Oct 192014

Gone Girl

The wife and I watched Gone Girl this weekend.  I read and quite enjoyed the book a year or so ago, as did the wife.  I was interested in how they would do the movie since the book has the audience thinking one thing throughout, and then half-way through the book, there is a huge plot twist that just changes everything around.

For the most part, the movie is pretty much the same as the book.  There are small differences here and there, but the main plot points are the same.  Some characters got bigger play in the book than the movie, some characters were in the book, but did not exist in the movie.  But, for the most part, you are getting the same story, just played out in front of your eyes.  That is, Ben Affleck playing a husband in an otherwise unhappy marriage to “Amazing Amy”, played by Rosamund Pike.  Affleck gets a call that his cat is out and the front door is open.  He returns home and finds his wife is not there and the house has had a struggle.  Finding it odd, he calls the police.  But, because he acts so strange and aloof, and small clues point to him, the police soon think that he is the one responsible for his wife’s disappearance, or more likely, murder.

I won’t really mention more for those who have not read or seen the movie, since so many people are so shocked when they discuss that aforementioned twist.  All I’ll say is that the movie does stay true to the book and I think they did a good job overall with it.  Ben Affleck continues his streak of good movie acting roles here, something Warner Brothers hopes will continue when he plays the next Batman.

I think that if you have not read or seen the movie, you should do one or the other.  It’s a good book/movie and I think if you do one of them you will enjoy it.  If you have already read the book, I’m not sure you have to watch the movie, unless you are interested in watching how they put the words to film.  Although, this is not an action movie with tons of fighting and special effects, so it’s not quite as interesting watching how your imagined words play out on film.

Jun 092014

Edge of Tomorrow

Continuing on with my summer blockbuster movie fare, we took in Edge of Tomorrow this past weekend.  Tom Cruise plays an officer in the media relations department in one of the branches of the US military.  His goal?  To get recruit people to fight in the war against the Mimics, an invading alien species intent on taking over the Earth.  He is in this department mostly to avoid any actual fighting.  That all changes though when he is reassigned to shoot his PR films on the actual battlefront.  He goes into battle soon thereafter and he dies….but wait.  Immediately after dying, he wakes up at the exact same time, on the previous day.  A confused Cruise soon finds out that for whatever reason, whenever he dies, he always immediately goes back in time and wakes up at that exact moment.  He gets better and better each time, eventually meeting Emily Blunt and saving her from dying since he knew what was going to happen to her.

After saving her, Emily Blunt lets him know what she used to have this exact same power and so she trains him each newly restarting day so that the two of them can come up with a plan to finally defeat the Mimics.  Throughout the movie, it appears that Cruise relives the same day maybe a couple dozen times, but as you listen to the dialog, it’s apparent that he has done so many more times than that.  I think Emily Blunt’s character said that she went through the same day 300+ times before she lost her power.

I know that Tom Cruise’s box office draw is not what it used to be, but I have to say that this film was very fun and entertaining.  Cruise is great in this, playing the coward that becomes a hero because of this power he has inherited.  The fighting was fun, the story interesting, and the jokes quite funny.  The movie was like playing an old school video game.  Remember when games used to be really hard and you could not get past a certain point?  Every single time you died, you then had to restart from the same spot, either trying something different or just getting better with your previous strategy?  That’s exactly what it felt like watching this movie as Tom Cruise (uses a life) wakes up again and again at the same spot because what he tried previously failed to work. He eventually gets past one point, only to be met with another difficult spot thereafter.   It was a very fun movie, and a different from the many comic book superhero movies I’ve been watching of late.  Go watch the movie if you like sci-fi action flicks or Tom Cruise or if you just like a good, entertaining movie.

Jun 032014


Angelina Jolie made her triumphant return to the big screen in Disney’s Maleficent.  Similar to what Wicked did for the Wicked Witch and Wizard of Oz, this movie tells the story of the evil villain Maleficent from the classic Sleeping Beauty.  Why was she so evil?  Was she always evil?  Let’s hear things from her side of the story.

