Robin Hood (2010)

After checking the reviews on Friday, the first three I read were pretty bad and didn’t have many good things to say at all. And after a few people chiming in on facebook, my better half saying it’s Russell Crowe, and the fact that I had some movie cash from Apollo 13 bluray…OK…I will go ahead and go.

Ok, I am guessing everyone here knows the story of Robin Hood as there are probably more movies about this character than any other. This movie focuses on how Robin Hood came to be, From the Crusades in France, the journey home and what happens upon his return. Russell Crowe (Gladiator, The Insider), well, is just kind of there on screen as Robin Hood. He does what is needed of him, but nothing really shows off what he is capable of as an actor.  Cate Blanchett (The Aviator, Elizabeth) is of course Marion. She probably has the best performance of the entire cast, but again like Crowe, not near what she is capable of. The cast is rounded out with Max von Sydow (The Exorcist, Minority Report), William Hurt (Dark City, A History of Violence) and Mark Strong (Sherlock Holmes).

Ok, after many reviews, some very good, some very bad….what did I think of Ridley Scott;s (Alien, Gladiator, Blade Runner) attempt at Robin Hood? Well, I thought it was just that, an attempt. Actually I thought the story was good, acting wasn’t terrible, and had they titled the movie The Archer and the King of England, I would have liked it. To me this had very few elements of an actual Robin Hood movie, other than characters names. we all know what Robin Hood is about…Right? Lets all say it together…..

He steals from the rich to give to the poor.

Only once did this idea make it into the film, and was quickly done with bags of grain, not even money or gold. Not once did they hide out in Sherwood Forest. Only in the end did Robin Hood do something outstanding with a bow and arrow, again another element of a Robin Hood movie that everyone wants to see were missing. Actually the movie ended where most audiences wanted it to begin. I know that was the way I felt.

There is another element to think about though, that could change my mind about the film entirely. A sequel. It was left open and at a point where you could now make a movie and call it Robin Hood and have it be what everyone was wanting out of this first film. When first seeing The Fellowship of The Ring for the first time, I was pretty ho-hum about the whole thing, but now seeing it and how it fits in, I like it much better. That could be the case here. Although at least with The Fellowship of the Ring, you knew there were two more films coming. If there is another Robin Hood, I may change my mind, but I would feel almost used, in the fact that I put in 2 hours and 20 minutes of my time just so Ridley Scott could set up the next film, which is the film I wanted  the first time. My final thought, if you do venture out to see this one, pretend like the title is The Archer and the King and you will be fine. Don’t expect to see much of what you know as Robin Hood, that is nonexistent.

Advertisements

Iron Man 2

For me the summer blockbuster movies have begun. Iron Man 2 being the first one to hit the big screen. Without giving too much away, the movie is about a disgruntled russian, Ivan,  who is setting out to take down Tony Stark. Also there is a story line about Justin Hammer, a competitor in the arms race, trying to obtain Stark technology to create his own Iron Man to sell to the 4 armed forces division. In the simplest terms, those are the major plot lines.

The film has the usual cast of characters and a few new faces. Robert Downey Jr. (Wonder Boys, Sherlock Holmes, Zodiac) is of course Tony Stark. This is a role that seems very comfortable for him, a rich cocky superstar. Although I thought Downey Jr nailed the character, the scenes with the over the top technology was a bit much. He spent way too much time pushing buttons on hologram screens. Just way too much of that for me. Yes it showed money and wealth, and he can have anything he wants and any technology he wants, but not much else. The story did not benefit from it.

One of the new faces, Scarlett Johansson (The Other Boleyn Girl) plays Natalie. Who seems to be the new secretary for Stark Industries, then seems to turn into somewhat of her own superhero. Really she is nothing more than a cute face answering the phones until the extreme curveball with the character. Mickey Rourke (The Wrestler) plays Ivan/Whiplash. Nothing really special to write home about on his performance, got the job done, but seemed to be just going through the lines. Don Cheadle (Hotel Rwanda, Traffic) is adequate as Lt. James Rhodes, but like all of these characters, seriously lacks character development. The one character that I thought was outstanding was Justin Hammer, played perfectly by Sam Rockwell. (Moon, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind) Just as Downey Jr. plays the cocky rock-star, Rockwell has a nach for the slimy greaseball character.

