Movie Review: Sinister (2012)

Title: Sinister
Genre: Horror/Thriller
Rating: R (NOT FOR KIDS; while not as gory as some horror movies, this film focuses on murder and psychological horor, so not for the kids)
Release Date: 2012
Director: Scott Derrickson
Writing Credits:  Scott Derrickson & C. Robert Cargill

At a Halloween party over the weekend, a friend decided that everyone should watch Sinister, which he greatly recommended (and horror is his favorite genre).  So we agreed.  Although I’m sure some of my friends regret watching movies with me because I am a commentator. This movie was no exception.

The movie starts out with Ellison Oswalt (Ethan Hawke) and his family moving into a home that (unknown to the rest of his family) is at the center of a murder mystery he is investigating for his new book.  He finds a bunch of 8mm home videos and decides to watch them.  Only he finds out that the films cover 50 years and all end with the family dying in various different ways.  Things continue to go south in many ways for him as he continues his investigation. It begins to affect his children and wife.  (The effects on the kids is another reason why this movie is not for kids).

It is your standard horror movie, with the psychological elements that come with it.  Writing wise, its well written. I think the idea of tying into a fictional pagan deity was a bit much, but it worked within the film.  The minor characters seem to have a lot more sense than I usually see in a horror film which was also a nice change.

The cast, other than Ethan Hawke, was pretty new to me.  However they all did an excellent job. The girl who played Ashley Oswalt (Clare Foley) might be familiar to some as she played a recurring character on Gotham (Ivy Pepper).

The soundtrack was amazing though, and perhaps the best part of the film.

My overall enjoyment of the film was so-so because Horror films don’t seem to appeal to me.  I spend too much time mocking the characters. But this movie overall if taken analytically was a well put together movie.  My only criticism is some of the lighting in some of the scenes  could have been better.

Deputy So-and-So (who I see as the most sensible person in this movie) returned for the sequel, which came out in 2015.  It has Shannyn Sossamon in it, which intriqued me but I don’t think I’ll be watching the sequel.

Final Grade: A

Trailer:

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Movie Review: Beauty and the Beast (2017)

Title: Beauty and the Beast
Release Date: 2017
Director:Bill Condon
Genre:  Disney; Live-Action Animation remake; Musical
Method of Watching:  Stream (Netflix)

Today I finally sat down and watched Beauty and the Beast.  I expected to enjoy it and was not disappointed.  However, It actually was better than I expected.  Beauty and the Beast’s original Disney film came out in 1991 when I was 5 years old.  So basically at the time I was obsessed with Disney films like ever other toddler in existence.  So there is a lot of sentimentality to get through when watching a remake.  I expected to enjoy it because of other reviews I read, but also expected to be disappointed in ways because it would no doubt not match the animated version. Continue reading

Scarlet O’Hara (Bubblews Repost)

Vivien Leigh in Gone With the Wind trailer-9

EDIT NOTES:  This post was made several years ago on Bubblews, a site that is no longer online.  I found it while cleaning out some folders on my google drive, and decided to repost it, with some minor grammatical corrections.  According to my file, I wrote this on October 9, 2014, 11:55 AM.  I plan on eventually reading the novel, and rewatching the movie to see if my views still hold true. Also this post doesn’t focus on GWTW portrayal of slavery, which is at times very awkward because of its avoidance of the reality.  This just focuses on their main plot around Scarlet.

On Sunday, I saw Gone With the Wind in Theaters.  It was a great experience, although I hate to tell the movie people that 5 minutes is not enough to allow people to get to the bathroom and/or go to the concession stand to refill their drinks.  Should have been fifteen, but that is not the point of this post. Continue reading

Robin Hood & History

One of my favorite movies growing up was Robin Hood.  It was the Disney version, the one with the Animal kingdom playing out the roles.  According to the story, Robin Hood (a fox) stole from the rich and gave to the poor because Prince John (a Lion, sans mane) was overtaxing the population of Nottinghamshire while ruling for his brother King Richard (a Lion, with a mane).  It’s the basic story behind most Robin Hood movies.

The interesting thing about Robin Hood is it’s both fiction and non-fiction.  It’s a mix of characters who are fictional and characters who were based on real people.  As I grew up, and started to be interested in the back story I found out that some of the stories are more interesting outside the myth.

