Movie Review: 300: Rise of an Empire

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Eight years after it’s predecessor comes the Gerard Butler-less sequel to the epic 300, and with a little less gore and a little more dialog.

Rise of an Empire isn’t really a sequel though; it’s more of a prequel, explaining everything that lead up to what we saw in the first movie, then showing what happened after King Leonidas and his 300 men died. So it basically completes the story’s start and end, because we just saw the middle in the first movie.

There’s a lot more narrative vs gore in Rise of an Empire, which took a way from the visual effects- there’s too much dialog in comparison to 300. It was almost made idiot-proof, so those who aren’t familiar with the graphic novels or even Greek history and mythology are able to understand what’s going on. And although I expected the story to revolve around Xerxes, you hardly see him in the movie. It’s all about Artemisia. And she is evil. Eva Green put on a spectacular performance as Artemisia (if you saw her in the short-lived TV show Camelot, you’d expect nothing less), and was the only character that really made the movie worth watching. Without King Leonidas and the infamous cry of ‘SPARTAAAAAA’ (‘Greeeece!’ doesn’t have the same ring to it), and the constant narration, the movie kind of loses its luster.

If there’s anything you should learn from this film though it’s this: never underestimate a woman (especially an angry one).

Rating: I give  it 3.5 Oi’s out of 5.

Conversations: Oscars 2014

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Before heading to the premiere screening of 300: Rise of an Empire (check back for out the review soon), I made a stop home. Since everyone online had been talking about the Oscars, naturally it would be the one conversation I’d have with The Sister that evening…

Me: “Hey, so did you hear about the Oscars results? 12 Years A Slave won Best Picture, and Matthew McConaughey won Best Actor in Dallas Buyers Club. You should watch that by the way, it’s really good. Jared Leto won Best Supporting Actor for his role in that too. Jennifer Lawrence was nominated…”

The Sister: “Who’s she?”

“The one in The Hunger Games.”

“Oh yea. She’s good. Was The Hunger Games nominated for Best Picture?”

“No”

“Why not?! That was a good movie”

“Yea, but it’s not really Oscar-worthy”

“Why not? It has a good story and good acting and stuff”

“Yea, but the shortlisted ones are, like, different; they take it to another level”

“I feel like all the Oscar nominated movies are serious films.”

“No that’s not true…”

I then Googled ‘Oscars 2013′ on my iPad and went through shortlist on Wikipedia. Then I Googled ‘Oscars 2012′, 2011, 2010, 2009 went through those too

*5 minutes later*

Me: “I stand corrected; you’re totally right- they’re all serious movies”

The Sister: “Aren’t you going to be late to the movie premiere? The film starts in 20 minutes”

So I Googled ‘Oscar selection process’…

Me: “Ah check this out; this is how movies make the shortlist…”

The Sister: “You realise I didn’t ask for any of this, I don’t actually care…”

“It says here that there are 6000 on the committee, but they’re split into groups based on the judges’ expertise- so cinematographers evaluate the cinematography category, and so on. But all of them vote for Best Picture. Yea so that’s how they do it; maybe because they’re all experts their decisions are all sophisticated and stuff so that’s how they end up with a shortlist of serious movies every time”

“Well that’s not very fair. I really liked The Hunger Games. I don’t think the judges are very cool-they need a mix [of people]”

“Then movies like Twilight would make the list”

“That’s a stupid movie”

“Yes, but a lot of other people loved it”

“Didn’t it win something though?”

“Yea, at the MTV Movie Awards. Every single year. Ugh”

“But that has judges too…”

“Yea…teenagers. They vote for that stuff online. Do you see the difference in caliber?”

“Ha! Right…We’re The Millers was a good movie. That would never stand a chance at the Oscars either. You’re going to be late for that premiere by the way- it starts in 10 minutes!”

“Did you see the Oscars selfie?”

 

Image Credit: Ellen/Twitter

Movie Review: RoboCop (2014)

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How do I put this; it’s a movie that you would probably watch on TV while you’re channel surfing and there was nothing else to watch.

If 2 sequels and a TV show since the original movie didn’t take off, did they really think a remake of the original movie- and a PG-13 version at that- would take off? Even if you haven’t seen the original movie, the storyline was very predictable and the characters two-dimensional. That would’ve been great in the 80s and 90s, but this is 2014 and I think we expect something a bit more novel with this genre (at least with the sci fi part). The only good parts in the movie were The Novak Element with Samuel L. Jackson as Pat Novak- who supports machines fighting crime instead of humans- and the nachos.

