X-Men: Days of Future Past

New from The Movie Snob.

X-Men: Days of Future Past (B-). Here is yet another movie full of comic-book mayhem, the seventh movie in the X-Men franchise. I thought it was a mixed bag. On the plus side, the movie’s central character is Wolverine, and I just can’t help liking good old Hugh Jackman (The Wolverine) in that role. There are some decently cool action sequences. Some other quality actors turn up and give good performances (Jennifer Lawrence, American Hustle; Michael Fassbender, 12 Years a Slave).  On the minus side, there’s a fair amount of tedious exposition. The CGI magic eventually starts to feel less than magical. Cute little Ellen Page (Juno) is wasted in a tiny part. And the whole movie is about time-traveling to save the world, a gimmick that is getting a little tired.

Here’s a fun game you can play. Before I saw the movie, I read the beginning of one critic’s review in which he asserted that the whole movie is mediocre except for one stand-out, clever, delightful scene. I deliberately read no further in the review, and when I saw the movie I tried to guess which scene he was referring to. Turned out, I guessed right. See if you can too! I think this link will get you to his review.

The Wolverine

A new review from the desk of The Movie Snob.

The Wolverine  (C+).  I have generally liked the X-Men movies, and I like Hugh Jackman (Australia), but this tale about the angriest X-Man of them all was a bit of a yawner.  You may remember that Wolverine had a bit of personal trauma a couple of movies back.  Well, that sad episode has turned him back into a lone-wolf drifter.  But then this Japanese gal with a bright red dye job and eyes straight out of an anime cartoon tracks him down and persuades him to go to Japan.  Mayhem ensues, but of a generic and ultimately forgettable kind.  I did sort of enjoy the fact that the movie was full of people I had never seen before–mostly Japanese folks, but also a Russian actress playing a nasty mutant called Viper.  That doesn’t happen too often in these blockbuster flicks.  (Well, okay, Famke Janssen (Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters) shows up in a few scenes, but otherwise I didn’t recognize a soul.)  Stick around for a bonus scene that pops up during the closing credits.

Les Miserables

A new review from The Movie Snob.

Les Miserables  (B).  I get the impression that everybody and his grandmother thinks this is the greatest musical of all time, bar none.  The hype may have affected me when I finally saw a big traveling production of the show a few years ago, and I thought it was only average.  Aside from “Master of the House,” and a few bars of that “Red and Black” song, none of the tunes stayed with me, and from my nosebleed seats I wasn’t always sure who was who.  So I went to this new movie version with some ambivalence, and I left feeling pretty much the same way.  The plot is appealing enough–in the early 1800’s a French convict breaks his parole and tries to start a new life after a kindly clergyman “buys” his soul for Christ and saves him from going back to prison.  A merciless policeman is always on his heels.  By a twist of fate, he becomes the father figure to an orphaned girl, and he devotes his life to her happiness.  Meanwhile, revolution is again brewing in post-revolutionary and post-restoration Paris.  But somehow the movie just never really catches fire.  Neither Hugh Jackman (Australia) in the lead role nor Russell Crowe (Cinderella Man) as Inspector Javert impressed me with his singing ability.  Anne Hathaway (The Dark Knight Rises) was pretty good, but her screen time is very limited.  The music still didn’t amaze me, and they buried “Master of the House” under so much commotion that I couldn’t understand most of the words.  But I did generally like the music better than I did before, especially the nice lament by Eponine.  And the conclusion really was pretty moving.  So I reckon it’s about a B, maybe a B-.

Scoop

DVD review from The Movie Snob

Scoop (B). Woody Allen (Manhattan) directed and starred in this 2006 comedy. Sondra Pransky (Scarlett Johansson, Iron Man 2) is an American journalism student in London. She sees a ghost of a recently deceased British journalist, who gives her a lead that an at-large serial killer called the Tarot Card Murderer is none other than Peter Lyman (Hugh Jackman, Les Miserables), the dashing son of a British aristocrat. Woody Allen plays a stammering stage magician called Splendini who gets drafted into helping Sondra with her investigation. Things get complicated when Sondra and Peter get romantically involved. The mystery aspect is not terribly convincing, but it’s an enjoyable light-hearted comedy. Oh, and I was happy to see Romola Garai, one of my favorites since her performance in I Capture the Castle, in a small role as Sondra’s chum.

