Thursday, July 23, 2009

Harry Potter And The Half Blood Prince

This is another one of those movies that I feel kind of stupid talking about. Everyone knows what Harry Potter is about. You don’t need a plot run down, right? To sum it up in a few sentences, I will say that this latest installment of the HP franchise finds that as Harry continues his battle against Voldemort, he travels, with Dumbledore, through various memories to explore the past in order to find a way to stop the Dark Lord. The wizarding world is growing darker and darker, Hogwarts may not be the safe haven it always was, and the effects of the death eaters are even leaking into the muggle world. Harry and his friends find, however, that facing dark wizards and trying to prevent evil from enveloping the entire world does not make them exempt from traditional teenage angst and love pangs. If you’ve read the books, you know the rest. And if you haven’t read the books…I’m not telling you. BUT…all in all…it was good good stuff.

I REALLY liked the movie. I knew that I would, so I wasn’t surprised…but it was just great. Lots of humor…a great story…and magic magic magic! What more could you ask for? It was just great…in so many ways.

I’ve read some reviews and heard just some people grumbling about how the movie left things from the book out. To those people, I say…get over it. They CAN’T put everything from the books into the movies…they are already long enough as it is. And it’s going to happen EVERY time. You KNOW it’s going to happen. So…if you’re going to complain about it…why even watch the movie at all?

Don’t get me wrong…I love the books. LOVE them. But the movies (and really any movie, that is based on a book) never claim to perform every aspect of the books on the big screen. If that’s what you think is going to happen…you’re setting yourself up for disappointment. And while it’s fine to wish that a certain part of the story had made it to the big screen…if the fact that it DIDN’T make it to the big screen is something you have to dwell on and lament over…then maybe you shouldn’t watch the movie at all.

I’m not saying one can’t prefer books to movies…or think that a book is better than the movie that is made from it. I just wish people would remember that the movies are actually independent from the books. Although they are based ON the books…they are made, not to cater to the book readers alone…but to anyone who loves a good movie. And I think that this WAS a good movie. My mom, who’s never read the books, enjoyed it. I’m sure that a LOT of people who haven’t read the books enjoyed the movie. I HAVE read, and loved, the books…and I really loved the movie. You can love both. And that’s okay.

Not sure why, but people saying “they left too much out,” for some reason…just bothers me. A movie doesn’t have to be EXACTLY like the book in order to be good. And it’s not like you’re “cheating” on the book if you admit that you liked the movie…exactly how it was. Was there something in the movie that you thought didn’t NEED to be in there? I can’t think of anything. Or did you just want a 5 hour movie, so that every last detail and conversation could be left intact from the book? Because that’s NEVER going to happen. So…make your choice. Either you get a movie that inevitably leaves some things out…or you get no movie at all. That’s just how it goes.

I just wish that HP “purists” could sit back and relax when it comes to the films. Once you stop trying to pick apart everything that the director/writer/whatever got wrong, when it comes to the book…you might find that they got SO much right…when it comes to the movie.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen

You know, Transformers, which came out in 2007, is one of my favorite movies. Not kidding. I just love it. It has everything a movie should have…action, humor, great special effects, a little love story…the works. Oh yeah…and sweet butt kicking alien robots. (If I were a student at Autobot High School, you KNOW I would have had the hugest crush on Optimus Prime. Woohoo!) That being said, I was super excited for Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen to come out this summer. I’ve been counting down the days.

So…I saw it this weekend. And, while I don’t think I loved it as much as I loved the first one…it was good as a summer movie. I’ve said before that I love summer movies…and this fit into the category. For those of you who are familiar with the first film, you know that Sam Witwicky joined forces with some “good” alien robots, known as Autobots, who disguise themselves as various cars and trucks. This alliance is necessary in order to fight against the “bad” alien robots, known as Decepticons, who, if left to their own devices, will destroy the world.

The new film picks up, two years after the first battle had been won, to find Sam and the Autobots facing another action packed showdown with the Decepticons. Some new team members have joined the fray on both sides of the action…as is common in sequels… and the action ensues. And…that’s all I’m going to say about the plot. It’s pretty straight forward. Autobots good. Decepticons bad. =)

I mentioned, however, that the movie wasn’t as good as I’d wanted it to be. I’ve decided to showcase three good things…and three bad things about the movie…and then leave it up to you for interpretation.

