The World’s End (2013)


That’s Why I Drink Using a Crazy Straw.  Not So Crazy Now!

The World's End (2013)When this movie was out in theaters, I was very excited to see it.  It was the third outing for a director I love, two writers I love, and two actors I love.  I even saw this movie while it was still in theaters.  And then I forgot to review it.  My notes must’ve gotten covered up on my desk and I eventually just forgot that I hadn’t done it yet.  I’ve even reviewed the other two movies in the trilogy in preparation for this review!  Then, when this movie came out on DVD on Tuesday, I went to repost my review to let people know if they should buy it, only to find that I had failed you all.  Well no more!  Today, I bring you my late review of The World’s End, written by Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg, directed by Edgar Wright, and starring Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Rosamund Pike, Paddy Considine, Martin Freeman, Eddie Marsan, David Bradley, Michael Smiley, Pierce Brosnan, and Bill Nighy.

Gary King (Simon Pegg) sets his sights on getting the band back together, recruiting his old high school friends – Andy Knightley (Nick Frost), Steven Prince (Paddy Considine), Oliver “O-Man” Chamberlain (Martin Freeman), and Peter Page (Eddie Marsan) – to finish the 12 bar pub crawl that they attempted and failed 20 years earlier.  The other friends have all grown up and none are interested in making the attempt, but Gary manages to persuade all of them anyway.  But when the group arrives in Newton Haven, they find that things have changed.  Is it because they’ve all grown older, or is it because the town has been taken over by alien robots?  Who can say, really?

The problem I had with this movie is that it was part of the Cornetto trilogy.  On its own, I imagine I would’ve thought it was fantastic.  I guess I still did, but the problem is that Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz were superior.  So it’s the worst of the Cornetto trilogy, but still one of the best comedies of this year.  It’s a lot of the writing that makes these movies so enjoyable.  They’re chock full of fantastic wordplay and the stories are so well thought out that they you have to really pay attention to the little things to see all of the hidden jokes.  But I greatly appreciate some good wordplay.  Their Peter/Paul run was good, Dr. Ink was great once I figured it out, the white lie of his mother’s death line was hilarious, and many of the selective memory jokes were all the reasons that these movies stand apart so well.  I also appreciated all the ways Gary misunderstood what people were saying to him, like when he said, “What the fuck does WTF mean?”  But I think the thing I always appreciated most about these Cornetto movies is how they foreshadow everything that’s going to happen in various different ways; be they from off-handed remarks people make to the names of the bars and the order they’re in.  They’ve always been expertly hidden in their movies.  I know that I had to watch Shaun of the Dead a second time before I truly saw the brilliance of the movie.  This movie does the same thing, but part of the problem is that I expected the foreshadowing because of their other two movies, and it can kind of spoil the outcome.  Though the outcome isn’t the biggest twist in the world, so it isn’t that big of a loss.

Another thing that sets the Cornetto movies apart from most comedies is that they are legitimately good examples of the movie types they’re parodying.  Shaun of the Dead is one of my favorite zombie movies.  Hot Fuzz is one of my favorite action movies.  And now The World’s End would definitely fit towards the top of my science fiction movies.  They have some great special effects and some fantastic action as well.  Where else might you see Simon Pegg Rock Bottom someone and Nick Frost deliver a People’s Elbow?  Then there’s a big fight where Nick Frost lays a beating down on a room full of robots and Simon Pegg fights like Jackie Chan in the Legend of Drunken Master.  I’m 100% behind all of this!

No surprises here, but I still love all the people I loved before I even started watching this movie.  And I started loving those I was indifferent to.  Simon Pegg is still fantastic.  He did a great job of being funny and always appearing jovial while still seeming like there was some depression hiding just beneath the surface.  Nick Frost was losing me towards the beginning of the movie when he was straight-laced and generally being a dick to Simon, but once he starts slamming down the shots he got back to the Nick Frost I love.  Also, this movie has the second James Bond in one of the Cornetto trilogy (Pierce Brosnan.  Hot Fuzz had Timothy Dalton) and the first one to have a Bond girl (Rosamund Pike).  Interesting fact, but not interesting enough to give me something else to say about it.

