Monday, February 20, 2012

The Vow

Let it be known I do not shy away from any type of film.  Yes I am male and a huge fan of the action genre, but I do not discriminate against any type of movie.  With that being said, this past weekend the wife and I watched the The Vow 
                The premise of the movie is about Leo, a husband played by Channing Tatum, and Paige, his wife played by Rachel McAdams, who get in an accident which causes the wife to lose her memory of the last 5 years.  Unfortunately, within those 5 years she has also forgotten major changes in her life, including knowledge of her husband.  After a few flashback scenes to show how in love the couple is, the rest of the film is about the husband trying to get this wife to fall back in love with him.
                Tatum obviously has had practice with this type of film. Last year he stared in Dear John with Amanda Seyfried and even in his film debut in the original Step Up, so he has gotten pretty good with the romantic character.  McAdams also has run her fair share of romantic dramas, with films like The Time Travelers Wife and one of the most popular ones in the genre in the past 10 years, The Notebook.  This film hinges on whether or not Tatum and McAdams can keep up their run of well done romantic dramas, and have any chemistry together. Luckily they work very well together.  The rest of the cast is acceptable and do what they need to, but there are no real stand-out supporting characters. 
                The only place where I think they may have dropped the ball is the ending.  The build up to the ending is a tad bit of a letdown when it gets there and just stops abruptly.  I would have liked a little more follow through on screen. 
                Overall this was a decent romantic drama.  If you are a fan of films like Dear John, The Notebook or any other film based on a Nicholas Sparks book, than you will probably enjoy this film. 


I will start this review off by saying I have been a huge fan of super heroes and their films.  So when I heard about a film, with an original idea about regular people developing super powers and what they do with them, I was very much intrigued.  Having now seen the results I was pleasantly satisfied.  Once again, the rising beast that is “the found footage,” film rears its head, as it attempts to claim another genre.  Surprisingly, it is quite successful where others in this type of film have failed. 
The story itself is nothing new, 3 teenage friends come across what is believed to be some sort of extraterrestrial “thing” and start to develop the power to move things with their minds. Hijinx ensue as the 3 learn to harness their power.  At the same time we begin to see two diverging paths forming; the good path and the dark side.  All of this leads to a final climax that does not disappoint.   
The three main characters played by unknowns Dane DeHaan,  Michael  B. Jordan, and Alex Russell, successfully act out what it means to be teenagers and to develop a super power. They are also the first step in what makes this a stand out in the world of “found footage.”  The movie manages to show real characters that the audience can relate to.  The most successful of the three, and the one that starts the filming, is Dane DeHaan as the main character Andrew.  Andrew clearly goes thru the largest range of emotions as he develops from a quiet outcast of teenage society, to accepted friend, (spoiler alert if you haven’t seen any trailers) to the misunderstood villain with too much power, unaware of what to do with it. 
The second part that makes this film so successful is the effects.  It is quite impressive to see what the creators of this film where able to pull off with a budget of only $15 million.  Only a few times throughout the film did I find myself thinking, “that doesn’t look completely real.”  Considering what they are able to pull off with such a small budget, it really starts to make you wonder what all the other big budget super hero movies are spending their money on. 
Finally, and what I think is most important of why this film succeeds where other “found footage” films fail, is that this film is a complete story.  If anyone has seen The Blair Witch Project or Cloverfield then they will know the idea of the “found footage” film is that the footage has been found.  It implies that the footage shot was not meant to be seen as a blockbuster film, but rather home videos for personal use. At some point the camera is lost and it just ends with no conclusion.  This set up, in my personal opinion, leads these films to their biggest problem, they don’t have a structured story line.  They tend to just begin, things happen, then everything just stops and they never really feel like a complete story.  Chronicle manages to break this structure by having three clear points within the story.  It has a beginning where it introduces everyone, it has a middle that builds to a climax and it has an end, while still managing the lost and found ending of “found footage” films.  Also, the reason why these films tend to be in the horror category is because, you end up being your own main character in the film.  You experience what is happing through the eyes of the camera or cameras used in the film.  you are experiencing it with them and if you’re like me, I would rather the other guy I just met get eaten by the large monster and not me.  “Chronicle” finds a very clever way to take the camera operator out from behind the camera and give them a personality instead of just our means of being in the story.  When someone talks to the camera, it gives a feeling of breaking the fourth wall, instead of talking to the person behind the camera.  Towards the end, the film manages to almost remove the idea that the only reason we are seeing the film is because someone needs to be there to film it.  The invisible person behind the camera doesn’t need to be there, we just experience the event like if it were a regular movie.
Overall, Chronicle is a great original take on the super hero genre.  With a solid story and likable characters, it makes me look forward to more.  It also makes me hopeful to see what debut director Josh Trank might do in the future.  Fans of super hero films or “found footage” will enjoy this. 