The Bad, First…

Sam’s Attitude Toward the Autobots In The Beginning—I realize that this movie is about alien robots, so it’s not necessarily supposed to be believable. However, when Sam basically refuses to help Optimus Prime when asked, because “this isn’t my war,” and when his goodbye for Bumblebee is punctuated with “You’ll always be my first car,” I didn’t buy it at all. Given the chance, I don’t know ANY guy who wouldn’t want to skip out on awkward Freshman life to join forces with the Autobots once again. Seriously. So stupid.

The Twins—This pair of jive-talking Autobots have gotten a lot of bad press, with folks saying that they support racial stereotypes. I didn’t really see them that way…as much as I just thought they were annoying. Seriously. They served no purpose in the movie…except to be supposed comic relief. Except it wasn’t funny. So…ooops.

It. Was. Long.—At two and half hours, the movie could have been trimmed a little bit. Maybe cutting out all of the scenes with the Twins would have done the trick.

Now…the Good…

I Still Love Optimus Prime.—And Bumblebee. And Ironhide. There were a lot of new Autobots whose names were either never said, or I didn’t catch. I didn’t think they got as much screen time as they should have…but they looked cool.

Good Humor—I love it when action films don’t take themselves too seriously and can make you laugh, too. Sam’s parents are just as funny as they were in the first film. Shia LaBeouf has a mode of delivery that makes me laugh. I like likeable characters. Some of the humor seemed to lend itself more toward sexual humor than I remember in the first movie…which I could have done without, though. I don't know if the movie is as "kid-friendly" as the last one was. Not that little tiny kids would like either one...but you know what I mean.

Great Action Sequences—the movie is good LOOKING. The robots look cool. The robot fights look real. It’s just good stuff.

And…that’s that. If you liked the first Transformers movie, I think you’ll like this one, too. Some of the “magic” is missing, I guess, from discovering the Autobots for the first time…but the movie still delivered if you’re looking for a lot of action with some laughs built in.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The Proposal

The Proposal was pretty much a sure thing for me, going in, as I love a good romantic comedy, and I LOVE Sandra Bullock. I really could have given it the thumbs up before seeing it…I was that sure that I’d love it. And, I was right. Money well spent. I’d see it again, if someone wanted to go.

Many romantic comedies begin with a man and a woman who despise each other…and then end with them falling in love. As this movie begins, though, I can’t say that Margaret, (Sandra Bullock) hates Andrew (Ryan Reynolds) as much as she simply doesn’t care for him at all. Does Andrew hate Margaret? Oh, you bet. At least…he’d like everyone to think that he does.

Margaret is the editor-in-chief at a New York Publishing office, and Andrew is her assistant, who aspires to be an editor himself. It is these aspirations that motivate Andrew to put up with Margaret, who is known throughout the office as “The Witch,” and who seems to hold all of her employees with little to no regard. In an effort to get an eventual “leg-up,” however, Andrew does all of Margaret’s bidding, and works his hardest to keep her happy…even to the point of ordering, for himself, the same kind of coffee that she drinks, in case he spills one.

On the day that the movie opens, Margaret finds out that, as a citizen of Canada, her visa has been denied, and, in a split second decision to avoid deportation, tells her bosses that she and Andrew are getting married. Under the threat that his career will be destroyed if he doesn’t play along, Andrew agrees to the arrangement...but only after making a few demands of his own.

In an effort to convince everyone that their marriage will be legit, rather than the fraud that will get her deported, and him thrown in jail, Margaret and Andrew travel to Sitka, Alaska, to announce their engagement to his family. The majority of the film takes place here, in Sitka, and I won’t go into many more details…because if you know romantic comedy, you can anticipate what might happen…but you’ll enjoy seeing it for yourself anyway. Instead, I will list some of the things I really liked about the movie.

***Sandra Bullock. As I said...I love her. She's cute...she's funny...and I've yet to see her in anything that I didn't enjoy.

***Ryan Reynolds. Usually...I'm on the fence about this guy. Sometimes he's a little too smarmy for me. But, I liked him here, and in maybe he's growing on me.

