Love. Greed. Deception. A real Billy Mumphry story if I’ve ever seen one. Sitting here sipping cranberry juice while reflecting on this most recent movie I’ve seen in theaters (Inherent Vice), I don’t know if I could accurately say what it’s about. A brief plot summary is as follows; a 70s-ish era stoner who also happens to be a private investigator stumbles into a big story involving his ex girlfriend and several big time players from the same era in LA. However, it took well into the movie for me to realize this. Between the narrator (who may or may not have been in the movie), the random scenes that seemingly had nothing to do with the plot, and the general filming method that often resulted in conversation being misunderstood or not heard at all, I think this movie would have to be considered “artsy.” For my two cents I’d also chime in that 2 and a half hours was way longer than this movie needed to be, but it’s hard to find anything shorter these days I guess. I’ll give this a solid 6.7 on the Eimer scale. Don’t bring the kids though, excessive drug use, some nudity, and some violence/cursing.
Before you freak out for us not having Lincoln or The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part 2 on the list, hear us out. We saw a lot of movies this Fall, and were so impressed we wanted to break down what we thought were the best movies of Fall 2012 (so far). We probably could’ve waited until Fall ended, but there were so many great ones up until this point, we wanted to recap. Again, some of these don’t belong on and “Top 10 lists”. We’re ranking the movies that PhilmCritics has seen so far in Fall 2012.
10. Paranormal Activity 4
I didn’t see this one. Phil is too afraid to see this one. Mark hated it. From what I took, there was no climax, no excitement and no payoff for sitting through four of these shitty movies. Not much else to say.
9. Cloud Atlas
This movie had a lot of potential. With a huge budget, established directors and a star-studded cast, this book-turned-movie should have been better. The movie had no structure, no fluidity and wouldn’t stick with a single character/timeline for more than a few minutes at a time. Plus, we couldn’t get over the make-up and ethnic transformations that each star had to go through. It was distracting. We don’t need to see Hugo Weaving as a lesbain-nurse. We don’t need to see Halle Berry as a decrepit old woman.
8. The Man With The Iron Fists
I think I’m the only one who has, and will see this movie out of the PhilmCritics crew. By no means is this a good movie, but it was entertaining enough for me. RZA isn’t a great actor. Neither is Dave Batista. Does it matter? At times, yes, but overall their presence didn’t hamper the movie. The dialogue was choppy and often forced, but the action, gore, and fight scenes make this an enjoyable flick. It did feel longer than its roughly 90-minute running time, but it had a fun old school kung-fu feel to it which we haven’t seen in quite a while from a major studio release.
7. Taken 2
Where this movie was most of the same of what we got in the original Taken movie, Taken 2 works pretty well. The action was great, which lets be honest, is all that really matters in a movie like this. Liam Neeson kicked ass, killed bad guys and saved the day. Mission accomplished. Sure the dialogue wasn’t great and the story was pretty basic, but you would be lying if you said Taken 2 wasn’t entertaining.
I actually just saw Flight earlier today, and it inspired me to throw this post together. Is Flight perfect? No. The movie got slow at times, and was on the whole very depressing. Denzel Washington puts on an Oscar worthy performance and really hits the viewer on a pretty real and serious level. This is the type of movie that does so well because of the performance of its star, Denzel. If he was replaced with, say Jamie Foxx or even Matt Damon, the movie wouldn’t be the same.
Argo is a film that is based off of historic events. Fine, but usually that means, as the viewer, we know how the film will end before we even go in. That is what made Argo such a strong film. For the full climax of the movie, you are on the edge of your seat…even though you know what is coming. Couple that with great acting from the likes of Ben Affleck & Bryan Cranston and a retro style look to the cameras, and Argo is truly an Oscar worthy movie.
4. Wreck-It Ralph
A great throwback for any 80’s/90’s kids, Wreck-It Ralph deserves some Oscar buzz for Best Animated Film. A very strong showing from the “cast” as John C. Reilly, Jane Lynch and more really made the characters stronger. There are countless references to video game and pop culture of old that make this movie as enjoyable to adults as it is to kids.
