The Hangover Part III

The 367th Movie I have seen in theaters…

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I ventured out tonight to see the latest, and apparently final, entry in the Hangover series. The end could not come fast enough.

Story

The film starts with Leslie Chow escaping from prison in Bangkok. Back in America, Alan has spiraled out of control. After an antic leads to the death of a Giraffe, his friends and family come together for an intervention. Alan agrees to go to a rehab facility. Enroute, the wolfpack is run off the road by a gangster named Marshall. Chang stole half of a 42 million dollar gold heist, and he wants it back. He kidnaps Doug and forces the trio to find Chang in 3 days, or Doug dies. They track down Chang to Tiajuana and they break into a mansion and steal half the gold. Only it’s not Chang’s half, but the OTHER half that belongs to Marshall. Chang double crosses the gang and runs off with the gold. Marshall ruthlessly shoots a minion in the chest and will do the same to Doug by dawn.

Comedy Gold.

In the end, they track Chang down in vegas, and bring him before Marshall, who is ready to kill him. Before this happens, Chang springs out and kills Marshall and his underling.

Laughs a minute.

Alan decides to become a better man, tells Chang to buzz off,  cleans himself up, goes back on his meds and gets married. The wolfpack rides off into retirement.

Seriously. Where the fuck is the comedy. What few gags they attempt fell pretty flat. The ONE bright spot is Ken Jeong’s Leslie Chow.

Cast

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Bradley Cooper was his usual charming assholish self. That works in these movies, and he was ok.

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Ed Helms’s Stu was his usual stressed out self, but the film definitely suffered from his LACK of suffering. In the first, he lost his tooth. In the second, the face tattoo. This one does give him something at the very end of the film, but what makes his character work is a solid 90 minutes of embarrassment. It wasn’t here.

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Zach Galiafanakis is a comedic actor that I adore. He was the driving force of the first 2 films. Here, he fell pretty flat. As a character, it was interesting to see Alan crash, and then decide to “grow up”. His scenes with Melissa McCartthy were his bright spot this time out.

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Ken Jeong can have my babies. I love this man. He is consistently entertaining in almost everything his appears in. This was HIS movie, make no mistake. Every scene he appears in was great. Especially his final scene. He elevated this movie beyond crap into watchable territory.

Final Word

The final scene smells of a “Hail Mary” play, but it worked. It was the funniest scene in the film, and it damn near redeemed the entire movie. The problem are the 90 minutes before that final scene. Maybe 15-20% of Galiafanakis’ gags worked at all. Stu’s stuff was pretty weak, except when with Chow. A misfire. 4/10 , 5/10 at best.

Here’s something funny to wash away the bad taste.

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Star Trek into Darkness

The 366th film I have seen in theaters…

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I ventured out with a few friends, and my wife, to see the latest Star Trek film on opening day. SPOILERS will absolutely follow.

The Story

The plot was good. The story moved along at a brisk pace, and never let up. It opens with the Enterprise on an away mission to planet Nibiru, inhabited by a pre-industrial society. A volcano is about to explode, and Kirk and Co. must stop it, because it poses a threat to the indigenous life on the planet. Here is the first area that is causing rebuff by fans- instead of orbiting the planet, the Enterprise is hiding in the Ocean. I’ll concede this point. It would have made more sense to park in orbit, but lets be real- the writers wanted a cool scene of the Enterprise rising out of the water. Well, there is a snag in the plan to use a futuristic bomb to stop the eruption, and Spock is stranded in the Volcano. Kirk must fly the Enterprise over the volcano and beam him out- reveling the ship to the native population. This violates the prime directive of not interfering with a developing civilization., but he saves Spock.

Back on Earth, Kirk is demoted to Commander, and stripped of the Enterprise for violating the prime directive and covering it up. Spock is reassigned to the USS Bradbury, and Kirk’s future is uncertain…

In London, a man (Micky from Doctor Who) has a daughter that is dying of a genetic disease. A mysterious man offers to save her life…but at a cost. We next see the mystery man drawing blood from his veins and giving it to the father. The father adds it to the IV, and the daughter recovers instantly. The father is then forced to go into a Starfleet facility at the USS Kelvin Archives and detonate a bomb, killing dozens.

