Skyfall (2012)


Less of a Random Killing Machine, More of a Personal Statement

Skyfall (2012)Today’s review is an admission of guilt on my part. I saw this movie in theaters about three months ago and, even though my sister indicated that she was intrigued to find my opinion about this movie, I completely forgot to give it. And, after three months, the drink and drug affected my brain so much that I completely forgot I had a sister. Oh wait, I mean I forgot to review this movie. And it was even more important because old what’s-her-name wanted to hear my opinion. Well, it turns out I had waited long enough to review this movie that it’s already been released on DVD. And so I am finally able to bring you my review of Skyfall, written by Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, and John Logan, directed by Sam Mendes, and starring Daniel Craig, Judi Dench, Javier Bardem, Ralph Fiennes, Naomie Harris, Bérénice Marlohe, Albert Finney, Rory Kinnear, and Ben Whishaw.

A MI6 agent on his Majesty’s secret service by the name of James Bond (Daniel Craig) is on assignment with another agent named Eve (Naomie Harris). They’re in pursuit of a mercenary that has stolen a hard drive containing the NOC list from the first Mission Impossible movie, containing the identity of all the undercover agents in the world. While trying to get the hard drive back, Eve inadvertently shoots Bond, allowing the mercenary to escape. The death of James Bond sends shockwaves through MI6. Eve is suspended to a desk job and Chairman Gareth Mallory (Ralph Fiennes) suggests that it’s time for the head of MI6, M (Judi Dench), to retire. On her way back to her office, M finds that someone has hacked her computer, sending her a taunting message and blowing up her office. James, who has been banging women and drinking a lot, learns of the attacks and returns to duty, regardless of his injury. M approves him for duty even though his test results do not, and Bond sets about finding out who was behind this. Psst! It was Raoul Silva (Javier Bardem).

Now, I’m not really sure what old what’s-her-name thought about this movie, so I don’t know what her opinion was. Not that it would change mine, but I would at least have bullet points to argue with her if I knew. I liked this movie, I like the greater majority of the Bond movies, and I like the Daniel Craig ones most of all. I know a lot of Bond fanatics probably wouldn’t be down with that sentiment, but I like action movies more than I like suave spy movies, and the Daniel Craig ones meet that description much better. But that’s not to say this movie didn’t have its share of problems. The first thing that occurred to me was that the bad guy could post his video of the undercover agents on YouTube. One of my videos is still not allowed to be monetized because I infringed on copyrights in their opinion! And that didn’t get anybody killed! YouTube needs to get their shit together. Also, I know these new Bond movies want to set themselves apart like the Batman Begins of the Bond movies, being darker and more realistic. And, though I appreciate the shout outs to things that Bond fans would appreciate, they had a couple of “fuck you” parts that they shouldn’t leave in. It’s like in the first X-Men movie when Cyclops joked about how dumb they’d look if they were wearing yellow and blue tights. In this one, Q jokes about not having exploding pens because that would be so dumb. You know the Bond fans that are supporting your movies are probably not going to enjoy you saying that the things they liked were stupid, right? The name of the movie was also an annoyance to me. I had no idea what they meant by Skyfall when I saw the title. I didn’t know what it meant when it came up in the psychiatric evaluation. And when I found out it was Bond’s house, I was really let down. Especially when they go all Kevin McCallister with it, setting up traps like it’s Home Alone. I see this too often in movies that are trying to take themselves seriously recently. I heard a lot of complaining about this movie about how it was too M heavy, but I didn’t really see that. I understand the complaints that everyone always thinks what Bond is doing is reckless and crazy, but he also has saved the world about 23 times already and people should just get off his sack. But with the M thing, I assume Dench was ready to get out of these action movies since she’s pushing 80 now, and they wanted an emotionally resonant way to do that. I feel they accomplished that.

