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posted by [personal profile] cathyr19355 at 12:32pm on 18/09/2013 under
Last night, I finally watched "Pacific Rim" with [profile] esrblog after hearing a mutual friend say she enjoyed it.

Like most of the latest run of action movies, it blatantly (instead of subtly) disregards the laws of physics and chemistry. It telegraphs just about all plot developments at least 15 minutes in advance. It attempts to bring the visual tropes and storytelling values of anime and manga to the Hollywood screen.

And despite being based on a save-the-world plot (that's all I'm saying, to avoid spoilers, even though most of my readers who wanted to have probably seen it by now), the pace of the film is surprisingly slow, and many parts of it manage to be boring. But then, I've never been one to enjoy the resounding clash of special effects very much, and that's what happens in most of Pacific Rim.

On the other hand, it has a genuinely happy ending, and the last two movies I've seen didn't, so that's a Good Thing.

If you like anime and manga, Pacific Rim will at least amuse you. If not...well don't say I didn't warn you.
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posted by [personal profile] cathyr19355 at 03:58pm on 24/03/2013 under
Yesterday, [profile] esrblog and I went with [profile] pmat and [profile] shakati to see "The Croods", an animated feature about life and survival way before the dawn of history.

As a story, it was often charming, though I found the attempts to wring humor from the script by analogzing the journey of the characters to a new home to a modern road trip a little annoying. The attempts to forge humor from the interactions between the characters were much more effective: stern over-protective dad, supportive mom, aggressive toddler, dopey kid brother, and our main protagonist, Eep, a cute, curvy redhead who's tired of living in a cave. More than that I can't say without spoilers, but it was great fun, and surprisingly moving in places, and some of the visuals were striking.

An amusing side note: I got our tickets cheap. When I tendered my money, I was surprised that the clerk asked me for only $18.00 instead of the usual $23.50 that the relevant theater normally charges for two adult tickets to an evening showing. I asked her whether there had been a price reduction, and she replied in the negative.

When I had a chance to glance at the tickets, the mystery was solved. She had charged me the SENIOR rate of $9.00 per ticket.

I've had plenty of experience with retail clerks deciding I was much younger than I appear. This was my first experience of the reverse. Ouch.
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posted by [personal profile] cathyr19355 at 11:59pm on 30/12/2012 under
Tonight, I saw Lincoln with some friends of mine.

The movie deserves its reputation. Daniel Day-Lewis, thanks only in part to some wonderful makeup artists, is convincing as Abraham Lincoln, and Sally Field is just as good as Mary Todd Lincoln. All of the actors, even in the minor roles, are convincing, not only as characters, but as nineteenth century characters.

The period color and settings are as fine as the acting. The clothing is much more convincing than I'd expected for early 1865, as are the dark, cluttered, interiors. The movie avoids the common error of making period interiors larger and airier than was possible, or consistent with period taste. The overall air of correctness made it easier to ignore the relatively few errors and anachronisms (such as the depiction of both Union and Confederate soldiers in standardized uniforms, when such a thing was impossible for the Confederacy and uncommon for the Union, by 1865) that do appear. John Williams's score, well-executed by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, fits the story well, possibly because it is somewhat bombastic in flavor.

The most surprising thing about the movie, to me, is that it isn't primarily about Lincoln, despite the title. It's really about the political wheeling and dealing Lincoln had to engage in to get the 13th Amendment (the one that abolished slavery) adopted. One would not think that a story consisting primarily of men talking to other men in (literally) smoke-filled rooms would make for satisfying drama, but it does. I suppose we have Steven Spielberg's genius to thank for that; his primary skill is in employing the tools of cinema to tug at the emotions of his audience.
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posted by [personal profile] cathyr19355 at 09:28pm on 18/12/2011 under ,
Last night [profile] esrblog and I went with friends to see the latest Sherlock Holmes movie, "Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows" starring Robert Downey, Jr. as the great sleuth.

The movie had a lot of what made the first Sherlock Holmes film a lot of fun: good period color (don't confuse that with meticulous authenticity, however) and great acting, especially from Downey, Jude Law as Dr. Watson, Kelly Reilly as Watson's bride, Mary, and Noomi Rapace, as Madam Simza, a gypsy fortune teller who managed to become entangled with the two. Rachel McAdams as Irene Adler makes some brief appearances at the beginning of the movie and then disappears, with suggestions that she has been permanently disposed of.

