Entries in Fantasy (25)

Monday
Feb272017

The Great Wall- review

 

“The Great Wall” (2017)

Directed by Yimou Zhang

Starring Matt Damon,  Tian Jing,  Willem Dafoe

Running Time 103 Minutes, Rated PG-13

3 Mitch’s out of 5

Mitch Hansch/movieswithmitch.com

 

Matt Damon is a great director whore.

Matt Damon has an unquenchable thirst for the world’s greatest film directors.  After knocking out legends; Spielberg, Scorcese, Eastwood, Van Sant, Scott, Nolan, Coen Brothers, etcetera, etcetera… Matt Damon keeps on hunting.  His latest effort has him under the thumb of legendary Chinese director Yimou Zhang (“House of Flying Daggers”) in the baffling and somewhat slightly above generic “B” monster movie “The Great Wall”.  I say generic, but I say it slightly above, because with all the talent in this film you’d hope for something more than slightly above but as I kept my eyes peeled the ‘eye rolls’ didn’t come and most importantly to my surprise I honestly wasn’t bored.

 

Matt Damon is William, an 11th Century scruffy haired mercenary thief who is trying to work his way out of Gobi desert to bring back the game-changing ‘black-powder’ and head back to Europe and become rich.  From a larger group of thieves only William and Pero (Pedro Pascal), who the two have some of the best ‘worst buddy banter’ to have scratched screens in quite some time, survive an attack from unknown monster beast that we later come to know as the Tao Tie.  Basically lizard creatures that appear every sixty years to look to world domination but serve the Chinese more as a life lesson not to be greedy.  It’s a good thing that William is a bit of a hoarder, as the trophy arm that he removed from a Tao Tie and a black rock (their kryptonite) that nobody else wants somehow comes into play greatly with the plot (you don’t say???!!!)

The more advanced Chinese army, who are ready for the Tao Tie attack, take William and Pero in and join forces under the leadership of Lin Mae (Tian Jing) who tries to teach William a thing or two about the benefits of teamwork and trust.  Basic film equation plays after; show enemy, heroes survives first enemy attack, that gives us time to have an arrow-off to showcase heroes skills, the two walks of life get to know each other, blah, blah, what’s the Chinese word for blah.

But like I said, I wasn’t bored.  Zhang is known for his colorful imagery, and that is certainly the highpoint for “The Great Wall”.  It certainly isn’t Matt Damon’s weird accent, which is explained by him being an orphan soldier who has served under many flags, but it’s fascinating to hear him speak and tell jokes like he was actually Chinese and trying to do an impression of what he thinks a white American joke sounds like.  I was truly entertained by Damon and Pascal cracking whips with the likes of “Do you think they’ll hang us now?”, with the response of “I could use the rest”.  And don’t miss Willem Dafoe in the film for practically no good reason but to hit home what greed is and to get that international Dafoe box office money (ka ching!)

Many people got in a tizzy that this film was whitewashing and that Damon would be a the white savior.  He is not, the Chinese teach whitey a lesson and his character becomes a better person from taking on their ways.  I don’t really recommend this film but I don’t don’t recommend this film, if that helps any.  Which I know it doesn’t.  

Isaiah 38:2

 

Sunday
Dec182016

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them- review

 

“Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” (2016)

Directed by David Yates

Starring Eddie Redmayne, Katherine Waterston, Alison Sudol

Running Time 133 Minutes, Rated PG-13

3 Mitch’s out of 5

Mitch Hansch/movieswithmitch.com

This is a J.K. Rowling joint all the way through, being the film’s only credited writer, Beasts just doesn’t feel like a cash in but a thoughtful fresh start that cues in on a tidbit from the original Harry Potter universe and brings us something new, beautiful, and bold.  A very effective doe-eyed and gentle Eddie Redmayne stars as a Brit sorcerer named Newt Scamander, fresh off the boat he arrives in a wonderfully imagined 1920’s New York City.  Newt has brought one of his beasts that he tends after to America to return it to it’s Arizona homeland.  

A very heavy magic regulated U.S. with their own magic immigration problems is just one of the problems Newt and his newly acquired friends face, that also includes a ‘witch hunt’ that keeps most of the magically inclined underground, much to the chagrin of some.  

 

Reteaming with Rowling is Harry Potter director veteran David Yates, whose steady hand brings a more tempered style that does well for me as we get familiar Potter touches but for the most part a lot of new information and characters are being thrown at us.  The tempered approach was pleasant for me, but that can’t help but dim some of the excitement for the subplots, primarily a budding romance between an eager officer of the Magical Law Enforcement named Porpetina Goldstein (Katherine Waterston).

I think all the Potterheads have plenty of gripes with J.K. Rowling returning to her phenomenon source material with the prequel, “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them”.  Not me, I found it rather charming.  While the spell isn’t cast as deep with this rendition, Beasts has me under enough to keep looking where to find them.

I’m just a Muggle, or should I say a ‘non-maj’, so what do I know?

Colossians 2:8

 

Monday
Jul112016

Swiss Army Man- review

 

“Swiss Army Man” (2016)

Directed by Dan Kwan,  Daniel Scheinert

Starring Paul Dano,  Daniel Radcliffe,  Mary Elizabeth Winstead

Running Time 97 Minutes, Rated R.

4 Mitch’s out of 5

Mitch Hansch/movieswithmitch.com

 

I don’t want to label it as the farting corpse movie like everyone else, but I can’t get away from what this film is… a dead body with a great deal of flatulence.  

But in that body that shuffles off its mortal coil with its powerful magical ass-ripping I can’t help but find the meaning of life.  When you’re a kid you think farts are funny.  Yes, you think this as an adult but you do this in the confines of your dearest friends and in a I’m being a bad adult kind of way.  But kids just outwardly laugh at farts with a beautiful and blissful ignorance that wonderfully doesn’t want to know any better.  As kids get older they are told farts are gross and so they for the first time hold that fart in, holding in something that is not only literally essential to their existence but something that will be apart of them for the rest of their lives.  We eventually get to the point where we’re mortified and worst off ashamed of the farts that we let slip out.  

 

And there we are, life is the masquerade of never showing the universal ugly part of ourselves that we can’t get rid of even though we once celebrated.  Like Cypher in “The Matrix” I’d rather be apart of the lie eating my synthetic steaks and not smelling your nasty-ass-nasty farts but I’m too old in the system to be saved but I’m given hope with the Daniels directed (Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert) absolutely original vision that shows Hank (Paul Dano in one of his better roles) and his quest for understanding.  On an island, a scraggly bearded, and about to kill himself Hank reconsiders when he comes across the the dead business suited body of Manny (an even better Daniel Radcliffe).  Hank finds that Manny’s body farts so much it’s enough to be a human powered jet-ski that brings him back to mainland.

