Duck its Skyfall!


Skyfall is the 23rd James Bond film in 50 years, and the third staring Daniel Craig, and somehow they still made a good and engaging film.  They got to take their time with this film and it showed.

The premise is that MI6 is under attack by a cyber-terrorist (Javier Bardem), and James Bond has to stop him before he uncovers, and releases, all MI6’s secrets.  This movie also asks the question to whether Bond is necessary in these modern time when we can just snoop on people over the internet.

Sam Mendes takes Bond back to his roots while modernizing the franchise.  He only gives bond a couple of tech toys to play with, but it really forces the movie to be on whether Bond is up to the challenge or not, not whether he has the right tools for the job, and he shows the effect of the technology on the spy game, with the tracking and hacking, and all the information we have at our fingers now.  He also knows what is important: he makes sure the action and fight sequences hard hitting and exciting.

The actors all do their jobs well too. Daniel Craig has become Bond, and he is starting rival Sean Connery with his identifiability with the character.  Javier Bardem knows how to play a bad guy, and his ability to make you hate him is great, and Dame Judi Dench is wonderful in this movie as the keeper of the old guard at MI6.  A person who always puts the job first no matter what the sacrifice, and showing the wear and tear that has on a person.

It obvious why it this was the most successful Bond of all time.  It hits all the right notes and it has a story that is relevant to our time.  Sam Mendes is in talks to do the next Bond movie as well, here is hoping!

Watch out for The Pirates!


The Pirates! Band of Misfits (yes the exclamation point is part of the title) is a stop motion animation feature length film from Aardman Animations.  Aardman is known for their charming British humor, and they continue the trend with this film.

The movie starts as The Captain (Hugh Grant) tries and fails to be Pirate of the Year, but as luck would have it while plundering they capture Charles Darwin who informs The Captain that his parrot is in fact a dodo and that they could use it to win the Scientist of the Year award.  So they venture to pirate hating England to try and win the booty.

This movie isn’t especially deep it is mainly an exscuse to be silly, and silly it is.  It also does its best to charm you with its British wit.  I am a sucker for British wit, so I liked this movie quite a bit.  It is not a classic like Wallace and Gromit, but they do a good job, and with the short 88 minute run time there is no time to get bored.

I love stop motion animation, and Aardman is one of the last few companies still keeping this style going.  I hope they continue to make these movies so I can continue to go to them. When I was a kid it was one of my favorite “When I grow up” job choices, so any movie with stop motion gets bonus points.

This movie is a good silly time waster, being stop motion and British kind of makes me like it just because it exists.  But despite all that I think you should watch it too, because we all need somthing fun and light hearted once and a while.

Be Brave!


Brave is Pixar Animation Studio’s 13th full length movie, its first to feature a girl in the lead, and its first “Princess movie”.  Does this movie live up to the standards of previous Pixar movies?  Almost, but not quite.

Brave is about a young Scottish Princess, Merida, who is about to be betrothed to the winner of a skills competition, and she does not find any of the men to her liking, so she wins the competition herself, and runs away to try and change her fate.

Merida is a good character and I liked Pixar’s design of her, and I like the way they made her a free spirit, and not wanting her greatest asset to be that she is marriageable like some of the other Disney Princesses, but sadly the writing of the movie just wasn’t quit up to the usual Pixar standard.

The story doesn’t resonate like WALL-E, UP, or Toy Story 3, all of which are classics that make you laugh and cry regardless of your age.  Brave is just merely good, which for other animation houses is probably fine, but for Pixar is kind of a shame and a letdown.

The movie does look great and advances the things they can do with computer animation, and I am sure they are going to continue push the limits of their field.  I just hope they get back to doing what made their movies classics in the first place.

I used to get very excided for Pixar movies, and I hope they get back to their winning ways, but with their current focus on sequels, I am not sure that is going to happen.  I had high hopes for Brave, and it just didn’t live up to expectations.

Django Unchained: the ‘D’ is Silent!


Django Unchained is the latest movie from Quentin Tarantino.  It is a blacksploitation/spaghetti western hybrid of sorts, and it has stirred up its share of controversy thanks to its use of the ‘N’ word.  But, is it any good? Yes.

The movie is setup as a group of slaves are being lead through various country landscapes until they are stopped by Dr. King Schultz (Christoph Waltz) who asks to buy Django (Jamie Foxx).  When the slave owners refuse, Schultz pretty much just kills them and takes Django anyway. Sorta but good enough.  Then Schultz who we find out is a bounty hunter then helps Django save his wife Broomhilda (Kerry Washington) and exact his revenge on Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his evil Uncle Tom: Stephen (Samuel L. Jackson). Again, sorta, but if you want a detailed plot go to Wikipedia, and now on to the reviewing.

Out of all the Quentin Tarantino movies I have seen, this is probably the most straight forward one.  Unlike most his movies that jump around in time, this one pretty much follows a linear path.  He also seems to have balanced his dialog that he loves so much with enough action to keep you engaged.  However what is the same, is the level of violence and gore in this picture.   There is raspberry flavored corn syrup everywhere in this movie, and I think it is fantastic.

As always Quentin found a good cast for this movie: Leonardo is great as the evil slave owner, and Samuel L. Jackson makes your skin crawl as the head slave.  Christoph Waltz is outstanding again, and it seems like he was born to quip through Tarantino’s famous dialog. Foxx plays the cool Django just right, with all the crazy people around him it is nice to have a cool and calm character as the lead.

This film stirred up quite a controversy thanks to using the ‘N’ word a lot, and it is jarring to hear it so often, and from so many white people, but I think it fits the time and theme of this movie.

I am not sure this is my favorite movie of Tarantino’s, but it is probably the most accessible.  Which is probably why more people liked it, and it is receiving all the accolades.  Django Unchained is a good movie, and I think it is important to throw slavery in all of our faces once and awhile, so that we don’t gloss over the horror of it.  This movie defiantly gets my recommendation.

Cry with Les Miserables


Les Miserables is the tear jerking update to the classic musical based off the novel with the same name by Victor Hugo.  It is also Tom Hooper’s follow up to his best picture winning King’s Speech, so it is safe to say that this film had some high expectations, and it mostly lives up to them.

Most people know the story by now, but as a refresher:  The movie is about Jean Valjean (Hugh Jackman) trying to redeem himself for past sins, while taking care of Fantine’s (Anne Hathaway) child because he accidently put Fantine on the street, and dodging the unforgiving and obsessed law, Javert (Russell Crowe), and as a spoiler: They are all sad.

Tom Hooper does a great job directing this film.  Every frame is steady and in place, and allowing the actors to record the songs while acting on set gives the film more life, and bridges the gap from to the stage to the screen.  This film is quite a change from the King’s Speech, but he nails it.

Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway are tremendous in this film.  Their previous work in musicals really pays off, and the emotion they carry through song is amazing.  The rest of the cast for the most part are very good as well, with one notable exception.  Russell Crowe almost ruins this film.  He can’t sing, and I am not sure that he is obsessed. He mostly just seems annoyed whenever he sees Jean Valjean like “oh yeah I hate that guy”.  Since everyone else is great it is a shame that they didn’t cast someone better.  I love Russell Crowe and applaud his willingness to try new things, but they should have found someone else.

This is a good movie and one that should be seen, but with a simple casting change it would have been a classic.  Tom Hooper is really proving himself to be one of the great directors and I can’t wait to see what he does next, and I am calling it for Anne Hathaway, she deserves that shiny bald dude.