Monday, March 24, 2014

G.I. Joe - Retaliation

Fans of military action movies should love this. Although, this is more over the top fiction, with masked heroes and villains and am antagonist who can change his facial structure. It is not realistic military battles. There are lots of fights, explosions, the destruction of a major city, and a unique but totally unrealistic (which makes it intriguing) mountainside battle.

The plot is something more fitting comic books than real war movies. Some viewers have their preferences. What was confusing to me, as one who was not familiar with previous background on the characters and their pasts, was new characters would emerge with little indication what their role is to the plot or even whether they are on the side of the protagonist or the antagonist. In time, one could figure it out, yet the introductions of some characters could have been handled more clearly,

So those who wish to sit back and see action, guns firing, martial arts, and military battles, this is a well done movie for this genre.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Franz Kafka's It's a Wonderful Life

This is a wonderful satiric film aimed at lambasting both Franz Kafka and “It’s a Wonderful Life.” While the action plods along with eccentric characters moving towards uncertain and confusing directions, all ties in well at the end with a nice arc. This may not be one of the most popular Christmas specials that will be watched year after year, it definitely is one worth a view and a revisit when one wishes Yuletide satire as well as Christmas joy.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Hunger Games - Catching Fire

This is an excellent production yet it is deliberately flawed, which may anger some viewers. First, it is highly recommended that one see the previous “Hunger Games” movie. There are key references made throughout this movie that are necessary to understand what occurs in this movie that one learned from the first movie. These observations are not always obvious to anyone who has not seen the prior movie.

This movie does not conclude with a story ending. It concludes by letting the viewer know that the story continues into a future movie. Thus, the viewer may feel disappointed and cheated into not learning how several storylines end when the movie concludes.

The production value is great. If one has seen and loved the prior “Hunger Games”, one will most likely enjoy seeing a progression of new adventures with these characters. The concept of a game where people hunt to kill each other is abhorrent and at least this movie, while showing such games, presents this as wrong. There has to be some suspension of belief to accept that this is a society where the continuation or possible collapse of a totalitarian government depends upon these human hunting games. It is also not fully explained how these games could be what could spark a revolution. Yet accepting this does allow one to appreciate the intrigues and double actions of characters.

The script is good, The lead character is required to do much soul searching that is interesting to watch. The special effects are excellent. The acting is top notch. The movie, though, leaves audiences wanting more, which is what the studio wants, but does not make for a good overall movie that fails to stand on its own.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

This Means War

This is a romantic drama with a comedic situation. Two best friends who work together at the CIA compete for the same woman. She is unaware they know each other. The jealous friends use high tech spying techniques to spy on each other’s dates. One has to suspend belief as we hope our intelligence efforts as not so misused. There is a spy drama interspersed yet is mostly peripheral to the main story except to play a role in resolving a key dilemma.

This movie offers a difference from most other romantic comedies in that there is no apparent leading male character among the two to root for. Chelsea Handler presents the comedic moments as the friend and advisor to the lead female portrayed by Reese Witherspoon. When just as all hope appears lost for our three main characters, duty calls and the story moves to happy resolutions that may not have been immediately apparent earlier on. 

Wednesday, March 12, 2014


“I figured if he got my mom it was only right I got Jesse” are haunting words from the film about a boy who sets off to date the daughter of the married man who dates his mother. What the boy, born without a father, has figured from information in a high school genetics lecture that lets him rule out that the man dating his mother is his birth father. His mother told him his father was a famous race car driver. There are some slight hints the Sheriff might be his father, although they are then surprisingly abandoned, which confuses the film. The Sheriff has been having a decades long affair with the mother

This film works well as it focuses on two complex relationships. In addition, the mother, skillfully portrayed by Jennifer Connelly, is developing schizophrenia, adding further difficulties. She dates a Sheriff running for State Senator, well portrayed by Ed Harris, who is not above throwing his influential weight around town. The dilemmas of the dramas, including a fake pregnancy, steadily increase and keep our interest. A problem with the story is most characters have too many faults to allow us to fully empathize with them.

This movie’s depiction of Mormons tends to stereotype. The characters are all believable. There is a unique twist in the presentation at the beginning and end of the film. This is not an upbeat movie.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Vixens of Virtue Vixens of Vice

This is a good amateur-ist video with low budget special effects. It is good to see a cast where heroes and villains are all strong female characters. The plot is simple. It would be useful if more background were provided. Why are the three hero sisters fighting with the three evil step sisters? What is the motivation for the adopted sister to want to kill them all? Cosplay fans will love the costumes. This is a nice cartoonish action film of promising filmmakers. 