Eventually Manny begins to slowly speak, among other things that become a bevy of talents that earn the films title.  More importantly Hank has to teach the what and why’s of what life is all about.  There Manny’s innocence is lost, and the crippling fears of becoming an adult organically creep in as they do for everyone.  But there is joy in this film, as Radcliffe gives an amazing physical performance restricted by being a physically restricted corpse treating the joys of life like a sponge, so much to the point this his erections are used as a GPS for getting back home.  

The Daniel’s gave moments of true wonder and Larkin Seiple‘s  script does so much with the low budget given. I won’t say I was shaken to the core with discovery, even though I mentioned this film might give the meaning of life, but I will say that “Swiss Army Man” may be the deepest and most thought provoking fart joke in cinematic history and is definitely worth a toot or two.  

 

Tuesday
May102016

Jungle Book- review

 

“The Jungle Book” (2016)

Directed by Jon Favreau

Starring Neel Sethi, Bill Murray, Idris Elba

Running Time 106 Minutes, Rated PG

4.5 Mitch’s out of 5

Mitch Hansch/movieswithmitch.com

 

A film that is 99% CGI, with a cast of characters that are 99% animal, never felt so human. Good for Jon Favreau, here’s a director who relishes and understands his lead characters’ rise from turmoil but truly finds the joy of life and their surroundings.  Iron Man’s Tony Stark becoming a hero from the wrenches of war mongering, Chef’s Chef Casper reinventing his career from the public ashes, and now The Jungle Book’s young boy Mowgli overcoming a ferocious Tiger who killed his adopted father of sorts and keeping home right where it’s always been.  Favreau not only brings the light at the end of the tunnel in his films, he’s got it blazing all the way through so you can find your way home.  

“The Jungle Book” is visually a feast, setting a new standard of delivering so much so thoroughly.  What stood out for me was that you could feel the weight and strength of each wild animal.  When a young boy is running from a Tiger, you can feel that tiger closing in with a palpable realness, and that delivers a lot of tension in Rudyard Kipling's well known classic.  

 

Set in the jungles of India, Mowgli (a terrific Neel Sethi) is a mancub literally raised by wolves.  Peace in the animal kingdom is ruptured when a man-hating tiger named Shere Khan (voiced by an intimidating Idris Elba) vows that Mowgli shall not live.  When Mowgli’s tutor, Bagheera (appropriately voiced by Ben Kingsley) tries to get him to a man-village, the young boy is separated, and in one of the films many fantastic action sequences, ends up in the company of the lovable and lackadaisical bear Baloo (Bill Murray).  Murray is as great as you would expect, not hamming it up too hard and leaving heartfelt performance that reinforces the jungles loving ecosystem for the most part.  

Among the other colorful cast entries is Scarlett Johansson using her sultry voice to play the hypnotic Boa Constrictor Kaa, Lupita Nyong’o as the loving protective wolf mother Raksha, and the brilliant addition of Christopher Walken as King Louie, the giant Orangutan who wants to misguidedly rule the jungle.  While Murray’s “Bare Necessities” song feels seamless into the movies storyline, Walken’s “I Wanna Be Like You” is definitely a bit more staged and inorganic, but I’d rather it be a bit inorganic than not in the film at all.

Beware that Favreau’s version is definitely darker and more intense than previous interpretations.  While it ratcheted up the stakes for this viewer, it’s PG rating definitely borders PG-13, and that could be tough for the wee little ones who attend.  But like I said, Favreau is behind the wheel and this film’s light will definitely shine through for all ages.      

 

Thursday
Nov052015

Pan- review

 

“Pan” (2015)

Directed by Joe Wright

Starring Levi Miller, Hugh Jackman, Garrett Hedlund, Rooney Mara

Running Time 111 Minutes, Rated PG

2 Mitch’s out of 5

Mitch Hansch/movieswithmitch.com


A Pan-iverse is attempted here, trying to leave us in bated breath for an imposed trilogy of J.M. Barrie’s classic of ‘the boy who won’t grow up’  but instead leaves us with “the film that won’t entertain” as Joe Wright’s (“Hanna”, “Atonement”) prequel doesn’t bode well for more to come as “Pan” never takes flight.   

It’s WW2 stricken England and young Pan (Levi Miller) is toiling away at the orphanage while corrupt nuns hoard the delectable rations.  With nothing but a pan flute necklace, Pan knows nothing of his birth mother but dreams of the day he can meet her.  The only thing the film’s opening tells us of her (Amanda Seyfried) is that she has those giant Seyfried rainmaker eyes, and she practices the long holding British tradition of parkour. One night a Cirque du soleil band of pirates drop down from the rooftop and kidnap the young kids, one being Pan, to a flying Pirate ship that gets into quick dogfight skirmish with some Allied fighter pilots and take them away to Never Never Land.  

 

Pan is thrown into the Neverland rock pits to mine for Pixum- the street name for pixie dust that the slave driving pirate Blackbeard (Hugh Jackman) secretly uses to keep him forever young (who wants to do a line off Blackbeard pirate sword?!).  Down there, Pan meets James Hook (Garrett Hedlund), whom we all know that the two are destined to be mortal enemies (isn’t that forced cool, sigh).  Hedlund is an attractive chap, but has done nothing to rev my motors.  He’s trying really hard here, but his performance comes off as a really strained Karl Urban impersonation. Also, there’s nothing wrong with Adeel Akhtar’s quivering Smiegel, but I couldn’t help but think how much edgier and funnier it would have been if they casted the likes of Jason Mantzoukas (“The League”).

Jackman is hammy as Blackbeard but in a way that lets him get weird, which works for me, what doesn’t work for me was his introduction that has everyone forced to sing the shanty of Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit”. Hey Wright, have you ever seen “Moulin Rouge”, your film is no “Moulin Rouge” so learn some new tricks!

After a quick rebellion Pan is sent to walk the plank off a flying pirate ship, from which it is discovered by him and everyone else that he has the ability to fly.  This, in turn, brings notice to Blackbeard of the prophecy that a young boy who can fly will stop the nasty pirate from smelling the teen spirit anymore.  Which begs the question; it’s gotta be weird if you’re Blackbeard because you know of a prophecy that directly references you and your demise, wouldn’t that make me change my ways or at least enjoy who I am to the fullest until such event.  

Here lies the biggest fault of “Pan”; once we find out about the prophecy of the ‘boy who could fly’, we’re simply waiting out the last two-thirds of the film going through the motions until the little bugger can finally make lift off.   So why is Neo, sorry, I mean Pan not an exciting character to watch?  Mostly because Wright’s direction and mainly Jason Fuchs screenplay really fuchs it up.  Tonally, the storytelling is everywhere; trying to be at times a dark Christopher Nolan Pan but throwing in fart jokes and Hedlund’s Dr. McCoy/Indiana Jones makes the film feel like oil and water.  Fuchs borrows a little too much with his Neo/Pan, and when we find the tribal territory it comes off as a sloppy love child between the magical forests of Avatar’s Pandora and the wooden huts of Endor.  All the winks and nods to Pan’s later highlights are simpleminded at best.  Pan and Hook’s friendship isn’t cool and innovating it simply is, and at that there isn’t a lot of entertainment.         

