Archive for the P Category

Prometheus (Ridley Scott) 2012

Posted in P on June 14, 2012 by moviemoses

I figured I would do a short spoiler free review.  I’ve ranted for about an hour on video so I don’t really feel like saying that much more about it.  Besides,  I figure it would be fair to have a short synopsis in case you don’t want to hear me go on for a long time.

Prometheus is now the latest thing to have flame wars over on the Internet.  People are idiots for liking it, people are idiots for saying its the worst thing ever blah blah blah.  I suppose I need to clarify a few things.  For one I did say this was my worst movie of the year.  I realize there are movies out there that may qualify as being worse such as the Jack & Jills or the Bucky Larsons of the world.  I’ve never done a worst movies list partly because everyone has their own qualifications of worst.  Yes you can find some piece of shit shot by some hack who has no idea how to shoot a movie, how to tell a story, or have any likable characters.  But to me the truly worst movies are the ones you want to love.  They are the movies that crush you because you love the series or are expecting big things from it.  I really don’t give a shit when I see something like a horrible DTV Steven Seagal movie but when it is something I care about like Superman I absolutely get frustrated when it doesn’t meet expectations.

Prometheus isn’t just a disappointment; it is offensive.  It wants to appear deep asking all these questions about life, the universe, and anything but mostly it is a smoke screen for the fact they don’t have anything to say.  Much like LOST (for which both have the same writer) they shotgun you with mystery and questions to cover for the fact their story makes no sense.  I loathe the use of this word because most of the time people misuse it, but this is the very definition of pretentious.  I used kindergarten philosophy because Scott’s views on science, religion, and philosophy are childish at best and offensive at worst.

The plot is riddled with gigantic plot holes.  And yes, I have read all the apologetics for this movie and no, they don’t work at all.  It wouldn’t be as bad if not for the fact the characters were not incredibly stupid and unlikable.  It absolutely kills the tension and horror I’m feeling when I am screaming at the screen over things no rational or even irrational person would do.  Before you claim that Alien/Aliens did not have deep characters really go back and view those movies.  Even though you don’t learn all about their history, their dialog is so good we learn about who they are and how they will act just by their limited interactions.

I know this movie is not all bad.  Yes the movie looks beautiful and Michael Fassbender is charming in his role as David.  But the philosophy of this movie is so bad I am arguing with an inanimate screen, the plot has more holes than swiss cheese, and the characters are stupid and unlikable.  This movie pissed me off and that is actually a hard thing to do.  As I said before, not even those movies people list as worst movies do not really piss me off.  So that is why I can confidently say this was the worst of the year so far for me.  I would easily see any other movie I’ve reviewed before this.  Battleship?  No problem.  It was actually kinda funny for me.  The Raven?  Why not.  You may think I’m using hyperbole and being unfair and there are way worse movies yada yada yada.  However to me I never want to see this movie again.

Project X (Nima Nourizadeh) 2012

Posted in P on March 13, 2012 by moviemoses

I’ve heard some extreme positions on this movie ranging from one of the biggest pieces of shit to a truly awesome party movie.  So with such a broad range of opinions I have to throw in my two cents I guess.

Project X is another in the dead and rotting carcass of found footage movies where a group of high school losers are planning the mother of all parties for one of their friends.  The found footage angle is from one of the friends filming the massive party.

I can actually see both sides of the argument for this movie.  Being such a negative person I guess I will start with that position.  Firstly, the ‘found footage‘ aspect of this movie is complete bullshit.  There is no reason why this movie needed to be found footage other than the producers wanted to make a cheap movie.  The director doesn’t stick with it, it does not matter to the plot, and does not contribute anything at all.  Another reason they may have went with found footage is because it means the writers can forgo having to write a plot for this movie.   Project X kind of has the spirit of a John Hughes story with it’s loser characters trying to achieve high school glory, but the finished product is almost insulting in its simplicity.  This is as little as you have to do in order to see crazy party shit and it really hurts the first half of the movie when they are building up to said crazy party.  Whenver there isn’t a little person in an over it is dreadfully slow.