No, she was not always evil.  Otherwise there would be no compelling story would there be?  No, the real “bad guy” in this film isn’t Maleficent, but rather Aurora’s own dad the King.  Born a commoner, he will do whatever it takes to move on up in the world.  And when given the opportunity to become the king of the realm, well, how higher up can you go?  Of course you seize it, no matter who you hurt in the process.  And of course who he hurts is our titular hero.  And that is why she casts the curse on his daughter, the very own Sleeping Beauty Aurora.  The rest of the movie goes on about what happens after the curse is cast and takes place during the same time period as the Sleeping Beauty movie, only from Maleficent’s side of things.

I’m not sure how I feel about these movies/stories that tell the story from the “bad guy’s” point of view.  I didn’t read Wicked but saw the musical and thought it was entertaining.  And after seeing this movie, I will say that I did find it fun.  Angelina Jolie is excellent as Maleficent.  She makes the movie, as no one really else (outside of maybe her crow) was all that interesting to me in the movie.  But, why do we have to tell these stories?  Wasn’t it so much better when everyone thought Maleficent was the most evil villain in Disney lore?  Now we have to rethink our positions on that?

Do not get me wrong though.  I did like this movie, as I am a sucker for many fairy tale stories.  I often watch the television show Once Upon a Time for that very reason (a show in which Maleficent is evil, by the way).  The special effects of the movie were fun too.  It was cool seeing the dragon on the big screen at the end of the movie.  But, let’s leave our bad guys alone, and leave them as bad guys going forward.  What next?  Are we going to see the story of the Evil Queen from Snow White as just someone who was misunderstood (actually this has already happened quite a bit in Once Upon a Time)?  Ursula from the Little Mermaid was only the way she was because King Triton did something to her when she was younger?  Let’s just tell new stories going forward, create new bad guys in those stories, and not humanize and make us sympathize for classic villains we’ve grown up with.  Based on how much money this film made though, that is not likely to happen.  So, if they do make a movie on the Evil Queen, you heard it here first.  I wouldn’t be surprised either if Angelina Jolie reprises her role as the “evil” one once again.  And despite me complaining so much above, I’d probably still watch that too.

May 272014

X-Men: Days of Future Past

X-Men: Days of Future Past is the latest in the X-Men movie franchise and tells one of the most popular stories in the comic books.  The world is now a terrible place to live as giant robots called Sentinels have been created to kill all mutants and mutant supporting humans.  It has created a war in which there is no longer any place safe to live, whether you want to have anything to do with mutants or not.  These robots are so sophisticated that they can instantly adjust to any mutant power used against them and so for all intents and purposes, cannot be defeated.  The X-Men realize that the world as they know it is over.  So, the only way to fix everything is to go back in time and make sure Sentinels were never created in the first place.  So, they send Wolverine back in time to convince the younger Professor X and Magneto to work together and stop all of this from happening.  And so this is how they are able to make a movie that uses the original cast of X-Men with that of the cast of X-Men:First Class.

The movie, for the most part, is a sequel to X-Men: First Class, with small roles for the original cast, outside of Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine.  I actually really liked First Class, and I have to say that I enjoyed this one as well.  Michael Fassbender makes and excellent Magneto.  You can just imagine him being so, not necessarily evil, but rather focused and intense on doing things his way with his beliefs.  He is just great.  Nothing against Ian McKellen, but I hope any future X-Men movies have Fassbender playing Magneto.  Actually, in fact, I hope any future X-Men movie has the First Class cast rather than the original, as I’ve really liked these last 2 movies.