“Pan” was all out of fairy dust from the start.  

“This” was all out of fairy dust from the start.  

 

Monday
Jun092014

Maleficent- review

 

“Maleficent” (2014)

Directed by Robert Stromberg

Starring Angelina Jolie, Elle Fanning, Sharlto Copley

Running Time

3 Mitch’s out of 5

Mitch Hansch/movieswithmitch.com

 

I, unlike my wife did not go through a huge disney princess phase in my life (although I did watch my VHS “Beauty and Beast” copy every single day for a summer).  I could barely remember the “Sleepy Beauty” tale; something about a young princess who has been cursed to sleep forever at her 16th bday by hands of a mean ol’ witch lady until a prince thinks it’s ok to put your lips on someone elses while they’re sleeping.  

Disney’s mammoth CGI summer film headlining Angelina Jolie wants to sell you, I mean tell you how that mean ol’ witch lady, better known as Maleficent, came to be so mean, and why you should sympathize on her side.  My wife, who knows the story’s details considerably better than I just let on, commented that she was content with the previous film’s simple good versus bad thru line and basically feeling that Mal is a necessary evil for love’s ultimate power, however creepily expressed, to shine through.  To that I say, “sure I concur with that”, but Angelina Jolie and some delightful special effects put a spell on me to make the film passable for a watch.

 

Maleficent's origin story plays out as such.  There were two kingdoms, one run by humans (who, in an ever growing fantasy film trend are the villain) and the other populated by fairies, trolls, and pixies (smaller than fairies duh).  Unlike the humans, the sweetly magical beings don’t need a king to rule them as they’re a fun loving democracy of sorts.  When a young boy named Stephen wanders off into fairyland of the Moors, he meets up with young naive, albeit wearing a bit too much make up at that age, Maleficent.  The two crush on each other, but as time goes by an older Stephen (Sharlto Copley) decides his career path to being king is more important than love and thereupon taking something very special from Maleficent.  This hardens Maleficent’s heart and now we can understand why she did what she did.

The biggest criticism to be had for this film is that it all feels so unnecessary of a story.  The spin on the well known fairy tale may do it for some, but not for I.  What did do it for me is Robert Stromberg’s ‘good enough’ grasp of directing but more so him playing to his visual effects strengths (“Life of Pi”) and creating the film’s dazzling visuals.  Even more a dazzling visual is Angelina Jolie herself.  With razor sharp cheekbones, a bone white complexion, and massive black horns stemming from the top of her head to boot, Jolie is wonderfully wicked as the dark sorceress.  Cackling with a fierce tone and never missing a comic beat, Jolie was the big reason “Maleficent” did not put me to sleep.

Jolie was the big reason “this” did not put me to sleep.

Proverbs 3:24

 

Thursday
Dec262013

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug- review

 

“The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” (2013)

Directed by Peter Jackson

Starring Ian McKellen, Martin Freeman, Richard Armitage

Running Time 161 Minutes, Rated PG-13

3.5 Mitch’s out of 5

Mitch Hansch/movieswithmitch.com

 

 

I’m pretty sure I said almost this exact same thing pertaining to the first Hobbit film that came out but just one year ago.  Peter Jackson’s “The Hobbit” is no Peter Jackson’s “The Lord of the Rings”, but just because it’s not amazing doesn’t mean it’s not pretty darn good.    The second entry into Jackson’s second  trilogy of Tolkien Middle Earth tales isn’t just pretty darn good, it’s one heck of a fun ride.  We cannot let this sort of grandeur filmmaking of this quality be taken for granted.  We literally get to see a whole other world with whole other civilizations that are so fully developed.  Fantasy films of this caliber are a real treat.

The Dwarves quest to take back their homeland that is now guarded by the great and furious fire breathing Dragon named Smaug (voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch and his tremendous regal vocabulary).  Not so naive Hobbit Bilbo Baggins and the mighty wizard Gandalf (Sir Ian McKellen), who’s yet to drop his White album, add to the rag tag gang that must get through snarling Orcs and their poor fighting skills, snobbish elves, and spiders that are size of my second worst nightmare (that top honor would be me stranded on an island with only “The Last Airbender” and Tyler Perry’s entire catalog to celebrate for the rest of my life).   

You could argue that a film with a story about the power of greed may be just a bit hypocritical by being greedy itself turning J.R. Tolkien’s one book of The Hobbit into three separate almost three hour films.  That’s for the nerds to decide.  

The Desolation of Smaug isn’t nearly as tedious as last years “The Hobbit”, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t pacing issues that have the tendency to make some scenes longer than some of the dwarves beards. I couldn't argue the truly rollicking action sequences that are topped by an incredibly fun barrel down the river sequence that is a testament to mind blowing choreography.  Good times were had by me and that will bring me back for The Hobbit part three (sometimes I rhyme).

Good time were had by “this” and that will bring me back for The Hobbit part three (sometimes I “this”).

Proverbs 28:25

 

Saturday
Oct192013

Honeymoon Suite- review

 

“Honeymoon Suite” (2013)

Directed by Zao Wang

Starring Hanhong Zou, Cary Woodworth

Running Time 14 Minutes

4 Mitch’s out of 5

Mitch Hansch/movieswithmitch.com

 

This is what a short is supposed to accomplish.  Zao Wang’s 14 minute horror comedy short instantly sucks you into the fun world he’s created and has you caring where it’ll take you.

Shot and set in Beijing, China, a swanky hotel is receiving a very special guest.  It’s up to the hotel manager played by Hanhong Zou, who runs a tight ship, to provide the best accommodations for the lunar-challenged patron.

“Honeymoon Suite” wonderfully balances comedy with an effective eeriness to put you off balance, and adds a dash of cuteness that really plays well.  Jack Lam’s cinematography is really top notch, and Zao Wang impressively directs a very fun story that could have just come off easily as a long commercial for the Opposite House Hotel that funded the short.

I’m marking down Zao Wang as director to look out for, and so should you.

I’m marking down Zao Wang as director to look out for, and so should “this”.

 

Saturday
Mar092013

Oz the Great and Powerful- review

Oz the Great and Powerful (2013)
Directed by Sam Raimi
Starring James Franco, Michelle Williams, Rachel Weisz, Mila Kunis
Running Time 130 Minutes, Rated PG
3.5 Mitch’s out of 5
Mitch Hansch/movieswithmitch.com

A prequel to one of the grandest and most beloved films of all time, huh?...ok...nothing like setting your sights higher than over a rainbow.  

Where Victor Fleming’s 1939 masterpiece taught us the value of appreciating where we came from, Sam Raimi’s Oz the Great and Powerful focuses on the journey of a man who wants to be great but first must learn to be a good one.  Raimi has some extraordinarily big red slippers to fill by taking on a film that tells the story of how the wizard ever came to the land of Oz- before Dorothy ever clicked her heels three times to make it home (massive spoiler alert..sorry) in The Wizard of the Oz.   

