Thursday, August 22, 2013

The Mortal Instruments: City of ......Not Quite Epic, but Still Not Bad

    Movie companies are searching for the next big thing to bring in teens and tweens. Twilight like it or not made some pretty solid coin. The Hunger Games is cleaning up movies like The Host and I am 24 failed to do the same. Now we take another series of popular young adult novels and try to create some movie magic. I have never read the books, am in my thirties, and found Mortal Instruments to be OK. Not good, not great, but there is a bigger audience than just the Twi-Hards.

   The story borrows from a lot of things. It's a little Constantine, mixed with The Vampire Diaries, and some Harry Potter thrown in. There are two worlds. The one that we live in and can see and the one that we can't. The latter is inhabited by werewolves, warlocks, vampires, and demons. A group of tattooed warriors called "Shadow Hunters." They keep the peace and protect humans or mundanes as they call them. A renegade shadow hunter is seeking an object of power hidden in our world and the balance is threatened. A young girl is caught in the middle after realizing she could see the hidden world. Her being half human and half shadow hunter has left her with special abilities that catch the eye and heart of Jace. Together they must protect the world from the forces of evil.

Lily Collins plays Clary an does well as the typical teenage girl who becomes caught up in a much bigger world. It feels like her character is a little Selene and Bella rolled into one. She is never too far beyond her limits, but I feel like she is probably better defined in the books that I've yet to read. It is a typical boy is in love with a girl who doesn't love her back story. In typical fashion, she falls for the dangerous bad boy who cannot be with her based on some very serious issues. Same story, but with a Star Wars type twist.

 Jonathan Rhys Meyers is the Valentine, the fallen shadow hunter. He is also Clary's evil father. He breaks the laws of their world to strengthen his people. The character is written from a good place, but Rhys Meyers is wasted. He never comes across as evil enough and at times looks silly. One of  my common pet peeves, if you've read my reviews, is a villain who doesn't appear terrifying enough. I think he is a good actor, but Valentine just didn't have enough bad vibes for my taste.

Jamie Campbell Bower also let me down. Little girls everywhere will disagree, but I never felt like he brought the character of Jace to life. I was into the concept of the shadow hunters and appreciated the world that they lived in, but I never felt like Bower fit into the role. Fans at one point were leaning toward Alex Petyfer and/or Garret Hedlund and I would've agreed with both. Bower would look great if cast as the lead singer of a band, but not as a tattooed, bad ass, warrior.

 The movie wasn't bad and would check out a sequel. The weapons, the creatures, ad the world of Mortal Instruments were all pretty cool. All in all the movie tried and the attempt will probably find it's audience. It won't see the financial success of Twilight or Hunger Games, but it is not nearly as bad as R.I.P.D. or After Earth. Check it out. We have all seen worse.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Paranoia......A Thriller with little thrills


      The title of my review would probably make you think that I hated this movie. Not at all. It was entertaining. It was mildly interesting. Decent acting. Good cast. It would seem like it has the basics of a good movie, but I just can't rave about it.

     Liam Hemsworth is down on his luck programmer. He wants the big job. He is smart enough to get the big job, but in the cut throat world of mobile phones he is lost in the shuffle. He takes care of his ailing father, has good friends and longs for the life the other side has. It is completely out of reach until he finds himself in the middle of corporate espionage courtesy of two warring mega companies.

    It is an interesting look into how much we use/need our wireless phones. It is an even more interesting look into the companies that create the newest, greatest, and most cutting edge smart phone. It is a world where companies constantly battle to out do each other, but it is accurate on how much money is thrown around.

   Harrison Ford and Gary Oldman play the heads of the two biggest rival companies and both are cast well. It took me a minute to get used to a nearly bald Ford, but his acting is top notch. He has been making much better choices as of late. I prefer this and 42 over things like Hollywood Homicide. They are both surrounded by a solid cast. Amber Beard as the love interest, Josh Holloway in a small role as an F.B.I. agent and Julian McMahon as evil enforce for Oldman's Wyatt.
Liam Hemsworth isn't bad and actually carries his first leading role fairly well. He gets help from the rest of the cast and it's not him or chemistry between actors that's the problem.

  The movie is based on a novel that I have never read. It feels too rushed in some places, mainly Hemsworth infiltration into the rival company. The story isn't bad. It is a little bit Eagle Eye, a little bit The Recruit, and some The Firm mixed in. The problem is that for a thriller, it has very little thrills. A movie like this should be over flowing with intensity and twists. Paranoia is safe and predictable. It isn't bad. It was decent to watch, but all in all it is definitely not must see. The only paranoia will come from wondering whether you should have sprung for Jobs or Kick Ass 2 instead.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Journies, destinations, and not always forward...

   Sometimes I wish I could just go backwards. I made a promise to myself that I would turn the page and for nearly two years I have done just that. Forward motion and strive for progress. I think all of us have the curiosity of what might have happened had we turned left and not right. Metaphorically speaking. I guess it could be the fact that I live so close to home that I have spent a lot of time living in the past as of late. It could be age. Who knows?

  My step dad and I used to have these great and in depth conversations about the person I would be and for some reason those have come rushing back. I remember him telling me that he thought he'd already left his mark on the planet and I believed him then and still believe him to this day. So I guess I have been wondering what kind of mark I left or will leave?