Gwyneth Paltrow (Shakespeare in Love, Sliding Doors) returns as Pepper Potts. Samuel L Jackson (Shaft, Pulp Fiction), Gary Shandling (What Planet Are You From?) and director Jon Favreau (Swingers, Made) also make appearances in the new film.

So, what did I think? The film really lacked in story in my opinion and seemed to go all over the place as far as a direction. It got to be very slow in the middle acts. This one just did not live up to the first Iron Man, which I really loved. Unless you are a diehard Iron Man fan, my advice is wait and rent this one. The film was entertaining, and had some nice comedic moments, but had it’s fair share of flaws as well.

No Time For Sergeants

I can’t tell you how long I have been waiting for this DVD. No Time For Sergeants is a movie that I grew up on, and to finally be able to get in on DVD, what a treat. If you have never seen this film, it’s classic Andy Griffith . Granted he is playing a character he is known for, a bumbling backwoods “plowboy,” as they say in the film. It is a classic fish “out of water” tale, but sets up very nicely for a very funny family friendly movie. If you like the humor of the Marx Brothers or even the Andy Griffith show, I would highly recommend you catch this film.

No Time For Sergeants also stars a very young Murray Hamilton as Irving S. Blanchard. The young upstart who thinks he’s in charge, but don’t hold that against him, he’s had ROTC . You might remember him as the mayor in Jaws. Myron McCormick is perfect as Sergeant King, who is just wants to be left alone and not make waves.  Also look for Don Knotts (The Ghost and Mr. Chicken, The Apple Dumpling Gang), Raymond Baily (The Beverly Hillbillies) and Jamie Farr (MASH).

So, for my recommendation, for sure, see it. If the film kind of  reminds you of the TV series Gomer Pyle, this is the film that inspired that series. Kind of funny that the film inspired the series, yet was a spinoff from the  Andy Griffith Show. This is just all around good fun, worth seeing for sure!

Clash of the Titans (2010)

The new movie out for the weekend is Clash of the Titans. It is out there for 3D viewing as well, which I opted for. This is a remake of the classic Ray Harryhausen version. Everyone probably knows a little about the story through mythology in school, or seeing the 1981 version of this film. So I won’t spend time, or waste my precious typing skills telling you the plot.

The film stars Sam Worthington who must be the new action star as he was in both Terminator Salvation and Avatar last year. Liam Neeson (Taken, Schindler’s List) stars as Zeus and Ralph Fiennes (The English Patient, Schindler’s List) as Hades. You would think with all these Oscar nominated actors there might be a decent performance, but everyone is just going through the motions in this one.

Well, about the movie as a whole. First off, let me say, seeing this in 3D was not that big of deal. I always thought that 3D was a pretty neat novelty but Avatar has set the bar so high as to what good 3D should be, “Titans” pretty much sucked with their 3D. What took James Cameron years to do with 3D, “Titans” tried to do in 8 weeks, and it shows. Not that any movie can touch Avatar with 3D, but since Avatar, to me there is good 3D and bad 3D. 3D is no longer a gimmick. 3D is here to stay it seems, so please Hollywood, do it right and don’t just churn out junk like the preview of Piranha I saw.

This film never really develops into much of anything. It seems to be in a hurry just to get to the next battle scene. So much of a hurry it doesn’t give any character a chance to develop and no character is ever given a chance to do anything other than swing a sword at a CGI creature. Even with todays special effects, the world created in “Titans” is not nearly as magical as the world created in the original. So, you can imagine what I recommend, go rent the original and enjoy Harry Hamlin, Burgess Meredith, Maggie Smith, Laurence Olivier and of course the special effects of the great Ray Harryhausen, which is now available on bluray. Save your ticket money on this one.