What may hurt the movie the most are the characters.  These are not likable characters such as in a John Hughes movie or even in Judd Aptow movies.  They are not even likable jerks; they are just plain unlikable.  Scratch that, they are complete assholes who grate on your patience throughout the movie.  They don’t even get their commupance by they end and, in fact, it’s the opposite.  These characters are somehow popular for the rest of their lives for this party when we all know what happens in high school means less than nothing for who you are the rest of your life.

On the positive side, if ALL you are looking for are crazy party shenanigans, then you are probably going to enjoy the movie.  There are little people in ovens, there are flamethrowers, there are houses being destroyed, and so on.  When the party gets started, they put everything including the kitchen sink in to make you laugh.

And even though I said I would be positive now, I have to go back and be a wet blanket.  Even though the party is crazy, all of the best parts are absolutely spoiled by the trailer.  To me, that is pretty much the killer of this movie.  If I knew all the best parts were in the trailer, I would not want to pay full price to see this movie.

Project X has its target demographic, and if you are it then you will probably like it.  It pretty much promises one thing and it delivers just that.  To anyone looking for anything more than used up Hangover humor, they will not find it.  There is no plot, the movie is slow to get going, much of the best parts are spoiled by the trailer, and the characters are very annoying.  Movies like Project X I think are quickly forgotten as movies as they simply play the game of “Can you top this?“ with the toilet humor.  And even though this claims to be the most extreme party movie ever, how much you wanna bet in the next few years you will have a string of movies that try to top it?  This movie is a ‘skip it‘ or at least wait until it is on DVD.

Purple Rose of Cairo (Woody Allen) 1985

Posted in P, Woody Allen Retrospective on December 1, 2011 by moviemoses

There are always opposing forces in nature: there is yin and yang, light and dark, good and evil, etc.  Everyone at some point has the “guilty pleasure“.  You know, there is some song or movie or whatever that you should have every reason to hate, but for some reason you enjoy it.  Guilty pleasures get a lot of attention but not so many people bring up the opposing force.  I haven’t really heard a name for it even so I guess I will tenatively call it the “guilty displeasure“.  Those are the movies that you should have every reason to love, but you just can’t get into it.  For example, I really don’t like Gone with the Wind.  I admit that it is epic with gorgeous cinematography, the acting is great, and whatever you want to say about it.  But I just don’t enjoy it.  I’m sure if you gave me enough time and if I really thought about it I could come up with some reasons but I don’t really have the energy to do it.

Purple Rose of Cairo is a “guilty displeasure“ and I am REALLY guilty for not liking it.  I read a lot of reviews and I see several sites list the best and worst Woody Allen movies and all of them list this movie as one of his crowning achievements.  Some people can hate every other stereotypical Woody movie, but will still fall in love with Purple Rose.  I even love Midnight in Paris, a movie which some would accuse Woody of stealing from Purple Rose (which is a crock but that’s a whole other matter).   But I’ve now watched it twice and can’t fully get behind it.

Maybe I have a disagreement over the ending.  Yes, I know what Woody was intending with the ending.  My problem may be with the fact that for 90% of the movie we have the tone of light hearted fantasy and then for the last 10% we have harsh reality crashing down on our main character’s head.  I don’t know how more people aren’t given whiplash by the strong tonal shift.  Or maybe I’m still not completely sold on Jeff Daniels as Tom.  Don’t get me wrong, I usually love Jeff Daniels and I actually think he gives a good performance.  He still doesn’t quite have the look of suave renaissance man with gorgeous looks.  I’m sure that argument could be shot down within the movie by seeing a Fred Astaire movie but like I said, guilty displeasures don’t have the best arguments in the world.

