake memories in his mind.

As they are starting the procedure something goes wrong and the machine is unhooked and a large group of soldiers come in and attempt to subdue him. From there a lot of running and escaping happens.

But sadly there isn't any of this.

I think it does not bode well for the movie when I am rooting for the villains, but come on they made that choice super hard. The supposed heroes are Colin Farrell and Jessica Biel whereas the bad guys are Bryan Cranston and Kate Beckinsale. I am sorry but the bad guys are much better actors and they are more likable in general.  I would have been fine had the movie had ended with evil rising triumphant. I hadn't completely turned to the dark side though because I was also fine with the fact that good came out on top.

In the end if you want to see a Total Recall movie and you can only watch one, make it the original. However if you have all the time in the world and you want to see both of them I won't be the one to tell you not to.

Rating 2.75 stars


I can't believe I forgot to mention my biggest beef with this movie which happens to be the science. For workers to get from one side of the world to the other they travel through the center of the Earth on a thing called the Fall. It is supposedly a just an object free falling from one side to the other. In the movie we are told that it takes 17 minutes to get from one side to the other. That would clearly not be the case. To make it in 17 minutes they would have to be traveling at an average speed over 28,000 miles per hour. It is not possible for it to average that speed from a free fall at least according to real science and not terrible movie science.

Monday, August 20, 2012

The Dukes See a Movie: The Dark Knight Rises

I'm Batman

Batman!! Woo for Batman!! Yay for Christian Bale! Hooray for Christopher Nolan! Huzzah for life! As you can probably tell I have been super excited for this movie to come out. I loved the first two movies of the trilogy and I knew this one would find a place in my heart. As soon as the box office dust settled for the Dark Knight, speculation began as to who would be in the third installment and what characters they would play. I will have to admit I was heavily involved in such speculation myself. When it was announced that Tom Hardy was going to play Bane I will have to admit that I may have squealed like school girl. I am a Tom Hardy fan and have been since I saw him in Bronson. I knew he could bulk up to be the proper Bane and that he could also give him great depth of character. Both he and Christian Bale are very good at physically transforming for their roles.

I wish I had that dedication (and muscle tone).

The others that they announced just added to my excitement. I thought Anne Hathaway was a great choice to be the new catwoman and I love Joseph Gordon-Levitt. When it was announced that he would join the cast I had no idea what role he would play. A part of me thought that he might be Azrael. For those of you who don't know Azrael was a comic book character that fills in for Batman when he gets his back broken by Bane. You can see why this was a tantalizing thought in my head. Bane was already cast and Nolan likes to make his films dark so it seemed like a good fit. It turns out I was wrong, but hey even I can't get them all right (or most of them).

This movie actually caused quite the rift amongst the Dukes. Okay it was actually one Duke talking crazy and the rest of us trying to beat him down with words and logic. Ricky was sure that they were going to kill Batman in this movie. I knew that there was no way since Warner Bros wasn't about to kill a lucrative character no matter what the director wanted to do. I know in the comics he dies a few times, but he always was brought back in ridiculous ways like a lazarus pit. Nolan's films were too firmly footed in a gritty reality to have something so strangely fantastical and mystical like that to exist.

Although I could totally see it with this Batman.

Our argument spanned the space of many months and a lot of innocent bystanders were dragged in. We would be at a restaurant bantering loudly and we would drag our server into the discussion. We even made our coworkers choose sides. It was quite the affair and I feel that I should apologize to some of them (but not Josh because he chose poorly and sided with Ricky, shame on you Josh.).

So as you can see I had incredibly high hopes going into this movie. I loved the cast and the other movies that made up the trilogy. The only thing I didn't like was the fact that I had to wait for the movie to be released. To prepare I watched everything I could that related to this movie in some way including: Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, Inception, The Prestige, Newsies and several others.

They may have ended up jumbling together in my mind.

 To not cheat those of you who haven't seen the movie I will refrain from adding spoilers (probably). The movie takes place eight years after the death of Harvey Dent. During those years Bruce Wayne has become a recluse and Batman has not been seen on the streets. Because of the Dent act that is in place the streets are the cleanest they have been in years, at least they appear to be. There is some unrest in the city and people (Anne Hathaway and Joseph Gordon-Levitt) attempt to get both Bruce Wayne and Batman back on the scene.

Batman comes back and so does Bruce Wayne. While this is going on there is quite the plot to undermine Bruce Wayne's power and Bane enters the picture. I will stop with my telling of the plot and allow you to see it without anything given away. The story is great and the movie is well paced. It left us with quite the sense of completion and Nolan did not let us down at all. Tom Hardy somehow made me like him even more.

This is on my desk right now.

I really enjoyed this movie and *spoiler alert*  I totally beat Ricky in our argument! Take that good sir.

Rating 5 stars

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The Dukes See a Movie: The Amazing Spider-Man

I have something I need to confess to you readers. I thought I had already done a review on this movie. I was going about life content knowing that I was only four movie reviews behind when in fact I was five behind, which turns out is one too many for me. I guess I can handle my laziness to a point, but the moment I get five movies back I feel it has gone too far. Since I thought I had already written this post it is going to be a tough one to write. Nobody likes having to do something over, unless you count having to redo a pie eating contest or something along those lines. Even though I never actually did any work on it my mind feels like it is being cheated and it isn't happy about it. So if you feel this review is subpar you can hush up because re-dos (even fake ones) are almost never as good as the original.

