The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (2013)

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Director: Peter Jackson
Writers: Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, Guillermo del Toro, J.R.R. Tolkien
Production Companies: MGM, New Line Cinema, WingNut Films
Stars: Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen, Richard Armitage, Aidan Turner, Evangeline Lilly, Orlando Bloom, Benedict Cumberbatch, Luke Evans, Lee Pace, Stephen Fry
Genre: Adventure/ Fantasy

What It’s About: Bilbo, Gandalf, and the band of dwarves continue their journey to Erebor to reclaim the land that is rightfully theirs.  Sequel to The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012).

How I Watched It: Alone in my apartment.  Evening.

Thoughts: There are so many adventures in this movie, and I don’t really wanna COMPLETELY spoil them for those who haven’t seen the movie yet. I’ll just pinpoint my favorite/least favorite parts.

**THIS REVIEW MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS**

Okay.  Now, I’m probably a little biased when it comes to these movies, because I’ve read The Hobbit. And let me tell ya, there are so many differences….I could go on a rant, but I’ll try to avoid it.

If I look at this film in an objective way, I can tell you that it was one fun ride.  Yes, it’s different from the book, but it still retains enough of the core story to make for one hell of an adventure.  I really enjoyed the battle with the spiders in the forest.  That part was one that I remembered most clearly from the book, and it was excellently portrayed on screen.

The elves come into play at the end of that battle.  I will point out that Legolas (Bloom) was never in the book.  Nor was the lady elf, Tauriel (Lilly), so a lot of the Elven storyline was altered to accommodate the weird love triangle with them and Kili.  But, it did make for an interesting watch.  I definitely found portions of it pretty awkward, but still somehow touching.

Another scene that I loved was the barrel scene in the river.  In the book, the dwarves are merely sealed into the barrels and smuggled down river.  Peter Jackson took the entire scene to the next level….and then some.  Not only are they not sealed in–heads sticking out, bobbing about–but they’re being chased by the orcs from before….and the orcs are being chased by the elves.  What a fun scene, though!  This scene is so action-packed, but it doesn’t lack humor.  I found myself giggling several times throughout it.

Then we make it to Lake Town, where the dwarves are smuggled away by Bard (Evans). The dynamics in this scene are quite a bit different from the book, but still enjoyable. Eventually the dwarves make themself known to the town leaders, and they’re shipped off to continue their journey to the mountain.

Okay.  Enough of the jibber-jabber.  Let’s talk about the real star of this film:

Mother. Fuckin’. Cumberbatch.

Now, I can’t even imagine how the audition for this role went.

“Hello, Mr. Cumberbatch.  Today, you will be auditioning for the role of Smaug. He’s a mother fucking dragon.  You set?”

I mean, come on!  This guy was A FUCKING DRAGON.  He embodied it, and his voice is so, so good.

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The scenes with Smaug, really stole the film for me.  CGI?  Yes. Brilliantly done?  YES. I’m a sucker for dragons, though.  :3

My Rating:  Huzzah!

Like I said, quite a few differences from the book, but still an awesomely fun ride.  Peter Jackson is a master storyteller.  Always a fan.

Where Can I Watch It?: This movie is available on Amazon Instant.

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Bad Milo! (2013)

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Director: Jacob Vaughan
Writers: Jacob Vaughan, Benjamin Hayes
Production Companies: New Artists Alliance, Floren Shieh Productions, Duplass Brothers Productions
Stars: Ken Marino, Gillian Jacobs, Peter Stormare, Patrick Warburton, Stephen Root
Genre: Horror/ Comedy

What It’s About: A man with unusual stomach problems learns that he has a demon living in his intestines.

How I Watched It: Alone in my apartment.  Evening.

Thoughts: To boil it down to brass tacks here, Duncan (Marino) is getting a lot of strange stomach problems whenever he gets stressed. One day he discovers that he has a small demon living up his butt.  The demon comes out to play and terrorizes people who have caused him stress.

This movie is…strange.  XD  I knew what to expect going into it, but it still managed to surprise me.

