cinephilequeen:movies seen in 2013

ParaNorman (2012)

Neil: You shouldn’t let them get you down. They always do stuff like that to me,
Norman Babcock: Why?
Neil: Because I’m fat, and my allergies make my eyes leak, and I sweat when I walk too fast, and I have a lunch box with a kitten on it. Ooh, and I have irritable bowel syndrome. I guess there’s a whole bunch of stuff.
Norman Babcock: Doesn’t it bother you?
Neil: Nah. You can’t stop bullying, it’s part of human nature. If you were bigger and more stupid, you’d probably be a bully too. It’s called, survival of the thickest.

Movies Seen in 2013
#30: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013) 
★★★★1/2

I hate to be so typical. But I really loved the the 2nd part of the The Hunger Games saga…dare I say… better than the first. Maybe. Maybe not. Let me preface this review by saying I read the complete book series back before the first movie. I am deeply enamored by Jennifer Lawrence. I went into this movie wanting to like it…and i really really did.

It seemed like every part of the movie was able to shine. The old cast members continued to excel and the new cast members were AMAZING! Most specifically I need to mention Jena Malone. When I heard she had been cast in the role of Johanna I was sorely disappointed and really was convinced she would not do well. Was I ever wrong. She killed it. Absolutely. As well as Sam Claflin as Finnick Odair. He was just really great. The movie did a good job of adding bits here and there to take what the book had and make it into something even better. As with The Hunger Games I felt Catching Fire actually did a better job of showing a convincing love triangle. Effie (portrayed by Elizabeth Banks) was much much more likable and the “B” characters all filled the universe in the best way possible.

Loved this movie and extremely looking forward to parts 1 and 2 of Mockingjay. Might have to reread in the meantime to fill the void.

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1. ParaNorman (2012)

Norman and Neil watch a zombie movie…

5

Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters
Rating: ★★★★★☆☆☆☆☆ 
How-much-do-I-like-it: ★★★★☆

I was EXTREMELY excited for this movie. Extremely, as in; obnoxiously reminding people it was almost out, bugging my office mates to share any spare tickets to the premiere that they could with me, and even wearing my Jeremy Renner shirt on the day of, even if I wasn’t sure I’d even get to watch it then.

That being said, I had very low expectations of this movie. When I saw the machine gun pulled out during the trailer, I knew this was not a movie I should have taken seriously at all.

Obviously, as this is a newly released movie, do not read further if you want to avoid spoilers.

The unconvincing acting of the kid!Hansel & Gretel wasn’t the first sign of bad things to come because, well, let’s face it, kid actors are either really great or really terrible, so it’s not unexpected for them to be the latter. The witches make-up also left a lot to be desired, and if I had one critique I really would want them to have changed, it would have been to please, PLEASE improve the witches. They looked so made-for-tv movie, it really just felt like they were in make-up, rather than being transformed into some misshapen creature of the night.

The opening sequence was well done.True, the copy of the news of their various exploits made us laugh our asses off, and the situations got more and more ridiculous, but it was still very appealing to watch.

But truly, what made me go “There is no way we are taking this movie seriously” was the ‘missing children’ posters on the milk bottles. After you get over the fact that this movie is unabashedly over-the top, then, I think it’ll be smooth sailing from then on.

One thing I really enjoyed about it that I believe would make just about anyone else uncomfortable (if they notice is) is the sheer amount of sexual tension between Hansel & Gretel. Maybe it’s because they didn’t feel like siblings to me. Or maybe just because they’re both just too damn sexy, but there were so many moments I could have sworn they were about to make-out.

One thing I could have done without seeing that I think everyone else enjoyed was the weaponry and gadgets. True, they made the titular characters really bad-ass while wielding them, but they just looked really inelegant to me. (save for maybe Gretel’s crossbow). The ye olde record player as well. Just a little too much for me.

If you’re looking for a movie with depth and wit, this might not be what you need. You might also not want to watch it if you’d be uncomfortable with the humorous or nonchalant depictions of otherwise disturbing scenes, but for all the ~edgy~ over-done cheesiness of this movie, it has really charismatic characters and plot & pacing that won’t bore you or feel like it’s dragging (which is a surprisingly common pitfall to a lot of action movies these days).

All in all, it was a greatly entertaining movie and loads of fun if you don’t take it seriously. If you don’t mind the dark humor, the gore and the complete disregard for any sense of realism with regards to technology, you’ll be golden. Hansel & Gretel is a film I would recommend someone who was out to be entertained. 

Movies Seen in 2013
#28: Thor: The Dark World (2013) 
★★★★

I can’t quite place my finger on it but I liked this Thor a whole lot. Whereas I felt that the first Thor could have benefitted from a extra 30 minutes I felt like The Dark World was well balanced. The humor, the action and the characters all balanced well to make a very fun film. Sure not everything makes perfect sense storyline wise but nothing so bad that it’ll pull you out of the movie and really we all know we are just gearing up for Avengers 2. So heck yeah I liked this Thor movie.

