Saturday, July 7, 2012

Craig's Pop Culture Round-Up Issue #2

I really should have come out with this one sooner, since I've seen quite a few movies since The Hunger Games and now most are out of the theaters, so I can't really recommend anything. Oh well. I suppose I have to go all the way back to The Avengers. I don't need to tell you that you should have seen this movie, and I imagine that many of you did. It's doing very well in the box office, but most likely won't go past the grand master, Avatar. The Avengers just worked. Enough use of all the characters, decent plot, not the best villain, but servicible, great action, and great performances from the whole cast. I do sort of wish that they did more with Hawkeye's character. He was basically out of the action for three quarters of the movie so he didn't get a whole ton of screen time. The thing that surprised me about the film was The Hulk. I guess I'm so used to seeing a good Hulk movie so it was nice to see Mark Ruffalo pull it off. The Hulk is best in small doses, and that's what they worked with. Sure, he basically comic relief, but it worked. An interesting point is that Mark Ruffalo even acted out the parts for The Hulk, whereas before they had to use people like Bill Bixpy and Lou Ferrigno to step in to look a little beefier. Lou Ferrigno, the first actor to be The Hulk, provided the voice for The Hulk in the movie, as he did in every Hulk related movie or live-action TV show. Anyway, great movie. See it when it comes out on video, though because of how well it's doing, you could possibly see it in theaters still.

I didn't go into Men in Black III expecting much. The franchise has been stagnant for ten years and I really didn't expect much from it. The second movie was very mediocre, so there usually isn't going back from that, as movies in series typically continue to go downhill. So, what did I think of it? It was OK. Not even close to MIB, but around the same as the second one. The beginning is a bit rocky, and the movie seems to have a hard time deciding what tone they want to take. The movie does take off after Jay goes back to the past, though. Then it abruptly screeches to a halt at the end. All I can say is that the whole last battle sequence-involving time jumping-doesn't make a lick of sense. I had to use all my power to suspend my disbelief, and I still couldn't do it. There is a good emotional punch at the end that will leave you satisfied, but you will soon remember all the plot holes and one-liners that didn't work, and realize that it wasn't a very good movie. I deem it rent-able, as it does have its moments. I do have to say that Josh Brolin is perfect for a young Kay though.

Probably the most exciting movie for me this summer was Prometheus. I'm a big fan of the Alien series and was really looking forward to a prequel of sorts, even though Ridley Scott claimed that it wasn't a prequel to Alien. *Minor Spoilers Ahead!!!* To be fair, it wasn't a prequel, but a story that happens before Alien, but in the same universe. There are a ton of throwbacks to Alien, so it was hard not to think that Prometheus took place on the same planet as Alien. For the record, it isn't, which explains a few plot holes I thought I found. The movie focused far more on the creation of humans than anything else, which isn't a bad premise, but it just wasn't what I was expecting. I did however expect things to go terribly wrong as soon as the crew touched down on the alien planet. And boy howdy did they ever. I won't go too much into the whole thing, as I think most of you should at least rent this movie. Are there some really confusing parts? Yes. Are there times when the characters do things that are so asinine that you can't believe they are doing them? Oh yes. The movie has its faults, but it gives you enough to make up for it. Even if you haven't seen any of the Alien movies, you'll have a good time watching this movie. It's not horror, it's just good old fashioned Sci-Fi. My major gripe with the movie is the creation of the xenomorph (the alien from the Alien series...am I saying alien too much?). It goes through like, four stages to become a xenomorph, which is far too many to really be considered a threat at that time. I mean, in Aliens they shot up tons of the things. But, what it lacks in evolutionary aspects, it makes up for in deadliness, as we've all seen from the other Alien movies. A good prequel of sorts to Alien? Yes, though it only answers a few questions. The end leaves room for a sequel, but since Ridley Scott has never done a sequel, don't expect one too soon, or directed by him. One last note: Michael Fassbender is the real deal. He was excellent as the android David, giving the character a very cold and creepy vibe.