Admiral Pike, now given command of the Enterprise, enlists Kirk as his First Offcier- saving him from dismissal, or return to the Academy. The call comes through- report to headquarters: Starfleet has been attacked. All the Command Crew and Admiralty in the sector are gathered in a conference room, with Starfleet Commander Admiral Marcus, to discuss the bombing. The mystery man is identified as John Harrison, a disgruntled Officer who the ships must now hunt down.  As Kirk questions why he would bomb a library, with nothing vital, he realizes that it could be to cause the leadership of Starfleet to gather in one place- the conference room they are currently occupying.

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Harrison appears in a shuttle outside the window and proceeds to fire into the room, killing scores of Starfleet’s best. Kirk Manages to disable the shuttle, but Harrison beams away. Among the dead is Admiral Pike.

Kirk has Scotty do some investigating and they discover that Harrison used an advanced Transporter to beam to the Klingon Homeworld of  Q’onoS, and is hiding in an uninhabited area. Admiral Marcus meets with Kirk and Spock and reveals that Harrison is did not bomb a library, but the headquarters of Section 31, Starfleet’s version of Black Ops. He tasks CAPTAIN Kirk, and Spock, to take the Enterprise to the edge of the Klingon Neutral Zone and fire 72 experimental Photon Torpedoes onto  Q’onoS and kill Harrison.

Enroute to the ship, a new Science Officer is assigned to Kirk- Carol Wallace. Spock immediately questions why a second science officer would be necessary, but is silenced by Kirk because Wallace is a Hottie. Upon arriving, Scotty refuses to allow the Torpedoes onboard until he knows exactly what they are made of, out of fear they would damage the ship. Kirk and Scott get into an argument that ends with Scott’s resignation. Kirk is focused on revenge, even to the point of losing Mr Scott.

The Enterprise takes off, and despite orders, Kirk resolves to travel to  Q’onoS and capture Harrison rather than execute him. Spock uncovers that Carol Wallace is in fact Carol Marcus- daughter of the Admiral. She is concerned about the Torpedoes and forged transfer documents to see what her father was hiding. The Enterprise suddenly falls out of warp, due to a coolant leak. Kirk, Spock, and Uhura travel by shuttle to  Q’onoS as the Enterprise repairs.

Once there, Spock and Uhura settle a lover’s quarrel just as Klingon ships attack. After a dogfight, the Shuttle is surrounded and forced to land. Uhura attempts to talk to the Klingons, relating that they are there to capture a criminal, but are interuptted as Harrison opens fire and takes out a squad of Klingons, including their ships. One Man. Dozens of Klingons. Over in minutes. He gets the drop on Kirk and asks “How many torpedoes do you have”. Upon getting the answer of 72, Harrison promptly surrenders. Kirk then repeatedly punches and kicks Harrison, to the point that Kirk is exhausted. Harrison is not phased at all.

Back on the Enterprise, McCoy marvels at the ability of the prisoner to take out a squa dof Klingons single handed and takes a blood sample. Harrison alerts Kirk to the fact that he knows more than he lets on. He tells Kirk to open a torpedo to see the truth, as well as check out some coordinates near Jupiter. Kirk calls Scotty to check Jupiter while McCoy and Marcus open the Torpedo. Once open, they see not explosives, but a man, cryogenically frozen. More puzzling, to the crew if not audiences, the man is 300 years old…

They confront Harrison who reveals that all the torpedoes carry his crew. Harrison, is a fake name, assigned to him by Admiral Marcus. His true name…is…

Khan.

That’s as far as I go! See the movie for the resolution.

Cast

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Chris Pine is terrific, once again, as Captain Kirk. Facing terrible odds, and journeying into darkness as he faces the militaristic side of Starfleet.

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Quinto shines as Mr Spock, still adjusting to the loss of Vulcan, his love with Uhura, and becoming friends with Jim.

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Saldana did not do much as Uhura this time out, other than her relationship problems with Spock.

