Friday, April 22, 2016

The Huntsman: Winter's War (PG-13/114 Min.)




First of all, I really enjoyed this movie.  Second, if you’re relying on the trailer to give an accurate accounting of what the movie is about, don’t.  It leads you to believe that most of the film is about one thing when it’s not and it ruins the surprise for something else.  If you haven’t already seen the trailer, skip it.  I would also skip the main description on IMDB.  I’m not sure what movie they watched but it wasn’t this.  The Huntsman: Winter’s War is Frozen meets Brave meets Braveheart meets Maleficent meets…

The Huntsman: Winter’s War is NOT the prequel to Snow White and The Huntsman.  Not completely anyway.  It covers the before and after.  And while there is a lot of action and fighting it is, ultimately, a love story.  In this story we are introduced to Queen Ravenna’s little sister, Freya.  At the beginning of the movie, Freya is as normal as you and me.  But, not for long.  A traumatic event brings out her powers and she becomes a force to be reckoned with.   Telling how the huntsmen/women become a part of the tale will be giving too much away and will ruin the surprise mentioned above so I’ll leave that for you to see. 

As with the first movie, the effects/scenery/costumes were awe inspiring.  I especially liked Freya’s costumes.  They were supercool.  No pun intended.  And while I realize that computers have paved the way for spectacular special effects, it still doesn’t take away the enjoyment of seeing them for the first time.  Or the second or third.  I will see this movie again. 
 

Let’s talk about the actors some, shall we?  I’ll start with the stars of the film, Chris Hemsworth and Jessica Chastain.  Wait…what?  The sisters aren’t the stars as the trailer, and other synopses would have you believe?  Nope.  The title character truly is the star.  Shocking, I know.  Chris Hemsworth is Eric, The Huntsman.  But, you already knew that.  If you liked him in the first movie, you’ll like him in this.  His emotions run the gamut and you’ll end up feeling all the feels along with him.  His accent, at times, was a bit hard to understand though.  Especially when he’s speaking quickly.  He’s understandable through most of the movie so this little bit is easy to overlook.  And though he is the title character, the women in this film stole the show.  It is very much a girl power movie.
 
Jessica Chastain is Sara, another huntsman (huntswoman/person/whatever).  I was a bit skeptical about her being cast in this role but she played it well.  Though why I was skeptical I have no clue.  She more than proved her merit in Zero Dark Thirty and some of her other films.  If there is ever a live-action version of Brave, she needs to play the part of Merida.  No one else will do.  I digress.  In The Huntsman, Sara is tricked in to believing something and her heart is hardened towards another character in the film.  Hard as her heart might be though, she’s tougher than her captors give her credit for.  In more ways than one.  I mean, the woman cauterizes her own shoulder and barely makes a sound when she does it.  You go, girl!  Something else she does is part of some foreshadowing in the film.  If you don’t guess what it is early on, it’ll hit you soon after it does him.  What on earth does that mean?  Go see it and find out. 

Emily Blunt is Queen Freya.  Emily, I must apologize.  As mentioned in my last post about The Boss, I put you in the same type-cast situation in which I placed Melissa McCarthy.  I liked you in The Devil Wears Prada and thought that that type of role was going to be your niche.  Boy, was I ever wrong.  I loved you in The Huntsman.  Even when you’re bad you’re good.  Granted, your lines were sometimes cheesy but that’s not your fault.  We understood your anger so it was a little easier to sympathize.  For a while anyway.  Okay, back to third person.  You’ll feel all the feels with Freya too.  I wish I could tell you more about what she does but it will completely ruin the ending and we can’t have that.  The one thing I hate for her is that, at the beginning of the movie, she is content with her life.  Someone else ruins all that for her.  It’s cool that she came in to her own magic but I don’t much care for how it happened.

Finally, Charlize Theron is Queen Ravenna.  I didn’t like her.  Hey!  Don’t judge.  Unless you were cheering for her in Snow White, you won’t like her either.  But, Charlize does make a good evil queen.  Thinking on it, I don’t think the roles could have easily been reversed for these two actors.  I don’t doubt they would have done a good job as the other queen but, having seen them in their current roles, they were the best choices.  I hope that makes sense.  As in Snow White, Ravenna has absolutely no redeeming qualities.  You’ll love to hate her.

There were other actors/characters who deserve mention but that would make this review too long.  If I did mention anyone else it would be Sheridan Smith as Mrs. Bromwyn.  She’s spunky!