I was cool with the action and the look of the movie, but I could’ve used some more action. It made me laugh that they started the movie with Bond being visually obscured and then revealing only his eyes at first, as if we were supposed to not know who he was when you played the music score when he walked into frame. But that didn’t make me laugh as much as when this super spy was in a car chase with these bad guys and they pulled their car up right next to the villain in his car, and Bond’s big idea was to ram his car instead of maybe grabbing the gun that we know he has and shooting the guy with it. He could’ve put it point blank against the guy’s temple they were so close! Instead he chose the equivalent in effectiveness of reaching over and flicking his ear, which he could have done because he was so close to the guy. I also liked that they had a chase through a bazaar in Istanbul because I’m pretty sure I recognized it from one of the Assassin’s Creed games. And no, I don’t think it’s at all pathetic that I can only recognize famous global landmarks because I’ve been there in video games. I know what the Eiffel Tower is because it was in the fourth Alien movie and one of the National Treasures too! …Also I’ve been there. I liked the opening though. It was action-packed and a great way to start a movie. Then they go into those classic Bond-style credit sequences with that cool Adele song playing. How do they still come up with those crazy credit sequences when LSD isn’t as popular anymore?

The cast was all pretty good in this movie. Daniel Craig is a pretty awesome Bond, and I’m told he’s attractive as well. I felt like his one-liners weren’t nearly as good in this one as they have been in the past, but that’s not really his fault as much as it is the writers fault. Another thing they did with his character was only use the fact that he wasn’t as good of a shot anymore when they needed it. Twice in the movie they show him not being able to hit anything with a gun, but you put a shotgun in his hand and take him back to Skyfall and he’s a champion skeet shooter. Javier Bardem made a strange choice for the villain. I don’t think they’ve had a flamboyantly gay villain before. Besides Nick Nack. And sure, he didn’t SAY he was gay, but come on… At first I thought he was kind of laughable as a villain, and then he did that William Tell thing with the sexy chick and the shot glass. That was pretty fucked up. Even more so because she was hot. And then he pulled out his dentures and told his sob story and I was kind of in with his performance. Naomie Harris also did a good job in the movie, and was nice to look at throughout (although I still maintain that she hasn’t topped her hotness in Pirates of the Caribbean yet), but was it really supposed to be a surprise when she said her last name? Could people not have guessed that when they had her in the secretary’s office? I’m not even the biggest Bond fan and I figured that one out.

Skyfall was a good movie with its share of problems, but not enough that it would hinder my enjoyment. Solid story, decent action, and good performances. They had some things that didn’t make sense, and some of the one-liners fell short, but I enjoyed the experience. I saw this in theaters, bought it post haste on BluRay, and will look forward to Daniel Craig’s next outing as Bond. Skyfall gets “Enjoying death” out of “I say ‘Day’ and you might say …’ ‘Wasted.’”

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My Week with Marilyn (2011)


Marilyn, Is It True You Wear Nothing in Bed but Perfume?

I had wanted to see today’s movie for a long time, but I don’t think I had first known about it until it was out of theaters.  But I kept seeing videos about the movie on the televisions at Best Buy and my interest was captured.  I didn’t have the greatest of reasons to have any interest in this movie, though.  It seemed like a drama, so that would generally be a turn off.  I also have little to no knowledge of the actress that this movie is based on.  What I did have was a supreme interest in seeing the actress they got to play her be really sexy in the role, and I also had some deeper interest in the movie beyond the superficial that I could never put my finger on, but I’m going to try to put my finger on it right now in my review of My Week with Marilyn, written by Adrian Hodges and Colin Clark, directed by Simon Curtis, and starring Michelle Williams, Eddie Redmayne, Kenneth Branagh, Dougray Scott, Julia Ormond, Zoe Wanamaker, Emma Watson, Judi Dench, Dominic Cooper, Derek Jacobi, Philip Jackson, Toby Jones, Geraldine Somerville, Michael Kitchen, and Peter Wight.

