I’m Watching…Rapture-Palooza

28 Sep

Rapture PaloozaI’m watching the 2013 end of the world comedy Rapture-Palooza. Starring the wonderful Anna Kendrick, often overlooked John Francis Daley, and the always comedic Craig Robinson, Rapture-Palooza takes the end of the world talk one step further and explores what might happen if the rapture ever occurred. I’m torn on this film – I really wanted to like this film because it features some of my favorite actors (Rob Corddry  and John Michael Higgins are always amazing) and the story line lends itself for so much creativity, but at the conclusion of the film, I was left underwhelmed.  I felt there wasn’t enough development  to the film, it was unnecessarily raunchy at times (almost like there is an expectation that is should be), and that the actors could, and should, do better.

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Review: White House Down

7 Jul

White_House_Down_Theatrical_PosterSynopsis: The White House is under attack…again! Capital City police officer John Cale (Channing Tatum) must prove his loyalty and tactical skill when the White House is under siege by terrorists. Between trying to save the President (Jamie Foxx) and his daughter (Joey King), can Cale save the country and restore America’s faith in freedom?

My Thoughts: Back in March, I reviewed Olympus Has Fallen, another White House taken hostage film, and I laid the gauntlet. Olympus Has Fallen burst out of the gate like a race horse, and it was clear White House Down needed to follow suit. Unfortunately, the film didn’t rise to the occasion.

While I can’t fault White House Down’s plot because it was so similar to Olympus Has Fallen, I do take issue with some of the choices made by director Roland Emmerich. Emmerich, known for his outlandish action films Independence Day (who didn’t love it), 2012, and The Day After Tomorrow, presented us with an outdated attempt at an attack on the White House. While Olympus Has Fallen utilized our current conflict with North Korea to set the stage, Emmerich and crew elected to use homegrown terrorists to coordinate and execute an incredibly elaborate choreographed assault. And while that might happen, there is no way in hell it could with the comical cast of bad guys assembled for this film in a post-9/11 world. There was no sense of surprise to the actions of the instigators – you knew James Wood’s Director of Secret Service Detail was the bad guy in the first 5 minutes of the film. There was no buildup, no natural anticipation of what was to come. Moreover, the terrorists are caricatures of what we imagine the bad guys looked like…in 1996! Slicked back hair, excessive tattoos, crazy laughs, and dumb luck smiles – really? Is this what we want as audiences? We want the hero to fight a villain that is memorable and complex and makes us question if we are good people. Not to worry – you’ll feel like a freaking genius compared to these bad guys.

Additionally, we need to put this kind of attack into context. Realistically, an attack like this would never make it to the custodial cart explosion that sets the whole thing off in a post-9/11 society. They expect audiences to believe that Congressional security would miss a huge bomb hidden beneath two empty bottles of cleaning fluid and that custodial staff don’t have to swipe badges at certain checkpoints. Furthermore, Emmerich wants us to believe that a crew of 6-8 men, who we have already ascertained were comical at best, could take down all the security in the Congressional building and White House. That might have been believable in a pre-9/11 world, but since security measures and protocols have been changed in the last 10 years, Emmerich and writer James Vanderbuilt really should have considered the increased military presence. This film would have been a great follow up to Independence Day…17 years ago.

Finally, Emmerich presents us with an interesting perspective of America – and I don’t mean interesting in a good way. I was incredibly disappointed that Emmerich thinks the Secret Service, the President, and in effect, all of America, are really that clueless. I understand that Emmerich and Vanderbuilt may not like President Obama, but to have Foxx portray him as an average man who may or may not be very intelligent because he wants peace in the Middle East, is addicted to Nicorette gum, and wears super thick glasses in order to achieve a preconceived level of nerdiness is insulting. I think we, the American people, have proved time and time again that we are smarter than that, that we are stronger than that, and that we are better than that.

But the plot, writing, and direction are not the only things that are problematic with this film. As much as I respect some of these actors, I was disappointed with the acting and decisions made by the actors for their characters. I like Channing Tatum, I really do. I think he has shown promise in both dramatic roles ( Magic Mike) and comedic roles (21 Jump Street). But this role and film did nothing for him. We already know he does action well and can be a loving man and father. But come on – who takes their daughter with them to an interview with the Secret Service? Seriously?!? And who doesn’t button the top button of their shirt and straighten their tie? It was a complete joke and his character was a complete joke…and he shouldn’t have been. On paper, the character of John Cale should have been confident, detailed, and purposeful from the start. Instead, we are given a man who can’t form a complete sentence, is as insecure as a freshman on the first day of high school, and speaks like a teenager. This is a man who did 3 tours in Afghanistan and protects the speaker of the house, but has incredibly stupid conversations with squirrels. I’m sure they did this so the character would seem more relatable to the average citizen, but it was really unrealistic.  Likewise with Maggie Gyllenhaal’s Agent Finnerty. I have never seen such a weak Secret Service agent presented on screen. I am a huge fan of Gyllenhaal, but her portrayal of a Secret Service agent is one of the worst I have ever seen. No authority, a lack of confidence, let’s the men in the room walk all over her, and incredibly soft-spoken – is this how Vanderbuilt and Emmerich want audiences to consider female Secret Service agents? Finally, I can’t even talk about Jamie Foxx’s portrayal of President Sawyer. There wasn’t anything of substance there. The man has an Academy Award and that was the best he could do? Disappointed beyond belief.