As with all movies and stories with time travel, it raises a lot of questions, which I think is fine.  What it does, however, is pretty much make all the previous X-Men and Wolverine movies moot as they now have never happened and are on a new timeline.  Yes, sorry, I might have spoiled you there, but you all knew the good guys were going to win, they always do in these types of movies.  They’ve already announced that Apocalypse will be the next bad guy/storyline in the movie franchise.  I’m just wondering which cast they will use.  I already stated that I hope it’s the newer one, but if that is the case, then is the next movie also going to take place in the 70’s, or maybe 80’s?  Anyway, I liked this movie and if you like the X-Men or comic book movies in general, I think you’d like it as well.  I do really like the fact that this movie just tells a good story and is fun in the process.  It doesn’t use this movie for the sole purpose of launching another movie or franchise, as the Amazing Spider-Man 2 disappointingly did.  Or what the upcoming Batman v Superman appears to be doing, based on its new title Dawn of Justice.  Just freaking tell a good, self-contained story and the franchise will come after.  How hard is that to understand?

May 192014

GodzillaThe gang wanted to watch Godzilla over this past weekend and, as I am for most summer movies, I was game.  Seeing as how studios can no longer come up with an original idea for a movie if their lives depended on it, or if they weren’t so chicken, we have another reimagining/reboot of the classic Japanese monster.  I am probably going to get into spoilers below, but honestly, there really isn’t that much to spoil.  But, you’ve been warned.

In this latest Godzilla movie, the famous monster is not a creature hell bent on destruction.  On the contrary, he is actually a type of “god” that brings balance to the planet.  Two monsters are born and are determined to breed, regardless of who gets in their way.  They are so huge and destructive that the puny humans can do nothing to stop them.  What’s worse, they feed on nuclear energy, so nuclear weapons can do them no harm.  And that is where Godzilla comes in.  No, he is not a monster that just destroys buildings.  He is the King of Monsters, the one who must stop the others from wreaking havoc on the world.  And that is about the entire plot of the movie.

It was not a bad movie, but in no way did I think it was any good.  It was way too long for what it is.  I mean, the movie is titled Godzilla, so you would think that Godzilla would have more screen time.  And if you thought that the movie would be entirely filled with monster fighting monster, you would be wrong.  The first couple “fight” scenes were not even shown on screen.  Just the beginning and the aftermath.  Seriously?  Was there not enough budget to show the entire fight scenes, or was it just a way to try to tease the audience into sticking around for the end?  Trust me, the movie could have been cut down.  And the made up human drama in the film?  Not necessary and a complete time filler in this movie.  Elizabeth Olsen is cute and all, but she served absolutely no purpose in this film.  For whatever reason, no matter where she ran to hide, the monsters showed up there and you could hear her once again screaming in fear.

Apparently I am just becoming an old, cranky guy that hates everything because this movie made a crapload of money.  Like I said, it was not a bad movie, but I don’t think it was as good as the box office demonstrated it to be.  The movie was definitely better than that piece of crap film that Matthew Broderick in which just about the only thing I remember of that movie was him giving Godzilla a pregnancy test.  Really?  Whoever wrote that film, upon reading it over for review, still felt that was a good idea to put in?  But regardless, this latest movie did have some entertaining fight and destruction scenes in the end.  It just needed more of them, seeing as how the title of the film is Godzilla.  When that sequel does eventually come out, here’s hoping there is less made up Elizabeth Olsen screaming for her life scenes and more Godzilla fighting other huge monster ones.

May 052014

The Amazing Spider-Man 2

As Spider-Man is my favorite comic book character, you knew I had to watch this film even though I thought rebooting it so quickly was kind of lame.  Yes, people like me are why studios can keep getting away with this crap.  Regardless, took this movie in last weekend.

This time around, the webslinger continues his relationship with Emma Stone’s Gwen Stacy, who I think everyone has to admit have great chemistry on screen together.  Spidey continues his quest to discover what happened to his parents.  Electro is created and faces off against our web crawler.  Peter Parker once again meets up with Harry Osborn again after many years apart.  Harry Osborn becomes the goblin and also faces off against Spider-Man.  The Rhino is introduced.  If you think that’s a lot, well it is.  Too much stuff happening in one movie.  Way too much.