***Betty White. As a long time Golden Girls fan...I can't not love Betty White.

***Sitka, Alaska. Seriously...movies like this make me want to move to towns like Sitka. And live in huge houses that look out onto the water, like the one that Andrew's parents live in. And drive boats instead of cars. Small towns...especially in movies, where everyone knows everyone else, and they all hang out together, and the sense of community is so thick you could cut it with a knife...really appeal to me sometimes. I found out today that the movie was filmed, not in Alaska, but primarily in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. Dang it. Not that I couldn't love Massachusetts or Rhode Island. But loving Sitka seemed cooler to me.

***The little white dog. It's just too cute. Really. I wanted to take it home with me.

Overall, as I said, I really liked the movie. It was just what I expected it to worked in every way...and if you like romantic comedies, I think you'll like it, too. :)

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Star Trek

I have never been a fan of Star Trek, historically. Though folks in my family TV show from time to time, I can honestly say that I don’t remember ever sitting through an entire episode, and I know I’ve never seen any of the movies. That being said, I wanted to see Star Trek, because I generally love movies, and the previews looked good. So…I saw it.

I think most people, whether or not they’ve watched the show previously, know the premise of Star Trek. The USS Enterprise is a space ship…and the show chronicles the adventures of its crew. Pretty sure that’s it. (If you’re a Star Trek purist and I’ve totally offended you…sorry about that.) For some reason I feel stupid talking about the plot…because I feel like it’s obvious. While I THINK that the TV show (I think the TV show came first?) began with the crew already intact, this movie explains how Captain Kirk, Mr. Spock, Scotty and the rest came together as a crew. they MIGHT have come together in an alternate reality. Maybe. =) While some might not get along well at first…they have to work together, and…they have an adventure. They fight some ugly bad guys. They fly their ship around and hit warp speed a lot.

With no real knowledge of Star Trek in prior incarnations, I have no way of knowing if the movie is worse than, better than, or just as good as the TV show and other movies. But for me, it was just what I love in a summer action flick. (I don’t know why it makes a difference if it’s a summer movie or a winter one…but it seems like the fun action movies come out in the spring and the summer.) There was a lot of action, along with some good laughs. Overall, I really liked it, and, in spite of zero interest in the Enterprise up to now, I find that, as there is plenty of room left for sequel after sequel, I’m looking forward to seeing what Kirk and Spock might get into next.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

He's Just Not That Into You

He’s Just Not That Into You is a movie about relationships…and the lies we tell ourselves…and each other…in order to survive them. As women, especially, we tend to analyze every single thing that a guy does and twist it into the meaning that we WANT it to have…rather than facing the truth. The movie rang true in a lot of ways that many romantic comedies don’t…and I actually squirmed a little bit as I saw behaviors that I’ve adopted in my own life…that, when seen on the big screen, are oh so pathetic. “Real” movies are good though…they make you think.

The movie follows the “love” lives of an ensemble of characters, who are all loosely related, if only in a “six degrees of separation” sense.

We meet:

Gigi…an eternally optimistic single girl…who is ALWAYS sure that each guy she meets just might be “the one,” in spite of the fact that so few of them are calling her when they say they will. Her first date, (of the movie) is with…

Conor…a real estate agent who was informally set up with Gigi, and who seems to have a decent time with her, but won’t even consider her as a girl he’d call again. He speaks to her about different advertising ploys he uses to get business, one of which is running ads through…

Mary…an advertising rep who never really “meets” anyone…but interacts with everyone via email, Myspace, and texting, and is disenchanted with modern day romance. Mary’s best friend is…

Anna…a struggling singer, who “hangs out” with Conor all the time, but isn’t in love with him…and won’t tell him as much. Anna takes Conor’s call…(which he makes immediately after leaving Gigi)…while shopping, but tells him she’ll call him back when she’s suddenly intrigued by a cute guy in line with her…

Ben…who is attracted to Anna, and finds her charming, but after flirting with her for 20 minutes, informs her that he’s married, and gets into the car with his waiting friend…

Neil…a genuinely good guy, who doesn’t believe in marriage, but is in a stable and long term relationship with…

Beth…who, though vocally accepting Neil’s reasons for avoiding marriage, still wants to marry him more than anything else. Beth works with…

…who is not only married to who she calls “the best husband ever,” but is also Gigi’s sister…(Gigi also works with Beth & Janine)…who constantly gives her relationship advice when Gigi isn’t getting it from…

Alex…a bar owner and friend to Conor, who catches Gigi in a failed scheme to “run into” Conor after he’s failed to call. Alex is the character with all the insights…who sees things for what they really are…and breaks it to Gigi that if a guy wants to call…he’ll call. If a guy wants to be with a girl, he says…he’ll make it happen.