For example, Prince John.  In Disney’s version of the tale, he’s a laughable villain.  He sucks his thumb and cries for Mommy and is made fun of for that fact.  He’s not even depicted as a fully grown lion, and his crown doesn’t fit his head.  His assistant, Sir HIss, puts up with a lot of abuse in the sake of comedy and somehow remains sane enough to advise his King to make better life decisions.

In reality, Prince John was an actual King, and one fairly important to history.  He was born in 1166, the younger brother of Richard I, or Richard the lion-hearted.  So in that, Robin Hood gets it right.  Richard left for the crusades, and the then Prince John ruled as regent in his stead.  He became King himself in 1199, and ruled for 17 years till his death in 1216.

John was born the sixth son of King Henry II. He was one of 10 children, and a member of the House of Plantagenet.  He is the third of Henry’s sons to be King.  The eldest was Henry, who became co-regent with his father at least in name if not in power. He died in 1183, outlived by his father.  After Henry the II died six years later, RIchard the I became King.  He is known most for being a part of the Crusades, which took up much of his reign.

John himself was regent, although not particularly because RIchard wanted him too.  So in a sense, the movie had that right too.

However, the movie ends with Richard coming back, and reclaiming the throne and punishing his brother.  However, Richard died after only 10 years on the throne, and with no heirs, it left John and his nephew Arthur.

John, being ambitious as history (and Disney) show became King. He became an important part of history because his son Henry III would be the first Plantagenet King and that would lead to the war of the Roses 300 years later.  He also changed English politics forever with the signing of the Magna Carta, which not only started the government transitioning into his modern form, it is also a major influence on the designers of the American Government that would develop 600 years later.  He was also known for taking a more personal involvement in the administration of the country, some positive some negative.  Some of which influenced the portrayal of Prince John the villain.  For example the over taxation occurred during his reign as King.

With the kings of England in the middle ages, its hard to know what was accurate and what was propaganda from a rival.  For example, many people get their idea of these kings from William Shakespeare’s plays (which have inaccuracies and were obviously tailored to suit his Queen) or other items of fiction.  King/Prince John is certainly not the only world leader to have that happen to him.  HIs great-great-grandson (etc)  Richard III was certianly given a reputation by literature and the Tudors.

It just brings me to my younger self who thought the story ended with that “no-good Prince John” being punished for his maltreatment of Nottingham. It was really only half the story and I’m glad I learned to love history and delve deeper into the world Robin Hood is based in.

One day I may go into more research and in-depth about King John.  For now, I’m going to go watch Robin Hood and tell Sir Hiss to get a new job.

Accuracy or Story, That is the question

Recently I have been watching quite a few period pieces.  Some were complete fiction, others based on true events or actual people.  And its made me ponder the thin line between entertainment and bad accuracy.

There is of course a balance one must keep when doing a period piece.  The story has to be interesting, engaging, with the ups and downs that keep an audience enthralled.  Yet, at the same time, people like myself like to see historically accurate stories.

For some this is relatively easy, especially those that took place in recent years.  For example, Apollo 13 (1994) which is based on a real-life event that took place in April of 1970.  It’s not only one of my favorite films, but it is also one of the films I’ve seen a very real effort to keep things as real as possible without losing the entertainment value.  So while it’s not word-for-word, and they added a few dramatic arguments (after all, the events took place over a week and they have to pack that all into 2 hours), it’s still fairly accurate.  They even went as far as filming scenes in low gravity to make more realistic movement for the space scenes.

Another example is The White Queen (2013).  Now this film takes place in the 15th century during the war of the roses.  And it tends to go more towards creating a good story than depicting the actual events.  Not that I still didn’t enjoy it, but there were some things that happened in the mini-series a quick google search or a Wikipedia search could tell you happened differently.  And since my knowledge is not high on English history as much as it is American history I’m sure there were other moments that would drive my friends who are crazy.  Of course, it’s harder to be as specifically accurate when there is about 500 years and a lack of photographic evidence to really examine.  Facts from this period of time are constantly being reevaluated as new sources of information are found, or someone notices something in what has already been found no one really took note of before.  But there are some general facts to get straight.

I enjoyed the series, but mostly because of the cast, who did a brilliant job in making me not care that not all the facts were right.

So I suppose the question is – when you watch a film, mini-series or TV series based in a specific era, about real people, do you want more accuracy or more story telling?  Would inaccuracies done to make things easier to understand to a chosen demographic make you less willing to watch (for example, the costuming decisions in CW’s Reign)?

What’s your opinion?

