25 February 2013

New Star Wars Movies

          So, this is really old news (if you haven't heard it yet, where have you been?) but I've been too busy to talk about it.  Disney bought LucasFilm and are planning on making another trilogy (which take place after the original three), JJ Abrams is set to direct Star Wars: Episode VII, and they are making some spin-off films staring Han Solo, Boba Fett and possibly Yoda.

          I don't know how I feel about this.  I like Star Wars but this sounds like too much of a good thing.  But then again, I don't know when these films will be released and how close together, but with all the news coming out now, it just sounds like the market will be flooded with new Star War films.  I don't want to see Star Wars become like the Saw franchise where a new movie is released every year.  But, we will have to take that as it comes.

          But the thing that concerns me the most is the Han Solo spin-off movie. The problem with that is A) Harrison Ford is too old for a stand alone film and B) Harrison Ford is Han Solo.  They just can't cast another actor to replace Harrison Ford; that's just stupid.  Who ever they cast will always be in Harrison Ford's shadow.  I think they should just move on, leave the original characters alone, and make movies with new characters and new stories, but in the same universe.  I would be more interested in the rumored Star Wars movie based on Akira Kurosawa's Seven Samurai (though, who knows if the rumor is true or not.)

          Nonetheless, it will be interesting to see the future of Star Wars.  There's not much we can do now except wait to see what happens next.  But, I don't think we will have to wait too long as there is already a trailer for the new Yoda movie out...

     But that's just my opinion...

19 February 2013

Phantom of the Opera (2004)

          Essential plot rundown:  An ugly man lives in the cellar of an opera.  So, I'm taking an English class right now and we are studying The Phantom of the Opera; we had to read the novel and see the play produced by our theatre department.  And I figured that I might as well and finish it off by watching the movie.

          Let's start off with the biggest thing that bothered me; I also had the same complaint with the stage production.  The story moves by too fast and there is no character development.  I don't get to know any of the characters; I don't root for either Raoul or the Phantom.  I didn't make any type of connection with the characters.  I'm not invested in the story.  (Though, one thing the movie did that the play doesn't is explore the backstory of the Phantom a little more).  I didn't really care about what was happening on screen.  I spent a lot of the time talking with my roommates, only stopping when a song came on.

          And that is (obviously) the main thing of the move: the music is awesome.  All of the main songs are incredible.  There are a couple of filler songs that feel like filler; while not bad, they don't compare to the others.  My favorite song is the overture at the beginning.  I can listen to the soundtrack whenever.  I had the subtitles on because it was noisy in my apartment and I found myself singing along half of the time.

          There were also a few things that annoyed me.  Some of the times it looked like they were lip syncing; so that was a little distracting.  And Minnie Driver's character was really annoying (though I didn't find her so in the play).  And Gerald Butler really over acted when Christine first takes his mask off.  I understand that he was mad; but it was still way overly dramatic.  And why did the Phantom have a clone thing of Christine?  Is he a kind of Dr. Frankenstein?  That was a little weird...

          But, I did like how they converted it from a stage production to a movie.  It was interesting some of the things they kept.  The part where they are in the boat and the candles rise up out of the floor (water) was pretty cool.  But, by far my favorite part of the movie was the transition at the beginning.  Like I said, the overture is my favorite song and I loved seeing the opera house change from being old and run down to brand new.  I didn't think they were going to show that change.  And it was cool to see the transition; they did it in more of a play-style than a movie-style.  But, yea, I loved that part; I watched it again after the movie was over.

          So, overall it's not a bad movie.  What it lacks in story and character development, it makes up for in music.  Which, is all you can really ask for with a musical, I suppose.  It's worth checking out sometime.

     But that's just my opinion...

14 February 2013

Malaria (2013)

          Essential plot rundown:  A man is hired to kill another man.  So, I saw a link to this on Twitter and decided to check it out.  And I became a better man by doing so.

          This is just a short film on Vimeo.  I thought the story was interesting and kind of wanted to see it more fleshed out.  And the style is really cool.  But, at first I thought it was really distracting; I thought the plot was interesting enough and didn't need the stylization.  But, by the end, I wasn't distracted by it.

     You can watch it HERE.

          Overall, it is a pretty cool video.  Which is why I'm posting the link.  Check it out.

     But that's just my opinion...

What is Godzilla?

          So, I have to write a research paper for my History of the Moving Image class.  (I should be doing that right now, actually.)  And as I was browsing the internet, I stumbled upon this article about Godzilla.  In it he talks about what Godzilla symbolically means.  I've always just thought he was a representation of the nuclear bomb; but I guess he's more than that.  So, he explains what Godzilla symbolized originally and how this has changed over the years.  He also talks about what the other monsters represent.  I really like Godzilla so I thought this was interesting.

     So, HERE it is.

          It's not that long; so if your bored, go ahead and give it a read.  And after having read this, all of those cheesy movies from the 70s take on a whole new meaning...

     But that's just my opinion...

03 February 2013

Zero Dark Thirty (2012)

          Essential plot rundown:  The search for Bin Laden finally ends.  So, yea.

          This movie was not what I was expecting.  I was expecting more action and special team stuff.  But, it is mostly drama.  The majority of the movie is people in offices looking at their computers.  Ok, not really.  But I expecting more raids.

          The movie starts out with a punch, depicting an "interrogation".  And that was kind of hard to watch during parts.  However, with its 2 1/2 hour running time, it does move a little slow at times.  But that could probably be due to the anticipation of the final assault.  And when it finally happens, it's pretty sweet.  It was really cool to see how the team worked together and moved its way through the compound.  It was fairly intense.