3. Seven Psychopaths
This movie went kind of under the radar. Colin Farrell re-teamed with director Martin McDonagh (In Bruges) in this action-dramedy about a stolen dog…amongst other things. Sam Rockwell and Christopher Walken both contribute strong supporting roles. There are great shots of Los Angeles, brutal violence and hilarious dialogue…Seven Psychopaths really had it all. This one will pick up steam one it hits Blu-Ray.
A great sci-fi action flick ended up meeting and exceeding our expectations. There was a lot of buzz/confusion about the make-up they made Joseph-Gordon Levitt wear to make him look like Bruce Willis, but it the end it didn’t really distract you. The story was unique, the acting was great and the action scenes were amazing for the small budget they had ($30 million). The movie is much deeper than any trailer ensues and will certainly be an even bigger hit once it hits Blu-Ray.
I can’t speak for all of the older Bond films (haven’t seen them all), but I think it’s safe to say that Skyfall might be the best Bond movie of all time. It was far more interesting and anticipated than Bond movies have been in years passed. Daniel Craig puts on his best performance as 007, but is outmatched by Javier Bardem and his dark, creepy take as the villain Silva. The movie has a feel similar to The Dark Knight. I feel that Skyfall will be to Daniel Craig’s James Bond that The Dark Knight was to Christian Bale’s Batman. A truly captivating movie with a twisted, demented villain that steals the show.
The movie has already cleared the $500 million mark at the box office, and isn’t slowing. It’s even getting preliminary Oscar buzz, both for Bardem’s performance and for Best Picture. To think of a James Bond movie in that light isn’t something we’re used to, but if they keep making movies like this, we better get used to it.
We’ve got a lot of movies coming out over the next few weeks. Kind of a rare thing in September and October. I’ll be reviewing these movies as I go. First up: Dredd.
A movie that got lost in the shuffle last weekend was Dredd, which made it’s domestic release going up against End of Watch and House at the End of the Street. I don’t think anyone is expecting Dredd to make a splash at the box office. It’s not that kind of movie. However, anyone who’s looking for an entertaining 90 minute action movie that you don’t have to think about should give it a shot. Karl Urban plays Dredd and does a great job as the classic non-compromising, bad ass, good guy. In case you didn’t recognize him with the giant futuristic helmet on, Urban is the same guy who plays Bones in the new Star Trek. The helmet, which is standard issue for all Judges, never comes off of Dredd’s head throughout the movie.
Dredd never takes itself too seriously and that’s what I love about it. You know what you’re getting going in and it delivers on every R rated action movie check list. Blood, guns, naughty language and some freaky drug use scenes to boot.
No problem giving this one a 8 out of 10.
Next up is Looper.
We’re at the home stretch of the summer movie season. Soon the leaves will change color, football games will matter again and the amount of anticipated movies hitting theatres will be few and far between. With that being said, here’s the last seven movies of 2012 that I’m still really looking forward to.
8. Paranormal Activity 4
Going to see a Paranormal Activity movie in October has become a tradition for me over the past few years. The trailers for the latest installment in the Paranormal series haven’t looked very good. So this movie makes my list more out of an obligation rather than anticipation. Paranormal 4 opens October 19th.
7. Raiders of the Lost Ark: The IMAX Experience
I’ve been excited about the idea of Raiders of the Lost Ark in IMAX for a while. One reason would be because I love seeing movies in IMAX. It blows 3D out of the water as far as the movie theatre experience goes. I can’t wait to hear that classic John Williams score through the powerful IMAX speakers. The rerelease of ROTLA also means that Kingdom of the Crystal Skull will not be the last Indiana Jones movie I see on the big screen… Thank GOD. Raiders returns exclusively in IMAX September 7th and runs September 13th.