Movie Review: Pacific Rim

Title: Pacific Rim

Release Date:  2013

Directed by:  Guillermo del Toro

Written by:  Guillermo del Toro, Travis Beacham

Starring:  Charlie Hunnam, Diego Klattenhoff, Idris Elba, Rinko Kikuchi, Charlie Day, Burn Gorman and Max Martini (among many others)

My Grade: A-

This movie was recommended to me by several people as a good movie.  I’m actually writing this part before I watch it, hence the weird tenses compared to what I will write after I watch it.  Supposedly this movie has good gender dynamics, as well as a diverse cast and a good story.  I’m hoping to find all of that.  Although I must admit by looking at the casting list on IMDB, its looking fairly non-diverse, particularly on Gender.  SO far I’m only seeing 8 female actors mostly in minor character parts, unless someone has a gender neutral name and no picture.  Only two actually seem to have named parts.  But we shall see.  IMDB can be a bit deceiving at times.

On the bright side, it also has IDris Elba and Ron Perlman who are always worth seeing.  Now onto watching the movie (A DVD.  Alas, no blu-ray yet.)

(…intermission music…)

So in the end, I really enjoyed it.  The lighting was dark in some areas, which might have been my TV set, but it made it hard to really see what the Kaiju looked like.  However the concept was pretty good.  The basic backstory of the movie is that along the Pacific Rim (also known as the Ring of Fire due to the tectonic plate activity) there opens up a breach between two dimensions.  Ours, and that of the Kaiju.  They start attacking us and in an attempt to fight them off we decide to build giant robots.  Only it doesn’t always work, because if it did we wouldn’t have a movie.

Charlie Hunnam plays the main character, Raleigh Becket, who is a Jaeger (the robot) pilot.  The robots need 2 pilots and he used to pilot with his brother but his brother died and he ended up in Alaska building a wall.  Idris Alba plays the head dude of the Jager program Pentecost and basically drags Raleigh back to the robots in a last ditch effort to save the program.

Rinko Kikuchi plays the female lead (and sadly only one of two named female characters, all other female characters are background and barely have lines if any at all) Mako Mori.  She is Pentecost’s adoptive daughter and the person Raleigh decides should be his new partner.

Charlie Day – who I spent half the movie calling Sam Rockwell Jr – plays  Newton Geiszler, a biologist who works on understanding the Kaiju.  He is accompanied by Burn Gorman, who plays Hermann Gottlieb who is basically a Nerdy Owen Harper who managed to retain the anger.

Ron Perlman plays a Blackmarket dealer who basically profits off the corpses of Kaiju.

The cast was fantastic, and I really liked the fact that they made a point to incorporate different nationalities into the story.  Not all of the characters are American – actually most of them aren’t.  It didn’t shy away from having characters speak in accents or their native languages.  They choose actual asian/asian decent actors to play asian characters for the most part which is sadly not always the case in Hollywood.

The story was pretty good as well, though I wish there had been more time with the various Jaeger pilots other than Raleigh, Mako and Chuck.  There is so much to this world unexplored, which should be interesting to see when the sequel comes out.  Perhaps we can get more exploration of the Alternate universe Pacific Rim created.

So essentially my only issue with this movie that I can think of while writing this review is the lack of female characters outside the leads.

 

Film Review: GhostBusters (2016)

A long time ago, I believe I watched the original Ghostbusters film, but to be honest it has been so long ago that I barely remembered it. Going into watching this version of the story I was wondering if it was going to be a different verse, or a continuation or otherwise how it would relate to the original.  The answer was its a whole different universe from the originals, but the actors who were in the original who were still living all make some brief appearances in the film.

I found it hilarious at times, and some random actors showed up that I wasn’t expecting like CHarles Dance (aka Tywin Lannister) and Ed Begley jr who plays another Ed Jr..  Chris Hemsworth’s Kevin was also a hilarious take on the dumb secretary trope.  The cast as a whole was excellent, and the cameos of the original actors were interesting. The longest appearance was by Bill Murray who plays a critic of the ghostbusters who thinks they are making it all up.

For the most part I enjoyed it, though there were one or two times a joke went on too long, and the credits were over done a little.   Also the theme music appeared more in the trailer then perhaps it did in the actual movie.  The soundtrack in general was a little less then what I was expecting.

Considering one of the larger complains I heard prior to watching was that the cast was all female, I don’t think gender had an any effect on the quality of this film.  The cast did an excellent job

So my grade for this movie is a B+.  I’m definately planning on adding it to my collection at some point and I do hope that they get the sequel that they wanted.