One thing I can give praise to in this movie is the special effects.  The creature, AKA Milo, is adorable yet terrifying and really creates some hilarious moments.  Most of the effects in this movie appeared to be practical, which is always something to be praised.  Kudos to Fractured FX for their work on this film.

Pretty solid comedic performances all around.  Ken Marino was great as the lead in this–just a normal down-to-earth guy….stuck working in a 9-5 office job….with a demon up his butt that pops out and kills people.  But it really was well played.  He didn’t make it too over-the-top, which was a necessity for him to be successful.

Shout-out to Peter Stormare who plays Duncan’s shrink, and also to Stephen Root who comes into play as Duncan’s father.  I don’t even really know what to say.  This whole plot line and all of the characters in it are just ridiculous.

My Rating:  Meh.

It had it’s funny moments, and I loved the creature effects.  However, the sheer amount of toilet humor in this movie gets tiring after a while.  And yes, I understand that you HAVE to have toilet humor for this plot, but still.  I feel that I may have enjoyed this more in a group setting

Where Can I Watch It?: Currently available on Netflix Instant and Amazon Instant.

Her (2013)

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Director: Spike Jonze
Writer: Spike Jonze
Production Company: Annapurna Pictures
Stars: Joaquin Phoenix, Scarlett Johansson, Amy Adams, Rooney Mara, Chris Pratt
Genre: Drama/ Romance/ Science Fiction

What It’s About: A writer who is still recovering from a recent breakup develops a relationship with his computer operating system.

How I Watched It: Alone in my apartment.  Evening.

Thoughts: We have Theodore (Phoenix), who is still recovering from a recent separation–and pending divorce–from the love of his life, Catherine (Mara).  He lives a fairly lonely life: works at a place where he writes handwritten love letters for other people, comes home to an empty apartment and plays video games, talks to his hands free bluetooth-like device more than actual people.  Then one day, he discovers this new computer operating system that is designed to be individually customize-able.  So he gives it a female personality.  And that personality is capable of normal computer things…but then it’s also capable of things such as empathy and emotion.  The O.S. takes on the name Samantha (Johansson).  They become…close.

Okay.  First of all, let’s talk about the world that this movie takes place in.  Spike Jonze has created this futuristic world that is, in my mind, totally plausible.  Like…this world seems like a world that we could be experiencing in a decade.  Which is AWESOME, but to be perfectly honest, kiiiiind of creeps me out a bit.  It’s like today, only slightly upgraded–nothing so out there, that it takes you away.  I dunno.  I just found something so eerie about it.  Maybe it’s the clingy computer operating system that can think for itself, but I think it’s more than that.  Or maybe it’s the video game character that can react to you and things in your surrounding environment.  I dunno.

I had no idea what this movie was about going into it.  I figured it was gonna be some sad love story, with some sap reflecting on past relationships and where they went wrong. And sure, there’s some of that.  But then you bring in this relationship he has with his O.S. Wasn’t expecting that one. A computer software that thinks for itself is pretty fucking terrifying, if you ask me.  Just imagine what something like that could do to your life. It could fuck you over REAL BAD.  Without spoiling what happens, may I just say that I anticipated a much different turn of events in this movie.  But I appreciate the approach taken.

Joaquin Phoenix was really fantastic in this movie.  I’ve always had somewhat mixed feelings about him as an actor, but he really made me feel for him in this.  The fact that he works as a writer, creating heartfelt letters for other people is so sad, but so interesting.  I imagine that there are really people out there that do that, and it boggles my mind.  There are so many scenes where he walks a fine “crazy” line, and he does that really well.

It’s different watching a movie with Scarlett Johanssen and not having to view her bodacious bod the entire time (and by different, I mean slightly disappointing).  She was great as the voice of Samantha, though.  Definitely some pure creeeeeeepy moments from her.  As there should be.  Because she’s a computer program that can think for herself.

Shoutout to Kristen Wiig for her small role as SexyKitten in the online chat room.  I about died from laughter/awkwardness.  She’s the best.

My Rating: Huzzah!