If I was to pick from five directors to take on a project of this magnitude, and in particular, a prequel to The Wizard of Oz, Raimi would be on that shortlist.  What an amazing amount of pressure Raimi must have felt trying to live up to the original.  To say the least, the Evil Dead and Spider-Man director does not suffer from munchkin sized cajones.  On that note, I will say that try as Mr. Raimi might, Oz the Great and Powerful is nowhere near the magic of the original.

The original should never have been the measuring stick, that ‘s just unfair, but at the same time, I think it’s fair to ask for more than Sidney Lumet’s campy The Wiz starring Diana Ross and DYK was written by Joel Schumacher...weird.  Overall, this journey down the yellow brick road is visually tremendous, dazzlingly beautiful, and once it finally gets into its groove becomes a delightfully adventurous ride that has Raimi’s signature style all over.  

James Franco plays Oscar Diggs, the ethically challenged traveling magician who gets caught up in a Kansas tornado of his own and transported to the magical land of Oz.  Oscar, who also goes by the name of Oz, quickly becomes toted as the hero to fulfill the prophecy to free the good people by ridding the land of a few certain wicked evils.  If successful, Oscar will become king of the land with the riches and fame he so covets.  Oscar is a flawed man indeed, but he is also a man who knows he’s a charleton who aspires to be a better man.

What Oz the Great and Powerful really suffers from is a weak opening act.  Screenwriters Michael Kapner and David Lindsay-Abaire do well with enriching and filling out the details of the world of Oz but lost is the original’s enchanting charms.  Even with Raimi’s technicolor tribute, making Kansas black and white that actually looks stunning in 3-D, the emotional and adventurous hook doesn’t come till well into the movie.  

The good news is that the adventure and fun does come eventually.  The price you pay with prequels is that you fill in the blanks with already established elements from the original, but what Kapner, Lindsay-Abaire and Raimi get right are their original creations.  Accompanying Oscar on his quest are a bellhop monkey servant, splendidly voiced by Zach Braff, and a tragically orphaned girl made from china who comes closest to grabbing the spirit of the original by helping our troubled wizard wannabe learn what it is to become a kind human.    

James Franco spends plenty of his screen time grinning like an idiot and trying to get his eyebrows under control as the flimflamming magician.  Easily the easiest to look at of the Apatowidites, Franco made an admirer out of me with his dramatic turn in 127 Hours and showed off his bravo comedic chops in Pineapple Express, but a film of this grandiose nature seems to bring out the limitations in him (as did the huge stage of hosting the Oscars which, as we all know, did not go that well and probably cause Mrs. Hathaway a spell of binge drinking).  Long paragraph short, Franco is still no slouch in his role, but it also gives me pause for his longevity.

The real shine of Oz are the three witches, even though some shine in crystal white and some in a darker shade of emerald green.  Rachel Weisz, Mila Kunis, and Michelle Williams are so strong as the female leads.  Weiz sinks her nose into playing the big sister to Mila Kunis, who in turn uses those big eyes of hers to make her own journey down a different path.  Williams, who has become one of my favorite actresses of her young generation, brings an adorable grounding to her good witch Glinda.  

With a beginning that felt like it must have come from any other director, Raimi delivers on his strengths from the second half on.  A PG rated film that had moments that truly gave me frights (the monkeys are more evil) and suspense that sizzled all the way to the climax, Raimi’s Oz may not have been great but at times was powerful.

“this” may not have been great but at times was powerful.  

Colossians 1:14

Sunday
Mar032013

Jack the Giant Slayer- reviewer

“Jack the Giant Slayer” (2013)
Directed by Bryan Singer
Starring Nicholas Hoult, Stanley Tucci, Ewan McGregor
Running Time 114 Minutes, Rated PG-13
3.5 Mitch’s out of 5
Mitch Hansch/movieswithmitch.com

200 Million dollars is still a lot today, right? Any investment of that magnitude on a moving picture should make for must-see watching with epic aspirations the likes of Jurassic Park or that of a Lord of the Rings entry.  Fantasy pictures of late are getting the funds but not the enjoyable returns- I’m looking at you John Carter.  

Bryan Singer got that much money to retell the classic magical bean fairytale, sexily titled Jack the Giant Slayer, and in the end, I’m totally recommending that this is worth a watch. I just wish that for that price it could have come a lot closer to reaching the heights of its towering beanstalks.

For that much money you get to see things that only that type of money can buy, and Singer and his special effects team make that a treat.  When the dreamer farm boy Jack (Warm Bodies’ Nicholas Hoult) and the precarious princess Isabelle (Alice in Wonderland’s Eleanor Tomlinson) come across beans with power to make stalks that reach past the clouds to a land of 100 foot ogers, we are taken to where only our imagination and animation has previously gone with this tale.  

Singer, who once upon a time gave us smaller gems such as the Usual Suspects and Apt Pupil, goes the lighter route here and recognizes that keeping it easy and breezy makes for a rolicking enough romp.  When the princess needs rescuing from the human hungry giants- and the inner feminist in me wonders why that’s the only purpose she serves-  the quest for her rescue begins.  

Along with youngins Hoult and Tomlinson, Jack the Giant Slayer is a veteran cast who appear to really be enjoying the adventure.  The great Ian McShane as the protective father/King needs only a look to remind us that he doesn’t work enough.  Ewan McGregor sports a wonderfully new coiffed hairdo as the King’s top Knight, and Stanley Tucci is delightfully off kilter as the treacherous Roderick.

Darren Lemke (Shrek Forever After), Christopher McQuarrie (Jack Reacher), and Dan Studney (Reefer Madness: The Movie Musical) provide a fantasy screenplay that’s fast and fun but also one that’s curiously a bit fast and furious as well.  What seems to be aimed for family viewing keeps it light one moment; a nasty giant chef preparing human in a blanket and taking the time to eat the pickings of his nose (that for some was seen in 3-D), and in the next moment. earning it’s PG-13 rating by gory deaths coming by way of having many characters’ heads eaten off.  

There’s also a shortage of much needed cheeky humour.  With pros like McGregor and Tucci, you should water that comedy bean for all its worth.  Besides a few quips, the two are left lamenting the drama of a war against giants brought to you by magical beans.  

Jack the Giant Slayer may not be 200 Million good, but it is reduced matinee price good.

“This” may not be 200 Million good but it is reduced matinee price good.

Deuteronomy 1:28

Monday
Jan282013

Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters- review

Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters (2013)
Directed by Tommy Wirkola
Starring Jeremy Renner, Gemma Arterton
Running Time 88 Minutes, Rated R.
2 Mitch’s out of 5
Mitch Hansch/movieswithmitch.com

Shotguns were invented in 1850; 1915 for the first safe grenades (ones you can throw), the first revolving machine gun didn’t come about until 1884, and the first record player wasn’t invented till 1877.  