Colin Clark (Eddie Redmayne) has always been obsessed with film and, fresh out of university, resolves to get a job on a film.  He goes to the office of Hugh Perceval (Michael Kitchen) and waits until a job comes available.  Eventually, that job comes in the form of Laurence Olivier (Kenneth Branagh) and his wife Vivien Leigh (Julia Ormond), when Vivien talks Laurence into giving Colin a job as third assistant director on his upcoming production of The Prince and the Showgirl, starring Marilyn Monroe (Michelle Williams).  Colin begins to handle a few odd jobs around the set and starts to court a wardrobe assistant named Lucy (Emma Watson).  Marilyn’s acting coach, Paula Strasberg (Zoe Wanamaker), begins to make the set a hostile workplace because Olivier does not find merit in her particular brand of coaching.  He’s also not too fond of Marilyn’s tardiness and trouble with the lines.  Colin and Marilyn begin to develop a friendship that seems to help her on set by making her a little more cheerful, but her business partner, Milton H. Greene (Dominic Cooper), warns Colin that she will break his heart.

I think I had found myself building this movie up in my head a lot before I finally got to see it.  Something about the movie intrigued me so much that I was actually very excited for it, and counting the days until it arrived at a RedBox.  Now that I’ve watched it, I’m pretty sure I liked it, but I’m still working through why.  I felt like the story may have been a little confusing to me, but there’s also a chance that they went into this movie expecting everyone to be well aware of the life and times of Marilyn Monroe.  All I really know about her is that she sang Happy Birthday to a president once.  That being the case, there was back story that I had to rush to piece together as I watched the movie, and then more things to figure out during it.  I kind of felt as if I should have done some research going into this movie.  I understood basically what was going on, but there were a couple of things that I’m still a little confused about.  At one point, Marilyn wakes up and complains of pain, saying she doesn’t want to lose the baby.  This was about an hour and 10 minutes into the movie and I was previously unaware that she was pregnant.  Even now, I can’t say for sure.  They never came out and said in the movie if she actually did have a miscarriage or if she was just hopped up on pills and confused by a dream or something.  At the end of the movie, Marilyn apologizes to the crew of the movie right after it wraps, and I’m not really sure why about that either.  I thought she was trying to say that she was unable to get the film released or something, but I looked it up online and that movie came out.  And the Wikipedia page (the one true source of all knowledge) did nothing to shed light on the situation.  There were a couple of side stories that seemed to deserve a little more weight, and a couple that never really got tied up.  For instance, what happened with Lucy?  Did they try again after Marilyn left?  I don’t know.  I guess there’s a certain point where a movie has to end and the rest of the character’s lives are open for interpretation, but I sometimes don’t appreciate being confused by a movie.  Generally, it’s a sign of poor writing, but in this situation, I blame it on the subject matter.  The story’s written from one person’s point of view, so the rest of the story could only be his speculation.  Also, I may just be dumb.  All that being said, I tended to find myself fairly riveted by this movie and was paying close attention to it, so I can’t really blame my confusion on my lack of attention.  But I could say that I enjoyed it because the movie invoked some emotion from me, as well as being genuinely interesting to watch.  It was also a beautiful movie to look at.  They seemed to go to all the most beautiful places in the movie, and they were also using the same places, such as Pinewood Studios.  Also, the scene that mainly made me interested in seeing the movie in the first place (a pretty beautifully filmed bit of singing and dancing by Marilyn/Michelle Williams) was right in the opening of the film.