I believe the only thing that earned The Huntsman its PG-13 rating was the violence.  There was a brief starting-to-have sex scene but all the important parts are kept covered/blocked and all we saw was the kissing.  There was some drinking.  No drugs.  No smoking.  While there was quite a bit of violence, it wasn’t a gore fest.  We did see some blood but it wasn’t exploding out of the bodies.  Some things about Queen Ravenna are a bit disturbing to see too.  Granted, she didn’t eat any baby birds in this one, thank goodness.

If you liked Snow White and The Huntsman, go see this.  If you like Chris Hemsworth, Jessica Chastain or Emily Blunt, go see this.  If you like fantasy action-y movies, go see this.  I do recommend sticking with the age rating though.  If I had children of my own, I wouldn’t let them see this unless they were at least 13, maybe older.  I kind of wish it was less violent for younger kids because of the whole girl power feel of it but then it would lose some of what made it an exciting movie.  As mentioned before, I will go see this again on the big screen and will also own it when it comes out.  I am loving this new movie genre and hope they keep it up.

P.S.  Nothing happens after the credits so the only reason to stay is to see some of the unique names of the people involved in production. 

Friday, April 8, 2016

The Boss (R/99 Min.)



Let me begin by saying that if you are a fan of movie star Melissa McCarthy, as opposed to TV star Melissa McCarthy, then this movie is for you.  I am a die hard Gilmore Girls fan so seeing her as anyone other than Sookie St. James is difficult for me to process but who wants to be forever typecast as the bumbling best friend?  I'm guessing...no one.  And - full disclosure - I have to admit that if I hadn't received a pass for this film, I would have completely missed it.  I wouldn't have believed anyone who told me that I would like it.  BUT!!! Like it, I did.  It was hilariously inappropriate to the point that it had me questioning whether or not I should actually find this funny.  This is one of the few times you'll see me use the phrase, "Sorry.  Not sorry."  I enjoyed this film.  Deal with it.  Okay, so that was a bit strong.

If you haven't heard anything about this film yet, let's catch you up, shall we?  Melissa McCarthy plays Michelle Darnell, a woman who had a rough start in life but found her way out, to the tune of millions and millions of dollars.  She's enjoying the high life until the day she gets busted for insider trading.  Whoops!  When she gets out, she quickly discovers how not easy it is to live without money.

As mentioned earlier, I didn't exactly have high hopes for this movie but I was hooked pretty much from the very beginning.  That may have had something to do with the music, but still.  And for those of you who are inevitably going to ask why I went to see a movie that I didn't think I'd like, the answer is, why not?  How do you find out if you like new things if you never try them?  Huh?

Melissa McCarthy was perfect for this role.  I would love to see every minute of the bloopers from this film. I don't see how they were ever able to finish a good portion of the scenes.  From the teeth-whitening scene to the fight scene, Melissa proved that she can definitely laugh at herself.  I mean, you can't perform like she did and not crack yourself up.

And Kristen Bell.  I'm having trouble thinking of anyone else who could have played opposite Melissa as well as she did.  She's one of those people whose sense of humor surprises you.  Or it would if you hadn't seen anything else she'd already been in. In one scene, she and Melissa were playing with each other's breasts (no, not like THAT) and it was one of those "I wouldn't be surprised at all if there are women out there who really do stuff like that" scenes.   These two need to be in more movies together.  Oh!  And Kristen was so much more than just funny in this but, admit it, you're not going for the serious bits, are you?

There are several more characters that are worth mentioning but...I'm not gonna.  Not that they don't deserve it.  I just think that the two already mentioned are the main reason to go see The Boss and the rest is just icing on the cake.

Before I break this down, let me take a moment to say that this movie is SO not for kids.  While I most certainly can't and won't tell you what to do with your own children, I will say that I would have reservations about watching this with an older teenager, much less a young child.  So there.

Now, I know you're wondering why on earth this movie could possibly be rated R.  Let me tell ya.

Sex/Nudity - Really, there wasn't any though it was discussed a LOT!

Cussing/Swearing - And then some.  I took a notebook with me to keep track of the words but I managed to misplace it since I left the theater. I'm cool like that.  Rest assured though that I don't believe any words were missed.  They said all the good ones including the one I hate more than any other word in the English language.  For those of you wondering, that would be the C one. Ugh!

Drinking/Drugs - Yes and yes.

Violence - Yes, but it's funny violence.  What?  Don't judge me.