Did I enjoy the movie?  Yes, but I think that I am slightly biased because I have always loved Spider-Man, and unless this movie was just complete trash, I probably would have enjoyed it.  But, even that being said, I have to admit that they just crammed way too much stuff into this movie.  From what I understand, Andrew Garfield is signed on to be in two more Spider-Man movies after this.  That’s two more whole films!  Why did you have to cram so much into this one film when there are still two more to go?  As expected, the movie seemed a bit on the long side with all of these different plots put into one movie.

But, that really isn’t the only thing wrong with the movie.  I don’t know if the director was a fan of Batman and Robin or what, but Jamie Foxx’s Electro was terrible.  He reminded me of Mr. Freeze.  And his lines were just as bad.  I don’t want to say that Foxx mailed it in, but he definitely did not have a lot to work with here.  His character and how he began hating Spider-Man was pretty lame.

The biggest beef I had with this film is that it seemed more like it wanted to set the franchise up for further movies and spinoffs in the future, rather than tell a good, succinct story.  Yes, the fight scenes were good and yes the scenes that Peter and Gwen have together are great.  But, trying to use this movie for the sole purpose of setting up future films sucks.

There actually is something else I want to talk about, but it is a major spoiler to the ending of the film.  So be warned, if you don’t want to know, stop reading.

Seriously, it’s a major spoiler.

Anybody who is a fan of the Spider-Man comics knows that one of the most famous moments in comic book history was the death of Gwen Stacy, Peter Parker’s first (and some same only true) love.  She died while Spidey was fighting the Green Goblin.  Well, that comic book moment happened at the end of this film, with Gwen falling to her death in much the same way in happened in the comics.  And as expected, it was a very sad scene.  Even though I knew this happened in the comics, I didn’t really think it would happen in this movie.  But, when I saw the Goblin grab her and then drop her, I knew it was coming.  As I said earlier, Garfield still has two more Spider-Man films to go.  I think that just about everyone would agree that the best moments of the film involved Gwen and Peter together as they are great on screen.  So, my question is why kill her off so soon?  Why not just have Electro in this movie, and then Green Goblin in the 3rd movie and kill her off in that one?  Then he can spend the 4th film moping or meeting up with Mary Jane, or whatever.  By killing her off so soon, especially since it just wasn’t necessary since as I’ve said numerous times above they just crammed so much into this movie, you no longer can look forward to any more scenes of her with Peter.  Being the sucker that I am, I will still watch those future films, but how about the average Joe?  With no more Gwen, what are they going to look forward to in the future?  Because if its more bad guys like Mr. Freeze, I mean Electro, then I can’t say that I’d be too excited.  Everyone knows that what makes Spider-Man great is not just the bad guys he fights, but the regular person he is in real life as well.  Here’s hoping that whoever they cast as Mary Jane will have as good connection on screen with Garfield as Emma Stone did.

Apr 142014

Captain America

I saw Captain America: The Winter Soldier last week, and as evidenced by the fact that it was the #1 movie for the 2nd weekend in a row, I was not alone.  Unlike the first Captain America movie, this one takes place in the present time.  Despite having just woken up into this new modern world, Captain America seems to have adapted pretty nicely.  I guess that super serum did more than just make him super strong.

This time around, our hero is up against S.H.I.E.L.D.  Wait, what?  Why is S.H.I.E.L.D. trying to capture Captain America?  And if they are trying to capture him, who can Steve Rogers trust?  Or is he on his own?  He’s got to be able to trust fellow Avenger Black Widow, can’t he?  Or the leader of S.H.I.E.L.D. in Director Fury right?  And who is this powerful new bad guy named the Winter Soldier?  Lots to juggle here, though it can’t be as much to juggle as what I’m seeing the new Spider-Man trailers.  Here’s hoping that this newest Spidey movie is nothing like Spider-Man 3.