This is the premise of the whole movie, really…that things really ARE what they seem to be. Instead of making up excuses for the men who aren’t interested, or the women who are always aloof, we really need to face the fact that sometimes…He (or She) is just NOT that into us. Regardless of your history with them…regardless of what they say…sometimes…it’s their actions that matter. Also…we also need to accept that sometimes…people aren’t going to do all the things that we want them to…and that’s okay. We spend our lives convincing ourselves of realities that don’t exist, avoiding the truth that doesn’t fit in with our plans…in order to believe that we will achieve a dream that we might not even want. Instead, the movie reminds us that sometimes, if we take a look at what we REALLY want, and then just sit back and enjoy what life has in store for us…we just might be happy with the truth after all.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009


So…I spent the better part of the last week or so trying to watch Passengers. Redbox never had it. Hasting’s was always out. Frustration set in. I hadn’t ever even heard of the movie until I saw it out on DVD at Walmart. It looked like a good little thriller, and since I like Anne Hathaway, I figured that I couldn’t go wrong. In short, I really I wanted to see it. Usually…I like it when I get what I want. Sigh. Finally…in what will be known from now on as “The Memorial Day Miracle,” I found a copy for rent while shopping yesterday. Phew!

The movie centers around Claire, played by the afore-mentioned Anne Hathaway, a psychologist who helps people deal with emotional trauma in their lives. She is called in, in the middle of the night, to meet with survivors of a plane crash, and is told by a colleague that she will be the one to work with all of them. Though she is slightly overwhelmed at the prospect, Claire sets up a time to meet with the survivors in a group meeting. Only one man refuses to join the group: a seemingly jubilant survivor named Eric. Eric does, however, agree to meet with Claire on a one-on-one, house call, basis. Though reluctant, Claire agrees, and for reasons I don’t really know…I found myself totally creeped out by Eric.

While Eric claims, to Claire, that everything is fine, we see that he is having nightmares, and is frustrated when he’s on his own. From their first official meeting, Claire is both uncomfortable with, and intrigued by, Eric, who repeatedly pushes their relationship closer and closer to its boundaries. What begins as an honest desire to help Eric deal with the trauma of the accident turns into several unnerving attempts to figure him out. Eric seems to know things about Claire that she’s never divulged, and she becomes more and more determined to find out why.

Eric’s memory of the crash differs with accounts Claire has heard from members of the group, whose memories differ from one another, as well. When a strange man is seen lurking outside a window during a group session, and one member of the group confides in Claire that the man has been following him. Though he has no proof, the man is certain that the airline is following him.

The official story of the crash, given by the airline, is that the accident was due to human error, as the pilot was tired and miscalculated his landing. When memories of an explosion begin to surface with some of the crash survivors, however, Claire begins to wonder if the crash was due, instead, to mechanical error. The airline has dealt with mechanical errors before, and reportedly could not deal with it again. When members of the group, who have reported hearing or seeing the explosion, begin to disappear, Claire becomes certain that she is dealing with a cover-up. Desperate to uncover the truth, and to protect her patients, Claire begins to investigate the crash in detail. The closer she comes to finding the truth, it seems, the more dangerous her pursuit becomes.

While not an all out “scary” movie, Passengers has plenty of unsettling moments and characters. I won’t say any more, so that you can experience the film on your own. The ending was not something that I’d anticipated, regardless of the fact that I had voiced every other feasible explanation I could imagine. While it wasn’t exactly what I was expecting, I did like Passengers, and was glad to finally get to watch it.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Ghosts of Girlfriends Past

There is just something about Matthew McConaughey. That guy could charm the parka off of a penguin. I don't really even know what that means, but penguins don't wear it would be a pretty amazing feat.