Australia

From the desk of The Movie Snob

Australia (A-). The newest film from director Baz Luhrmann (Moulin Rouge!) will not be to everyone’s taste. It is quite long (2 hours, 45 minutes) and unashamedly melodramatic. But if you have half a romantic bone in your body, can sit still for three hours, and have a huge crush on Nicole Kidman, you might just enjoy it as much as I did. Kidman (The Invasion), looking fabulous, plays Lady Sarah Ashley, a British aristocrat who journeys to Australia on the eve of WWII to see what her ne’er-do-well husband is up to. Turns out he’s been murdered, and his remote cattle ranch called Faraway Downs is verging on ruin. A rugged cattle drover (Hugh Jackman, X-Men: Days of Future Past) is captivated by Lady Ashley’s flashing eyes and British pluck, and he agrees to help her drive hundreds of computer-generated cattle to the port city of Darwin, thereby breaking the beef monopoly of the unctuous King Carney. And, along the way, Lady Ashley becomes a surrogate mother figure to a good-natured half-aborigine boy named Nullah. So the cattle drive is like a whole adventure movie in and of itself. But there’s still at least an hour to go, and the stealthy approach of the Japanese military guarantees a whole second act full of even more romance and excitement. I heartily recommend it.

The Fountain

DVD review from Nick at Nite

The Fountain. I guess the fact that Brad Pitt abandoned this project should be a sign of something. It could be just a sign that he had to focus on all of those kids that Angelina Jolie is adopting, but it is more likely to be a sign that the movie had some problems. I honestly do not know how to explain it. I rented it because it is suppose to be a science-fiction-type movie. It was, but it was so much so that I have no idea what was happening. It appears to be a love story about a man who loves that same woman or spirit over many, many years. Honestly, it is a little confusing. Hugh Jackman (Les Misérables) moves from being a Spanish explorer, to a modern day doctor, to a 2001 Space Odyssey yoga master, back to being a Spanish explorer, and on, and on, and on. There is a mystical tree that is suppose to hold the elixir to long life or good health. Like I said I was very confused. I give it an “F.”

TMNT, The Prestige

New reviews from Nick at Nite

TMNT

My two and half year old son was such a trooper on Sunday that when he asked to see a movie we relented. He couldn’t sit still or even close to still during Happy Feet and so we were concerned that a movie would be a bad idea, but we didn’t want to disappoint him. So, recognizing that the only thing near family friendly was the animated Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, we set aside our better parental judgment, loaded the family wagon, and headed to the theater. I thought about giving the movie two reviews, one as if I had gone by myself and one as I went, with my little buddy. I decided that was not fair to the movie or my son. Honestly, if you are over the age of twelve and you go to this movie, by yourself, on a date, or in another group of adults … you need to put away the Dungeon and Dragons set and move out of your mom’s basement. My son loved this movie. When he was not staring at the screen munching away at popcorn, he was asking us to look at the movie, clapping, and cheering on the Ninja Turtles. He stood for a good portion of the movie, leaning over the seat in front of him, and desperately trying to get close to the action. Watching him enjoy the movie was worth the price of admission. As for the plot, something about a 3000 year old curse and bad guys with Ninja skills fighting against the Ninja Turtles who are trying to remember that they are brothers and really need each other to accomplish their goals. I give it a “B.” My son would give it an “A,” assuming he realized “A” meant really good.

The Prestige

Huh? It is a little hard to follow. Is it a flash forward, a flashback, or something different altogether? Or was it simply hard to follow because Christian Bale’s accent is thicker than anything dealt with in My Fair Lady? All in all not a bad movie. It is not as good as the other illusionist inspired flick, The Illusionist, but it is worth a view. The movie stars Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale who as magicians and illusionists become rivals following a terrible accident that kills Hugh Jackman’s wife. There are many twists and turns as these rivals try and out do each other and sabotage one another’s magic tricks. I had no idea where the movie was headed until the very end. So, I give it an “A” for originality, but a “C” for not being as good as The Illusionist, which gives the movie a “B” average.