I would say that The World’s End is the weakest of the three movies in the Cornetto Trilogy, but with the level of competition offered by the other two that’s not saying much.  The World’s End is a great movie on its own, but it can be somewhat hindered by the comparison.  The story is good though it gets a little heavy handed at the end, but how well it’s planned out and how well the jokes are written can easily overcome that minor problem.  It’s also got some really good action scenes and a phenomenal cast.  This is still definitely a movie that’s worth seeing.  In fact, it’s good enough to just go out and buy.  The World’s End gets “I still think nothing that has been suggested in the last 10 minutes beats ‘smashy smashy egg men’” out of “There’s only one Gary King!”

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Sherlock Holmes (2009)


Cour, Petit Lapin, Cour.

Sherlock Holmes (2009)I’ve felt that my reviews have had a large gap in them for some time.  Not necessarily that today’s movie is such a classic or amazing movie that it was a shame I hadn’t reviewed it though.  It’s just that I’m a completionist.  I can’t have reviewed one film in a series without reviewing all of them.  Some people may refer to that as being OCD.  To that I say, “Shut up.”  I reviewed the sequel to today’s movie because I saw it in theaters, and never reviewed this movie because – though I was sure I purchased it at some point – I was never able to find it.  Eventually I repurchased it on BluRay, because I was obsessively compelled to have it since I also had the second movie.  Again, shut up.  After it sat around on my computer for a while, I eventually got around to reviewing Sherlock Holmes, based on characters created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, written by Paul Bales, Anthony Peckham, Simon Kinberg, Michael Robert Johnson, co-written and directed by Guy Ritchie, and starring Robert Downey Jr., Jude Law, Mark Strong, Rachel McAdams, Kelly Reilly, Eddie Marsan, Hans Matheson, and Geraldine James.

Detective Sherlock Holmes (Robert Downey Jr.) and his partner Dr. John Watson (Jude Law) prevent Lord Blackwood (Mark Strong) from ritually killing a young woman, as he has killed five women before.  Three months later, Watson is preparing to move out of the flat he shares with Holmes to marry his fiancée Mary Morstan (Kelly Reilly).  Holmes is not taking it well.  The two are asked to attend the hanging of Blackwood; Watson to pronounce him dead, and Holmes because it was Blackwood’s last request.  Blackwood tells Holmes that his death is only the beginning, and that three more deaths will happen after he rises from his grave.  Holmes scoffs at it and Blackwood is hanged.  Three days later, Blackwood seemingly rises from the grave.  Holmes resumes his search, and he even convinces Watson to join him so that his reputation wouldn’t be damaged.  After all, who would want to marry a doctor who can’t even tell if a man is dead or not?  To get them started, professional thief and former adversary of Holmes Irene Adler (Rachel McAdams) sends them to find a ginger midget who was working with Blackwood.

If you connect the dots of me having purchased this movie twice, it will probably come as no surprise that I enjoy this movie.  I found the movie to be pretty well-written with well-developed characters.  I’m not sure how much of any of this credit goes to the writers of this movie or to Arthur Conan Doyle though.  I know he developed the characters originally, but I don’t know how much of the stuff in this movie is from his stories because his stories were written and Homie don’t play that.  But it doesn’t really matter.  There are already 20 writers on this movie, so credit is already getting spread pretty thin.  My favorite thing about the movie is how well they keep the question alive about Blackwood’s magical powers.  When I first saw this movie, I was asking myself, “Is Blackwood immortal?  Are his methods supernatural?  Or cheap parlor tricks to conceal his true identity?”  Being almost completely ignorant about Sherlock Holmes (meaning that I had never read any of them, but I knew the name and that he was a detective) I couldn’t be quite sure if it would be out of the question for someone to actually have magical powers in them.  Do they do that?  How am I supposed to know?  Why am I asking you when you can’t respond?  I also don’t know if most of the stuff they use to conceal the things he does as magic actually hold up to real world logic, but I don’t care.  It’s enjoyable.