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Pacific Rim

This is one of the better modern action films. This one capitalizes on fears of giant beings arising from the ocean destroying cities that have been part of many previous movies. The fight is a futuristic one with new weapons. An interesting element is the attackers, aliens from outer space, are able to adapt and fight better.

This movie does a decent job with character development. We understand the strengths and flaws of various weaknesses. It combines both brown and intellectual pursuits in the fight. A criticism is dark fights of dark fighters at night which makes it hard to see what is occurring. There are directors who defend that the darkness contributes a dramatic mood yet I believe it is better to better to see what is going on..

I will suspend belief enough to disregard that a two legged weapon is not practical. I do wonder why, if firing weapons if their most effective tactic, they always wait unti the end of the fight to fire them. Oh, wait, that is so there can be an action movie. So suspend belief and watch away.

This movie brings out characters without being melodramatic. It allows us to figure out things with slight dialogue, which is better than the over-telling method some other movies use, There are interesting back stories impact the story’s direction. This is a thoughtful action movie that is well acted and directed.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Nurse Jackie: Season Five

This season of “Nurse Jackie” shows great character growth. We watch as the main character fights her way through her first year of sobriety. She is challenged with a 14 year old daughter who is beginning to experiment with drugs. Her faces problems at several directions with disputes with an ex-husband to learning how to handle people from her past as well as new friends. Some new characters are well introduced to the dilemmas including a new doctor learning to adjust his military past into the civilian world, a confused boss, a manipulating new resident., and a new suitor. The series ends with an interesting twist that makes us look forward to learning what directions the main character is headed.

Cattle Bag

This movie likely has a limited audience of college students, mostly male, who find dirty jokes and overacting funny. It is indeed a step above home videos with some lo quality  special effects. It is gross out humor featuring a few male comedic actors. There are some laughs, but the appeal is directed at those who appreciate sophomoric humor. The actors have hints of talent so perhaps someday those who do further films will look back at this film as one of the stepping steps in their career. I am not certain how many will want to admit they appeared in this film, but I think they would look bit and find it a bit of a laugh.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Thor: The Dark World

This is a high tech special effects battle movie with a twist of someone from Earth traveling to a different culture in outer space.. It relies heaving on well choreographed fight scenes. It is easy to follow which side is which is this battle of good versus evil. There often is just quick, short background into what the struggles are all about,

I am wondering why, if there are a type of firearms and missiles, does this society do most of its fighting using swords? I believe the key is suspend belief in many facets of this fantasy story. It is always a disadvantage in movies about fictional societies that movies will spring important knowledge about their world to the audience. It may be best to just go with it and follow the excitement.

Saturday, March 1, 2014


“Nebraska” features much scenic beauty of Montana and Nebraska and demonstrates that great filming can be presented in black and white. This is a movie where the towns and its residens explain much of the story. This is a great movie about an adult son learning about his father and his parents’ past while taking a road trip. It is expertly written and acted where we often learn more about people though how little they say than through what they say. It is a movie of memories and stirring up the past. Bruce Dern is excellent as a father who people laugh at and Will Forte is superb as the son trying to understand his father and see if he can bring his famther some redemption.

The dialogue and story move slowly, although that is part of the point. This is a great exploration into people who go though life seldom expressing their feelings. We learn more layers about the characters and what molded them as the story progresses. It has a pleasing arc.

If you believe movies can only be in color with lots of special effects, this is not your movie. If you want to see a movie where you learn about people and want to root for them, you should enjoy this film.



“Austenland” is a quaint move with an interesting premise. A woman searching for herself is enthralled vacating in a place where actors and settings pretend to be straight out of the novels of Jane Austen. The concept alone makes this an intriguing film. Jennifer Coolidge brings a good sharp comedic edge as the “fish out of water” participant who is unfamiliar with Jane Austen novels.

One need not have read a Jane Austen book to be able to follow the movie. One quickly understands the settings and life styles of 18th century British society. The mixing of 21st century people in this past creates comedic relief.

The plot is not compelling. It makes it appear more that the main character needs to move on with her life than she is facing a critical crisis. What is good is the main character, in search of love, has not one but two suitors. As fantasy and reality are well mixed, viewers are often uncertain which suitor is the proper one. This interesting twist creates an interesting dilemma for both the main character and the viewer.

Several of the other characters appear too infrequently such that there is a lack of character depth presented. They serve more as a backdrop and some of their story events emerge and pass a bit quickly. One crisis emerges quickly, is not mentioned, reappears as a major threat, and then is discarded, thus adding little to the story.

This is a light, fun romantic comedy. It may not be overly realistic is demonstrating the lines between fantasy and realism. Yet it should be enjoyable to those wanting to see if a woman obsessed with a different era can find love today.