Unfortunately, the overall story was even weaker this time around. There were some great scenes, and some marvellous plot contrivances, but they are connected to each other by rather dull, all-dialogue scenes that are boring by virtue of their predictability (even when they are meant to contain plot clues). There were also increasing amounts of minor, but distracting, anachronisms, the most conspicuous of which turn up in the dialogue ("having a relationship"; "no pressure!") A large part of the problem with the script is that it has to deal with the difficulties in introducing Professor Moriarty into the movie's cosmos, as well as his fight with Holmes over Reichenbach Falls and its ambiguous conclusion. Moreover, in order to try to convey the workings of the Great Detective's brain, a lot of stop-and-go action and slow motion trickery is used, and the result tends to slow down even the best of the outrageous, shark-jumping chase scenes. So despite all of its good parts the movie is less than convincing as a story. I, at least, spent too much time throughout the picture enjoying one scene and then wondering when the next bit of fun was due to arrive.

So should you see the movie? Yes, but I think you'll have more fun when you rent it later, to watch with friends. Why? That way, you'll be able to hit the refrigerator or refresh your drinks during the dull parts. Just make sure you catch Watson's stag party, and Holmes pulling up with Watson to the scene of what is to be Watson's wedding... But if I say anything more, I'll need to resort to an lj-cut.

Just go see the picture for yourself--without children, preferably. There is a fair amount of gory violence and explosions that you may prefer to keep from young eyes, at least until you've vetted it first.
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posted by [personal profile] cathyr19355 at 11:38am on 27/11/2011 under
Last night, as a way of making it up to him for "The Muppets", I took [profile] esrblog to see "The Immortals", the latest feature film by the people who brought us "The 300". This time, I don't have to go anywhere near the plot to describe what's wrong with the movie. This movie has two problems; ridiculously over-the-top visuals, and an incredibly slow, boring story.

Having seen "The 300", I wasn't expecting the costumes, or the sets, to be historical. However, I wasn't expecting them to be ridiculous! But ridiculous they were, in the extreme. (Example; there are four "virgin oracles" in the story. Their formal dress consists of translucent black chitons over fitted red sleeveless dresses, all of which is covered with red, gold-embroidered, ground-length burkas. On top of their burkas, they wear lampshades on their heads. No, really. Lampshades. And each oracle has her own distinctive, different lampshade. The image has to be seen to be believed. If I can find a link to a picture of same, I'll edit this to post it here.) I could go on, but I don't have to: Just search Google Images for "Immortals"; you should see what I mean soon enough.

Worse still, the movie drags on and on. It's pretty obvious where the (incredibly simple) plot has to go from very early on in the picture, but the filmmakers still force us to sit for nearly two hours, watching the plot unfold, slowly and painfully, like a car crash in extreme slow motion.

Much of the draggy two hours consists of battle scenes, or other depictions of carnage. There were at least four scenes where I had to look away from the screen within the first half-hour, and I'm not especially squeamish. Although they didn't use as much blood as a realistic depiction would require (a lot of the killings are beheadings), there was still more gore than I appreciate seeing in a movie.

On the plus side, the actors do an impressive job with the limited opportunities afforded them by the script. (Frankly, I'm impressed that they could keep from laughing on the job, let alone manage any acting, since they had to look at each other in their silly costumes while filming the picture.) Almost all of the actors, with the exception of Mickey Rourke as the villain, are incredibly fit and beautiful, and Rourke and Henry Cavill (as Theseus) and Freida Pinto (as Phaedra, the lead oracle), are wonderful to watch. Or at least they would be, if you didn't have to wade through dozens of gorefests and still shots of the Mediterranean just to watch them do their thing.

So I can't find it in myself to recommend that anyone see "The Immortals", except maybe out of curiosity. If you're curiosity is piqued, I'd still urge you not to pay full price to see it in the theater, even if it's still playing where you are (we had a hard time finding it in 2D); hang on till it hits DVD/Netflix distribution. That's about all it's worth, in my opinion.

EDIT: (11/30) Found a picture of Phaedra in her lampshade. It's a closeup, which blunts some of the impact of the total costume, but it conveys the ridiculousness well enough. Go here to be horrified, or impressed, depending on your viewpoint. In addition, I found a review where the reviewer shares my opinion about the oracles' costumes. (No photograph of them, alas.)
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posted by [personal profile] cathyr19355 at 10:22pm on 24/11/2011 under ,
We just got back from seeing "The Muppets" with [profile] esrblog, [profile] pmat and [profile] shakati. I actually suggested the expedition, and cast the deciding vote for the movie, since [profile] pmat and [profile] shakati wanted to see it, and I figured it would be a pleasant piece of light entertainment, like, say, "Muppet Treasure Island."

For [profile] esrblog and me, it didn't get anywhere near that standard. ([profile] esrblog was so appalled that he left the theater about a half-hour from the end, and attempted to console himself by sitting in the lobby and composing a scathing review of the film for Google Plus on his smartphone as he waited for the rest of us.)

I stayed, because even with the worst of movies I am usually curious to see how they will end, but I was unhappy with the film as well. A lot of it was due to the script (Frank Oz, who cut his ties with the movie, was also unhappy with the script), but I had a subtler problem with most of the movie, which my desire to avoid spoilerizing compels me to put under a cut.