On a recent guys night out with the male members of my family, we went out and saw the most ridiculous movie we could find: Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Killer. Keep in mind that I have not read the book, so I didn't know exactly what I was walking into. The premise kind of gives away everything anyway. If it wasn't for the impromptu guys night out, I'm not sure I would have bothered to see this in theaters. It looks entertaining, but is it worth the ten dollars we are all forced to shell out for movie tickets? In the end, its purely a fun shoot-em-up movie (or ax-em-up I should say) that isn't stellar enough to warrant going and paying the price of admission when you could just as easily enjoy it in three months at home. Don't get me wrong, I liked the film fine, but the average viewer might feel like they've wasted their money. As most of you know, I'm a huge history buff and of course I would go into this movie not expecting anything historically accurate, but I was surprised by a few things. Lincoln in the film is portrayed as being a staunch abolitionist, which is mostly true. He talks to crowds about abolishing slavery though, which doesn't fit. Lincoln may have wanted to get rid of slavery, but knew that he had to walk a fine line in order to get elected. In real life, Lincoln did not want to outlaw slavery outright, but to stop its spread. That is a hard thing to get across to the average person who wants to see this movie, so I can see why they didn't bother to get too much into the politics. They did a pretty good job with the portrayal of Mary Todd, though I think they made her look much better looking in the movie. For those who don't know, Mary Todd Lincoln went cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs after her sons Eddie and Willie died young. In the film, we only see the death of Willie, which sends her into enough of a crazed state as to ask her husband to use his friend to bring the boy back to life, though as the undead. They just scratched the surface of the madness of Mary Todd, but at least they touched on it. The most surprising thing was the inclusion of the famous photographer Mathew Brady. Brady basically took all the famous photos you have seen of presidents, senators, or battlefield shots from the Civil War. Near the end of the film, there is a short shot of a photographer taking a picture of the battlefield, but the funny thing is he looks just like Mathew Brady. I found it humorous that a movie that takes so many liberties would bother with such a small cameo of a real person. The rest of the movie is mostly hogwash, but enjoyable hogwash.

The next movie I saw was the new Pixar movie, Brave. My fiancee and I were not too impressed with the previews for the movie, and weren't sure if we'd bother with seeing it in theaters. Good reviews and curiosity got the better of me, so we went and saw it a few days ago. Now, it is not up for argument that Cars 2 is the worst Pixar movie ever. I even consider the first Cars to be the worst of the bunch before the sequel came out. I just never really liked it, and apparently people agree with me. The fear though, is that once Pixar came out with a legitimate stinker, they would lose their mojo. I was under the impression that that had happened. I wasn't put off by the fact that it was the first Pixar movie lead by a woman. Good for Pixar, they need to branch out a bit. It just didn't seem like a Pixar movie from the previews. Most of the Pixar movies center around intimate objects or things that typically don't talk. We get the story behind bugs, monsters, toys, robots, superheros, cars, fish, and others. There are a few humans, but for the most part, the movies are about the inside story behind these different creatures. Like Up, this movie appears to be a straight human affair, not really getting into anything special, but Up surprised everyone, and so will this movie. This movie is still relatively new, so I won't go into that much, but I liked it a lot. Good music, good voice actors, excellent animation as always. Plus the story wasn't half bad. Definitely won't see what's coming from the previews. Go see it. ASAP.

Last movie in the round-up is The Amazing Spider-Man. This just came out too, so I won't ruin anything for you. All I can say is that its comparable to the first Sam Raimi in story, since it's a lot like the first Spiderman. Different origin (sort of), different girl, and different villain, but the same basic outline. Andrew Garfield is a more believable Spiderman, as he looks young enough for the part and looks like he should be in high school, but Tobey Maguire was a better Spiderman, even if he looked way too old for the part, as did James Franco and Kirsten Dunst. He just pulled it off better, what can I say. Garfield does a fine job, don't get me wrong, but it's just too soon to not be comparing him to Maguire. I guess Marvel couldn't wait to reboot the series. In all I would rank it between the first and third Sam Raimi Spidermans. Not emo Spiderman bad, but not great like the first two Spidermans. I do however consider Emma Stone a step up from Kirsten Dunst. She's just weird.

Summer is not over! We still have summer blockbusters like The Dark Knight Rises, Total Recall, and even The Bourne Legacy. Not sure if I'll see the last two, but I'm definitely seeing The Dark Knight Rises. Am I as excited for this film as the last two batman movies? Nope. Yep, you heard me. I'm sure it'll be good, but the preview haven't made me all giddy like the last two have. I don't know....I blame Spiderman 3, Jurassic Park 3, and all the other threes that didn't work out. The last three that did was Toy Story 3, but that is an exception to the rule. I trust Christopher Nolan, but I also trusted Sam Raimi with Spiderman since Raimi is one of my favorite directors of all time. I figure if I go in low, I can only go out high. Hmmmm...that didn't come out right. Anyway, I'm sure I won't be disappointed in the end, but I have to keep convincing myself that they won't mess up Bane. I've already found out that Bane isn't using venom, but some gas which keeps him alive from past injuries. Not sure if I like that, but super strength venom is kind of out there for Nolan's Batman. Well, that is enough rambling for today. Go see a movie!

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