Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Red Dissapointment

  In 1984 the world was a different place. The fear of Russia was at an all time high and a movie came out that made us believe that we could be invaded. Red Dawn was the first movie released with a PG-13 rating.
A group of Colorado teens take to the mountains to defend the land they love. Patrick Swayze and Charlie Sheen led this band of freedom fighters and it was if nothing else very cheesy fun. The original had one thing that the new version lacks, but we aren't there yet.

 It's 2012 and America is attacked by the North Korea. Nato has issues. We have no allies. America is hit by an electric pulse and we are invaded. Chris Hemsworth returns from a tour of duty in Afghanistan to lead a new group of teens. They too head into the woods and attempt to form a resistance against their North Korean Overlords.  They bicker, fight, and become soldiers. They are only kids , but they must defend their homes and make contact with groups like them across the country. They get help along the way from a small Special Forces Unit led by Jeffery Dean Morgan.

 This was kept on the shelf for awhile and made before Helmsworth became Thor. It shows. The cast is horrible. Connor Cruise, the adopted son of Tom, makes his acting debut and isn't bad. He and Helmsworth are the only good members of the cast. There is so much wrong with this film. An electronic pulse hits the U.S. but cell phones still work?  Suburban High School kids immediately become experts with military grade weapons? There are so many things that just don't make sense.

 There are a few surprises, but for the most part this film is a failure. The original was cheesy, but there was something about it that made it fun to watch. Helmsworth is not Swayze and that is OK. The biggest difference was the original had heart and this one simply doesn't. Wait for video. Netflix it. See something else in theaters or just skip it all together. You won't miss it. Trust me.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Twilight:Breaking Dawn 2 ....Is it worth taking a bite?

    The final chapter in the vampire saga is upon us. The "Twi-Hards" are rabid, but Stephanie Meyer wrote a vampire tale that leaves out a few key parts of being a vampire. They don't sparkle in the sun, they die a fiery death. The second key part missing is the fact that vampirism is a curse. Purist will need to set that fact aside. Twilight wasn't written for the purist. It was a love story written for girls. The final chapter finally hits theaters and the big question is, will it deliver?

  The film picks up where the last leaves off. Bella is now a vampire and has to deal with life among the undead. She also has a daughter that is half human and half immortal. Bella spends the first part of the film learning to hunt and about being a vampire as well as dealing with Jacob, who has imprinted on Renesme. She also has to deal with Charlie who cannot know that she is a vampire.

 The other problem is the evil Volturi. The governing body of undead who enforce vampire law. They are wrongfully informed that Bella and Edward created a vampire child. This is against the law and is punishable by death. The Cullen's begin a race around the globe to find other vampires to stand with them and protect those they love.

 Is it a fitting conclusion or a sub par ending?

      Let's start with what worked. Michael Sheen. He is so good a quirky. Sheen has done such a great job of balancing the comic mime style remnant of a early cinema movie actor with pure evil. Aro has an agenda beyond vampire law and he is brilliant whenever on screen. Stephanie Meyer may have the vampire myths a bit wrong, but she did write a quality villain.

       The relationship between Jacob and Renesme also plays well. You tread dangerous ground when having a teenage boy in love with a child, but for whatever reason the magic seems to work. This is the first movie where I actually liked Taylor Lautner. The previous four movies had too much why can't she love me and in this Jake finally got over that. The reveal to Charlie was entertaining and the complexity between he and Edward was enter training to watch. There is talk of a spin off with Jacob and a fully aged Renesme. Good luck with that.

   I enjoyed the other vampires. Carlisle introduces us to a bigger world than what we have seen in the past. The different vampires from all walks of life were entertaining to watch on screen and I was hoping for more of them. The Revolutionary War Vet, the Amazon Women, and the Irish family were all fun additions to the cast. The one flaw with a bigger cast is that screen time suffers. I missed Alice and it felt like there were people fighting for lines and things to do.

  I think my biggest problem with Breaking Dawn 2 was the same that I had with the previous films. Kristen Stewart is hard to like. She looked a little better this time around, but she seems to deliver lifeless performances. Insert vampire jokes there. She never looks like she wants to be there. I wish they would have cast differently from the beginning. I will say she is consistent. She is boring in every film I have seen her in. Twilight has at least surrounded her with a strong supporting cast. I might be in the minority here, but the girls I sat next to said they would have cried had her personal life not affected their opinions of her.

   The film does end in a very classy way by reintroducing and crediting the previous casts. There are some twists that are not in the book, but play well on screen. The Twilight Saga, like all franchises, has come to an end. It has been a series that will be credited for breathing some life into the vampire genre. It made young girls cry, sold millions of books, created superstars , and ultimately entertained all walks of life. The film will not get any Oscar love and will most likely be forgotten when the next craze hits. Twi-hards will love it and whether they are Team Edward, Team Jacob, or Team Who Cares Breaking Dawn Part Two does a good job of closing the book.