Stomach-turning moments - At no point did I feel like I was going to hurl on my cousin or the guy next to me who snort laughed through the entire movie.  And I kinda expected to at some point.

Speaking of laughing, there was a lady in the audience who was a scream laugher.  You know the ones.  When I wasn't laughing because of her laughter - which there was a lot of - I was feeling sorry for everyone in her immediate vicinity.  Their ears had to have been ringing.

If you're in to sophomoric humor, this is the movie for you.  If you are a big fan of "that's what he/she said" humor, this is the movie for you.  This movie is definitely NOT for everyone but if you've seen the trailers, you can get a good idea of whether or not it's something you'd be okay watching.  Melissa is rude, lude, and socially unacceptable.   But, it totally works.

Stick around for the credits.  Or don't.  Just don't blame me if you miss some more funny.




Saturday, August 15, 2015

Straight Outta Compton (R/147 Min.)



Before this past Tuesday if you’d asked me what I knew about N.W.A., my answer would have been, “pretty much nothing.”  I went to see Straight Outta Compton with a friend who I was pretty sure would be interested in the film.  I went not knowing if I would like it but wanted to give it a chance because I'm a sucker for true story movies.  Unless gore is involved.  Or Truman Capote.  Then, not so much.  This movie was not what I expected.  I liked it, my friend liked it and, judging by the comments I heard as people were leaving the theater, almost everyone else liked it too. 

Straight Outta Compton is the story of N.W.A. from their start to their breakup to their attempt at a reunion and everything in between.  I wasn’t quite sure how this movie was going to play out.  I couldn’t imagine how it would be anything other than an angry rap movie (yes, I know I’m going to hear about that statement in the comments) but it was so much more than that.  It was funny.  It was serious.  It was sad.  It was all of those things but, mostly, it was a well-made movie.

Let’s talk about the music.  I am so not a fan of rap but I couldn’t help moving to the beat.  And it was all rap, all the time.  Well, except for the Tears for Fears that was snuck in.  Talk about being out of place.  I still don’t care much for rap but I do appreciate the talent behind it a little more than I did.  Dr. Dre especially.  I’m not sure if they meant to make him the most appealing of the entire group or if that’s just how he was/is.  My friend made sure to tell me exactly how successful Dr. Dre is.  He must be doing something right.

As mentioned at the beginning, I knew almost nothing about this group. The only one of them I’d known much of anything about before this was Ice Cube.  I thought the actor who portrayed him was spot on.  He looked like him.  He seemed to have his mannerisms.  Then I found out who he is.  Well, that explains it.  Because of my lack, I’m unable to tell you how close to portraying the real people the other actors were but from what I heard during the movie and after it was over, they apparently did a really good job.  The only other actor I can say much about is Paul Giamatti.  I have to say up front that I cannot stand him.  I just can’t.  I’m beginning to wonder, though, if my feelings are because he’s so good at playing creepy, jerk-y, non-likable characters.  I’ve talked to a lot of people who think he’s a great actor.  Maybe I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt.  Maybe not.

I know I usually do a breakdown but, if you already know about the group, you probably already have some idea of what you’ll be walking into.  I’ll make this simple.  There’s a reason for its R-rating.  Yes, there was a lot of cussing.  If you're familiar with their lyrics, this should come as no surprise.  There was also drinking, drugs, sex and nudity.  And not just a little of each.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Despite everything mentioned in the paragraph above, I really liked this movie.  It was well-written, well-produced, well…everything.  I was so lost to my surroundings that they even had me shocked at their treatment by the police which made me stop and consider my reaction.  Was I taking their side?  Not at all.  Was I taking the side of the police?  Nope.  Not them either.  I went into this with the understanding that there are two sides to every story.  This story was just so well told that every bit of it was easy to believe.  Please consider that even though the police presence is noted, it was not the be all end all of the film.  There was so much more to the story.

If you have any interest at all in seeing Straight Outta Compton, I’d recommend it.  Aside from that, I’m not sure who I’d recommend it to.  Please understand also that this is not a feel-good movie.  If you're trying to choose a movie as an escape, this is not the movie I'd choose to do so.  I would love to hear from those of you who know more about N.W.A and who appreciate the group and rap as a whole, more than I do.  I’m quite sure you could say it better than I have.

P.S. Just another reminder that some of my readers are of the younger generation.  If any comments contain obscenities, they will not be posted.  If you can disagree in an intelligent manner, I will gladly post what you have to say.