I do really love the concept of the movie and some of the funniest bits are when the characters still stuck in the movie are trying to figure out what to do now that one of the main characters has bolted.  Mia Farrow probably gives her best performance as the always optimistic woman who is constantly getting shat on by society.  Not to mention Woody Allen is once again showing his mastery in making this story work and having the audience be completely won over by the charm of it all.  This is all kinds of counter-intuitive, but I recommend people go out and watch this movie.  This is some of Woody’s best work and I think anyone who hasn’t seen it will be quickly won over by its charm.  This is just one of those times where my brain and my tastes aren’t on the same page.

Paul (Greg Mottola) 2011

Posted in P on August 15, 2011 by moviemoses

Paul is about a pair of nerds (played by Simon Pegg and Nick Frost) who are on a road trip to the American southwest visiting several alien hot spots.  The come across an alien named Paul (Seth Rogen) who is on the run from several government agents.  Pegg and Frost’s characters decide to help Paul travel up north in order to meet up with a rescue ship.

I was very reluctant to see Paul.  I love the work of Pegg and Frost as Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz are hilarious movies.  Two things were kind of holding me back.  First was the fact that Pegg’s American movies (Run Fatboy Run, How to Lose Friends…) were at best, mediocre.  Second was the trailer.  Holy crap did this movie trailer fail.  The comedy looked way too broad and seemed like another Seth Rogen stoner comedy.  Now that the movie is out on DVD I finally worked up the nerve to check it out.

2011 is a strange year for me because many of my expectations for movies end up being wrong.  I can’t think of another year where I have had so many ‘pleasant surprises’ or ‘movies I am sure will suck but end up being very good’.  I thought Thor would be too goofy, I thought Super 8 would be generic, I thought Bridesmaids would be absolutely dreadful, and so on.  This is a bit of a tangent, but long story short I was also wrong about Paul.

I found Paul to be a funny movie.  The humor is kind of a sampling of everything.  I mean you get nerd references, you get clever jokes, you get some raunchy bits, you get maybe one or two stoner jokes, and you get some slapstick.  The trailer did misrepresent what the movie was in that it focused solely on the stupid wherein the actual film you get a nice mix of everything.

Warning: this paragraph has some discussion of religion.  If you care then move onto the next paragraph.  There are a few people who are offended by the cracks at Christianity.  Speaking as an atheist living in a culture practically dominated by Christianity/Christian themes, I would first like to give a condescending “poor baby” while simultaneously playing the world’s smallest violin.  With that out of the way I will go back to my politically correct self.  The movie makes fun of a small group of Christian extreme views.  I doubt most people would say Ray Comfort, Ken Ham, or Fred Phelps would speak for them so I don’t know why many Christians would think Paul speaks for them.  Secondly, I saw this movie with a large group of Christian friends and they all loved the movie.  The point of that is I think some people are being hyper sensitive about one character which does not represent the whole.  Hell, the movie has a pair of hillbillies who look like they are out of Deliverance.  Should Southerners be upset at the stereotypes being portrayed in this movie too?

With that out of the way, I will go on to the acting.  Simon Pegg and Nick Frost (it should go without saying) are great together.  The reason they have done TV and movies for so long is they have a great natural chemistry and play off each other well.  Kristen Wiig, with Bridesmaids, Paul, and even Macgruber, has really come out as someone I like to see in comedies.  I think she is really funny and charming in the movies she is in.  I even like Seth Rogen in this movie.  I normally hate Seth Rogen’s antics but for some reason it all works when he is voicing Paul.  Jason Bateman is not that good but I base that more on not having enough material rather than bad acting.

I recommend Paul to just about everyone.  As I mentioned, the humor is good enough that I think there is something for everyone to enjoy.  It is a predictable movie and that predictability can sometimes bleed over into the humor where some gags are stale.  There is a loss by not having Edgar Wright directing Pegg and Frost.  And if you are comparing this to say Shaun or Hot Fuzz then Paul is not close to the greatness which are those movies.  Paul is though, still a very fun movie and I see myself watching it again soon.