The look of the movie is also very nice, albeit a bit dark.  Dark is what they were going for, so it’s okay.  It also looks exactly like England looks in my brain.  England either looks like a foggier version of this movie or like Harry Potter in my brain, and I refuse to go there so that it can be that way forever.  Also, I heard a lot of talk about this movie about the fights.  And not so much the fights, but the visualization that Holmes does before he actually fights.  It’s very polarizing, from what I’ve gathered.  I’ve heard people hate it and I’ve heard people love it.  I’m in the middle.  I really appreciate the fights because they’re well-choreographed, but I definitely understand that I don’t really need to see the same exact fight twice in a row.  It didn’t bother me either way though.

The performances were all great in this movie because they got exclusively great people.  Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law work great together.  They have great chemistry and Jude Law plays an excellent straight man to Downey’s crazy and generally funny Holmes.  I had a problem with Watson’s wife, Kelly Reilly, though.  Not the actress or her performance, but the character infuriated me when she threw wine in Holmes’ face for deducing her backstory correctly.  First, he was right and wasn’t saying anything that wasn’t true.  Second, you asked him to do it.  Third, you actually INSISTED that he do it.  Perhaps this was done to illustrate the exact moment in time when the phrase “Be careful what you wish for” was created.  I don’t know of anyone who could take issue with Rachel McAdams though.  I really liked her character in this movie, playing a very intelligent and crafty woman who had once outsmarted Holmes, and also playing it very selfish but with definite signs that she cares about Holmes.  I may have liked her character much more because of her extreme hotness as well.  But it was more than likely both.  But for examples of over the top beauty, you need look no further than the English bulldog in this movie.  That was a gorgeous sumbitch.

I feel a sense of satisfaction based on nothing now that I have finally finished reviewing both Sherlock Holmes movies.  I like both Sherlock Holmes movies.  The writing is well done and the mysteries keep your brain occupied while still allowing it to let the mysteries play themselves out as you just enjoy the funniness of the interactions between Holmes and Watson.  The performances and the look are also well done, and the fights are interesting and exciting, though I can definitely understand some people being irritated by with the parts where they are telegraphed before they actually happen.  Either way, I really dig this movie and recommend both Sherlock Holmes movies for a purchase.  Sherlock Holmes gets “Begging your pardon, my lord, but I’ve been wanting to do that for a long time” out of “In another life, Mr. Holmes, you would have made an excellent criminal.”

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Snow White and the Huntsman (2012)


Don’t Flatter Yourself.

I decided to take a vacation for my birthday.  The first part of the vacation was occupied with the contest that just finished, but I decided that it was also a good time to head to the theater and see some of the movies that were there.  I set the vote out to Facebook to see what people wanted to me to do with my free time and the result was almost unanimous.  My friends cried in unison, “Make fun of Kristen Stewart some more!”  The movie that was voted on the most was Snow White and the Huntsman.  This is a movie I had the vaguest of interest in seeing, but most of that was taken away by the involvement of Kristen Stewart.  Let’s see how it went in my review of Snow White and the Huntsman, written by Evan Daugherty, directed by Rupert Sanders, and starring Kristen Stewart, Charlize Theron, Chris Hemsworth, Sam Claflin, Sam Spruell, Ian McShane, Bob Hoskins, Nick Frost, Johnny Harris, Toby Jones, Eddie Marsan, Ray Winstone, Brian Gleeson, Vincent Regan, Noah Huntley, Liberty Ross, Lily Cole, and Christopher Obi Ogugua.

