May Movie Watching in Review

It is hard to keep up with my film reviews–between work and stuff it gets difficult sometimes…(as you ALL know, I am sure!)  So, I decided to make compilation posts a monthly thing.  It may be cheating ;D but hey,  it will be a great way to wade through all the films I watch and for it not to end up being 6 months later.  😀

After Earth

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Oh, M. Night!  I really, really what him to do well…I miss him.  Unfortunately, After Earth is not his triumphant return.  It is NOT as horrible as everyone is saying–but it is NOT that fantastic either.  It is safe and bland.  I almost understand how M. Night Shyamalan would be scared to do anything “special” since he has been panned by critics and fans alike for so long now–almost understand.  But, by playing it safe, After Earth is perfectly mediocre.  It has a creative premise that is then saddled with typical themes and characters.  I enjoyed the performances by Will Smith and his son, Jaden Smith but it was not enough to save the film.

Now You See Me

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I love magic and films about magic–so, I was excited about this.  Well, Now You See Me is guilty of a lot of things–being a cool story about magic is not one of them.  Director Louis Leterrier‘s style may pass the empty-action test but when given a real scenario with real people well…he seems to have some trouble.  Let me count the ways… 1.  It tries WAY too hard to be clever.  2.  It is shallow and superficial, which is a pity because it had so much potential.  3.  It has ZERO character development–and I mean ZERO!  4. There is no chemistry between the cast, which is surprising because this is a notable ensemble. So, at the end I was left  shaking my head and a bit sad because of its lack of  “magic”.

The Company We Keep

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This Robert Redford directed films hails an impressive cast and although they all give good performances, The Company We Keep is flat and kind of boring.  I have to think hard to remember what all happened. Yeah, that’s not a good sign.  😀

Dark Skies

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So close to being DAMN good!!  The ending of this thriller is frustrating enough to taint the film.  What a shame too, because writer/director Scott Stewart creates a unique look at what can be an over done alien theme.  With the fresh approach I was invested.  I loved the time spent on the family and their dynamic.  It had several good scares and some really cool stuff going on.  Kerry Russell and Josh Hamilton give strong performances and I love J.K. Simmons small appearance.   See?  All good.  But it unravels at the end.  Sad.

The Guilt Trip

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I love Barbara Streisand!  Period.  The Guilt Trip is exactly what I expected…some Streisand time! LOL!  Hey, this is a paint by numbers movie.  Predictable themes, but Seth Rogan and Babs have some good chemistry and sell the mother/son connection.  I laughed and enjoyed my time visiting an old friend.

Safe Haven

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OH!  I remember this one…it’s Sleeping with the Enemy–right?  Wait…OH!  Nicholas Sparks.  I get it. Actually. No. I don’t.   One thing though, the adorable little girl?  Is almost an exact replica of my daughter at that age…awwww!  So cute!   That’s it.  That is all I got from that.  😀

The Last Stand

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I was thinking this could be fun–maybe even good.  The return on Arnold Schwarzenegger–YES! (I am a child of the 80s ;)).  Directed by Kim Jee-Woon, who had haunted me with I Saw the Devil.   This could be really good.  Well…I was wrong.  It’s terrible.

Side Effects

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OMG!!  This movie was so awesome–when it was titled MALICE!  -_-

Steven Soderbergh has left me feeling “meh” a lot lately…sure…I can find some good things, but I have to really look hard because the “meh” is too powerful.  Meh.

Well, folks.  That’s it.  Let’s see what June offers…

Later! 😀

Magic Mike suffers from a lack of focus and too much bare ass.

Yes. There is such a thing as too much bare ass. Although the 200 screaming women in my sold out screening would loudly disagree. Wow!  If anything, I can say that Magic Mike was a unique movie watching experience.  A very interactive experience.

First of all, I should let you know that I do not care for the male strip club environment.  Why would sexy, naked men dancing provocatively not appeal to me?  Well, usually after about a half an hour of laughing at the unbelievable, out of control reactions of the normally subdued women–I get bored. I tire of the constant bombardment of bare ass. I need substance. Sexy to me is mental. Humor. Intelligence. Those qualities turns me on more than gyrating hips.

So, it is easy for me to correlate Magic Mike with a strip club adventure.  It is fun at times.  Outrageous sometimes.  But, overall lacking substance.  And yes…I did get bored.

This is strike 3 for me towards director Steven Soderbergh.  A huge fan of many of his earlier films, these last 3 have not impressed me.  Contagion disappointed (I had high hopes).  Haywire had bad ass fighting and that is about it.  And now Magic Mike.

My biggest problem is that there are two separate stories being told.  And I blame writer Reid Carolin more than Soderbergh.  One is this funny, lighthearted  look at the behind scenes antics of male strippers with an intelligent, level-headed dancer taking on a protegé.  The other is a depressing, over-long look at the dark, seedy side of the stripper world–full of sex, drugs and appropriately enhanced dance music and it follows an old stripper trying to find himself.