I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s excited to see this one. In fact, most people probably have Looper higher on their lists. Everyone loves a movie about time travel. This particular one stars Bruce Willis and Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Trailers for this movie have been playing for a while and most people have a general idea of the plot. In short, Joseph Gordon-Levitt is hired by the mob to kill his future self (Bruce Willis) who is set back in time. Your mind blown yet? Looper opens September 28th.
Side note: Whatever they did with JGL’s face to make him look like Bruce Willis is distracting as hell. Did they think the audience wouldn’t be able to suspend disbelief if they didn’t do anything with Levitt’s face? It’s a time traveling movie!
5. Red Dawn
Chris Helmsworth is killing it over the past two years. Since May of 2011 Helmsworth has been inThor, The Avengers, Snow White & the Huntsman and now he’s staring in the remake of the 1984 classic Red Dawn. The trailer debuted last week and it looks promising. The script originally called for the Chinese to replace the Russians as the invaders in the remake. However, fear of what impact that would have on the Chinese box office numbers forced the studio to change the villains to North Korea. It makes sense from a financial standpoint but how are we supposed to believe North Korea has the means to invade America? Kim Jong Ill was a huge movie buff; I bet he is rolling in his grave right now. Red Dawn opens the Wednesday before Thanksgiving; November 21st.
4. Taken 2
I loved the 2008 original. Then again, who didn’t? This one looks like your standard action sequel. Same plot, same star, same asses to be kicked. Anyone who’s expecting more than that will be disappointed. The story centers around the father of one of the guys Liam Neeson killed in the first one. The father plans to avenge his son’s death by kidnapping and killing Neeson, his daughter and his ex-wife. It seems odd that the father is looking for revenge when his son started the whole thing in the first place. If I was Neeson I would try to reason with the guy. I’d be like “Dude, your son kidnapped my daughter and sold her to a sex trafficker. He got what was coming to him.” Maybe that would work. Taken 2 hits theatres October 5th.
It’s another action movie making the list. The third James Bond movie starring Daniel Craig hits theatres on October 26th. I’ve been excited for Skyfall ever since I saw the IMAX exclusive trailer before the Dark Knight Rises. It looks like this movie will focus on all of MI6, not just 007 which is something we haven’t really seen in a Bond film before.
2. This is 40
This is 40 is Judd Apatow’s first movie that he will be directing, writing and producing since 2009’s Funny People. It’s going to be fun to see Apatow back in the director’s chair. This is 40 is being marketed as the “the sort-of sequel to ‘Knocked Up’”. Paul Rudd, Leslie Mann and Jason Segel have all comeback to reprise the roles they played in Knocked Up. Katherine Heigl doesn’t have to worry about coming across as a “shrew” because she’s not in this one. This is 40 opens the Friday before Christmas.
Side Note: Megan Fox is in This is 40 and she’s looking FINE AS HELL! DAAAAAMNNN!
1. Wreck-it Ralph
There’s been hype quietly building for this one. Even though it opens in November, trailers have been playing for Wreck-it Ralph since June. It seems like Disney has a bit more confidence in Ralph cashing in at the box office than they did for that Scottish ginger girl. Wreck-it Ralph stars John C. Reily as a bad guy from 80’s arcade game who’s just trying to find his way in the world. Conflicted with his role as the evil guy, Ralph goes on a journey to find the game that he really belongs in. This is really the first animated movie since Toy Story 3 that I’m excited to see. Wreck-it Ralph opens November 2nd.
Lately I’ve been going to the movies, getting there early, settling in and watching all the other people file into the theater. For some odd reason and because of extreme fault in my personality, I have a need to judge each person walking in. Believe me, it’s weird, and I don’t accept it as ok. In fact it’s something I need to work on. Either way, I still do it. The last three or four movies I went to I noticed a lot of people coming in who I would never expect to be seeing the particular movie showing. Ted, The Campaign and The Expendable 2 were the last three movies I went to where I noticed this.
