Man of Steel Movie Review: 1 Spoiler — It Sucks

A young itinerant worker is forced to confront his secret extraterrestrial heritage when Earth is invaded by members of his race.
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I found it completely shocking that some people actually liked this movie, although I attribute it to the hype and the action that overshadowed the actual meat of the movie (or lack thereof). Of course, many people also share my sentiment that Man of Steel sucks.

Man of Steel falls down on so many levels it is hard to know where to begin. The biggest hole in the movie was the cast: failing to create any believable characters. The “Man of Steel” (Henry Cavill) was very dull, delivered lines robotically, and was just absolutely unlovable. He certainly lived up to his name in the movie though, with no more personality than a steel girder. The same went for Lois Lane, played by Amy Adams that failed to create any spark on-screen between herself and Superman. She was hot, yes, but a great movie that does not make.

By far the worst scenes were between Superman and his parents as they try to explain who he is and what is happening to him. It is always interesting to see how a movie will approach these difficult aspects but they did not handle it well. “Son, you are an alien. No big deal” was essentially their approach. It was awkward. It was bad. It felt like the directors just wanted to deal with it quickly like ripping off a band-aid.

What was good about the movie? The action — kinda. There was a lot of it, but it was senseless. The movie was too long and yet it was full of action scenes that stretched on forever. Superman is basically invincible and so are his enemies. So why are they punching each other around for 10 mins? Don’t they realize they are not accomplishing anything? Neither Superman nor his enemies seemed to take any damage throughout their “epic” battles but they kept punching each other anyway. The graphics were really good though, that’s about it.

The way they explained Superman’s powers was also bad. See the spoilers for details.

To spare myself an essay, I’m going to stop here. If you liked the movie, I don’t blame you but you might want to get your eyes and ears checked 🙂 Give the movie another watch and pay attention to the things I have mentioned and I am sure you will understand my pain. Of course you can always just look at the pretty explosions.

Spoilers below

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I actually laughed out loud when Superman let his dad die in the tornado. It was a huge stretch for him to let his dad die just to conceal his identity but on top of that, they felt the need to spell it out for us by him specifically saying that he let his dad die for that purpose. Laugh out loud ridiculous.

His powers were explained by atmospheric differences between Krypton and Earth which was great. Except that no amount of atmospheric differences gives you the ability to fly. Jump high? Sure! Fly? No. Laser vision? Where did that come from? Near invincibility? You’re going to have to try harder than “atmospheric differences”. I actually love it when super hero movies use plausible explanations to bridge reality but when it’s not plausible, it is painful.

Better Than the Books: The Sherlock Holmes (BBC) Series

I, like many others, am a huge fan of Sherlock Holmes. My experience in getting to know the numerous stories, however, is different than most. Instead of starting with the books, my first experience of Sherlock Holmes was from the movie titled . . . Sherlock Holmes, with Robert Downey and Jude Law.

The Hollywood movies were good and stimulated my appetite for the stories but were by far the worst depiction of Sherlock Holmes I have yet to experience.

I then moved on to the books — undeniably classic stories. Certainly a must-read series for people of all ages and walks of life. However, the books are not the best! Gasp! Instead, the best version of the Sherlock Holmes stories I have yet to discover is Sherlock, the BBC series.

Feel free to comment below if you agree or disagree. You must have actually seen the BBC series to be able to judge it, of course.

The following are the many reasons why Sherlock (the BBC series) is by far the best version of Sherlock Holmes:

  1. The already virtually perfect characters, Sherlock and Watson, are further perfected (if that makes sense). Every piece of dialogue is carefully delivered and well thought-out and helps to develop other dimensions of Sherlock and Watson beyond the books. Although the dialogue in the books is incredible, it does have its flaws. For example, the way in which Sherlock Holmes comes to deliver his genius deductions sometimes seems a bit forced, in the interest of the reader. These explanations are done with somewhat more grace in the TV series.
  2. The series is modernized in a genius way. The way in which the series incorporates modern technology and circumstances into a story as old as Sherlock Holmes is nothing short of brilliant. Letters become texts, journals become blogs, and deductive processes include modern forensics. Much of the original charm is maintained while the show manages to rocket the series forward by more than a century.
  3. The show is funnier! At least somewhat so. The Sherlock Holmes series is not known for being particularly comedic but it is one of the only imperfections of the book series. After reading Catch 22, I have developed a taste for comedy, even in a serious story. Comedy helps round out a masterpiece, in my opinion.
  4. What was perfection before, remains perfection now. Almost everything that made the original Sherlock Holmes stories great has been maintained, with the points mentioned above added to polish what was already a perfect series.