Rating: I give it 2 Oi’s out of 5.

Movie Review: Winter’s Tale

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I was actually really looking forward to this film, but boy was I disappointed.

The film starts 100 years ago and is about a one Peter Lake (Colin Farrell) who’s basically a thief and has a falling out with his former boss- and demon- Pearly Soames (Russell Crowe). He is then rescued by a white horse that miraculously jumps over Pearly and all of his men to take Peter to safety. He then ends up at a house whose most of its residents have left for holiday and decides to rob their house. Except he finds that the house is not entirely empty. Then he meets Beverly Penn (played by the beautiful Jessica Brown Findlay) who is terminally ill with Consumption and instantly falls in love with her. In this world, people have ‘miracles’ to perform- a purpose to their life. So when Pearly finds out about Beverly, he believes Peter’s miracle is to save her from Consumption. Of course that doesn’t sit well with him so he seeks to kill her- by pulling a favor from an angel- so Peter wouldn’t fulfill his destiny. Pearly succeeds and then tracks down Peter, head-butts him off a bridge and into the river.

Peter miraculously survives the plunge but has no recollection of who he is and what his past is. But to top it off, he roams the streets of New York city for 100 years until he meets a little girl…

then the story goes downhill from there. The ‘big confrontation’ for Peter Lake is so unexciting you don’t even know it’s happening. Peter fulfilling his true destiny also felt like a non-event. It’s rather unfortunate because all the actors played their parts really well. Also, when you have Jennifer Connelly (who plays Virginia Gamely, the little girl’s mother) and Will Smith (who plays Lucifer) in a movie, you use them; give them more depth. They have like a total of 10 minutes screen time.

I found the overall concept of the plot quite interesting though- good vs evil, angels and demons, destiny, hope vs destruction- but I think it could’ve been developed a bit more throughout the film than just subtle hints here and there.

The trailer made me believe it would be Stardust meets Kate & Leopold (without Meg Ryan), so up until Peter falls into the river, I was hoping that when he falls he would arrive to present day, and with the help of Virginia, finds a way to save Beverly. Peter would then go back and confront Pearly and Lucifer in a grand battle, and he overcomes and gets the love his life back and they live happily ever after. Ah well.

Rating: I give it 3 Oi’s out of 5.

Movie Review: Captain Philips

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This review also appears on Movie Blogbuster.

This is the ultimate pirate movie.

It’s easy to imagine pirates wearing eye-patches, puffy shirts, having a hook for a hand and wooden stump for a leg shouting ‘arrrghhh’. But this is the real world, and Jack Sparrow’s pirate ways don’t even come close.

The film is based on the true story of Captain Rich Philips, played by Tom Hanks, who was held hostage by Somali pirates in 2009. The telling of this tale- from screenplay to cinematography- progresses at a moderate yet intense pace without being dramatic, which would have otherwise trivialized the situation. The movie also sheds light on the underlying motivation behind piracy and puts a human face to the pirates of today’s world.

Even though Captain Philips is played by Tom Hanks, you don’t feel his stardom overshadow the part, and that is only something an actor as incredibly talented as him can pull off. He seamlessly displays the expertise of Philips as a captain- the way he protected his crew, built trust to manipulate the pirates, communicated with the US Navy- while at the same time showing how the pressure was getting to him over time as a human being.

And you have to hand it to the Americans: they know how to protect their own. It’s no wonder they’re the most powerful nation on the planet.

Rating: I give it 5 Oi’s out of 5.

 

Movie Review: Rush

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This review also appears on Movie Blogbuster.

Rush is the ultimate frenemy story. It’s the biography of two F1 drivers- James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth) and Niki Lauda (Daniel Bruhl), narrated by Lauda. The movie starts halfway through the film at a significant turning point in the story line before going back to the beginning of their rivalry. Their first encounter will show you that they were never destined to get along. Their personalities were polar opposites- Hunt was free-spirited and ‘wild’, while Lauda was level-headed and clever with car mechanics. Over time, it became less about the sport and more about each one outdoing the other on the race track, as they both moved up the ranks of Formula 1. Their goal to be the best and competitive obsession with each other transformed both Hunt and Lauda to the worst versions of themselves.

This film is quite different than other Ron Howard films (A Beautiful Mind, Angels and Demons, Frost/Nixon), and is my favorite by far. It strikes the perfect balance between sport and biography, through a suspenseful storyline without compromising on character depth. I was particularly impressed by Bruhl’s performance; he did a very good job of making Lauda unlikeable. The film provokes the thought of whether being the best- being Number One- is really worth risking it all, and really put the concepts of rivalry and respect into perspective.

