Monday, August 30, 2010

Scott Pilgrim vs. the Box Office

This is about the seventh time I've sat down to write something about the Scott Pilgrim Versus the World movie. I am having a hard time articulating how I feel about it. I saw it a few weeks ago with three other people; My brother in law who read the books like me, my wife who only read the first half of the books, and a friend who didn't even know the books existed. My wife and friend loved the movie while me and my brother were disappointed. I've decided that most of the blame falls on book 6:
Books: ruining a movie near you as we speak!

Now, I'm not that stupid, I know that movie adaptations of books change a lot of things. It's a necessity, you can't fit all that information into two hours of film. There's a reason why it's called an adaptation and not a recreation or whatever. Knowing this, I absolutely loved the first hour of the movie. I thought that a lot of the things that were actually a good thing. The energy of the first two fights was fantastic.
/*I just realized that I am doing a horrible job of reviewing this movie for someone who has no idea what it's about. Well, that's not really my goal here. You want to read good reviews written by good reviewers? Go here or here. I'm more of a stream of consciousness kind of guy, I really don't know what's coming next...*/
Boobs! Wait, no... the energy of the first two fights = awesome! Patel's Bollywood number? Lucas Lee's stunt team? None of that was in the book but it was a lot of fun. I think I was laughing the whole time Chris Evans was on screen. I didn't care about divergences from the books, it was too much fun. The movie had a lot more emphasis on the band, and as an extension, music. That makes sense because it's not something that really translates that well in a book. The music really adds to the atmosphere of the story, and I want to get my hands on the soundtrack. The Clash of the Demonhead show was probably the pinnacle of my enjoyment of the movie. After that, however, I started getting uneasy. The entire Envy storyline was cut and the scenes with her suffered for it. I understand they couldn't fit everything in, but it still bugged me. Then Roxy showed up and she was defeated the way Envy is defeated in the book, even though the way Roxy was defeated in the book was friggen awesome. I can forgive all that! What I can't forgive is the blatant lack of robots!

Seriously, who doesn't love robots?

It was the fight with the Japanese twins that really threw me for a loop. I understand they wanted to incorporate the band more, and the scene is actually pretty cool. Or I think it was, I couldn't really tell because I was too busy whining about robots. In the book Scott faces off against a couple of robots before fighting the twins in a very Kim Pine related subplot. I never expected that subplot to be addresses so I wasn't expecting the fight to be exactly the same, but come on! Robots!
Then there was the end. Crazy different. Seeing how the movie was made before book 6 was released, I shouldn't have got my hopes up. It just bugs me when things are changed that didn't really need to be. A fucking microchip? Come on!
You expect the guy in a $4000 suit to believe microchip? Come on!

Enough about the book
. Most of you will never read it (even though you should). As an adaptation of a book I love I give this movie a B, but on its own I give it an A. If I wasn't bogged down by disappointment I would have really loved this movie. Just ask my wife!
You should probably ask her soon

This movie is one of the most original and fun movies I have seen in a while. The casting was top notch. Even Michael Cera seemed to break out of his shell, he didn't stutter or glance at his shoes once! Ellen Wong's Knives was too cute for words. Kieran Culkin nailed Wallace. Alison Pill was perfect as Kim Pine, even if her role was severely reduced. Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Anna Kendrick give me two boners at once! Jason Schwartzman was at his smarmy best, but the guy who stole the show was Chris Evans. I said it before and I'll say it again, I was laughing at during the whole Lucas Lee scene.
It felt like watching a video game. The action scenes were fantastic. This is what video game movies should be. You should watch this. I understand if you want to wait for it to come out on DVD, but get it right when it comes out. It's worth it.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

A Movie You Should See: The Host

This movie came out in 2006. Since then, I have tried to recommend it to as many people as possible, but a lot of you don't quite believe that it could be as awesome as I say it is. Well it is! I understand the hesitation, however, because it's a hard movie to describe. The only real way to describe it is as a Korean monster movie, and while this is an accurate description, it doesn't really do the movie justice. The movie focuses on a family. The patriarch is an old man who runs a snack shack on the shores of the Han River. He has three adult children, his daughter is a champion archer, one son is an alcoholic University graduate (that's pretty much all you get there) and another son is somewhat of a simpleton who lives with his father. This simpleton has a daughter. It is pretty obvious early on that he is absolutely devoted to her, though he has a hard time showing it. In fact the whole family is devoted to her, and it seems as though she is the glue that keeps this otherwise dysfunctional family together. Then some slimy gross monster crawls out of the Han River and steals her away.
No, it's not Ke$ha...

I'm not really spoiling anything for you as this happens pretty early and is mentioned in every synopsis. The scene where the monster emerges from the river is fantastic. Actually, pretty much every scene with the monster is fantastic. The special effects here are great in a way that you tend to forget that there are special effects at all. You can tell a lot of thought was put into how this amphibious mutation would move and interact with the humans it's stealing. It stumbles and slips when it's on land so it gets creative. I was impressed with how the monster was presented throughout the movie. There wasn't a slow build up to a showy reveal, it was just another character in a great story.
See? He fits right in!

As I said though, the focus is really on the family trying to find their missing child. Each character goes through personal growth, but it all seems pretty organic. The simpleton son is the one who grows most of all, driven almost insane by his desire to find his daughter being hindered by his inability to articulate it. The climax of his growth does seem a little forced (literally) but by this time you just want to see something good happen to him.
The acting in this movie is top notch. All of the actors are foreign (get it?) to me, but you can check them out here. There is an element of comedy throughout the movie that could seem corny in a movie like this but is pulled off do to the skill and interactions of the actors.
In conclusion, I absolutely love this movie. It has something for everybody. There's a rampaging monster, mean polluting Americans (yep! it's our fault!), government cover ups, personal growth, comedy, tragedy and fried squid!
I can't recommend this movie enough. I give it an A+. Watch it!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

A Horror Movie I Kinda Want To See

I don't like horror movies. There, I said it. I find no joy in being startled or scared, I get that enough from my doorbell. Every once in a while, however, a horror movie comes around that I actually want to see. Well, usually it's sci fi or a supernatural thriller, and not just a hack n slash gore fest. This time it's Devil. I don't know why, but this preview really interests me. I think it's a pretty interesting and scary premise. Strangers trapped in an elevator with crazy things happening when the lights go out. It looks fun.
This movie is not directed by M. Night Shyamalan, only written by him. I think putting his name in the trailer will be less of a benefit than it used to be. The thing is, he is pretty good a writing thrillers. I really enjoyed The Sixth Sense and Signs. I think he got a bit caught up on the twist ending thing, but if you ignore that, the guy knows how to make a good movie. I hope this movie doesn't try to have a huge twist, but I think they'll try to stump us with the mystery of who the Devil (or whatever). For the record I'm guessing it's the brunette woman. She says something ominous in the beginning and is the first to be attacked (red herring?)... but who knows.
Anyway, it looks interesting. You may not think so, but I do. One of the only other horror movies I really liked was The Descent, another very claustrophobic thriller. Other than that I can't think of many horror movies that I really enjoyed.