Friday, February 10, 2012

Most Anticipated Films of 2012

Yes, I know that we are a month into the year, but the blog is new and January didn’t offer a lot anyway, so I will give my list of most anticipated movies this year. These movies have been placed in order by date, not most anticipated to least anticipated.
   1. Wrath of the Titans – Yes many people said the first one wasn’t that good, but I, for one, enjoyed it quite a lot.  Sometimes you are just in the mood to shut your brain off and watch some mindless action.  Clash of the Titans was the perfect example of a well produced mindless action film.  This sequel looks to take everything the original had and increase it. 
   2. The Raven – I don’t know too much about this film but ever since I heard the premise and saw this really cool first poster I was sold.
    The premise is about a serial killer using the works of Edgar Allen Poe (John Cusack) as a vehicle to kill.  Poe has to team up with the authorities to stop him.  I have always been a fan of John Cusack and putting him in this role strangely seems perfect.
   3. The Avengers – Since my first encounter with Comic books I feel like everything has been leading up to this film.  Some of the world’s greatest superheroes (Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, Nick Fury, and Hulk) all together in one movie.  To top it off, the movie is directed by Joss Whedon, one of the few directors out there right now that knows how to make a nerd-based film that appeals to all.  Up to this point Marvel has handled all their properties the right way, so I have little doubt they will steer this one in the wrong direction.
   4. Prometheus – Not much is known about this film, but if history is any indication of greatness, then Ridley Scott creating a new Sci-Fi film will be pure genius.  Ever since watching the first Alien and seeing the giant watchers I have wondered about them.  Where did they come from, what is their story. Well if this film is in fact a prequel to the Alien films, then I hope we finally get to see where this giant space man came from and what his story is.  The first trailer hasn’t given much away plot wise, but cinematically speaking it looks great.
   5. The Amazing Spider-Man – When I first heard about this, I was very skeptical.  How could they reboot this series already? Then the first trailer came out which didn’t help.  It made Peter Parker look more like a moody Twilight kid instead of the nerd I know him to be.  Just recently a new trailer was released which greatly helped in changing my opinion of this.
This trailer appears to show they are getting the action right (though like the originals, Spider-Man’s mask comes off way too much), the effects look good and more importantly the humor is right.  Spider-Man has always been a wise cracking super-hero and I felt the first 3 films missed the mark on that part.  So here is hoping they do this right.
   6. The Dark Knight Rises – After the amazing film that was “The Dark Knight,” I’m not sure this will be able to beat it, but I think it has potential to be close.  I’m not overly excited about the Catwoman story, but Bane as the villain and Tom Hardy playing him has potential to show off some really impressive fights.  With this being Chris Nolan and Christian Bales’ last outing with the Caped Crusader, here is hoping it goes out on a high note.
   7. The Bourne Legacy – Not sure how to feel about a Bourne movie without Matt Damon, but if the most recent Mission Impossible is any indication of how Jeremy Renner will handle the name, then we are in for a good flick. All the Bourne movies have had good fighting and tight, fast-paced scripts.  As long as they keep to this structure, then this movie should be successful.
   8. Argo – The newest film from Ben Affleck.  He made a great debut into directing with “Gone Baby Gone.”  He followed it up with the excellent “The Town”. With each film, the scope appears to be getting bigger and bigger and handled very well.  It will be interesting to see how Affleck handles a film about the covert attempts of the CIA to save 6 Americans in the middle of a 1979 Iranian hostage crisis.  
      9. Skyfall – All I needed to hear was James Bond and I was sold on this movie.  Daniel Craig back for another round as the greatest spy in a tux.  Guaranteed to be some serious butt-kicking and maybe a martini or two.
   10. The Hobbit – The Lord of the Rings films are 3 of my favorite films of all time.  When I first heard they would be making this film I was happy, but worried.  When I heard they managed to get all the original cast members necessary I was relieved. When Peter Jackson finally decided to take over the reins, I knew all my dreams had been completed.  December can’t come soon enough.