Don’t take my word for it! Take a look at the Sherlock Holmes BBC series. You will be glad you did.

P.s. if you haven’t read the books, there is a great complete Sherlock Holmes Collection available in hardcopy and digital format that I can vouch for.

Spring Breakers Movie Review

Four college girls who land in jail after robbing a restaurant in order to fund their spring break vacation find themselves bailed out by a drug and arms dealer who wants them to do some dirty work.
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The super short review: Spring Breakers was bizarre, sexy, funny and unique. If you are not a fan of the naked female form, perhaps you should opt to watch Safe Haven instead.

Spring Breakers is not the movie you think it is. It is far more “artsy” and “deep” than you could possibly expect from its title and premise. In this case, it was mostly a good thing.

It helps to know what to expect going in to the movie, so pay attention. If you are looking for a lighthearted comedy or mainstream flick, look elsewhere. Spring Breakers has its funny parts and some mainstream good times, but it is far more than that. You will frequently find your brain melting, for example. Not from stupidity but rather from trying to comprehend the insanity you are watching.

Overall though, the movie works. It depicts a life that few of us ever live — the true “wild side” of life — so it is impossible to watch expecting the plot points to be normal. The direction helped add to the bizarre feel of the movie which seems to cause eye-glazing among the general public. A hit with the critics; less so with the general public. If nothing else, Spring Breakers is a very unique movie and should be appreciated for that.

Prudes beware: nudity abounds. Spring Breakers earns its 18A rating within the first 2 minutes with more breasts in the movie than there are aliens in Alien. Although there is no doubt that the nudity helps appease the male audience, it is used in such a way that it actually adds to the validity of the setting. Some nudity, of course, has been thrown in to increase word of mouth.

James Franco does a surprisingly good job playing a drug dealer/rapper/straight-up gansta. His performance was very refreshing after The Great and Miserable Oz. The ladies (Selena Gomez, Vanessa Hudgens, Ashley Benson and Rachel Korine) were great performance-wise as well, though they were largely eye-candy.

In summary: if you go in expecting a weird but unique movie with a lot of boobs, you will not be disappointed.

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Oz the Great and Powerful Movie Review (Only one spoiler: It was bad)

A small-time magician arrives in an enchanted land and is forced to decide if he will be a good man or a great one.
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The super short version: Oz the Great and Powerful was quite bad. Skip it.

My expectations were not very high for Oz, but I was greatly disappointed nonetheless. Despite being bankrolled and produced by Disney, with quite the record of success, Oz failed on so many levels.

The most notable failure was the acting. James Franco’s performance was predictable good for much of the movie but terrible off-base for others. He just never seemed to really find his place in the movie except for a few scenes. All of the actors, including each of the witches were painful to watch during most scenes. I felt like I was watching a highschool play at times, forgetting for many segments that the movie cost many millions.

Mila Kunis was most disappointing of all. Her first appearance onscreen was very painful and unnatural to watch. She didn’t improve throughout the movie either. She may not be Anne Hathaway but I expected much more from her acting skills.

Despite not being the primary target audience for Oz, I was unimpressed by the lack of universal appeal. Pixar, for example, is very successful at making movies that can entertain both kids and adults alike. Unfortunately, Disney has a long way to go in this respect, Oz being a great example. Many scenes were rather childish and played out too far as a very cheesy fairytale.

The one saving grace was the visual appeal, although it still fell far short of comparable visual masterpieces like Alice in Wonderland. Despite the fantasy landscapes being well put-together, other visual effects were not. The witches moved unnaturally in several scenes – so much so that you could easily picture the ropes and pulleys pulling them into the air.

I found myself laughing awkwardly, sighing, and rolling my eyes throughout at least half a dozen scenes. Oz was easily one of the worst movies I have seen in a long time. Viewer beware!