 I am not sure that any of us has done everything right. I know that I haven't. I remember the mistakes of my reckless youth and in a lot of ways, I am still just as reckless. I would relive those days with the knowledge I have now in a heartbeat. I wish the reckless youth of today could live the way we did. The music was better, people were happier, and life moved fast, but not the hyper speed pace of today. I challenge anyone to tell me music today is better than that of the mid to late 90's. Well maybe Blurred Lines because it is provocative and gets the people going.

 We all have moments where we realize that we are closer to older than we are younger. It's in those moments that we question if we are where we should be. Dream big is what we are told. I love dreaming big, but I love dreaming realistic too. Some people cannot dream so big that they cannot deal with the disappointment of falling short of those dreams. I would never say stop trying, but I would say make sure you are living your own dream and not someone Else's.

We are the authors of our own book. The chapters we right are ours to create. I used to say that I live life without regret, but that isn't true. So I acknowledge my regrets because I firmly believe that one must fail numerous times in order to succeed. Our failures make us who we are just as much as our success' do. I decided tonight to list my regrets not in any particular order.

I wish I would been a better brother to my sister growing up. I think sometimes I let the fact that she got more than me bother me a bit too much.

I think I could have tried to be a better person where my sister's father was concerned. I matured late and got more stubborn earlier. A better relationship might have made me a better person sooner. A son needs a father and that was a lesson I didn't learn until I was too old to realize it. My friends who are single moms, MAKE SURE YOU LET THE RIGHT PERSON INTO THE LIVES OF YOUR CHILDREN. It's not about your life anymore. You lost that option when you gave birth.

I wish I was strong enough to say "no" earlier in life. I would have saved myself a lot of heartbreak in all aspects of my life.

I regret that I didn't get to see Jennifer before she passed. I don't carry any torches, but we were reckless and a lot was left unsaid.

I wish I would have been more responsible. I was a nightmare for my mom and step dad at times. they both deserved better. I was the most materialistic person I have ever known.

I regret not getting a sandwich with my grandma the night she called. I had no good excuse on that random Tuesday evening other than being selfish and lazy. I was young and stupid and thought I would have plenty of time. I couldn't have been more wrong.

I regret the lies that have always weaved there way in and out of my family's existence.

I wish I would've gotten serious about weight gain sooner. If I could be as healthy as I am now then, look out.

I regret dating several people. I should have never gotten involved. I wasn't ready to be serious, but I didn't want to be lonely. Lies cheapened everything and what I thought was love, now feels like a waste of time.

I wish I would have valued communication with Lauren sooner than I did. Probably would have kept us from some awful drama.

I regret not always being a good friend. Selfish can be a hard habit to break.

 Live life without regrets. Hard to do. I am sure I have plenty more, but those are the ones that I have learned the most from. The ones that make me a better individual. I am not good at advice, but I will offer this. Live the best life you can. There will be times when you do things without so much as a "thank you" given. People will be glad you're gone and talk garbage about you when you aren't around. You will lie and be lied too. People will be envious and you will envy others. Set goals. Achieve a few and miss others. In the end, you will play the hand you are dealt and if it isn't what you imagined, it's completely OK. Happiness and success are different for all of us.

 I have lived a colorful life. I have seen dark times, been beat up, fallen down, gotten back up, fought harder, fell short, made a lot of money, lost a lot of money, made a lot of money back. I've kicked others, been kicked, seen people overcome horrible odds, loved, lost, been at an all time high, swallowed pride, and in the end make no apologies for who I am.

I would still love to go back and see if I end up in the same place. I think that I would. I will see many more failures. Hopefully with some luck and work, I'll see a few success' too! I have plenty of chapters left to write. I hope my mark will be a good one. It doesn't have to be world renown, I hope I remembered for making people smile, helping a few kids here and there, and constantly trying to get better. I have plenty of regrets. I know who my true friends are. I have had an interesting ride still haven't reached my final destination.

In the end, I am still just a reckless kid from Cincinnati.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Elysium.....When Sci Fi Meets Political Undertones....

   Elysium has peaked curiosity from it's first trailer. Matt Damon has moved away from drama and family oriented movies to being a bad ass again. Jodie Foster takes on a role we wouldn't expect and we are given what looks like another big budget summer August. The month can be a scary thing where summer movies are concerned. Very hit or miss. Does Elysium hit or join the list of summer disappointments?


  The story begins on a polluted and overpopulated earth. People are poor, sick, and in some cases dying. The wealthy and elite have left earth to live on a giant space station called Elysium. The place cures disease, houses elite from all nations, and doesn't care much for illegal immigrants. Matt Damon is Max and orphan turned criminal turned factory worker. He is in love with Frey and dreams of living with her on Elysium. He is poisoned by radiation at his job and realizes he must get to Elysium to live. He gets caught up in a political conspiracy, tries to help a sick kid, and plans to make everyone citizens of the space station. He hooks up with the guy he went to prison for and gets fitted for this weird cybernetic exoskeleton.

 The movie is filled with political undertones. It makes you think about what would happen if the government controlled health care. It slightly addresses the immigration problem. Metaphorically.
The movie hints that only the rich could live in such a place and that the wealthy really don't care for the poor. Metaphors for sure, but some would probably find truth in those metaphors.

 The cast is strong, but it felt like Jodie Foster was a bit wasted. Matt Damon is very believable in his role and comes across solid. He has done well play vulnerable bad asses. Sharlto Copley as Kruger steals the show. He does a good bad guy and we have seen him do crazy before. It works. The movie is a bit far fetched at times, but it has a big budget feel even though it's a modest budget. It has the look and feel of District 9, but it is certainly it's own film. It has it's flaws, but overall my trip to Elysium was an entertaining one.