A Perfect Getaway (David Twohy) 2009

Posted in P on May 3, 2011 by moviemoses

Normally I would dismiss this type of movie as another Touristas or Hostel or any of that crap.  I checked it out because A. I heard some good reviews and B. it is directed by David Twohy.  I am pretty sure I have seen most (if not all) of his movies from The Arrival, to Pitch Black, and Chronicles of Riddick and I like all of those movies.  Yes, I even like Chronicles of Riddick as a guilty pleasure.  It is stupid but it is like Conan IN SPACE!!!

This movie is about a couple played by Milla Jovovich and Steve Zahn going on a honeymoon in Hawaii.  They hear about a perfect beach that is a very difficult climb to get to.  They meet another couple played by Timothy Olyphant and Keile Sanchez.  They somehow get news there is a couple (man/woman) going around murdering people on the islands.  The two couples then suspect each other of possibly being the murderous couple.

The first half is basically this guessing game of who the murderers could be.  I will say the first 20-25 minutes are pretty entertaining and the dialog is very pleasant.  But this section goes on for probably another 20 minutes too long to pad the movie out to 90 minutes.  While the writing is nice, it’s not quite clever enough to entertain us for like 50 minutes guessing.

We then get a twist which you all expect coming and doesn’t really work.  Curious?

Olyphant and his girlfriend are suspected because he is this special forces gung ho army type.  We get several scenes of Zahn and Jovovich contemplating this and how much they really know about them.  The big twist is Zahn and Jovovich are the killers and they take the identities of the people they murder which is why we believe them to be on their honeymoon.  This simply does not work.  If they are the murderers it does not make sense they would secretly go off and debate about whether or not Olyphant and his partner are the killer!  Who are they trying to fool?  Themselves!?  The audience?  Do they know we are watching?  Shouldn’t they be plotting to kill the other party?  Ugh.
Yeah, the twist is bullshit.  The next 30 minutes however are pretty exciting.  It turns into a big action scene where one couple gets hunted by the other.  This was I have to say good and I think Twohy does action well.

Overall I thought this movie was alright.  The twist sucks and there is a little padding you have to muck through.  But if you can look through that, then you will be mildly entertained.  I put it slightly above average.

A Prophet (Jacques Audiard) 2009

Posted in P on September 1, 2010 by moviemoses

Malik (Tahar Rahim) is a young Arab sent to prison for six years. He is thrust into a situation where he has to kill another inmate. In exchange for doing it, he gains protection in prison from the Corsican mob. During his stay he learns more about the drug trade, gains more responsibilities in the mob, and even starts his own drug trade.

Right from the box cover, the makers set your expectations a tad high by comparing it to The Godfather. Lower them right back down to more realistic expectations of a quite good movie. Not everything has to be The Godfather. Okay, so onto discussing the movie.

I really liked the first third of the movie. In it we see Malik thrown into the prison system like a true fish out of water. He is young, uneducated, and not the same class of criminal as the killers and drug traffickers he is confined with. The conflict comes up when the Corsican mob comes up with a proposition: either kill a snitch in protective custody or they will kill Malik. Malik doesn’t want to be a part of the mob or kill anyone and tries everything to get out of it to no effect. There is a ton of tension then when he has to plan the murder by hiding a razor blade in his mouth. It is a really intense section.

Then the rest of the movie kind of loses steam. In kind of GTA storyline fashion, Malik gets bigger and bigger jobs and he eventually gets a drug trade of his own. The problem is, it is a little too easy for him to be a drug kingpin. Now I get what the director is going for in that Malik is a quick learner and picks things up over the course of his prison time. However he just starts up his own crime organization and has no (what I perceive to be) real challenges to his business. There is also more about a plot between the Corsican mob, the Italian mob, and Muslim drug runners. This part is a bit muddled and hard to follow. Plus it doesn’t quite have the same impact as the first part. The first part was exciting because it was Malik fighting for his very survival. The rest of the movie deals with the politicking and earning more money. That is not as interesting.