Cirque du Soleil: World’s Away Movie Review

A young woman is entranced by an Aerialist. When they fall into the dreamlike world of Cirque du Soleil and are separated, they travel through the different tent worlds trying to find each other.
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Quidam - Cirque du SoleilCirque du Soleil: World’s Away is a movie that combines segments of Cirque du Soleil’s various franchises. The movie has an extremely simplistic plot used to interweave these segments, but for the most part the movie can be considered a “best of” collection of shows.

My favourite part of Cirque is the music — particularly that of Quidam. The musical highlights of Quidam were incredible vocalizations mixed with intricate guitaring (see the video below). Since World’s Away is a compilation, it features Cirque’s varied musical styling including a number of Beatles songs from the LOVE franchise. I still believe Quidam’s music trumps World’s Away overall, but Beatles fans might disagree given the Beatles segments.

Half way through this short review and I have not yet spoken about the acrobatics. Why? They speak for themselves. There is nothing like Cirque du Soleil these days as far as human feats of acrobatics, balance, strength and flexibility. Each act showcases a different feat that will blow your mind.

World’s Away contains its share of these “ooo ahh” moments, however the movie focuses primarily on the more elaborate sets designed for some of the bigger franchises. So while you will see some incredible acrobatics and feats of strength, you will most likely take notice of the ingenious stage designs. In one scene, for example, the entire stage shifts vertically forcing the performers to seemingly defy gravity as the scene plays out.

Despite being quite impressed by World’s Away overall, I am forced to give the movie 3 stars simply because Cirque’s essence cannot be captured in a movie. I have seen Quidam live, so the World’s Away paled in comparison to the live show. Safety Wire’s attached to the performers are more obvious in the movie because of the close-ups which takes away from the fantasy world. During the live shows the wires are virtually invisible.

For those wanting to get a glimpse into the world of Cirque, I recommend spending the hour and a half to check it out. For the real thing, find a local show and see what the fuss is all about!

Django Unchained Movie Review

With the help of his mentor, a slave-turned-bounty hunter sets out to rescue his wife from a brutal Mississippi plantation owner.
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Movie Poster - Django Unchained CastDjango Unchained is both very intense and very good. Be warned, however, that the movie has many uncomfortable scenes, even by my standards. Racism runs throughout the entire movie and, although uncomfortable, appears to be an accurate depiction of the monstrosities of the past.

Django Unchained is a movie that does not hold back in any way. Quentin Tarantino seems to fear no one, not even mixed reactions from the audiences, so he does not hold back. This is what separates Quentin Tarantino from other directors — the fact that he has a back bone.

What has always stood out to me about Tarantino movies is the amazing balance he is able to find between dead-seriousness, ridiculous over-the-top violence and pure comedy. As dark as some scenes in Django Unchained were, many were hilarious. And do not get me started on the witty dialogue!

Christoph Waltz is without question, one of my favourite actors and the way he delivers his witty lines is nothing short of amazing. Those that believe they are not familiar with Christoph Walz, may remember his spectacular performance in Inglorious Basterds as part of a hilariously bizarre opening scene (see video below). Needless to say, Waltz is an incredible actor that I hope to see take on many more roles — currently he is primarily a favourite of Tarantino’s.

Django’s character, played by Jamie Foxx, was more simplistic than Waltz’s, however Foxx still crushed the performance. It certainly seemed like the entire purpose of the movie was to first build-up how atrocious slavery was and then have Foxx come in an make up for the harm that was done in glorious fashion. This, he most certainly accomplished.

The plot was simplistic but did not hinder the movie in any way. In fact, I tend to think it a characteristic of some of the best movies – following the Keep-It-Simple-Stupid principle. Instead of a convoluted plot, Django Unchained focused all of it’s attention on Tarantino’s signature blend of action and dialogue and the outcome was very satisfying.

To finish up this post, I figured I would leave you with a checklist that can help you decide whether or not you should see this movie. You should definitely watch Django Unchained if any of the following are true:

  • You are a Tarantino or Christoph Waltz fan
  • You enjoy a movie with a blend of action, comedy and dialogue
  • When you see gore you do not hide in a corner and cry

SkyFall Movie Review | Bond is back. James Bond.