Toy Story 1 and 2 Bluray coupon

OK Bluray fans, Disney has a coupon on their website for $10 off Toy Story 1 and 2. At the current time, it looks like Target has both of these titles on sale for $19.99 each, and if you buy both you save $10. Stack that with the Disney coupon, and you are getting out of there with two blurays pretty cheap!

Not to mention, I think both movies will have some sort of moviecash or coupon to see Toy Story 3!

Enjoy the bluray release, I hear they are top notch transfers. Also a side note, if you are the proud owner of the Disney Toy Box edition, might want to hang on to that as it is still the edition to have with all the extras!

The Ghost Writer

After seeing a couple of ho-hum movies at the theatre with Shutter Island and Alice in Wonderland, seeing Ghost Writer makes up for a lot. directed by Roman Polanski (The Pianist, Death and the Maiden), you would expect nothing less than a very grey toned pot boiler! First a little about the story…and as always without giving too much away. Pierce Brosnan (Goldeneye, The Thomas Crown Affair) plays former British Prime Minister Adam Lang. It just so happens he is in need of a Ghost Writer for his memoirs, as the last one was found washed up dead on the beach. A replacement is quickly found with english writer played by Ewan McGregor (Star Wars Episode 1, Black Hawk Down), who eagerly takes over the memoirs only to find the last writers death a bit suspicious. The plot twists and turns on that basic idea, but I won’t give anything away here, go find out yourself.

It is very clear in this film that Polanski was influenced by Alfred Hitchcock. Vertigo and Frenzy come to mind. It also has a similar tone as other Polanski greats like Death and the Maiden and Frantic. This film is not about violence or blow-up-buildings action. This movie is very engaging, with plot elements being revealed a little at a time, building up tension and gaining steam as it goes. Even the score was reminiscent of a classic Hitchcock movie. As far as acting goes, even though Pierce Brosnan seems to always play the same character, he is perfectly cast as the retired Prime Minister. Ewan McGregor does a good job as well. It was also a nice surprise to see some big names in some very small roles, Eli Wallach (The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, The Deep) even though he is really showing his age has a part, as well as Tom Wilkinson (Michael Clayton, In the Bedroom, The Full Monty).

As you can probably tell, I can’t say enough good things about this film. And obviously fans of Hitchcock will love this movie. My recomendation is of course, go to the theatre and see this one for sure!

Alice in Wonderland (2010)

Opening up with mixed reviews, I wasn’t sure what to expect from this film. Of course I went to see it in 3D, and I recommend anyone going to see Alice in Wonderland, go see it in this format. Everyone knows the story of Alice, following the white rabbit down the hole, so I won’t bore you with details. There are a few fresh twists on the story, not that they work very good.

This movie really used Johnny Depp (Pirates of the Caribbean, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas) in its marketing, and I was disappointed in Depp’s  performance. Why I am not sure, he was weird and kooky like you would expect from the Mad Hatter, he just lacked character. Helena Bonham (Planet of the Apes, Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein)Carter was good as the Red Queen, but hard to really pay attention to her performance with her enlarged head. Crispin Glover (Back to the Future, Willard)  plays his usual character and Anne Hathaway (Rachel Getting Married, The Devil Wears Prada) gives a very lackluster performance as the White Queen.

Tim Burton (Beetlejuice, Edward Scissorhands) does a great job with creating a fun quirky world, visually stunning to look at, but maybe that was the only thing he was paying attention to. If you are a huge Burton fan, you will enjoy seeing the world he has created, but anyone else, the movie will probably bomb for you. For me the 3D made it interesting to watch once, but that is about it. If you want 3D fun, go check it out at a matinée price, plus you get a lengthy Toy Story 3 trailer in 3D, otherwise save your money.