A Queen (Liberty Ross) wishes she could have a hot daughter.  She forgets to wish that the daughter could act.  Later, the Queen gives birth to a daughter she names Snow White and, later still, dies.  Her husband, King Magnus (Noah Huntley), is inconsolable, and a mysterious army decides to attack while he’s weak.  The King’s army defeats the phantom army of glass soldiers and finds a beautiful woman named Ravenna (Charlize Theron) locked up as their prisoner.  He falls in love with her and marries her the next day, but Ravenna – a powerful and evil sorceress – kills him to take his kingdom, having Snow White imprisoned.  The kingdom turns dark, corrupted by the evil queen as Ravenna drains beautiful women from the village of their youth and beauty to keep herself young and bangin’.  When Snow White comes of age (now Kristen Stewart), Ravenna’s mirror (Christopher Obi Ogugua) tells her that Snow White is the fairest of them and her mere existence is draining her of her powers, but she can become immortal and not have to steal hotness from others if she kills Snow White.  When Ravenna sends her brother, Finn (Sam Spruell), to retrieve Snow White, she manages to escape into the Dark Forest.  With the promise of bringing his dead wife back from the dead, Ravenna convinces Eric the Huntsman (Chris Hemsworth) to venture into the forest to bring her back.

This movie surprised me.  It definitely has a few things going for it, but it also has things holding it back.  Starting off with the story: it’s actually pretty solid.  It’s a cool, slightly darker take on the old story we’re all familiar with, and it works pretty well.  Sure, it’s kind of a sign that Hollywood is running out of ideas, but I don’t mind it.  In fact, if they intend to turn all old Disney movies into dark, epic, action movies, I’m casting my vote for Sleeping Beauty to be next.  I want to see a live-action version of Maleficent, damnit!  On the other hand, you really can’t give the story that much credit since it’s based largely on the old story of Snow White.  The stuff they added was pretty cool.  I liked the idea of the group of people that would intentionally scar their faces so that the Queen wouldn’t have any interest in them.  Of course, I didn’t appreciate them acting like Snow White hadn’t made her sacrifice yet.  Yeah, she didn’t put a scar on her face, but she did spend 15 years in a dungeon shortly after losing both of her parents to the Queen.  So fuck your scarred face right off, how about that?  I also didn’t understand when Ravenna got pissed at her brother for Snow White escaping.  I say blame the goddamned mirror!  You had her locked up for 15 years and he didn’t say shit.  He could’ve mentioned that she was the solution to all of Ravenna’s problems a long time ago.  Also, the first encounter with the scar-faced people goes to show you that if you’re surrounded by people with bows and arrows, saying, “We mean you no harm,” will get you out of it.  Either that or just say, “I don’t want to harm you all.”  I can’t blame this movie for it as it was part of the original story, but it still strikes me as weird that either necrophilia or date rape saves the day when you make out with an unconscious girl that just bit a roofied apple.  So the story was fine, but I will say that the ending of the movie was pretty disappointing.  First, you know exactly what’s going to happen to the Queen and how.  I won’t spoil it or anything, but I think you can guess when the Huntsman shows Snow White how to use a dagger, and I shouldn’t be able to predict what’s going to happen in your movie in the first 20 minutes of it.  After that, the ending was kind of lackluster and the romantic angle was never finished.  They left it like there would be a sequel, but I have no idea how that would work out.

The look was probably my favorite part of the movie.  All of the sets and scenery and CG looked really good and stylized and artistically satisfying.  All the visual aspects of the movie worked really well for me.  I really liked the little acid trip that Snow White goes on when she gets into the Dark Forest.  It reminded me of the scenes in Batman Begins when the Scarecrow drug gets used on people.  The Magic Mirror was also a cool effect, having it drain out of the mirror and turn into a gilded Ring Wraith from Lord of the Rings.  Speaking of which, the part where they were crossing the mountain seemed like it really wanted to be Lord of the Rings.  All of the Queen’s magic looked really cool and stylish, though some of them served no real purpose.  The Queen bathing in milk served no purpose but to almost show us Charlize naked, and the part with her eating the hearts out of birds was pointless and just for gross value.  The fights had their moments.  Most of them were hand to hand combat that was fairly well realized, but I found myself more interested in the close-range bow and arrow fighting stuff.  That was pretty cool.