Movies Seen in 2013
#32: Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues (2013) 
★★★

Full disclosure. I was fairly tired and had a headache while watching this one. WIth that said it was a entertaining movie. Out of my group I definately seemed to like it the least which isn’t to say I didn’t laugh out loud plenty. I suppose I had a sense that these guys were trying really really hard. Some things fell a bit flat for me and I have a definte memory at about ¾ the way through wishing it would end soon. There is a great musical number which elicited laughter through my being and plenty of other bits which had me slapping my wife’s knee next to me. Definately worth checking out especially if you can manage to lower your expectations.

Taken: Fun But Harmless

What makes the best action stars so great is their ability to “show their ass”, if you will. When Jackie Chan has to go toe to toe with a gang, he doesn’t march right in, he runs. He knows when to run to stay alive and it shows the threat of the fight and that our hero isn’t unbeatable.

Since the first scene of Taken, Liam Neeson’s character is the only one without any faults. Unless you consider wanting to be a good father and know your daughter is safe as a fault. Also, that whole murdering a hundred people to do so business. He does it perfectly too, you buy him as a credible badass and, more importantly, a caring father. If a lesser actor was in this movie, it would have been completely abysmal.

The greatest threats he faced was a blow to the back of the head coming out of a room, something he easily dealt with in every other scene. His greatest adversary? The dreaded Some Guy, a rich guy on a yacht who, for the sole purpose of needing a final fight in this movie, knows kung fu and gets the better of ole’ Wolf Puncher, something the French Intelligence couldn’t even do.

It does have it’s bright sides, however. The action scenes are good, watching Neeson break the arms of half the immigrants in Paris is fun as hell (though I can’t imagine him doing a barrel roll in real life without cracking two ribs), and it plays upon your xenophobia and family sensibilities so well that you can’t help but watch and wait for him to get his daughter. Which he does, by the way. Spoilers.

I know it’s pointless reviewing a movie so old it already has a sequel (whyyy?), but it needed to be done. It’s just business.

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Movies Seen in 2013
#31: Casa de mi Padre (2012) 
★★1/2

Some days you just sift through Netflix and see what it has to offer. Sometimes you pick a movie that for you…turns out to be a dud. I think my biggest problem with this movie is it seemed like the biggest joke was that it was in spanish. Now I am not against subtitles….i enjoy may non english movies and always prefer subtitles to any sort of overdub. But with this one it just didn’t work for me. Someone told me it was more of a dry humor….which i can also appreciate, but maybe just not in spanish, i dunno. I wanted to like it but I found myself a bit bored. Nice touch committing to the language change.

5

Beasts of the Southern Wild
Rating: ★★★★★★★★★☆
How-much-do-I-like-it: ★★★★★

I’ve heard a lot of buzz about this movie. It was also on my to-watch-movies-of-2012, tho I completely ignored that list even before the middle of the year. Unfortunately, I was only able to watch it this week, on a tiny laptop with Jess.

This movie was nothing like I thought it would be, which was funny because I had only seen the first trailer that didn’t really tell you much of anything at all. For the first half of the movie, we were in the dark as to whether or not it was set in a strange dystopian future, or an exaggerated version of the present, but I think it is very much to BotSW’s credit that I could still enjoy the movie even with that question ever present in my head.

Let me get the -1 star explanation out of the way first. I think there is a high chance people would find the movie dragging is a good number of parts. It can also be argued that it can get confusing (Jess even commented on how this was one of those movies you didn’t watch with people less perceptive– you know the type. “How’d that happen?” “Why’s she doing that?” “What’s going on?”). Over all, it isn’t a movie for everyone.

Now that that’s out of the way, I can gush about how much I think this movie is brilliant. Both the main characters were played by first time actors, and you would never have guessed. They bring so much emotion and conviction to their roles, that even while you might not have understood the context to what was going on or why things were happening, you could still empathize with them.

The music was also beautifully spot on and it really did help elevate the scenes without forcibly setting the mood. 

There was just so much emotion in this movie. Here you were, presented with a picture of a world that was both so bleak and depressing yet filled with so much love and hope (misguided love and hope, but that’s really what it was, a more primal, dysfunctional range of feelings). 

Yes, it’s a rather ‘artsy fartsy’ movie, and goes the indie route, and with it’s rather small budget, you could either see that as an explanation or see it as a challenge they managed to overcome.

Over-all, I think BotSW is an amazing movie that is almost plainly about a family overcoming hardships, presented in an extraordinary, fantastical way.

And because my pride demands it, Beasts of the Southern Wild should win that damn Oscar so I can feel justified for crying three fucking times. (No, it was three, don’t listen to Jess, that last one was one long cry, not two.)