These are just a few of the anachronisms used in the Hansel and Gretel reboot that was first published by The Brothers Grimm in 1812. Future gadgets, plenty of F’bombs, and a touch of gratuitous nudity are supposed to bring “Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters” to new edgy life for 2013 audiences, but instead, we’re left with not enough action, uninspiring advisories, and main characters void of the charm and snappy one liners needed for spoof fare such as this.   

Sadly, Jeremy Renner must have been put under a powerful dark spell and told that this could be another franchise for the two time Oscar nominee as he and Gemma Arterton (Prince of Persia, Quantum of Solace) are two parts of this massive dud that’s probably going to be just one and done.  Renner and Arterton play Hansel and Gretel; leather clad grown ups of the siblings who were left by their parents and nearly eaten by an evil witch in her candy house.  Now witch bounty hunters, they find themselves pitted up against a grand witch (Famke Janssen) who needs to kidnap 12 total children for a spell that would give witch’s the upper hand against humankind.

Directed by the Tommy Wirkola, the film doesn’t have the cleverness and humour he was able to display in his Norwegian horror hit “Dead Snow”.  Wirkola’s “Dead Snow” was very funny; successfully combining Zombies and Nazi’s with many obvious references to Sam Raimi’s “Evil Dead”. In “Hansel and Gretel”, he continues his affection to Raimi with an “Army of Darkness” shoutout to one of the witch’s, but this reference, the action/witch combo, and pretty much the whole feel of Hansel and Gretel fall flat.

Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters may be a spin on an old fairy tale but the only thing it did was work as a bedtime story and put me to sleep.  

the only thing it did was work as a bedtime story and put “this” to sleep.  

Exodus 22:18

Monday
Dec172012

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey- review

“The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” (2012)
Directed by Peter Jackson
Starring Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen, Richard Armitage
Running Time 169 Minutes, Rated PG-13
4 Mitch’s out of 5
Mitch Hansch/movieswithmitch

Question: Can you judge Peter Jackson’s latest fantasy epic on the visual format he displays it in?  Of course you can, if he decided to tell the story animated like South Park there might be an actual revolt, but then again, if Trey Parker and Matt Stone did get ahold of it, I’d pay.  

Jackson’s Academy award winning Lord of the Rings saga also took home the gold for best visual effects, and with nearly decade of special effects advancement, Jackson releases “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” as the first film shown in 48 FPS (frames per second) compared to the usual 24 FPS.  The gripes are that 48 FPS looks so real that it’s like you’re watching a handheld camcorder.  Jackson and James Cameron swear it’s where film is heading.  All that said, I apologize that I can’t answer those critiques since I saw it in 24 FPS in IMAX where I thought it looked absolutely gorgeous.  

At times, Hobbit’s visual were breathtaking, and I was pleasantly pleased to return to Middle Earth. But also at times, Jackson’s plotting was forced, but as you know, Jackson doesn’t do a brief Tolkien, as the first of his Hobbit film trilogy clocks in at a husky 169 minutes.  That said, I think Jackson superbly picks up where he left off.  The Hobbit is a very fun film; making for quite the thrilling adventure that only enriches and deepens his previous three Tolkien films.   

60 years before Frodo went on his quest, fellow Hobbit, Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) left the comfort of his home to journey with 13 dwarfs on a quest to recapture their homeland that’s now inhabited by a nasty gold-loving, fire-breathing dragon.  Led by warrior dwarf Thorin (Richard Armitage), Sir Ian McKellen’s Gandalf the then Grey, Bilbo, and the rest of the miniature rag tag gang move from obstacle to obstacle as trolls, orcs, storm giants, and something called The Necromancer threaten their lives in regularly scheduled intervals.  

Jackson’s action is feverishly entertaining but never hard to follow in a dizzying sense.  The Hobbit has a lighter tone and even a lovely sort of charm more so than his darker LOTR’s.  A lighter tone that is very much made better by Martin Freeman, a favorite of mine.  I also enjoyed McKellen’s nuances with his more clumsy and less traveled Gandalf.  

I will say what a grand thing it is to have a wizard at your disposal.  I found it a bit annoying that every time Bilbo and the dwarfs get themselves in a death defying pickle, Gandalf shows up just in time to save the day.  It’s kind of like Voltron, or Captain Planet, or even Mighty Morphin Power Ranger.  Why wait to use this awesome power that you can use whenever?  Hey dummy, just combine into the Megazord right away instead of at the end of the episode when just being 5 separate Power Rangers is never enough (Yes!  Finally, got to make my Mighty Morphin Power Ranger analogy).

I didn’t expect to enjoy “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” as much as I did.  Jackson’s feast for the eyes will have me coming back for seconds and thirds.  

Jackson’s feast for the eyes will have “this” coming back for seconds and thirds.

Jeremiah 29:11

Friday
Nov302012

Beasts of the Southern Wild- review

“Beasts of the Southern Wild” (2012)
Directed by Benh Zeitlin
Starring Quvenzhané Wallis, Dwight Henry
Running Time 93 Minutes, Rated PG-13
4 Mitch’s out of 5
Mitch Hansch/movieswithmitch.com

Benh Zeitlin’s indie-on-the-cheap gem, “Beasts of the Southern Wild” is wonderfully something I haven’t seen before.

A poverty stricken “Wizard of Oz”, Zeitlin’s Louisiana bayou island community known as the “Bathtub”, is a place where the residents at times are gleefully away from the riches of the rest of the world, enjoying crayfish, crabs, and booze.  I don’t think this would be such a bad place to rest my head.

Zeitlin’s dances between the use of stock footage of icebergs crumbling and the creative use of special effects showing giant bison beasts that roam the Bathtub.  Zeitlin than uses that to dance around our cultures would-be fantasies and the overpowering harshness of life getting the best of you.  The result is that “Beast of the Southern Wild” is powerful, tense, and even a cathartic fable from the deep south.

An absolute immaculate find is the 6 year old actress Quvenzhane Wallis.  Wallis is Hushpuppy, a feisty girl with an amazing imagination that lives with her father Wink played by a ferocious Dwight Henry.  A combination of an impending storm and her beginning to realize her father’s declining health, Hushpuppy knows she is but a cog in the world environment wheel, but still a cog that can do a lot to determine the world’s outcome.  Wallis is truly a force, with the courage of a lion but still accountable to the fear that comes along with getting older in her surroundings.  

Also tremendous is Henry as Wink.  Trying to father by his shoestrings while demanding a no cry zone in his and Hushpuppy’s relationship.  Their relationship is brutal and strong.  

The beauty and terror that is Zeitlin’s “Beast of the Southern Wild” is able to elicit makes this film a must watch.

The beauty and terror that “this” “Beast of the Southern Wild” is able to elicit  makes this film a must watch.