Bond’s loyalty to M is tested as her past comes back to haunt her. As MI6 comes under attack, 007 must track down and destroy the threat, no matter how personal the cost.
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James Bond is back and he is kicking ass and taking names! SkyFall is action-packed but it is not the action that carries this movie. Instead, it is nostalgia and overall utter brilliance – as the British would say.

For those who are unaware, our favourite agent 007 is celebrating his 50 anniversary and for his birthday he gets an amazing gift — without question the best Bond movie. Sure, you may argue that an older Bond film is better because you prefer a particular portrayal of James Bond but there is no arguing that SkyFall is one of the most perfectly put together movies of the franchise. Here’s why:

  • Action. But unlike many other Bond movies, action is not all she wrote.
  • A perfect blend of nostalgia and throw-backs combined with graceful modernization
  • A storyline that, while simple, is very engaging and restarts the franchise (much like Batman Begins)
  • Performances that are likely to be remembered for years to come

Much like Christopher Nolan’s revamp of the Batman franchise, SkyFall succeeds in transcending James Bond movies of the past in terms of relevance, polish and a level of “seriousness” that was absent from many of the mainstream-action iterations of the past. You can hear it amongst the group of moviegoers as they exit the theatre. Not only the joy of having witnessed such a great movie but pure excitement; already eagerly anticipating the next movie in what will hopefully be a whole new era of Bond. An era of high expectations and delivering upon those expectations.

SkyFall also toys with a unique bond girl setup in which there is not a specific woman of interest. Although still present, sex appeal was used more sparingly than previous Bond movies, if my memory serves me correctly. This is not a sour point, however, as I believe that many bond girls in past movies have merely served as a distraction from the plot and little else (a significant visual distraction). Instead, Bond interacts with the women in the movie in a much more progressive way. Perhaps as a means of appeasing a changing female demographic or perhaps to eliminate distractions from the main story. After all, Bond never really spent a great deal of time building relationships in the past so any character contributions made by “romance scenes” in previous movies were negligible.

SkyFall is the best iteration of James Bond in a long time and probably ever. Everyone will find something about this movie that will truly catch their attention. Die-hard fans of the original movies will enjoy the many inclusions of nostalgic elements, while new-comers to the franchise will enjoy the modernization of the story and the removal of many “cheesy” elements that are no longer acceptable in great modern movies.

I tend to rate movies rather favourably, however, exaggerations aside, SkyFall has likely found its place in my list of Top 10 Movies of All Time.

Seven Psychopaths Movie Review

A struggling screenwriter inadvertently becomes entangled in the Los Angeles criminal underworld after his oddball friends kidnap a gangster’s beloved Shih Tzu.
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Seven Psychopaths is a difficult movie to describe – the premise convoluted. Basically the movie is about a guy writing a movie about psychopaths while being surrounded by psychopaths. However, it is not quite as simple as that.

Without ruining the plot, all I can say is that this is one weird movie, but I mean that in a good way. Have you ever seen Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels or Snatch? Firstly, watch these movies! Secondly, the point that I was trying to make: Seven Psychopaths has a similar feel to them despite not sharing the same writer or director. Lock, Stock and Snatch were directed by the amazingly weird and brilliant Guy Ritchie, while Seven Psychopaths was written and directed by Martin McDonagh.

Now back to trying to describe this movie.

Seven Psychopaths brings a number of things to the table:

  • An multi-layered story
  • Incredible actors
  • Intentional hilarity where hilarity is not expected
  • Brilliant writing and dialogue

The only thing holding this movie back from a 5-star rating in my opinion is its absurdity (which, absurdly, is also the movie’s greatest strength). Some scenes will leave your head spinning at the insanity but you won’t spend long worrying about the room spinning around you because you will be too busy laughing at the many anti-clichés throughout the movie.

Yes, I just invented a word.

There may be a fancy theatre term for it, but when I refer to an anti-cliche, I am referring to a situation that is extremely cliche initially but then plays out entirely differently than you would expect. This movie is full of them and they are delightful.

Noticed how I still haven’t said much about the story? There’s a two-fold reason for that: spoilers and complexity. I will simply say this: Seven Psychopaths is very meta (Google it), bizarre, fun and self-aware. You will be entertained.