Rating: If you’re a F1 enthusiast, you’ll definitely appreciate this film. And if you’re not (like me), I guarantee you’ll love it; it might even get you to buy a pass to the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. I give it 5 Oi’s out of 5.

Movie Review: 2 Guns

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This review also appears on Movie Blogbuster.

When it comes to action movies, I tend to go in without any expectations, mostly because I like a good story and many in the genre lack this. 2 Guns is no exception. It’s about a couple of guys and Trench and Stig (played by Denzel Washington and Mark Walhberg respectively) who plan to rob a sleepy small-town bank of $3 million dollars.

Like in all my reviews, I try not to give too much of the plot away, but there’s more to these two than meets the eye and that’s the first twist to the movie. The plot thickens when Trench is framed and Stig is on the run for his life. But then halfway through- once the grand scheme is revealed- the story quickly goes downhill. It’s a pretty far fetched conspiracy theory with a weak execution. The only female lead of sorts, Agent Deb Rees- played by the gorgeous Paula Patton- is nothing more but a pretty face with a role that didn’t really add to the story. She presented an unnecessary twist to the plot that I guess the writers quickly realized and decided to kill off. Pity, really. The format of the film started off pretty cool though (back and forth in the story timeline), but didn’t continue, which I also thought was a shame because it could’ve helped the weak storyline. The humor and dialog between Denzel Washington and Mark Walhberg make up for all of the story weaknesses though as they’re both very talented and gave me a lot to laugh about. They should do more movies together!

This is not a serious action movie by any means. It’s almost like Pulp Fiction (if it wasn’t written or directed by Quentin Tarantino) meets The Boondock Saints- I’m a fan of both those movies, but together they make a weak combo.

Rating: Drugs, money, guns, explosions, and witty dialog- it’s an entertaining watch. I give it 3.5 out of 5.

Agnes

Meet Agnes

After seeing Dolores survive this long with me, I decided to get another plant. This is Agnes- she is Dolores’ cousin, twice removed.

She is living in one of Dolores’ old homes, which I’m sure she doesn’t mind lending now that she has her new awesome self-watering pot! I think they’ll get along great, and they’ll keep each other company (like cats do…it’s almost the same thing, right?).
Agnes is a different kind of plant than Dolores, Phyllis and Phyl (RIP guys), so taking care of her might be a little different. Once I look up all the information on the gardening forum and consult with the plant doctor, I’ll post up more info on Agnes’ journey.
Exciting times!

Dolores update (status: not dead)

I haven’t posted about Dolores since I first got her, and many people (myself included) thought she’d be dead by now, following the deaths of Phyl and Phyllis. But she is alive and well! Surprising, I know, and I’ve learned a few things about Dolores while taking care of her. For one thing, she hates it when there’s new soil in her pot and quiet places. So I added extra fertilizer to her soil and took her to the office to sit at my desk; she totally loved the big windows and banter around her. Now she’s back at home sitting by the window, and I keep the TV on while I’m away so she doesn’t get lonely. I think it’s working because she’s grown out of her old pot!

Here’s Dolores in her new home:

 

I’m very happy that she hasn’t died on me. Maybe I’m not a serial plant killer after all.

Movie Review: The Wolverine

The-Wolverine This review also appears on Movie Blogbuster 

I’m a big fan of Wolverine, and the X-Men too, and I’ve enjoyed all the past movies- yes, even X-Men III and X-Men Origins: Wolverine- so I was looking forward to seeing The Wolverine. But I came out with mixed feelings.

Without giving too much away, the story is set in modern day Japan and is linked to someone from Logan’s past during the war. It’s also a continuation from X-Men III, where Jean is dead and he’s still not over killing her.

The storyline showed Wolverine’s vulnerabilities and brought out his character on a deeper level than the other films, since there were only a couple of other mutants in the film. But it was still weak, especially with the main antagonist’s grand plot and the ‘love’ story- how can you still be getting over Jean and fall for someone else? It didn’t make sense to me and it felt like they just tossed that bit in there. It was also more mellow than the usual style of X-Men movies, despite all the exciting action scenes- I think ninjas tend to have that effect.

At one point I really didn’t know what will happen to The Wolverine, and that’s really how the movie kept me interested. That, and the ‘secret’ scene after credits; it’s definitely worth watching the movie for those couple of minutes alone- your mind will be blown, guaranteed.

Rating: I give it 3.5 Oi’s out of 5