I think the performances in this movie are probably what deserves most of the credit for my fondness for it.  Michelle Williams was pretty amazing as Marilyn.  Not only did she seem to embody the public persona of Marilyn Monroe, but she knocked it out of the park when she was just trying to be herself as well.  She had some good emotional parts and some decent comedic moments as well and, more importantly, really gets you to connect with her and Marilyn Monroe and begin to understand what she was going through.  Kudos should also be given to what I assume is her body double, who got her butt out twice in the movie and it was spectacular.  Spellbinding, really.  I didn’t feel like the male lead, Eddie Redmayne, did very much for me.  He didn’t have a lot of heavy lifting to his performance, and I didn’t like the look of his face, but his performance was pretty real.  Kenneth Branagh was as good as he typically is in movies, getting a couple of opportunities to freak out.  Emma Watson was good (and I’m also in love with her), but her part in the movie wasn’t that meaty.  Another thing that caught my attention about the movie was that it had some pretty huge names in supporting roles and a relative unknown in the lead.  I didn’t know who Eddie Redmayne was before I saw this movie, but Dougray Scott, Julia Ormond, Judi Dench, and a couple other big name actors were in some of the smaller roles in the movie, and I thought that was interesting.  Apparently not that interesting though.  I have a headache, give me a break!

Though I admit a large degree of confusion from this movie, I still walked out being pretty fond of it.  The story lost me in a few parts, but was almost always something I couldn’t take my eyes off of.  It was probably mostly due to a couple of outstanding performances, namely Michelle Williams and Kenneth Branagh.  Also, Emma Watson is gorgeous.  Michelle Williams is too, but from this point on I would demand she wear her hair Marilyn Monroe style if she wanted to date me.  Make your choice, Williams.  I could understand some people not having that much interest in this movie, but it might surprise you.  I picked it up from RedBox and enjoyed it for slightly more than a dollar, and now I’ll probably be purchasing it.  I think you’ll get more than a dollar’s worth of enjoyment out of it.  And, with that, I give My Week with Marilyn “Come to the set on time tomorrow and show everyone what you can do.  Show Larry that you’re a great actress” out of “Oh, you have that word in England too?”

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The Chronicles of Riddick (2004)


Convert Now … or Fall Forever

I certainly hope that douchebag friend of mine by the name of Fabio appreciates the hard work I went through to write this review for him. I tried many times to make my computer play this DVD from my collection, but I fear my computer is on it’s last legs. I installed two more DVD playing softwares on my computer, hoping it was my original software. This didn’t help. And since I was NOT going to pull myself off of Skyrim to watch a movie on my X-box, what was I to do? I finally brought my laptop into my room and was able to watch my movie wearing an uncomfortable set of headphones. So, yeah, my “hard work” never really involved me leaving the seat I’m writing this review from. …Fuck you guys. This movie is The Chronicles of Riddick, written and directed by David Twohy, and starring Vin Diesel, Colm Feore, Judi Dench, Karl Urban, Thandie Newton, Alexa Davalos, Linus Roache, Nick Chinlund, Keith David, and Yorick van Wageningen.

A group of bad people called Necromongers are slowly taking over the universe, lead by the Lord Marshal (Colm Feore). You either convert to one of the Necromongers, or die by their hand. Elsewhere, a group of bounty hunters lead by Toombs (Nick Chinlund) are chasing a Viking across the top of a labyrinth. Oh wait! That Viking is Richard B. Riddick (Vin Diesel) on a planet without electric razors. Well Riddick kills all of them dudes and throws momma from the train. By train I mean spaceship. And by momma I mean Toombs. But if you watch the movie, Toombs does look an awful lot like my mother. Anyways, Riddick goes after the people that put the money on his head and finds out that it’s his old “buddy” from the first movie, Imam (Keith David). Imam brings Riddick up to speed, telling him that the boy/girl from the first movie, Jack, went looking for him, killed some people, and is now locked up on the prison planet of Crematoria. Also, an Elemental named Aereon (Judi Dench) put the money on his head because Riddick ran out of minutes on his cell phone and she needed to talk to him. Cue Necromonger attack! Imam gets killed and Riddick decides it is good strategy to walk into the middle of the Necromonger army to kill the guy that killed Imam. This somehow works for him and he gains the respect of Lord Marshal. He gets on the bad side of Lord Marshal when he finds out that Riddick is the last of a race called the Furyan’s, who were prophesied to kill Lord Marshal, ‘causing Lord Marshal to slaughter them all. Finish up the movie with Riddick trying to get revenge on Lord Marshal – who may also have to worry about his right-hand man Commander Vaako (Karl Urban) and his treacherous wife Dame Vaako (Thandie Newton) – and save Jack (Alexa Davalos).