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Looper Movie Review

Looper Movie Review with Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis In 2072, when the mob wants to get rid of someone, the target is sent 30 years into the past, where a hired gun awaits. Someone like Joe, who one day learns the mob wants to ‘close the loop’ by transporting back Joe’s future self.
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Looper is as close to perfection as a movie can get. This will certainly be one of the most one-sided movie reviews I have ever written. Spoilers are included in a separate section at the bottom with fair warning.

Looper, starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Bruce Willis and Emily Blunt, is an extremely well-rounded sci-fi/action/drama movie that takes place in the future. What impressed me the most about Looper, was how director/writer Rian Johnson was able to incorporate time travel in a way that is easy-to-follow. I have seen many movies fail at this in the past; either trying to explain how it works and failing miserably, or ignoring how it works completely leaving enormous plot holes. Instead, the movie is “self-aware” with the actors acknowledging that time travel is complex, spending some time explaining the basics of the premise and then moving on.

Amazingly, Looper manages to avoid almost every sci-fi cliché in the book, adding to its self-awareness. One thing that I would consider a common cliché is assuming too much of the future. If there is one thing we look back and laugh at, it is old sci-fi movies that assumed that we would be all living in hover cities with flying cars, or things of that nature. Looper portrays a much more realistic future with a number of advancements but nothing completely out to lunch. Of course, sci-fi purists may actually think this is a problem, perhaps to them the more far-fetched the future the better, however I most certainly prefer writers that don’t take every liberty available to them.

The plot was highly unique and thoroughly enthralling, however it was the acting and the character development that was the biggest draw. Instead of the movie revolving entirely around a single character or two, Looper introduces a number of characters that are followed throughout the movie. Flawless acting helps sell these well-developed characters and bring the movie together like few others. Emily Blunt’s performance stood out in particular, despite a smaller role than Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Bruce Willis was probably the weakest acting piece but his style served a pivotal role for his character. Joseph Gordon-Levitt, on the other hand, shattered my expectations of him. It is now clear to me that he will be a strong A-list actor that we can expect to see much more often.

In summary, the movie was flawless. See this movie.

It there anything after the credits? No, there are no extra scenes at the end of Looper.

** Warning: Spoilers below**

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There is one thing that is throwing me for a loop (hahaha, I’m soooo funny): the movie very delicately touched on how time travel works and explained everything well, except for at the very end. How is it possible that Joe is trying to kill Cid because someone turned him bad in the future and yet it was Joe himself that killed said. Hard to explain, but I’ll try again:

How would Joe not know that he was the one that killed Cid’s mother causing him to turn into the future killer that he is?

I welcome any theories in the comments below.

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Moon Movie Review | Sam Rockwell & Kevin Spacey

Kevin Spacey stars in Moon | Movie Review Astronaut Sam Bell has a quintessentially personal encounter toward the end of his three-year stint on the Moon, where he, working alongside his computer, GERTY, sends back to Earth parcels of a resource that has helped diminish our planet’s power problems.
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I must tread carefully here because the entire Premise of Moon is essentially a spoiler. So instead I will focus on what makes the movie so great and avoid discussing the plot.

“So what exactly is this movie about and why have I never heard of it?”

The movie is about a man that is serving a 3 year contract on the moon collecting energy to send back to earth. Sam experiences the loneliness of space and the psychological toll it can place on a person. Of course, that is only half of the premise but I cannot speak to the rest of the plot. Just watch it, OK?

The movie is clearly not a Hollywood blockbuster (made most obvious by the imaginary marketing budget the movie had) but it certainly doesn’t feel like it. The movie is shot beautifully and has reasonable computer graphics where they are used. The plot is unique and the acting and dialogue make it one of the best movies that I had never heard of.

Sam Rockwell plays Sam Bell and provides one of this best performances. However, it is Kevin Spacey, playing the voice of GERTY, Sam’s lunar helper, that originally captured my attention. Kevin Spacey has a small role compared to Sam but was cast perfectly for the role of a monotone and creepy robot. Sam is essentially the only character in the entire movie, putting the entire movie at the mercy of his individual performance. Needless to say, he is a great actor with depth.

That is all I have to say about the movie at this point. There are many interesting discussions to be had about the plot so when you’re done watching it let’s discuss it. I’ll be here. Waiting.

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