When reaching the performance part of my review, many of you would think that I’d have more than a few jokes prepared for Kristen Stewart.  Yup!  She’s still awful.  But, I would say this is possibly the least awful she’s been.  I only counted 2 of her random Bella-style sighs in this movie, which has to be a record for her.  I had heard someone make this joke before watching the movie and I shared it with my friend Greg and it was all he could think about during the movie, but Kristen Stewart will not close her mouth.  Once you start paying attention to it, it becomes more and more ridiculous how true it is.  One of my biggest issues with this movie ruined the entire concept: what definition of the word “fairer” gives Kristen Stewart the Edge over Charlize Theron?  I was literally tracking the time in the movie where I would consider Stewart to be fairer and, even with all the aging makeup and prosthesis that they used on Theron, Stewart maybe won the contest for about 5 minutes in this movie.  And I was still thinking about it.  When the dwarves were talking about how their ailments went away when Snow White was around, I got confused because every time Kristen Stewart comes around I get a headache and diarrhea.  I don’t know if it’s more to blame on Stewart or the writers, but her big, inspirational speech was a failure as far as I was concerned.  Also, “You can’t have my heart,” is your big closing line?  That’s the worst “I just killed you and here’s my zinger” line I’ve ever heard.  Charlize Theron is gorgeous and I would like to have her babies.  That being said, she kind of overacted in parts of this movie.  I’m sorry baby, but you did.  Can we just get over this and get back to the loving?  Well, if I can’t have her, maybe I can have Chris Hemsworth.  I don’t wanna sound queer or nothin’, but I’d really like to have sex with him.  Beyond the physical, he’s really good at the fighting, and actually pulled off his emotional scenes very well.  The dwarves of the movie didn’t do a whole lot to impress, but I was impressed by who they got to play them.  People like Ian McShane, Bob Hoskins, and Nick Frost were dwarves.  I thought that much was awesome and they all did a fine enough job, but I feel like real midgets were probably pissed.  You could’ve at least got some Dinklage in there for some midge-cred.

Altogether, Snow White and the Huntsman wasn’t a bad movie, but it wasn’t ground breaking either.  The look and artistic style of the movie is the best part.  After that, the story is just trying to make a dark version of an old story, and some decent action to go along with it.  Kristen Stewart’s in it, so you shouldn’t expect much by way of performances, and you’d be right.  Especially when you can’t get past the fact that everyone in this movie is so crazy that any one of them would say that Kristen Stewart is fairer than Charlize Theron.  No way, man.  I don’t recommend you pay good money to see this in theaters; it’s not really worth that much.  But seeing it in RedBox wouldn’t be that bad.  Snow White and the Huntsman gets “Beauty is my power” out of “You have eyes huntsman, but you cannot see!”

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Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (2011)


They’re Dangerous on Both Ends and … Crafty in the Middle

I was pretty excited to see today’s movie, but I got delayed in seeing it by almost a month because almost everyone I would normally ask to go watch a movie with me was out of town for the holidays or had already seen it.  It’s a sequel to a movie I enjoyed a great deal from a few years ago, and probably would have already rewatched and reviewed for you all if I had any idea where my DVD was.  But when my friend Greg came back to town, I saw this as my opportunity to get to the theaters and check this movie out.  This movie is Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, written by Michele Mulroney and Kieran Mulroney, directed by Guy Ritchie, and starring Robert Downey Jr., Jude Law, Jared Harris, Noomi Rapace, Paul Anderson, Rachel McAdams, Stephen Fry, Kelly Reilly, Geraldine James, and Eddie Marsan.