Anyway, getting back to Captain America, I thought the movie was pretty good.  I found it more fun than the first one, which wasn’t too bad either, although I prefer that superhero movies take place in the present or the future, rather than in the past.  So, that might have had something to do with it.  I did like this movie better than the first Thor movie too.  I did not watch the Thor sequel so cannot comment on that.  The first Iron Man movie was better though, in my opinion.  Although, that might have something to do with what Robert Downey, Jr. brings to that character.  He is just great playing Tony Stark.

I never really read the comic books, but what exactly did the super serum do to Captain America?  Is he bullet proof, because it sure looks like he is.  And what is up with him always being able to get his shield back after throwing or dropping it.  Did the serum create some type of magnetic force between him and the shield?

But, in the end, this was an entertaining movie, and another success in the Disney/Marvel blockbuster machine.  It seems like they just keep churning these out, and the public cannot get enough of it.  I believe that the Avengers 2 is next, so that’s gotta be another notch in the belt.  That can’t fail, right?  I did see the trailer for Gardians of the Galaxy, and it just looks weird to me.  Not sure I really want to watch it, and I’m wondering if that is the movie that ends the winning streak.  Unless my friends want to watch it, I don’t really plan on doing so.   We shall see though.  I did not really want to see the first Iron Man movie when it came out, and I was proved wrong there.  Then again, some talking cartoon characters are not the same as Robert Downey, Jr.

Mar 182014

300: Rise of an Empire

I went and saw 300: Rise of an Empire with some friends this past weekend.  As the title implies, it is a sequel to the movie 300, which came out something like 7 years ago I think.  I saw 300 only one time, at the movie theater so unlike the friends I saw this with I totally forgot the small details of what happened in that movie.  Just the big stuff, like how 300 Spartans defend against what seem like thousands of enemies, only to finally all die at the end.  I remember it being a good movie and enjoying it, but it was one of those movies in which I never thought there would be a sequel, nor did I think one was really needed.

And so we come to this latest movie.  I wouldn’t so much as call it a sequel, but rather a story which takes place at the same time as the events that occurred in 300.  It starts a little before the events of the first movie and ends a little after it.  But, for the most part, it is rather similar in that the good guys are vastly outnumbered by the bad guys, but against all odds, they keep winning their battles against the evil, invading bad guys.  The main difference between the movies is that this one takes place on boats on the Aegean Sea with mostly farm hands fighting to defend democracy in Greece, while the original was on land, with the mightiest of warriors in the Spartans fighting.  Yet, despite the protagonists only being farm hands and not mighty Spartans, they keep winning their battles.

After watching the movie, I will still stand by my first thought in that a sequel really was not needed.  I suppose the CG is better (or at least much cheaper) today than it was 7 years ago since there is a lot more fake, splattering blood after each vicious kill and with all of the battle scenes involving boats ramming other boats on the sea.  But, like most Star Wars fans think, more CG does not a better film make.  The movie was not bad in any way.  It was entertaining.  The fight scenes were good.  Eva Green is hot as always.  Overall though, it just was not as good a movie as the original.  I believe the movie made decent money, so even though I believe a 3rd movie is not really needed, I would not be surprised if there is one made, as this one ended in a way that you can plausibly see one being made.  Guess it just depends on how greedy the movie executives are in a few years.

Mar 112014

This past Monday, my alarm sounded and not since the previous year, I struggled mightily to turn my alarm off, get up, and start my day.  It was painful.  This morning?  The exact same thing.  And I am pretty sure this torture will continue for the rest of this week at the minimum.  If history is any indication, I will not get back to a totally normal sleep/wake up schedule for at least a couple of weeks.