Ted was the most extreme example. Older couples, easily in their 70s walking into the theaters, taking a seat, looking to enjoy a nice movie. What are they thinking? Have they seen the trailers? Are they randomly picking a movie to see, or still picking based of off descriptions in the Sunday papers? I remember one couple, getting up and walking out in the middle of the movie. NO SHIT! It’s about an extremely vulgar bear that gets high. Why would they be seeing it in the first place? Same thing with The Campaign or Expendables 2. Why are you seeing those movies? Go see the movies made for your audience. Please see, The Odd Life of Timothy Green or Hope Springs.
I know there’s nothing wrong with people going to see movies they may not profile as being a target audience for. I’m not that much of an asshole. I will say this. It ruins my movie going experience. I keep thinking, “Oh yeah, they’re going to get up and leave any second now.” “There’s no way they are enjoying this right now!” I’m constantly peeking over and trying to get a hint of what they might be thinking. Drives me nuts. I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels this way. Right?
Silly. Moronic. Wild. Ridiculous. Awful. Awesome. Bad-ass. Entertaining. What do all these words have in common, you may ask? Well, they are all words you can use to describe The Expendables 2. Having seen it or not, if you complain about the story (or lack thereof), the corny quotes, or the unsettling amount of violence…how do I put this lightly…you are a moron. The beauty of The Expendables and The Expendables 2 are all those things I just listed. Films like this are perfect examples of just how idiotic movie critics can be. For example, Newsday critic Rafer Guzman had this to say:
Yeah, yeah, I get it: “The Expendables 2” is a fun-loving throwback to the gloriously bad action films of the 1980s. Here’s what I don’t get: Why couldn’t it be a throwback to the good ones?
So the throwback to movies like Rambo, Terminator and Die Hard aren’t considered good ones? What the hell is this dork talking about? Take a look at our buddy Rafer below:
Maybe that explains it. This dweeb probably didn’t even enjoy Die Hard when it first came out. Why would he take The Expendables 2 for what it is…a fun, over-the-top, action comedy that makes a perfect summer movie. Moving on.
Another mind boggling review came from Dustin Putman…of DustinPutman.com. The site is well-organized and provides a good resource for film reviews if you’re into that type of thing. He has a few interesting quotes from his review of The Expendables 2…one being:
Sounds like it should be a blast. Why, then, is the reality about as fun as chewing on a hand grenade?
You’re going to compare a movie like The Expendables 2 to chewing on a hand grenade? Listen, we get it, movie critics have to try to be witty to stand out from the pack, but even this is a stretch. Dustin continues with this gem:
When the hard day is done, they hang out and joke around while listening to classic rock, disaffected by the literally countless string of torn-apart bodies they’ve left in their wake.
Holy shit! You mean to tell me the cast of Stallone, Willis, Statham, Schwarzenegger et al. didn’t sit around moping about the countless bad guys they have mowed down?! Grow up. Did you really expect that? Would you have enjoyed the movie more if you saw Arnold shed a tear over the dozens of terrorists he killed?
The movie itself (along with its fans) knows not to take itself too seriously. Why then does Dustin, Rafer and countless other critics across the country feel the need to do so? Call me crazy, but I think The Expendables movies are an example of what is great about American cinema. They are mindless, fun, enjoyable movies that provide us with two hours of nonsense…awesome nonsense.
Stop treating a movie like The Expendables 2 like it should be the next Patton or Saving Private Ryan. Until the day comes, where film critics can look at a movie completely objectively I am going to be a frustrated movie fan. Take The Expendables 2 for what it is. Take The Watch for what it is. Not every movie is made with the intention to wow critics and gun for an Academy Award. Why then do critics act like that is the case? Can’t a movie just be fun without being a cinematic masterpiece? In the eyes of us here at Philm Critics, yes, and The Expendables 2 was just that.
The Philm Critics crew has a guest appearance on the most recent episode of Drive Home Reviews. Our good buddy Rob2 joins the discussion as we talk about political comedy The Campaign. The movie stars Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis as dueling congressional candidates in North Carolina. What did we think? Watch and find out!