Romans 8:20-22

Monday
Jul092012

The Amazing Spider-Man- review

“The Amazing Spider-Man” (2012)
Directed by Marc Webb
Starring  Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone
Running Time 136, Rated PG-13
2.5 Mitch’s out of 5
Mitch Hansch/ movieswithmitch.com

“The Amazing Spider-Man” isn’t a horrible film by any means, but if you’re gonna reboot the franchise just 5 years after Sam Raimi’s last entry, it should be downright amazing, and this ain’t. This Spider-Man does nothing to set itself apart from Raimi’s films, with so many plot points repeated.  

Like most I wondered why this movie was even getting made for more than just a big Marvel box office return, but I did not go into the theater hoping it would fail.  I’m a fan of the talents Andrew Garfield (The Social Network) as the new webslinger, Emma Stone (Easy A) as the new love interest, and Marc Webb (“500 Days of Summer”) as the new director, but it’s Webb who overall gets tangled in his own web of being in way over his head.  

Marc Webb definitely has the spidey-sense of human interaction but seems to be clueless in the art of action-packed action.  Imagination-light staged action sequences that’s hampered even more by a dull villain that plagues the chemistry that Garfield and Stone create.  Webb relies on a heavy dose of humor that at times plays great and incredibly cute for it’s leads but other times doesn’t know when to put on the spidey-breaks.  One scene brought me a nifty smile as Garfield’s Peter Parker basically web-punches his new learned power in an offbeat ode to “Footloose” but made me cringe in another as Parker throws a football so hard he dents the football goal post with everyone watching.  

That later scene is a few that make you go hmmm?!!!  I know this is a superhero fantasy film, but it’s impossible for the strongest man in the world to do that, let alone the lanky Garfield.  I’m taken out of the moment when Parker has to forge a highly computerized lock on a door to get in the room where one of the technically advanced spiders bite Parker but there's not even one camera in that room to show others how he became Spider-Man?!!!

I’d would have explained the film’s synopsis earlier, but unless you’re younger than 10 years old, you’ve probably seen it before in Raimi’s 2002 Spider-Man.  Britain's first superhero Andrew Garfield uses his impeccable Brooklyn accent as the picked-on Parker who this time longs after Gwen Stacy played by the big-eyed short-skirted Emma Stone and learns the hard way from his Uncle Ben, played by the calming Martin Sheen, that with great power comes great responsibility but reworded of course.  Emphasis is more on Parker’s teenage angst of not growing up with his father that Garfield knocks out of the park.  Parker must stop an old friend of his father played by Rhys Ifans who turns mad scientist and mad giant lizard and grow up at the same time.  

“The Amazing Spider-Man” is a close fail to me.  In the inevitable trilogy this series will be I’d like to see a new director who can pump adrenaline goose bumps like Joss Whedon did in “The Avengers.”  There has been such a shift on the superhero genre to tell the characters dark tale, and rightly so, that its getting forgotten that we want a rip-roaring time with the action as well.  

We want a rip-roaring time with “this” action as well.   

 

Monday
Jun042012

Snow White and the Huntsman- review

“Snow White and the Huntsman” (2012)
Directed by Rupert Sanders
Starring Kristen Stewart, Chris Hemsworth, Charlize Theron
Running Time 127 Minutes, Rated PG-13
2 Mitch’s out of 5
Mitch Hansch/ movieswithmitch.com

I just don’t trust it when Kristen Stewart smiles.  She doesn’t smile often in her latest, “Snow White and the Huntsman”, but when she does it’s hard to imagine her as the title character that is “fairest of them all”.  When I first saw the young actress in the superb “Adventureland”, her brooding angst was fresh and was helped out mightily by an excellent script. Now, after seeing the same pouty approach over and over in countless Twilight needles to the eye, I have gotten tired, taken a nap, woke up, and gotten tired of her all over again.  

Stewart’s performance in “Snow White and the Huntsman” is just one of the many problems that the film is cursed with.  In defense of Stewart, she doesn’t a get a script anywhere near the level of “Adventureland”.  Evan Daugherty‘s dark touch brimmed with potential, but all too often the freed princess turned rebel leader againist her evil stepmother lacks the gravitas to put any stock into.

Everything starts out intriguing enough as the film makes a grim telling of the Snow White Grimm Bros. highlights.  A young Snow White is banished to a high tower after her King father unknowingly remarries (who would knowingly?) the evil sorceress Ravenna, played by Oscar winner Charlize Theron, and overtakes the throne after a surprisingly show of eroticism for PG-13 fare.  Many years later, the now grown up, Snow White escapes and makes her way to the Dark Forest.  It’s here where Sanders touch for the visual flare shines brightest.  Moss covered snakes and fairies dance all over the screen.

With a forced hand from Ravenna, The Huntsman, played by Thor himself, Chris Hemsworth, is ordered to track down the one whose beauty surpasses hers.  Huntsman, a widower now fond of the drink, quickly changes allegiance and chooses to defend Snow White.  With the help of eight Dwarves, because eight Dwarves are better than seven, a rebellion is at Ravenna’s doorstep.  With some CGI magic actors Ian McShane, Bob Hoskins, Ray Winstone, Nick Frost and others take on the little guys who devote themselves to SW’s cause.  You know you’re at the movies when the 98-pound Stewart starts wielding a sword, with no previously shown training or skill, and leads an army into battle.  

The narrative reigns were not held tight by first time director Rupert Sanders as he lets his actors run amok, especially the very talented Charlize Theron.  It’s like Theron had ten Red Bulls before each take as her wide glistened eyes and slow drawn out speech ravage each of her hammy scenes.  One day, long from now, midnight screenings will dress up as her and celebrate Theron’s Ravenna, and that will be a scary scene.  

Theron, Stewart, and Hemsworth feel like they’re all in different films from each other.  Theron is in Mommie Dearest (more like Step Mommie Dearest), Stewart is stuck in her Twilight role, only Hemsworth feels as if he realized he was cast in this film.  

The biggest crime to me is that we don’t come to realize why Snow White is so beautiful.  We’re told it’s because of her heart, but neither Sanders, Stewart, or Daugherty come close to conveying that.  It’s great to put your dark spin on it, but just because you put in LOTR battles every 15 minutes, that doesn’t make for compelling drama.  Overall “Snow White and the Huntsman” is a dull trip through fairyland and whatever spell it tried to cast upon us has long since expired.  

“This” has long since expired.

 

Isaiah 1:18

Monday
May142012

Dark Shadows- review

“Dark Shadows” (2012)
Directed by Tim Burton
Starring Johnny Depp, Michelle Pfeiffer, Eva Green
Running Time 113 Minutes, Rated PG-13
1.5 Mitch’s out of 5
Mitch Hansch/ movieswithmitch.com

Oh sigh, another disappointing Tim Burton and Johnny Depp collaboration.  Not only does “Dark Shadows” not hold a candle to the dark duo’s earlier winning films, but dare I say, this is the first picture from Burton that I may hate, or at least strongly dislike.   It’s as if Burton has nothing left to say as his films have long lost that sense of the fantastically odd and now are just fantastically retread.