There are a few other things I didn’t quite get on my first viewing. The main thing is a rather strange tangent that Malik is somehow gets more spiritual during his stay at prison. It is rather odd that the more crime Malik commits (including murder) the movie portrays him as being more spiritual; a prophet (as the title says). Now I could be completely misinterpreting the directors vision and like I said in the beginning of the paragraph, I don’t really get it. The message could have flown completely over my head, but I think that part was too vague to a fault.

The acting is very good. Tahar Rahim has to carry this movie as the main character and he succeeds. He has to play a complete character arc from naïve teen to toughened crime boss and he does it very well. I especially like Niels Arestrup as the prison mob boss Cesar. He is very intimidating when he wants to be but also shows subtle signs of insecurity and weakness.

I don’t want to give you the wrong impression because I have criticized this movie for most of my review. A Prophet is a solid crime film. It is not The Godfather. This movie has some flaws keeping it down and (at least for me) doesn’t have much replay value. But it has good performances and has some very interesting parts to it. I do recommend this movie if you are a fan of these kinds of movies.

Predators (Nimrod Antal) 2010

Posted in P on July 13, 2010 by moviemoses

Predators takes place basically after the first one (disavowing all knowledge of Predator 2, AVP, and AVPR). Now I’ve heard people on both sides saying that Predator 2 was unwatchable and also it was a great sequel. Now I actually really like Predator 2, but I’m not exactly raging that its not included in canon. For one it is a pretty silly movie with Danny Glover playing Cobra, King Willy and the king of the stereotype performance, and the general over the top nature of the performances (Gary Busey anyone?). It’s fun, but in a campy kind of way. Besides, it is not like we are cutting out all so important back story here. But enough about Predator 2, onto the new movie.

Adrian Brody is some black ops soldier who is literally dropped into a new planet along with other soldiers and killers. They quickly learn this is the Predator’s private game preserve and they are being hunted by a pack of them. Predators throws several references from the first movie and returns to familiar ground in an attempt I think to do a kind of pseudo-reboot. Some could see this as a rip off, however I think this is an attempt to remind fans who have had the bitter taste of AVP and AVPR in their mouths of what the series was all about.

We obviously get a new crew. They are not like Dutch’s experienced team of soldiers. Instead they are killers in one form of another. I will say one thing that is weaker in this movie is the characters are not as distinct as in Predator. It is not like Predator had characters with rich back story, but they had such personality and you saw through their actions what kind of people they are. In Predators the characters are more “mysterious” and you more identify the actors instead of characters. It’s like “Hey, they captured Danny Trejo!” and “Oh, they also captured that guy who plays the racist white cracker in The Shield…and Crow Salvation, and Justified and Miracle at St. Anna. Okay he’s always playing the white racist cracker!” They also have a failed plot twist with Topher Grace who plays a humble doctor who is so nice and hasn’t killed anyone at all and if you haven’t figured out the plot twist by now you haven’t seen a movie ever. Now while the cast isn’t as good as the original, I did still like it. Adrien Brody surprised me the most by filling in the action movie role. Brody plays a nice twist on the main character by playing him as a survivalist and not really a good guy. You also have some good performances by Alice Braga and Laurence Fishburne.  This is more a movie about Brody and Braga peppered with some decent supporting performances than a true cast like the first.

The writers do try to put in some new stuff for this sequel to advance the story. We get some new creatures like giant bloodhounds and more into the race of the Predators. These aren’t huge steps, but it is nice to see the writers trying to develop the story. The action scenes are fun, although at times it is frustrating that the cast has the stormtrooper effect with their weapons. The Russian in particular has a hard time hitting the broad side of a planet with the gattling gun. A small thing I do appreciate is that Antal is not afraid to add gore in. Not that gore makes a horror movie, but it sucks to see horror movies puss out for a PG-13 to pull in as many teens as possible.

I would say this is the best Predator sequel although some might say I am damning it with faint praise. This was a fun movie. Maybe I came in with low expectations with the way the series was run into the dirt, but I had a good time. Predators has some flaws and it certainly is not as great as the original. However this is a return to former glory and I do think it is really good. It would actually be interesting to see a sequel pick up where the last left off.