Read more... )
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posted by [personal profile] cathyr19355 at 10:12pm on 05/11/2011 under , ,
Tonight, I went out with [profile] esrblog, [profile] shakati, [profile] pmat, and another friend, to see "Puss in Boots."

We enjoyed it. It was silly. It was great fun. It was, despite the grossly obvious anthropomorphisms, very loving and evocative of cats. And it explained something about cats I'd never understood before.

Cats have mind control powers. Really. It's all in the eyes.

It's a sweet, funny movie. (Though what happens to Humpty Dumpty might be upsetting to some kids, I'm not sure.) Go and see it.
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posted by [personal profile] cathyr19355 at 02:10pm on 18/07/2011 under ,
Last night, after Summer Weapons Retreat was over, [ profile] esrblog and I headed out with a crowd of our weapons-retreat friends to see "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows--Part 2" at a local theater.

I really enjoyed the movie, though I recognize that, as a movie, it has definite flaws. The first 10 minutes or so include scenes from the book that were not set up at all by the movie (and weren't set up much by HP7 Part I, IMHO) and will undoubtedly confuse anyone who has no knowledge of the books. After that, however, the movie is mostly action until the finale, and is reasonably coherent.

To accomplish this, director David Yates and his band of moviemakers concentrated on several key anchor points--the siege of Hogwarts, the destruction of Voldemort at Harry's hands--and cheerfully threw over the side anything that didn't serve those objectives. Where necessary, they wrote new plot to add a sense of connectivity and paper over the gaps in exposition. The end result worked, largely because they were consistent in spirit with the actual events in the book and with the tone of Hogwarts--both visually and otherwise--as the prior movies have established them. The scenes that the filmmakers chose to present appear pretty much as they appeared in the book, and, as we've come to expect, were stunningly well done. To my surprise, the favorite scene of mine from Book 7 that I never expected them to include is among them.

There is a lot of destruction. I've read that Yates attempted to give the aura of a city under siege by turning to images of World War II, particularly the bombing of Dresden, and through a lot of the movie our heroes pick their way through rubble and flaming wreckage that does indeed look like a WWII movie about the Resistance. But that is perfectly consistent with Rowling's story; she supplies a Hogwarts resistance to Snape's administration, complete with its own radio station, and Yates has the good sense to highlight the Hogwarts resistance as a Resistance, adding those nuances from our legends of the Second World War.

There are themes Yates simply threw away. I can't describe them at all without engaging in major spoilers, and I don't really have the energy to go into them here under a cut. If anyone is interested, please comment, and in two weeks I'll write a new post to discuss them.

Overall, the Potter finale is a reasonable, if not perfect, end to the tale told in the movie series, though it will not suit every Potter fan's taste. Go and see it for yourself.
location: United States, Michigan, Northville
Mood:: 'lazy' lazy
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posted by [personal profile] cathyr19355 at 12:08am on 31/05/2011 under ,
Just got back from a post-Balticon expedition to Kung Fu Panda 2. Not ready to blog Balticon yet, but I wanted to say a few warm words about the movie.

It was nearly as good as the first one. The animation was really impressive. The scenery was gorgeous. (The story's set in Ancient China so, yes, there was scenery. And it was gorgeous.) There was impressively done martial arts sequences. There were funny bits and wise bits, a happy ending *and* an uplifting moral. It wasn't Wall-E, perhaps, in terms of story content, but it was still a good story, and more beautiful to look at than Wall-E was.

It was fun. Go and see it.
Mood:: 'satisfied' satisfied
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posted by [personal profile] cathyr19355 at 01:03am on 27/05/2011 under ,
Last Saturday, [ profile] esrblog and I met up with [ profile] pmat, [ profile] shakati, and [ profile] nancylebov and we all set sail for Disney's latest flagship effort; "Pirates of the Caribbean 4--On Stranger Tides."

Those of my readers who read science fiction and fantasy (that is to say, most of you) may recognize that "On Stranger Tides" is a novel by Tim Powers, set in a colonial-era Caribbean where voodoo magic is real and zombies are everywhere. However, other than that fact there are only two plot elements taken from Powers's book: the concept of Blackbeard as a magic-using pirate, and a race to find the Fountain of Youth.

This time I don't need to give away any spoilerish details to give my opinion of the movie. It has something of the eerieness and intensity of the original POTC, and some great banter among the characters (including Depp as Jack Sparrow and Penelope Cruz as Angelica who, contrary to some critics, have a reasonable amount of chemistry). I thought the movie lacked the rollicking, laugh-out-loud silliness of POTC 2, my favorite movie of the franchise, but still enjoyed watching the filmmakers wend their way from Point A to Point B.

Okay, I do need to emit one spoilerish thought. Here it is. )
Mood:: 'amused' amused


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