The only shining light in the film were the additions of Richard Jenkins and Joey King. Richard Jenkins is brilliant in just about everything he is in because he doesn’t force it. The characters are natural and the decisions and actions make sense. Of course, I wish Jenkins had been used more in the film, but his limited screen time proves he is an outstanding actor. And little Joey King completely stole every scene she was in, and her character was authentic and timely. She will have a long, bright career.

For the SGs: Sure, SGs, there is Channing Tatum in a tight, white tank top, covered in soot and ash from explosions and burning buildings. But to be honest, all of it is for not, since he character is so inarticulate and adolescent. Mr. Tatum – please give us something more to work with than just a little piece of bright white material. Pretty please!

I’m Watching…Warm Bodies

26 Jun

Warm-Bodies-03I know, I know – I’m watching Warm Bodies really late. Unfortunately, with all the films that came out in 2013 so far, I just didn’t have time for everything. Warm Bodies (2013) is a witty, brilliant film. I would say it is one of the best films I have seen in 2013. It has spot-on casting with Nicholas Hoult as R and Teresa Palmer as Julie. And let’s not forget how Rob Corddry, one of my favorite character actors, steals every scene he’s in. The writing is fresh, relevant, and meaningful. Warm Bodies is a well-rounded, entertaining film that leaves you thinking about what humans are really capable of and how love can change the world. Here’s hoping for some Golden Globe nominations in 2014!

Classic Pick of the Week: Shag

26 Jun

ShagMy Classic Pick of the Week is the 1989 sun-fun flick Shag.  If you lived in South Carolina in 1963, the place to be was the grand stram, Myrtle Beach. Sun, fun, and shagging (a dance style) were the plays of the day, and how to wear your hair was the only worry. Phoebe Cates, Bridget Fonda, Annabeth Gish, and Page Hannah spend their last weekend together before leaving for college, discovering who they are and looking for love in all the wrong places. Recommended by my sister years ago, I start every summer with this film. There is just something about how the film portrays the beach and lazy days that makes me yearn for a beach towel, sunscreen, and a mojito.

 

Classic Pick of the Week: Heart and Souls

9 Jun

HeartandSoulsMy Classic Pick of the Week is the 1993 film Heart and Souls. Okay, this film doesn’t fall into my normal criteria for a Classic Pick of the Week. I usually don’t include films from the 1990s because I don’t like to think of that as “classic”, but I will make an exception for this incredibly cheesy, but heartfelt, comedy. Featuring Robert Downey, Jr., Heart and Souls tells the story of a man who needs a little help to become a better person. In this case, help comes in the form of four displaced spirits who need Downey to complete their unfinished business. The film is not what you would call “good” or “life-changing”, but it is memorable and sentimental. And who doesn’t love Robert Downey Jr.!

I’m Watching…That Guy…Who Was In That Thing

3 Jun

that guyI’m watching the refreshing 2012 documentary “That Guy…Who Was In That Thing.” That Guy explores the lives and careers of some of the best, and most utilized, character actors on television and in the movies. Seeing some of my favorite character actors, such as Zach Grenier (The Good Wife), Zeljko Ivanek (Damages), Stanley Kamel (Monk), and Timothy Omundson (Psych and Saint Joseph, Missouri native!), and listening to their stories, shred new light on “the business.” These men work steadily, you see them in everything, and they bring life to even the smallest characters – yet they are not considered A-list stars (which is an incredibly small percentage, by the way). Bravo to these men, and other actors like them, who bring happiness to people like me by providing outstanding and brilliant performances to the big and small screens.

Best.Summer.Ever – Summer Movie Preview

1 May

Everyone knows I love Oscar season. The artistry of the films, the depth of emotions, and the exploration of the human experience. But after a few months, movie lovers, including me, get a hankering for something different. And cue the Summer Movie Experience (SME)! Explosions, storylines that a monkey with a crayon can understand, and an excuse to spend hours in an air-conditioned setting – there is nothing better than watching that first summer movie blockbuster. As the date rapidly approaches, and I get more excited about my SME, here is a preview of the films I will be checking out this summer.

  • Iron Man 3 (May 3)
  • The Great Gatsby (May 10)
  • Star Trek Into Darkness, Black Rock, The English Teacher, Erased (May 17)
  • Fast & Furious 6, Before Midnight (May 24)
  • Now You See Me (May 31)
  • After Earth, The Internship, Much Ado About Nothing, Rapture-Palooza (June 7)
  • The Bling Ring, Man of Steel (June 14)
  • Monsters University, World War Z (June 21)
  • The Heat, White House Down, Byzantium (June 28)
  • The Lone Ranger, Despicable Me 2 (July 3)
  • The Way, Way Back (July 5)
  • The Conjuring, Girl Most Likely, RED 2, RIPD (July 19)
  • The Wolverine (July 26)
  • Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters (August 7)
  • Elysium (August 9)
  • Austenland (August 16)
  • Drinking Buddies, The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones (August 23)
  • Don Jon (TBA)

All these movies, so little time. Now if I could just get paid to watch all these movies…