Hey look at that natural segue into discussing this reboot of a movie. Man I am good at this whole writing thing (source: not found). When I heard that they were rebooting Spider-Man a mere five years after Spider-Man 3 I shook my head in shame at the world that we live in. I will admit it I am quite the fan of Sam Raimi. He can partially be credited for giving the world Bruce Campbell and that makes you a hero in my book.

A hero I say!

  The Spider-Man movies that Sam Raimi created proved to the world that comic book movies did not have to be a joke. We don't count the third one because that wasn't his fault. They forced him to add more villains and to include a lot of the things that made the movie less than great (see: emo dancing). So with all of that in mind I didn't see why they felt it was necessary to remake the movie so soon. I mean there were talks of a Spider-Man 4 up until January of 2010.

With everything I had learned leading up to this I couldn't help but compare the two. As per my usual I will give you my findings in bullet points. I will refer to each movie by their year of release.
  • Casting- This one was kind of a tossup. In the original I loved J.K. Simmons as the editor of the Daily Bugle. I also like Willem Dafoe and James Franco, but I thought that the leads in the new film had greater chemistry. That is mainly a knock on Kirsten Dunst and her major unlikeability (I don't that I used a fake word). I also heart Emma Stone and Rhys Ifans from the new one. Winner 2012.
  • Directing- Sam Raimi has been given some flak because his trilogy seems cheesy in places, but if you look at the comics that makes sense. The comic books are incredibly cheesy, I mean you couldn't find cheesier dialogue if you tried (probably not true). He stays very faithful to the original story. On the other hand if you look at the job Marc Webb did I wouldn't call it bad, but I wouldn't call it great either. There was nothing truly memorable about what he did. It seemed like he just wanted to play it safe, which makes it hard for him to join the ranks of the great superhero directors like Joss Whedon and Christopher Nolan. Winner 2002    
The real winners

  • Are we sure I didn't already write this review? Everything I look up seems familiar like I have already done this. Have I jumped into a different dimension? One where I didn't finish the review? Sweet mercy that means I found the one time line with a lazier version of me. I didn't think such a thing was possible but I can see no other explanation for what is happening.
  • Sorry about that, time to get back to the review...I take that back I feel like the newer lazier me wouldn't so instead I will end with this comparison. 2002 budget 139 million. 2012 budget 230 million. 2002 worldwide gross 821 million. 2012 worldwide gross 552 million. Winner 2012
That gives the 2002 version the victory since it won 2-1 in arbitrary categories I picked out of thin air. That is what I call an airtight case for sure. So in the end I did enjoy the movie and I felt that for the most part it was well done. I think we all learned something today. We learned that I have a man crush on Bruce Campbell.  Also that I should never write a review in my head twice because I will invariably never write anything about the actually story the second time through.

Rating 3.75 stars

Saturday, August 11, 2012

The Dukes See a Movie: Ted

Going in to this movie I did not know what to expect. I hoped it would be enjoyable because I am a fan of Mark Walhberg and Mila Kunis. I was a little worried as well because this was the first time Seth Macfarlane had ever made a movie, let alone a live action anything. It did have a few other things going for it as well like the supporting cast. Man was that a quality supporting cast. They had Joel McHale, Giovanni Ribisi, Patrick Warburton, Tom Skerritt (as himself) and Tom J. Jones (as himself). They had Flash Gordon in this movie playing himself. How awesome is that?!

Woo!! Tom Jones!!

So in my mind I went in excited about the cast, but a little worried about everything else. The moment the movie started I could feel all my worries starting to slip away as I listened to the dulcet tones of Patrick Stewart as he said the follow line "Now if there's one thing you can be sure of, it's that nothing is more powerful than a young boy's wish. Except an Apache helicopter. An Apache helicopter has machine guns AND missiles. It is an unbelievably impressive complement of weaponry, an absolute death machine." With that line the movie had appealed to the boy inside me and he had accepted their offering. So my adult self was pushed to the back, and was not allowed to participate in the viewing of this movie.

The movie starts out with a young boy who has no friends at all. For Christmas he gets a teddy bear and that night he wishes on a star that his bear were real. After the narrator mentions the power of wishes and helicopters we see the young John wake up and meet his recently life-infused bear. As you might suspect the boy freaks out as do his parents when they are introduced to this creature. Can you imagine what you would do if you saw a teddy bear and it spoke to you? Unless it was a teddy ruxpin bear I would attempt to destroy it so it couldn't eat my soul. That might just be me though. I saw a terrible show when I was a child about a possessed teddy bear and I have never been the same.

How I see all teddy bears.

Flash forward 26 years. John (Mark Wahlberg) and the bear Ted have both grown up. They still are best friends, but now they are adult slackers. They drink, smoke pot and watch TV most of the time (I think I should get a prize because I only do one of the three). John has been dating Lori (Mila Kunis) for the past four years. She is starting to get a little fed up with the lack of change in their relationship and she wants to take it to the next level, but she feels like that is impossible if John continues to spend all his free time with Ted.

In the end I really quite enjoyed this movie. This isn't the type of movie that makes you think (see above where I talk about the boy in me being in charge of the movie viewing). It doesn't have a lot of shocking twist and turns or important morals, but I did not expect it to. To best describe the movie it felt like Family Guy back when Seth Macfarlane still cared about it and wasn't in it just because Fox won't let anything popular die. You could tell that he put all of his creative energy in this project and it showed in the quality of the work. So if you do not mind crude humor this might be one for you, but if you have a higher moral code (good for you if you do) then this movie is a no go.

Rating 4 stars