In 1891, in foggy old London town, Irene Adler (Rachel McAdams) delivers a package to some old guy at an auction house, but is headed off by an opium-adicted Asian guy … OR IS HE?!  No, it’s Sherlock Holmes (Robert Downey Jr.) in disguise.  It turns out to be a bomb, but Holmes takes care of it.  Adler disappears and the old guy is found dead outside, stuck with a dart in the leg.  Adler meets with Professor Moriarty (Jared Harris), the mastermind behind this and other recent bombings, to explain her failure, but he takes the news about as well as she takes her poison.  Holmes takes his associate, Dr. John Watson (Jude Law), out for a bachelor party, but it turns out Holmes is actually just following a lead.  Watson gets drunk and gambles while Holmes goes to meet a fortune-telling gypsy named Simza (Noomi Rapace).  He thwarts an assassination attempt on her, but she leaves without giving him much information.  Holmes goes and meets with Moriarty who, in their verbal exchange, reveals that Watson and his fiancee, Mary Watson (Kelly Reilly), may be his next target.  After thwarting the attempt on their life, Holmes sends Mary to live with his brother, Mycroft Holmes (Stephen Fry), and he joins with Watson to try to discover and defuse Moriarty’s plans.

This movie shares a great deal of traits with it’s predecessor and so if you liked that one, you’ll probably like this one.  I really liked the original, and thus I really like this one.  The story is very solid (although it’s probably based somewhat on the Sherlock Holmes books).  The dialogue is original and the characters are charming.  Much like the first one, the dynamic between Holmes and Watson was very entertaining, as they constantly seemed like they hated each other and bickered like brothers, but there was a great deal of fondness there.  Also, I won’t spoil the end of the movie, but they dragged a surprise for so long that I started to believe it though I had originally thought there was no way it would happen, then gave a very satisfying ending.  I also like that they used a chess game between Holmes and Moriarty to contrast their actual plans unfolding simultaneously.  It made chess tense, and the conclusion was very satisfying.  Beyond that, it looks really good.  The settings are all very well executed, but none more than the super sweet castle where the climax of the movie takes place.  It was built into a mountain towards the top, with snow around it and a waterfall coming out of the side of it.  It reminded me of the castle Nate Drake goes through to get to Shambala in  Uncharted 2.  The biggest complaint about the look is that the movie is always so dark.  Few scenes actually take place in the daytime, and it occasionally gets a little hard to tell what’s going on.  But the scene you may have seen in the trailer of them running through the woods, trying to outrun explosions and bullets, was really well done.  It used a lot of cool, innovative camera movements and used the slo-mo expertly.  I also really liked the fight scenes in both movies.  I had heard people complain about the fact that Holmes would visualize the fight in his head before it happened, and then it would play out.  In the first movie, the only thing I didn’t like about it was that they always turned out like they did in his imagination, so they got to fill time by just showing a good fight twice.  In this movie, they play with that more so that they don’t usually turn out they way he imagined.  But I like a good hand to hand fight, and this movie has many of them.

The performances in the movie were almost entirely terrific.  Robert Downey Jr. proved himself as a fantastic dramatic actor a long time ago, but his movies recently also prove him to be a fantastic comedic actor.  He gets to use both talents in this movie.  Holmes is often pretty eccentric, but shows a great deal of emotion when he finds that the lives of the people he cares about may be in danger.  Jude Law was a perfect straight man to Downey, and got to be funny a couple of times when he got drunk or was frustrated.  Jared Harris was a good villain, playing Moriarty as kind of innocent and charming, but also did insidious very well.  Though Noomi Rapace was pretty and performed her part well, I felt she was a big step down from Rachel McAdams.  I didn’t find her too terribly attractive, with or without dragon tattoo.  I was a bit bummed out when it appeared she had been replaced for the sequel, but I did like that she was in this movie a decent amount, and a motivating factor for the rest of it.  I liked her character much more, and I think she’s much better looking.  Stephen Fry had a couple of good funny moments too, and I like seeing him in things.

I think both Sherlock Holmes movies are great fun.  They have a really good mystery story, with charming characters and funny dialogue, great performances, and cool fight scenes.  The only thing I disliked about it was that Rachel McAdams was hotter and the movie was a little dark.  But it is called A Game of Shadows, so I guess I should’ve seen it coming.  I recommend this movie for a watch.  I’m happy that I saw it in theaters, but you could wait for the rental if you’re not convinced.  From me, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows gets “Oh, how I’ve missed you, Holmes” out of “It’s so overt, it’s covert.”

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