The point is...that guy is smooth. When I see him in a movie, there is never any doubt in my mind that he is going to get just exactly what he wants. Not because he's the star of the movie and the star always gets what he wants...but because he is just a charmer. I can't imagine anyone being able to say no to him. And this goes way beyond the fact that he's a Hotty McHotterson. Though he is. I don't think his charms are only effective on the ladies, though. I'm sure that any man who reads this is probably rolling his eyes and saying "nuh-uh!" but I'm confident that if you non-believers were to meet Mr. McConaughey at a would end up wanting to hang out with the guy. Cool is cool. It cannot be denied.

That being said...Matthew plays up his charm to its fullest in Ghosts of Girlfriends Past, a modern day play on Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol. Instead of Scrooge, Matthew plays Connor Mead, a photographer and eternal bachelor, whose moral compass seems to be broken, and whose only goal in life seems to be to have as much fun, with as many women, and as little commitment, as is humanly possible.

We meet Connor as he travels to attend the wedding of his younger brother, Paul. Upon his arrival, we find that only Paul is glad to see his brother, while many of the guests are surprised that he came, and at least one bridesmaid, Jenny, (played by my favorite female super-spy, Jennifer Garner aka Sydney Bristow) is absolutely not happy to see Connor.

Connor doesn't believe in marriage, and encourages both Paul and his Bridezilla fiancee, Sandra, to call the whole thing off. Love is a myth, he explains to those seated with him at the rehearsal dinner, and he is convinced that a committed relationship can only be equated with bondage.

After dinner, Connor excuses himself to the bathroom, where he runs into his greatest idol, the man after whom he feels he learned all of the important things in life, his Uncle Wayne. After their parents had been killed in a car accident, Connor and Paul and been raised by Wayne, who had being a philandering bachelor down to an art. While meeting his hero in the bathroom should be a happy occasion, Connor is more than a little freaked out, considering that Uncle Wayne is dead.

The ghost of Uncle Wayne tells Connor that throughout the night, he will be visited by three ghosts. Those who are familiar with A Christmas Carol can predict what is coming next...but it's fun to watch it play out anyway. Connor dismisses the meeting with Uncle Wayne as a result of too much alcohol, and leaves the bathroom only slightly shaken.

After alienating himself from everyone who came to the wedding to enjoy, rather than destroy, it, and after hitting on a flirtatious, but expressly off-limits, cougar who turns out to be the mother of the bride, Connor makes plans to meet one of the bridesmaids in his room. Once there, however, Connor is greeted not by the young bridesmaid who he had hoped to meet, but the "ghost" of the first girl who fell victim to his "love 'em and leave 'em" ways, Allison Vandermeersh.

Allison proves to be Connor's Ghost of Girlfriends past, and whisks him away through several memories that help explain the reasons that Connor is the way that he is. We see that Jenny was his first and best friend, and that she bought him his first camera. We see that he was infatuated with her...but that, as things tend to do in life, things didn't work out the way that he'd wanted them to work out. Repeatedly. Finally, Connor begins to feel regret for some of the choices he's made in his life...both concerning Jenny, and in regard to his lifestyle in general.

I won't go into lots more detail about the have to have some surprises if you see it...but I had to mention Allison, because Connor's scenes spent with her were the funniest scenes in the movie. That girl...funny. Seriously. Good stuff.

After Allison, Connor is visited by the Ghost of Girlfriends Present, and the Ghost of Girlfriends future...and his eyes are slowly opened to the things that are most important in life. He is forced to re-evaluate his priorities, and especially how his choices have affected the people that have surrounded him.

I liked the movie. It could be considered "fluff" by the hardcore critics, but it made me laugh, and had some honestly tender moments. So many times people go through life repeatedly making the same's nice to see someone...even if it's just a funny movie...who finally sees their mistakes and tries to fix them.

Though it's always hard to say if the lessons that characters learn in movies would really stick "in real life," I have to believe the Connor is a changed man, by the end of the film. Of course, this could be due to the aforementioned charm that Matthew McConaughey possesses. I would buy a wool sweater from him if I were standing in the Houston heat in the middle of August...and I would wear it with a smile if he asked me to.