I’m still slightly creeped out by the idea of this movie.  But it’s good.  Spike Jonze created a totally believable world.  But yeah.  There’s love and stuff too. But you’ll have to watch it to discover all of that mushy stuff for yourself.  😉

Stitches (2012)

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Director: Conor McMahon
Writers: Conor McMahon, David O’Brien
Production Companies: MPI Media Group, Tailored Films, Fantastic Films, Solid EntertainmentBórd Scannán na hÉireann
Stars: Ross Noble, Tommy Knight, Shane Murray-Corcoran, Gemma-Leah Deveraux
Genre: Horror/ Comedy

What It’s About: A clown comes back from the grave to seek revenge on the children who killed him during a party accident several years before.

How I Watched It: Alone in my apartment. Evening.

Thoughts: Well, we start the movie with some lovely clown-on-girl action.  What a way to kick it off.  We learn very quickly that Stitches (Noble) is not the classiest of clowns out there.  He realizes that he’s late to a birthday party gig, so he heads off down the road in his crappy little car with the driver’s side headlight busted out and tape across it in an “X”.  I may be over-thinking it, but that seems like some foreshadowing.

He pulls up to the house, and this group of little asshole children congregate for his show. He “dazzles” them with his sub-par tricks, as they antagonize him the entire time he’s performing. A kid ties his shoestrings together…then one thing leads to another, and he trips over his own feet and stumbles and falls…..right on to a huge kitchen knife that just so happened to be pointing straight up in the dishwasher.  Right in the eye.  Gross.  Eye injuries are gross.  BUT WAIT!  He arises!  Annnnnnd ends up with the knife right back in the eye.  Leaving him with an “X” mark cut on his left eye (JUST LIKE THE CAR!  See!? It makes sense).

Stitches gets buried, and the birthday boy–Tom (Knight)–feels bad, so he creeps on the funeral with his tree-house telescope.  He goes to the cemetery to visit, and notices some strange things afoot.  Clowns of all shapes and sizes congregating doing some weird ritual with some weird egg-canister things.  It’s creepy and hilarious–fantastic.  They catch him and scare him and blah blah blah.

Then we see the same kids 6 years later.  Tom is screwed up in the head, as is evident when he starts popping pills.  I noticed that the bottle says Hypnocil is his prescription. If you don’t know, that’s tooooootally a reference to A Nightmare on Elm Street 3. I got all giddy when I noticed.  :3

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But somewhere along the line he ends up throwing another party and Stitches comes back from the dead to seek revenge on all of the little brats who made him meet his demise years before.

Ross Noble is fantastic as Stitches.  He’s just the sleeziest of sleezy, and he plays killer clown so well–creepy…but with a smile on his face.  Just hilarious.

The kills in this movie are just perfect.  Ironic and creative, and just a lot of fun to watch. Don’t get me wrong, there are some really brutal scenes in this movie, but they play the comedy so well, that I think even the wooziest of people could tolerate watching them.

Great young cast as well.  Both the young birthday party group, and the older high school group were awesome.  No weak links among the lot of them, in my opinion.  The casting done between the two groups worked really well–the older versions actually seemed like older versions of the little brats.

My Rating: Huzzah!

This flick was a lot of fun. The humor is incredibly dry, so be warned if that’s not your cup of tea.  Also, might wanna avoid it if you don’t like lots of awesome blood and guts.

Godzilla (2014)

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Director: Gareth Edwards
Writers: Max Borenstein, Dave Callaham
Production Companies: Warner Bros., Legendary Pictures, Disruption Entertainment, Toho Company
Stars: Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Bryan Cranston, Ken Watanabe, Sally Hawkins, David Strathairn, Elizabeth Olsen
Genre: Action/ Adventure/ Science Fiction

What It’s About: Godzilla comes back and fights other big monsters.  What more do you need?

How I Watched It: In the theater with a friend. 3D. The weekend following the movie’s opening.

Thoughts: Okay.  Now, this is only my second-ever experience seeing a movie in 3D at the theater.  The first was Jurassic Park, and it was enjoyable–but maybe just because it was Jurassic Park.  This one….well, I probably could have done without.  Maybe I’m just old-fashioned.  The entire first portion of the movie seemed out of focus, and my guest agreed.  After discussing this with others who have seen it in 3D, it may have just been our particular theater. But still.  If you have yet to see this, I would personally recommend watching it without.  Now that that’s out of the way, let’s get to it.