          The story was good; there were only two things I didn't understand.  And I wonder how much actually happened and how much was creative license. The acting was good.  I believed everyone in their role.  Except for Jessica Chastain; her beauty was too distracting.  And, it was surprisingly funny; I was surprised.

          But, overall, it was a really good movie.  My only complaint was that it moved a little slow at parts.  Other than that, I really liked it.  I would recommend it.

     But that's just my opinion...

01 February 2013

Paranormal Activity 1-4

          Essential plot rundown:  People leave cameras recording 24/7 because they are being haunted.  I didn't have any interest in these movies.  But, my friend got them for Christmas; so we watched them over the break.  And I waited to write about them all til I saw the 4th one, which just barely came out.

          So, I saw the first one which I didn't think was anything special.  But, then I saw the second and the ending hooked me.  This might sound weird, but I don't think these movies are scary at all.  In all four movies, there are only a handful of jump scares and a few tense moments.  But, I like the series for the story.  After watching the end of the second, third, and fourth ones, I was like What is going to happen next?!  I need more!  It is not common that as soon as a movie is over, I immediately want to see the sequel.  (I can only remember that happening with [Rec] 2).  I find the over arching story intriguing; but, there are huge plot holes between each movie.

          Let's briefly talk about each movie individually and then I'll address the series as a whole.

Paranormal Activity (2007)

          This movie was nothing special.  If they never made a sequel I would have been fine.  One complaint is that it was "filmed" using only one camera; however, there are parts when it would cut to a different shot, but the audio would be seamless, just like it would have been with two cameras.

Paranormal Activity 2 (2010)

          PA 2 is just another average movie; entertaining but nothing to write home about.  That is until the end.  I saw the ending and was like OMG!  Did that really just happen?  After that moment, I needed to see the rest to see how it plays out.  This movie roughly takes place at the same time as the first.

Paranormal Activity 3 (2011)

          I thought this was the scariest of all of them, though probably my least favorite.  PA 3 suffers from sequelitis--where it must out do the previous installments.  It shows too much.  But I did like how they explained the video camera, since not everyone had one then.  This is a prequel that takes place in the 80s.

Paranormal Activity 4 (2012)

          I would say this was probably the second scariest.  Mainly because of a specific character; whenever she is on screen, I would get the creeps.  But, an important thing to remember is that the kind from PA 2 is named Hunter, while the kids here are Robbie and Wyatt.  I forgot the name of Hunter, so I was kind of confused during this movie.  But, then I remembered his name and got even more confused.  It kind of doesn't make sense, but hopefully they will explain in the next one.  And the ending was kind of dumb.  This takes place about 5 years after the second.

          Ok, so there's that.  Now let's talk about the series as a whole.  I'm doing this because there are things that bug me that occur in all the films, or just one or two (but I can't remember which ones).

          A question I constantly had was Why are you still recording?  There are some parts that make sense why the camera out; but for others, there is absolutely no reason why the camera would be on.  In the third, there is a shot of the dad working at his computer.  Why is he filming himself at the computer?

          Speaking of cameras, do they never run out of tape, memory or batteries?  I think it is the first one where they use tapes that only have 6 hours on them; but they then proceed to record all through the night.  And in PA 4, they use laptops that are also recording, even when they are using the laptop to watch movies on.  I'm no expert, but I don't think that's how laptops work.  But, maybe they do, I don't know.

          And I don't think they use night vision correctly.  Does night vision automatically turn on/off with the lights?  And, for the cameras recoding in the night without night vision, how can they see what is happening?  If I put my computer on record during the night with the lights off, I'm pretty sure it will see nothing but black.

          Also, the movies are random with the time code.  Sometimes the recordings have the time on the bottom, other times they don't.  Actually, they only have it during the night when the "scary" stuff happens.  During the day, there is none.  But it just bugs me that it is not consistent.

          This happen a lot in PA 4 and I would assume in the others as well, but they try to use editing to scare you.  There will be nothing happening, then it will "jump cut" to a noise (such as someone opening the fridge) in an attempt to startle you.  To me, they feel like cheap scares; I don't want to be scared by a fridge, but by a ghost.

          And a thing I hate was when they use the DEMON FACE.  It just looks stupid and is a cheap scare.  And it doesn't really make sense.  Why/how would her face even do that?  It's just silly.

          This is just a question, not a concern.  But I wonder how popular these films would be if they were PG-13 instead of rated R.  They could have easily been PG-13 because the only content in them is just a bunch of f-bombs.  There are a few deaths and murders and stuff, but nothing graphic or explicit.  I'm just curious as to how much a rating affects the movie.

          And if you are planning on watching these, don't watch the trailers.  Just go in blind.  Because, frankly, most of the trailers show footage not in the movie.  So, you won't see what you were expecting.  Or, if they do show footage from the movie, it kind of spoilers it because now you know what is going to happen.

          Also, watch them in order.  Like I said, PA and PA 2 take place roughly at the same time with PA 3 being a prequel and PA 4 being a sequel.  So I've heard people talk about how the order doesn't matter or that they should start with PA 3.  But I say watch them in order.  Each one reveals more and more information.  In PA 2 toward the beginning, they say something about what happened in PA.  So, if I would have watched the second one first, when I saw PA I would have not been surprised.

          So, overall, each movie is average, but I really like the series as a whole.  I like that it has an over arching storyline, whereas a lot of horror movies don't.  But, like I said, I didn't really find any of them that scary and there are a lot of continuity problems.

     But that's just my opinion...