Wednesday, September 10, 2014

I Saw This!! List It Getting Long

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, 2013, Peter Jackson -- download
The Lego Movie, 2014, Phil Lord / Christopher Miller -- download
Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, Kenneth Branagh -- download
Dead Man Down, 2013, Niels Arden Oplev -- Netflix
The Amazing Spider-Man 2, 2014, Marc Webb -- download

There is a balance required, between watching movies and writing about movies. One has to learn to not consider the first purely as fuel for the second. The second should remain a by-product of the first. This is not a show of consumption, proof that I watch more movies than you. This is not about me knowing more about movies than you, but a desire to share with you what I am enjoying, and sometimes, what I am not. But, sometimes all of these impact this blog.

I feel I should be watching less, so I can can write more regularly. I feel I should be watching better, so I have some veritas behind the words. I feel I should be writing longer, so there is proof I have thought about what I have watched. And with the weight of these vagaries, I let the list get longer and longer.

Good thing we have I Saw This!!

The Desolation of Smaug will definitely have to come back as a Rewatch when I get around to watching the Blu-ray I bought. I am rather ashamed to say I skipped it in the theatre, unable to find a non-3D viewing, but still on a big screen, that fit my schedule before I gave up and waited for the download.

I can say, from vague memories, I enjoyed this one much more than the first. It dealt with all the cliches of the Lord of the Rings movies in the first, and this one is a pure romp. We go from the Misty Mountains through the Mirkwood to an unseen Elven realm and then over to Laketown. And we even get to peek inside the Lonely Mountain and at the all seeing eyes of Smaug, which rhymes with cow not cog.

I still am not sure if I am onboard with taking the light feeling children's tale and making it a much more epic tale of legacies and lands lost to great evil. Sure, the dwarves remain a bit of comic relief, while others are youthful heroes, but there is always a weight of Thorin's desire to regain his realm. I think I am more attached to my fond recollections of this book than the LotR.

Still, I loved Laketown and I cannot but enjoy the winsome elf lady played Evangeline Lily. And I See Fire is still on my frequent replay list. THIS is where I am quite happy to feel the anguish and pain of Thorin.

Ditto for rewatching The Lego Movie though I have no good excuse for not seeing this in the theatre, nor for falling sleep about 3/4s way through the downloaded movie. I was enjoying it but my "I am my father" syndrome has gotten out of hand lately, finding me regularly snoozing with my head on Marmy's lap when we are supposed to be watching a movie / an episode of something. I am very very good at establishing and maintaining ruts that I am not particularly happy with.

I knew it was going to be brilliant, partially confirmed by Kent's review,  but also because I love any sarcastic rendition of The One trope. But, as I vaguely remember, there was so much to pay attention to I expected a rewatch was going to be required anyway.  And yet, so very little has stayed with me, even before my head began to droop and entire scenes were washed away in a "i'll just close my eyes for a second". Let's hope that was more me, than the movie.

I do not need to rewatch Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit. Oi, Kenneth what are you doing to my respect for you. At least you climbed back from pudgy Kenneth, but really, I did not like Thor much and this was only minutely above being a run of the mill thriller. In fact, it was actually your own villainous character that made it bearable.

This is essentially a reboot of the Tom Clancy character focused series that started back in 1990 with The Hunt for Red October. Back then, the CIA analyst dragged into the field was Alec Baldwin. Then came Harrison Ford for two, and though they didn't mean to start a James Bond style replacing of actors, it seemed to go that way with Ford being followed by Ben Affleck.  By the time this one was coming along, amusingly enough they subbed Kenneth Branagh as director, when Jack Bender (a TV guy) dropped out. And after all that, with this being the first not based directly on some Clancy story, I don't think they were intentionally rebooting the series, just ended up that way, with all the delays.

So, this brings us back to Jack Ryan prior to the CIA, not even an analyst. He's a soldier who is severely wounded in Afghanistan and is recruited, during recovery, because of his brilliant analysis skills. Flash forward to him embedded on Wall Street. Wikipedia says 10 years, but really, 10 years? I get some years for training and some years doing smaller jobs, but was the doctor who helped him through his recovery (Keira Knightley) really going to hang around for more than 10 years before the tension of "are we getting married" got to this level? This is Hollywood folks; nobody waits that long.

The rest of the movie is him being coaxed out of his comfy Wall Street job into the field, the field being Russia, by his handler Kevin Costner. Russians are doing bad things with money, so he goes to Moscow to play auditor but ends up playing Bond / Ethan Hunt with car chases, gun fights and terrorist chasing. Its boring. Its exciting. And and AND, never again ever never should Keira Knightley attempt an American accent. Nope. Plenty of nopes.

I like Colin Farrell. He plays good beardy anti-heroes. Yes, I have beard envy (shaddup Kent) and Farrell even makes good with the barely ever shaves look. In Dead Man Down, the first for Niels Arden Oplev since he did the original The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, he brings Noomi Rapace along again. Its a cute little crime thriller with some twists and  turns, which will probably lend itself as one of those Sunday afternoon movies you turn on mid-way, but get caught up in.

It was not bad. It was not spectacular but it was solid crime. Noomi Rapace is wonderful, Farrell is Farrell and the plot is enjoyable if not predictable.  Colin plays a bad guy working for Bad Guys. Noomi lives across the way in a grotty tower complex and sees him murder someone, Rear Window style. She decides to blackmail him into being a Bad Guy for her, to kill the rich man who got in a drunken collision with her, leaving her with numerous (but not that bad looking, IMO) scars, and got away with it. They build a relationship and we learn of Farrell's past. Things get, violently, resolved.

Meanwhile The Amazing Spider-Man 2 was as bad as I expected it to be. Its not as bad as Spider-Man 3 from Sam Raimi but who could ever do as terrible a Peter Parker as emo Parker? But it draws from the same playbook of tossing in too many signature villains, and having no real cohesive plot. One, maybe two if the latter is a henchman, is enough for me. But as with the first, the terrible plot is at least led by some incredibly charismatic leads. Andrew Garfield is wonderful as Ultimate Spider-Man, a brash, courageous pithy kid swinging on the webs. Emma Stone is, well, very Emma as her version of Gwen Stacy. And that's all that is worth remembering for me.

OK, I do recall thinking of the PS3 game InFamous (which is amusing unto itself considering I said the first one ripped off a video game as well), being a fun inspiration for Electro.  Better a hoodie villain than a green jump suit and headdress. Jamie Foxx was wasted but the visual effects were incredible. I just didn't buy into the motivations, along with manipulations of Harry Osborne / Green Goblin. The whole movie ended up feeling like a set up for another movie. If the Marvel movies have done something well, it is showing a complete, enjoyable movie while using it as the introduction to a character and world that will be used again. This, not so well done. And don't get me started on the uselessness of The Rhino.