***THIS REVIEW MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS***

The movie opens in Japan at a nuclear plant in 1999–the same time that the last movie was set.  I always appreciate continuity.  We meet Joe Brody (Cranston) and his family. Cranston and his wife Sandra (Juliette Binoche) head off to work at the nuclear plant while their son Ford (Taylor-Johnson) goes to school.  Something starts going wrong and the reactors become unstable while Sandra and her team are in the radioactive area–leaving the entire team to be sealed in and killed. Then shortly after, the entire plant collapses into ruins.

Flash forward 15 years to present day. Ford is returning home from a military tour overseas.  He greets his wife Elle (Olsen) and their son Sam (Carson Bolde).  He barely gets home, when he gets a call from a Japan jail, saying that his father had been arrested for trespassing in the quarantined area where the plant went down 15 years before.  He flies to free him, and we see a crazed Joe searching for answers of what happened.

There’s also a side story of Dr. Ishiro Serizawa (Watanabe) and his assistant Vivienne (Hawkins) searching through caverns to find strange bones and artifacts. At one point the two stories meet and we see that they’re both searching for the same thing.  We see a strange solidified rock..thing that they’re pumping radiation through.  Things become unstable again like they did before, and they decide to shut everything down.

Then shit hits the fan.

Acting. CRANSTON. Now, I know that a lot of people are still working off their boners for Cranston after Breaking Bad–and I admit that I’m probably one of them.  BUT, he was awesome in this. He reeled me in right away.  And he speaks some of the only Japanese in the whole movie, so points there–can always use more of that.  He makes me have so many feeeeeeeeels.

Taylor-Johnson.  Ummmm.  There were parts of this film where I liked him, but he’s really not my favorite.  ****DEFINITE SPOILER*** Honestly, I was kind of pissed off that we lose Cranston so early on in the movie and get stuck with him.  It’s like night and day, really. A friend and I decided that the better plot would be Ford dying, leaving Joe to seek even more vengeance for his family.  Then he could fight to save his grandson and daughter-in-law.  More of a bittersweet ending.  I dunno.

Creatures. I keep hearing people complaining about how little you see the monster in this movie, and I don’t understand why. They ALWAYS try to hide the creatures…and honestly, I thought you saw Godzilla a lot in this in comparison to other films.  We get to see him in all of his CGI glory, and it doesn’t disappoint.  Now, I have a soft spot for the old rubber-suited monsters, but I thought he looked fantastic in this feature.  It’s really evident how far the technology has come along.

**SPOILER….oh, you get the idea by now. SPOILERS BE DAMNED**
What’s so awesome about this film to me, is that we get OTHER MONSTERS, which the 1998 failed to provide.  FINALLY.  Honestly, I had no idea there were going to be other creatures in this, so I was PUMPED.  I thought the M.U.T.O.s were pretty badass.  Now If I’m gonna complain about not seeing enough of something, it would be the creatures battling it out.  There were a few moments where the filmmakers were the biggest cock teases on the frickin’ planet, and it was mildly infuriating.  Then we get the awesome final battle–totally worth it.  THE LAST KILL. OHHHHHHHH MAAAAAAAN. You know what I’m talkin’ about.  😉

There were definitely a few moments that gave me chills in this.  For one, the scene depicted in the teaser trailer with the men parachuting.  I’m so torn, because I wish that it wouldn’t have been revealed to me before seeing the movie–because I love it.  But at the same time, it was the trailer that got me pumped up for the movie.  Oh well.  Also, the scene where the jets are falling from the sky like falling angels–so many chills.  Basically any scene where they used the really ominous choral music.  I’m a sucker for creepy choral music–give me a good Dies Irae and I’m content.  🙂

My Rating: Huzzah!

There are definitely parts of the movie that I didn’t like, and I almost pegged this one as more of a Meh, but if I’m still excited about it a week after seeing it, I must have enjoyed it. Definitely a fun ride.  Hopeful that I won’t have to wait another 15 years to see a new Godzilla movie.  BRING IT.