I’m beginning to think that I should stop pointing out when a movie has common story elements because it makes it seem like a criticism. It’s not really intended to be. I love it when a fresh concept I’ve never seen happens in a movie, but having seen so many movies in my life – and with so many more left to see – one can’t really expect every movie to be truly original. That being said, The Chronicles of Riddick certainly doesn’t break any new ground in it’s story, but it still makes for a very watchable movie. Riddick is a very cliche amalgam of every action star ever; you got a prophecy that makes a leader kill a group of people, you got a right-hand man getting manipulated into usurping power by his lady, you got a rescue, a prison escape, and you got a guy that becomes king by killing the old king. Every one of those things was in Hamlet … according to the SparkNotes … that I didn’t read. But, as I said, all good fun to watch. The action scenes were pretty spectacular, the visual effects were a big step up from the previous Riddick joint, and the lines (though usually corny) worked for the scene. Crematoria – though it’s one of the least imaginative names ever – was a pretty sweet location. The concept of a prison planet that only allowed about a five minute window of entry lest the sun melt your ship and sear your flesh, was great. Everything looked like it reeked of sweaty B.O. Also, the lava-panther looking creatures were pretty awesome. I want one of those as a pet. It also lead to part of it that clashed with Riddick’s over the top badassdom. As they were running along the surface, trying to stay ahead of the sun, he tells them that they have to keep up with him or they’ll die, but he also apparently has time to stop and make a cocky comment about how much faster he is than they are. There was also one part that was completely lost on me when the bounty hunters were transporting Riddick to Crematoria. Everyone was asleep on the ship and the female bounty hunter gets up and goes and sniffs Riddick, then straddles him and removes his goggles. He wakes up and makes some comment and she runs off. Did you wanna fuck him? ‘Cause he kinda indicated he’d go through with it, so why’d you run? This part was pointless and confusing. And it’s these kinds of questions that will drive me insane because they’ll never be answered.

The performances are every bit as good as you expect out of an action movie, maybe a little bit better. Vin Diesel spent most of his time raspying out one-liners, but actually had a few moments where he busted out the emotions near the end. I feel like I’m turning the corner on this guy, at least until I rewatch XXX and the Fast and the Furious movies. I don’t have much to say about the Necromonger crew of this movie because their characters involved them being fairly emotionless and mellow all the time, but they also maintained a good amount of creepy. Especially Karl Urban’s hair. Though she did a great job in her performance, I still wonder what inspired Judi Dench to be in this movie. Nowadays it’s easier to stomach because she was also in Pirates of the Caribbean 4, which was a much worse movie. I was happy to see that Jack grew up into a much hotter woman than the one that actually played Jack. She performed her part of being hot well, but the character herself annoyed me. It seemed that every decision she ever made was to try to impress Riddick, and I found that tedious. But she was hot, so I dismissed these complaints.

So there’s your review, Fabio. As per our agreement, you must start reading them all. But don’t worry, you’ve already finished one. That only leaves you 100+ to go, with a new one every day until I don’t feel like it anymore. ENJOY! The Chronicles of Riddick was no ground breaking movie with no ground breaking performances, but it was a fun action movie that’s pretty to look at. And with an action movie, how can you expect much more? The Chronicles of Riddick gets “Death by tea cup” out of “Been a long time since I smelled beautiful.”

Hey, peeps. Why not rate and comment on this as a favor to good ole Robert, eh? And tell your friends! Let’s make me famous!