There is nothing wrong with either story–except that the way it’s presented, you end up with an upbeat first half (with a energetic audience) and a sad, awkward second half (with an obviously deflated audience).  While my daughter and I wanted more story–I would dare assume 198 other women wanted more ass!  I think many of them did not sign up for an actual plot driven narrative. 😉

There are some bright spots.  The brightest is Channing Tatum.  I know!  This is the second film I’ve liked him in–and not because of his looks–but because he is growing as an actor and he truly delivers here.  Charming, funny, tortured and remorseful–he is able to infuse his character with all this and more.  And did I mention he can DANCE?!  Yes. We all know it, but he is showing off in this one.  😀  This script is based on some Tatum’s life experiences as a 19-year-old stripper and you can tell he is comfortable and familiar in this arena.

Second bright spot?  Matthew McConaughey.  I usually describe his movies as “shirt on or shirt off” films and this is a new addition because although his shirt is definitely off–McConaughey delivers a “shirt on” performance. Comical and sinister. He will make you laugh and he will intimidate you.  It is a fine portrayal of what I dubbed a “stripper pimp”.  Oh, how I wish his character had been developed and explored more.

Everyone else blends with the background–even said protege Alex Pettyfer, the other dancers and love interest Cody Horn.  Tatum and Horn have some natural chemistry (and they share my favorite moments in the film and some of the best dialogue) but the focus on their relationship is so sparse, that I did not feel anything for their eventual romance.

As you can see, I did not hate Magic Mike but I did not love it either.  It offers a certain level of entertainment, yet for me fails to achieve real depth.  I was watching the clock and ready to exit during the last 30 minutes.  Just like a real strip club, I was eventually bored and uninterested by the end.

Haywire kicks ass! But disappointingly, that is about all it does…

I was excited about Haywire.  It boasted Steven Soderbergh, a great cast, a spy thriller AND a real badass woman.  Excitement seemed like an appropriate feeling.  But in reality, it turns out that all the separate pieces, while most are strong alone, as whole, they did not come together very well. Sad.

Soderbergh is starting to worry me (I was seriously disappointed in Contagion too) because although the action sequences were good they were not anything special and the story was a bit…boring. This is not a new idea–trained spy becomes the hunted–and you have to bring something unique to the table.  (Sidenote: The music was strangely upbeat and happy–it did not match the feel of the movie–at all! Weird choice.)  The supporting cast was indeed good–everyone playing their parts well–but, again nothing special and no real stand outs.  The spy thriller part was weak and I did not appreciate the over explanation of things (I hate being spoon fed).  And the badass woman? 

Well, Gina Carano is an amazing fighter and the fight scenes are the best part of movie because they are heavy and real–no sound effects or glossy moves. I can believe that she kicks ass–she is solid and appears powerful–I like that, a lot.  But, as an actress?  Ms. Carano is NOT amazing and by surrounding her with good actors, it only helps to magnify her shortcomings.  She is almost like the Terminator–no emotions show on her face–but at least with the Terminator it was intentional.  I would hope that was not the case this time!

 Oh well!  Another one bites the dust–hard–just like one of Ms. Carano’s opponents!

Contagion will freak you out a bit, but that’s it…

A montage of six characters, each with a different response, mostly related to the pandemic.

I had high hopes.  The trailer was very effective.  I was wiping down my shopping carts with those handy sanitizing wipes–something I’ve never done.  I was trying not to touch my face.  Why?  Because I was suddenly aware that germs and viruses were all around me.  I was  surrounded!!!!  Yet, Contagion was strangely unsuspenseful and unemotional for me.

Steven Soderbergh is a gifted storyteller.  He is hit and miss with me, but I can not deny his talent.  Soderbergh has created a tense, realistic story about a pandemic that just happens to be lacking in human connection.  There are too many characters and storylines–some that are abrupt and unfinished–and though it is well acted, you are unable to form any emotional attachments.   Yeah, it sucks that virus is wiping out humanity, but I should care about some of the humans being wiped out,  right?

As stated, the cast is great.  All fine actors.  But none of them are on-screen long enough to make any kind of impression.  So, what you are left with is an interesting tale about how a virus could kill us all!! It is scary, but not terrifying.  And by the way,  I did love all the science geeky stuff (which I wish there was more of).

The  movie that Contagion most compares to is  Outbreak.  And although Outbreak tends towards the Hollywood-version of viruses gone amuck, by keeping it centered around a small town and only a handful of characters, it is more successful in generating a connection and therefore creating a more satisfying movie experience.

At the end, I walked out thinking that it is amazing that there are doctors and scientists that deal with this stuff on a daily basis–all I want to say is thanks guys! Thanks for keeping us safe.  And I will still try not touch my face!