Sunday, November 18, 2012

Movie Review: Breaking Dawn 2

Okay, I admit it. I've seen all of the Twilight movies—opening night in most cases (now where did I put that man card …). Here's another confession: I read all the books before the movies came out. You see, my wife and I made a deal a some years back: I'd read the first Twilight book, she'd read Ender's Game, one of my favorite books of all time. She kept her end of the bargain, but it didn't entice her enough to go on with the series (btw, I would recommend reading Ender's Game and Ender's Shadow—not the usual path through Speaker of the Dead … but I digress). I, however, read Twilight, then moved through all the other books as they came out. Reading the books was sort of akin to a big bag of Lay's potato chips; you know you shouldn't eat them, but man, once you get started, it's hard to stop. I remember when the first installment came to the theater, I was one of two men in a sea of women in the audience (moms and daughters mostly). The demographic evolved over time and I must say the testosterone was fairly well represented in this last one.

In reading the series, I found myself groaning inwardly while going through the last book. Breaking Dawn seemed like a real shoddy sum up of a lot of loose ends. In fact, I felt Meyer should've ended the series with the Eclipse, perhaps inserting the wedding scene as the ending. That was not meant to be as Bella and Edward go on to becoming parents (Renesmée? Really? Sounds like some Utah-parent fusion name) and taking on the entire Vulturi clan like some kind of global underworld adaptation of Seven Samurai. So I really ended up loathing Breaking Dawn the book.  

Be that as it may, I went into the cinematic conclusion of Twilight with an open mind. Ironically, the final movie seemed more satisfying than the final book. Just like the book, there were some adjustments that took getting used to: the addition of Bella's abilities as a vampire, and her hybrid daughter with accelerated growth issues. Yes, there was some hokey moments as the Cullens went about gathering allies for their stand against the Vulturi (viz., the Amazonians and Argentinians—they looked like injuns from a 50s western). And there was the flimsiness of an alliance formed at vampire speed. But the culminating portion of the conflict really actually … worked. And what's more, it dealt a surprise to everyone in the audience—even those who'd read the books! Now I'm not going to recommend BD2 as the best thing in the history of movie-making, but I can endorse it as a decent ending to a big bag of Lay's chips. Just be sure to follow it up with something more dense, like a Netflix marathon of Lord of the Rings. That should quiet the cinematic digestive tract. “B+

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Movie Review: Skyfall

With the 50th anniversary of the Bond franchise, the newest installment, Skyfall, hit theaters this weekend. I took in the latest offering at a packed Friday night viewing and was not disappointed. I will say that it doesn't feel like your typical Bond movie. It starts out with a roller coaster of an opening scene and sets up for what you expect in a usual 007 story. Halfway through, however, it takes a very personal turn and it almost feels as though one movie has ended and another begun. Not that it is a particularly bad thing, just different. I will say the villain is very unique in this installment. Silva (Javier Bardem), a wonderfully twisted psychopath, has meticulously planned revenge upon M (Judy Dench) and the M16. This movie leaves you with a warm fuzzy of nostalgia in its imagery (note Aston Martin above) and music. Adele's title song for the soundtrack conjures up 007 movies of yesterday and meaningful use of classic Bond guitar music anchors the mood well. A few personnel changes and introductions are made in this film that set up the series nicely for the next few installments. I hope Daniel Craig can find the fountain of youth through the next decade as he has proven to be one of my favorite Bonds.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Movie Reviews: Wreck It Ralph and Frankenweenie

Okay, I've been horribly remiss in keeping up on my movie reviews, so here are a few flash reviews for some of the latest flicks I've seen:

Wreck It Ralph
Animation good. Plot a little slow at first, even felt a bit contrived in parts (it's hard to shoehorn a bunch of video games into one film), but the story ends well and almost eked a tear out of me.  “B

Argh. Usual great animation from Mr. Burton. Felt like the script was written over the weekend. Some cute oldster, inside movie references throughout, but nothing that could stitch up the monstrous neglect to the story. Too bad.  “C+