Based off the old soap opera that aired from 1966-71, a show before my time that has a mild cult following, Dark Shadows tells the story Barnabus Collins played by Johnny Depp.  Barnabus makes the mistake of scorning the wrong lover, a witch named Angelique Brouchard (Eva Green) who turns him into a vampire and buries him dead alive.  When an unfortunate construction crew unearths Barnabus 200 years later in the year 1972, Barnabus takes it upon himself to be apart of the Collins family once again and bring the family name back to its prosperous fishing company fortune.  

Angelique is still around trying to ruin the Collins family name.  When she finds out Barnabus is back, she spends the rest of the film trying to win him back or destroy him.  Among the family descendants: the matriarch Elizabeth who’s played by Michelle Pfeiffer who has absolutely none of the zest she brought as Catwoman in Burton’s “Batman Returns”, the talented youth Chloë Grace Moretz as the “gonna blow this small town as soon as she can” Carolyn, a troubled young boy David Collins (Gulliver McGrath), his family psychiatrist played Helena Bonham Carter (of course she’s in this film), and Victoria (Bella Heathcote) as the newly arrived nanny who, for whatever reason, has always been drawn to the town of Collinsport.  

These characters and many others not mentioned are lost or forgotten by Burton at some point.  Big moments at the climax are supposed to pay off, but not one is earned as all the different storylines are brought in with the randomness of a ball in a pinball machine.  Burton can’t figure out what he wants the film to be.  Spinning from melodrama one moment, to soap opera, to horror, to comedy, and failing to elicit any of these genres effectively.  

The fish out of time comedy is painfully flat and a cameo involving Alice Cooper pretty much derails any momentum the film had going for it by getting an era’s celebrity to be a cheap salesmen.  The sets are gothic and gorgeous trying bring back a “Beetlejuice” feel, but, sadly, Burton commits plagiarism from that very film.  In one scene the Victoria warns that David is going to get in a lot of trouble when they find out he’s cut holes in expensive sheets to look like a ghost... cough cough... I liked it better when Winona Ryder said it first.  Cough, cough, Burton and Depp should be banned from working together until Burton finds his voice again.

Cough, cough, Burton and Depp should be banned from working together until Burton finds “this” again.

 

Proverbs 30:14

Monday
Apr022012

Wrath of the Titans- review

“Wrath of the Titans” (2012)
Directed by Jonathan Liebesman
Starring Sam Worthington, Liam Neeson
Running Time 99 Minutes, Rated PG-13
2 Mitch’s out of 5
Mitch Hansch/ movieswithmitch.com

The sequel to 2010’s  “Clash of the Titans” is more of the same and just as lame.

This is embarrassing, but I actually got a little pumped up for this one before going in to watch it.  That slick little trailer with a well used “Sweet Dreams” from Marilyn Manson gave me some of the fanboy adrenaline goose pimples.  Too many times, a finely edited trailer has suckered me in, being my achilles heel, and “Wrath of the Titans” proves to be no different.  A what-not-to-do summer special effects laden sequel movie.  Sure, you can slap a better CGI coat on than the atrocious Clash predecessor to make it look like a Ferrari, but underneath Wrath’s slick paint job is the same old dull hero’s fight against angry Greek gods that rides like a Ford Pinto.  

There’s more to root for in my lunch sandwich selection (Turkey swiss w/ pickles or crunchy peanut butter and strawberry jelly- who knows?) than any of the dullards taking up screen time.  Whether it’s the combined four screenwriters with dialogue like, “we only have so much time before Zeus’ life force is zapped”, or director Jonathan Liebesman’s (Battle Los Angeles) mistaking special effects for plot, or Sam Worthington’s humorless performance (seriously, I got more laughs out of Streep in “Sophie’s Choice”).  

The bulky Brit Worthington returns as half God half man Perseus.  Famous for his Kraken slaying days, he now prefers a low profile as a humble fisherman widower trying to be the best daddy he can be.  Perseus’ daddy, Zeus (Liam Neeson) brings bad news that all Hades is breaking loose, and that Perseus will need to do battle once again.  Turns out, the gods run on prayer power, and with human seriously lacking in that department, that previous life force is being zapped.  Hades (Ralph Fiennes) and scorned son of Zeus, Ares (Édgar Ramírez) use this to their advantage, devising to unleash father of all Gods, Kronos (a silly hot lava god), to regain their godly power.

From there, it’s a collection of interesting set pieces that has Perseus battling Cyclops, deadly labyrinth, and a very tame minotaur.  Neeson and Fiennes dress up and get to collect their checks.  Allies are made; the wasted Rosamund Pike plays Andromeda, who we know is supposed to come around as a love interest to Perseus eventually, but we could care less, and the other half god Agenor played Toby Kebbell doing a second rate Russell Brand impression.  When the cagey Bill Nighy pops in bringing some actual energy to the film it feels alien and before you can adjust he’s outta of the film.

In the barrage of lightning bolts and fireballs there isn’t an actual drop of emotion earned.  Where any enjoyment is in “Wrath of the Titans” is all Greek to me.

“Where any enjoyment is in “this” is all Greek to me.  

 

Monday
Apr022012

Mirror Mirror- review

 

“Mirror Mirror” (2012)
Directed by Tarsem Singh
Starring Lily Collins, Julia Roberts, Armie Hammer
Running Time 106 Minutes, Rated PG
2 Mitch’s out of 5
Mitch Hansch/ movieswithmitch.com

More like the squarest of them all.

Take the director of strongly R rated fare “The Cell” and last year’s awful “The Immortals” and let him adapt a treasured children’s classic.  Unless you are Martin Scorsese, than it’s a pretty hard feat to pull off.  Tarsem Singh is no Scorsese (wow Mitch thanks for that incredible film insight), but he does have a uniquely strong flair for the visual flair.  Tarsem Singh has put his imaginative look on Mirror Mirror, but almost everywhere else the film falls flat.  Plagued by showstopping bad cheesy humor and stilted performances there’s more magic in the recently purchased LA Dodgers.  

I’m sure the studio was stoked to land Julia Roberts as the wicked Queen, and I’m sure she was probably excited to jump on the fairytale film bandwagon but it’s also very apparent she wasn’t able to carry it into filming.  She looks tired and unconvincing as evil, something she’s never been able to strongly deliver.  A couple of her patent giggles are undeniably charming as ever, but her chemistries with both Lily Collins (not Roberts fault) and Armi Hammer (both their faults) are as white as lies.  

With the hook of being told from the Queen’s perspective, the classic Snow White tale doesn’t offer much new to its viewers.  Gorgeous costumes draping their players and vivid sets for them to play in is nowhere near enough to create a lasting impression.  Dance halls fall flat on the floor, the Queen’s reflection is a bore, and the love triangle almost made me snore.    