And for that I am complaining once again about how stupid daylight savings time is.  What the hell purpose does this serve?  It is asinine to have a law just for the sake of “it’s always been like that, so why change it?”  Seriously, is there any other reason out there for not doing what the rest of the world does?  I can’t think of one that is relevant any longer.  We are no longer a farming society that needs that extra hour of daylight so to finish more work.  All this does is probably cause more accidents, more employees coming to work late, more inefficient and groggy employees at work.  Can anyone point to any studies that shows DST actually helping us in any way?  Just give me one reason which benefits our entire nation?

I’m not sure if the rest of the world used to do the same as us and change their clocks like this yearly.  But, what I do know is that most of them do not do it now.  Why?  Is this a whole metric/english system thing where we want to be different from the rest of the world and say screw it, you have to adjust to us because we are a superpower and if we want to be the only ones in the world to do something, suck it.  I MIGHT actually understand or buy why we still use the english system.  I suppose it could be inconvenient to teach everyone to use a new measuring system that is different from what they learned their entire lives.  And it might cost many businesses a lot of money to make them change how they do business.  Fine, I get that.  Whatever.  But, passing a law that says we no longer have to change the clocks every year will not affect us in the same way at all.  Actually, it will affect us in that we will no longer be inconvenienced!   Freaking pass a law now.  It is insane that a few weeks out of every year, we have to force our bodies to get used to some arbitrary change in the clocks that benefits no one.  I would hypothesize that in fact it may not be physically healthy to do so.  Not saying it is harmful, but it definitely isn’t healthy.  We are already a very sleep deprived nation, so why add to that?  End the madness now!  And that is my annual rant.  Tune in next year when I will complain and cry and whine and bitch once again.

Mar 102014

The wife was out one weekend and I was thus home alone to fend for myself.  I bought some things, did some errands, made my typical instant noodle lunch with some dumplings, took the dogs to the park, played some video games.  So, you know.  The typical being lazy and vegging around the house type thing.  Then came time for dinner.  I decided to eat some Hawaiian food at a place that I have not been to for years.  There is a pineapple chicken dish there that I used to always get and was always the only thing I ever bought there.  I ordered it, ate it, and started thinking, this is not as good as I remember it.

Now, it could be that they no longer make it the same way.  Or it could be that it just happened to be a bad day.  But, I really do not think that is the case.  Why?  Because over the last few weeks, I have come to realize something.  This was not the first time that I ate some food and started thinking, this is too salty, or too sweet, or too much MSG, etc.  I’ve never really thought that way about food before unless they freaking soaked the food in salt or something.

I am by no means a health freak, but I wonder how this change in taste came about.  Is it just me getting older?  Is it all mental in that inside I know that I need to start eating healthier?  Is it because the wife?  It’s not like each of these events have been happening where I think they are really tasty, but that I feel guilty for eating it so need to turn them away.  No, it’s just that while eating it, I felt that it was just too salty or too this or too that.  It’s got to be mental right?  I am not sure, but in the case of that chicken dish, I don’t really anticipate ordering it again.  I’m not going to never go to that place again or swear off Hawaiian food, but if I do go back, just going to try something different.  Maybe food, like other activities, just change as you get older.  Many of my friends say nowadays that clubs are just not there thing anymore when they used to go every weekend.

But, this still doesn’t really make complete sense to me because there are still a lot of foods that I eat which are not healthy at all.  Now, I’ve never really been a fast food guy.  Just never interest me.  It’s not that I’ve never gone before, but it was only something I did when everyone else went, or there was nothing else around and I was hungry.  And I’ve never been a soda person either.  Just never liked the taste.  But, put a milk shake in front of me and I will still devour it today.  Cheesecake?  Cookie?  Muffin?  Yum.  The aforementioned Korean noodles?  Not like that is healthy.  I always bring leftovers to work for lunch, but when I have none, I usually just bring a frozen chicken pot pie or burrito. Not exactly health fare either.  So, what exactly is it?  Maybe when I spend money on something that costs more than a few bucks I just have higher expectations for it?  As in, I expect it not to give me a heart attack?  Not really sure, but maybe this is just the start of me turning the corner and starting to eat healthier.  Maybe…