Thursday, November 8, 2012

Bond...a better Bond?

    Bond is back. Bankruptcy threats left the franchise in limbo since the last outing a few years back, but the latest adventure of Ian Fleming's Super Spy comes back strong.  In the past I have been very critical of the direction of the franchise. I was a fan of Casino Royale, but I didn't feel that Daniel Craig was capturing the essence of the character. I was irritated at the blatant product placement. Bond drinking a Heineken. Bond driving a Ford! I just didn't think Craig was smooth enough in his first two outings. I was ready to see the Bond we all loved.

   Skyfall opens with an older Bond on the job. He and a female agent are tracking a list of the identities of undercover agents that had fallen into the wrong hands. Sounds very Mission Impossible, but I let it slide. Great visuals and an exciting train chase lead to MI-6 failing to complete the mission and an injured Bond going off the grid. Bond returns to find the British Government under attack from the inside. M, played again by Judi Dench is being threatened and the list is still in the open.
 Bond is introduced to a new younger Q and we are off. The adventure stretches from Shanghai to Scotland. We meet new girls, face down a new villain, and learn about Bond's past. Can Bond save the world again? Will some of our favorite characters survive? What is Skyfall?

  The best thing about Bond has always been charismatic villains. Skyfall more than delivers with Javier Bardem as Silva. The rogue MI-6 agent hell bent on revenge. The hair is strange, the mannerisms are quirky, and is brilliant whenever he's on screen. He borders between, playful, like able, and pure psychotic.

  It wouldn't be Bond without the Bond girls. There will always be a lot to live up to. I am still partial to Eva Green and Halle Berry, but Naome Harris and Berenice Marlohe hold their own. The latter being incredibly seductive. Naome turns out to be a beloved Bond character, but I will let you see for yourself who it ends up being.  Ralph Fiennes and Albert Finney have great minor rolls and Judi Dench is still the perfect M.

 One of the great things about Bond is the gadgets. Bringing back the classic Aston Martin is so much fun and awesome to see on screen again. This time out the gadgets are simple, but still fun. I think why I liked Skyfall so much was Bond. We get a peek into his past and we see Daniel Craig finally start to be Bond. The martini is there and we finally see him becoming smooth. I think the best quality of Bond was the way he defines smooth. It took three films, but we finally see it.

  Skyfall is a bit long, but the fun more than makes up for it. A good story. A great villain. This movie feels like an origin story in some places, but it definitely leaves you wanting more. It might be the best Bond in quite some time. Skyfall leaves Fleming's British Super Spy staring down a few more years of a very successful franchise.


Tuesday, November 6, 2012

It's an Election!

                It’s Election Day and it’s very tough. Whichever candidate wins we are still hurting. The country is a wreck and you can’t make everyone happy. We owe money. A good job is hard to find. It’s easy to wonder if America is even the leader anymore.  
                I would certainly never want to be anything other than American and I am not bashing our great land, but we got some problems. We are one of the richest countries in the world and yet so many go without. Greed has over run this land to a point beyond sickening. Major corporations want more and care less about who they step on to get it.  I am not one to suggest giving everything away, but you would think that we could find a middle ground.
                This generation has known nothing but war. We need to protect ourselves and worse we have put our fighting men and women in harm’s way for a war we should never have fought that has cost us astronomical amounts of money.  The War on Terror might be one that we will never win. We as a country have spent too many years getting involved in everyone else’s issues.  I wish we would worry about our own house before we start redecorating our neighbors.
                Our country, which was once a melting pot, has become a place where kids are bullied for simply being different.  Violence is more widespread than it has been in years. Schools have metal detectors and good teachers are eclipsed by the ones who have given up the fight. There was a time when we learned tolerance and that seems to be a forgotten concept in so many places.
                This nation needs a reset. It will not happen regardless of who is in office. Washington needs to be clean swept. Special Interest Groups, Political Agendas, and probably a lot of congressmen and women need to be ejected. People on both sides need to come together and fix the country.  This land and its people deserve better than the cards we have been dealt.  Politicians are part of the blame and the people are the other. When things go good we never question. When they go bad we point fingers. It’s already too late at that point.  
                People say things were better when Clinton was in office. Those people are correct, but we can’t go back. I wish sometimes that we could. The only option is to go forward.  I hope that when you went to the voting booths that you were making a decision. A decision that you think is right for you. An educated choice base not on what other people think, but what feel best about.
                We still have a long way to go. This country is still the best one on the planet and has so much more to offer. There is a dream that was America. It would be nice to see it come true.