As for the mistreated beauty Snow White, she’s played by Phil Collins’ daughter Lilly Collins.  She was not Suss-suss-suitable (sorry, couldn’t resist) for the role.  The dainty actress’ voice never raises above a whisper, in fact the only part of her that spoke out were her bushy eyebrows (a bit off putting).  She looked quite outmatched by Roberts and far from showing a love that a kiss could bring back to life (a scene that I found very odd and uncomfortable).  

The talented Armie Hammer (The Social Network, J. Edgar) isn’t able to take the stupid silly and make it playful funny as the charming Prince.  There’s an embarrassing 20 minute sequence where Hammer is subjected to playing out a puppy love spell that has him yelping and playing fetch to not even a giggle.  The Queen’s cougar antics over the Prince also stop the story on a dime.  

Always tragic when this happens, but Mirror Mirror’s credit sequence is the best part of the film.  It was a mistake of Tarsem to save all the fun till the end.  If he could have given that same energy throughout I might be reviewing a classic, instead I’m reviewing a reject film.

Instead I’m reviewing a reject “this”.

 

 

Proverbs 31:30

Monday
Mar122012

John Carter- review

“John Carter” (2012)
Directed by Andrew Stanton
Starring Taylor Kitsch, Lynn Collins
Running Time 132 Minutes, Rated PG-13
2.5 Mitch’s out of 5
Mitch Hansch/ movieswithmitch.com

From the very long awaited Edgar Rice Burrough’s novel, “John Carter” ends up being a disappointment in mediocrity, and with a budge of $250 Million you shouldn’t get mediocrity, you should get the moon and the stars and a better film that uses Mars.  “John Carter” wants to have the dark tones of a “Dark Knight” and the old school adventure of “Raiders of the Lost Arc”, but neither is accomplished as the vaguely written dark back story of the protagonist zaps all the fun out what should be incredibly exciting surroundings.

John Carter is an ex-confederate cavalry man in search of gold. When he is backed into a cave from fighting Apaches, he comes across a device that transports him to Basoon, or as we call it, Mars.  Adopted by Nav’i slash Jar Jar Binks  looking aliens with four arms known as the Tharks, Carter is forced into fighting the battle for Mars between the two humanoid provinces and mystical manipulators known as Therns.  Carter chooses the side with the Princess Helium, who’s to be forced into marriage, that is if he doesn’t do something about it.  

Taylor Kitsch plays John Carter with unnecessary Christian Bale brood.  This fantasy/ adventure should have been met with more zeal and interest, instead of just wanting to get home the whole time.  “John Carter” is also dubious for being overly complicated while being vaguely simplistic.  This might come off poorly, but the Tharks (while the CGI is visually impressive to look at) aren’t visually easy to distinguish between, and they go by the names that include Dejah Thoris, Tars Tarkas, Tal Hajus, Matai Shang, Sab Than and Kantos Kan.  It was hard to follow who was talking about who.  Even more confusing were the Therns.  The Thern’s (leader played by Mark Strong,) are a group of overseer’s who give little explanation as to why they’re in favor of the evil province to be victorious.  

Andrew Stanton, director of “Finding Nemo” and my favorite animated film of all time “Wall-E”, fails to make the jump to live action, unlike his Pixar buddy Brad Bird who just excelled with Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol.  The effects are impressive, especially in the IMAX theater I saw it in, and even though the third act finally starts to feel like the fun ride it should, Stanton couldn’t make up for the first two bummers of acts.  Too long at 132 minutes, and simply just too lackluster for a story of an Earth man on Mars.

and simply just too lackluster for a story of an Earth man on “this”.

 

1 Chronicles 5:20

Monday
Nov212011

Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1- review

Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1 (2011)
Directed by Bill Condon
Starring Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner
Running Time 117 Minutes, Rated PG-13
1.5 Mitch’s out of 5
Mitch Hansch/ movieswithmitch.com

THIS REVIEW DOESN'T MATTER.   If you’re on Team Edward or Team Jacob then, by default, you’re on Team Twilight.  You’ve made it to the fourth installment and you could care less what some opinionated yet handsome movie critic has to say.  If you are a newbie to the series then you must have done something very wrong, and this is your apology to your girlfriend.  

The Twilight Saga is a mind-bendingly successful franchise (things that make you go hmmm?) that will no doubt be in this years top five for box office totals.  Nothing is going to stop this and the final film from continuing that.  It doesn’t matter that these films are consistently awful and make me die a little every time I watch one because someone who has invested this far into these sad characters and eye-rolling melodrama won’t agree with me, and they will not be deterred by Breaking Dawn Part 1’s myriad of flaws.  My love for the series “Lost” made me blind to it’s ongoing decline, and all these little Twilighters are as blind as emo vampire bats.  

The saga (saga-shmaga) continues with a nice joke (hopefully intended) of teen-wolf Jacob (Taylor Lautner) ripping off his shirt in anger and exposing his 14-pack abs after receiving an invitation to the 105 year-old sulk-vamp Edward (Robert Pattinson) and 18 year-old vamp-wannabe Bella’s (Kristen Stewart) wedding (what can she say, she digs older men).  The wedding has plenty of moments for the fans to respond to including a jealous toast from Jessica played by the Oscar nominated Anna Kendrick.  I wonder if I had only seen the talented Kendrick in these films instead of  “Up in the Air” or “50/50” if I would think she’s that talented.  

As the honeymoon in Brazil gets going prompting some frisky property damage, Bella loses her abstinence to the pasty faced Edward and is rewarded by being impregneted with a half-vamp half-human baby.  Edward looks in startled horror as the blood-sucking baby will eventually kill Bella’s non-compatible body from the inside.  So you’re saying in all the years of inter-species mating between vampires and humans, that in not one instance have they ever gotten preggers?  Whatever.  

Wolf/Vamp wars play out as Bella’s failed Rosemary’s Baby’s horror plays out.  Bill Condon (Kinsey, Gods and Monsters), a decent director, takes over the series with a big budget to work with but can’t escape the series trap-falls of stilted dialogue and barrage of unintentionally hilarious moments.  I laughed harder at a scene of CGI wolves arguing amongst each other than I did at the very funny “Bridesmaids”.

As I said earlier with Anna Kendrick, it often takes better projects to show if an actor has it or not.  Stewart has shown it in “Adventureland”, and I’ll even give the sad-smile Pattinson another chance after his work in “Water for Elephants”, but for Lautner, this and his latest film Abduction asked the question, what’s the opposite word for talent? The answer is untalented.  I hate the way Lautner comes into a scene, the way he walks, talks, and I don’t even like the way he continues to breathe.

Again, my opinion doesn’t matter.  Bad reviews don’t stop people from going to Transformer flicks, Tyler Perry movies, and Adam Sandler abominations.  Breaking Dawn Part 2 will be even more successful than this sure-fire hit.  And for that I give respect but not praise.

And for “this” I give respect but not praise.