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Benedict Cumberbatch’s big intro to American audiences is gonna be huge. He is not the Khan we got with Montalban. This guy had a different experience after waking. He was taken by the government and forced to work as a prisoner for years. He operates entirely on vengeance, and his superior intellect is apparent.

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Alice Eve joins as Carol Marcus, the woman who will eventually give Kirk a child.

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The rest of the crew is great, particularly Karl Urban who was seemingly born to play Dr McCoy.

Final Thoughts

On par with the first film. The story was good, cast good, effects awesome.

Go see it!

The Great Gatsby

The 365th film I have seen in theaters…

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Was it TRULY…

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Yes, Yes it was.

Plot and Style

If you do not know the plot, there is a serious deficiency in your education. F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby is possibly the greatest novel ever written by an American, and one of the the top 10 novels of the 20th century- certainly my favorite novel. This causes me to bring a lot of baggage into the theater. I want something that is true to the story of Gatsby while also capturing as much of the essence of the tale as is possible. This is a notoriously difficult thing to do.

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In the 70’s, writer Robert Towne was offered a mountain of cash to write the screenplay for Gatsby. Now, Towne was no slouch. This man wrote my favorite film of all time, and was script doctor on some of the greatest movies ever made. He is offered the great american novel and he says “No”. He felt that any attempt to rewrite the book was doomed to failure as it is nearly impossible to bring the nuance of the book to the screen. The eventual 1970’s film was an admirable attempt, but ultimately it felt a bit flat. It was extremely devoted to the novel and did not deviate even slightly from the story Fitzgerald wrote, at the expense of the film.

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Now it is 2013 and Baz Luhrman, possibly the most visionary director working today, takes on the challenge. He knows how to bring the excitement of the past forward for modern viewers, he did so in Moulin Rouge. Instead of the magic of Belle Époque Paris, he delivers the Jazz age using modern music. I can understand the problems some people have with this approach, but I was expecting it- knowing the Director. The details are slightly different from the novel, but all the meat of the story is there. The narrative device of Nick Carraway is used here to far superior results of any of the previous adaptations. Those walking into this movie, and only seeing “Exciting parties” and all “Flash” are missing the point.

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This story starts at some point after the summer of 1922. Nick Carraway is in a sanitarium, trying to heal from Alcoholism and Depression. He is there as a result of the Summer of ’22. Right off the bat, the movie shows us that this is not glorifying the party, but showing that it was ultimately destructive. That is a key observation of the novel, written before the crash, of the lunacy of the roaring 20’s and where they were headed. The film captures that. As Nick Carraway gets sucked into the lifestyle of the West Egg parties, we are taken along with him. Gatsby is introduced, and the tale plays out.

The music was excellent. Besides the Hip Hop elements of the party scenes, there was some really great scoring done in this movie. Old songs were interspersed throughout, and the mood was always just right.

Cast

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Leonardo DiCaprio nails this one. He makes every “old sport” seem effortless- no small feat to modern ears. Riding on decades of history as the Hollywood “Golden Boy”, he seamlessly blends into the skin of Gatsby. Hell, this is how half of America probably thinks of him anyway. Rich, Fabulous, and Fun. This also brought up an interesting parallel with the career of Robert Redford- the Golden Boy of the 60’s and 70’s. Excellent casting.

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I was not sure if Tobey Maguire was the best choice for Carraway, but he actually might have been the best cast in the film. The whole story is seen through the filter of Nick, and Tobey manages to bring out the naivete of the character, and his eventual corruption. Giving Nick more of a story, following the events of ’22, was a masterstroke.

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Carey Mulligan was an outstanding Daisy Buchanan. Although a wonderful actress, one of the glaring flaws in the 70’s version was the casting of Mia Farrow as Daisy. Mulligan plays her as less of an airhead, and really gets to the meat of this woman’s dilemma. Farrow’s Daisy came off as a weak willed fool, Mulligan brings a little more to the part.

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Joel Edgerton, a man who first popped onto my radar in 2002 as Uncle Owen in Attack of the Clones, has had a marvelous career since. He really sells the physicality of Tom Buchanan. I believe this man could be  a “brute”. His scenes with Wilson and Myrtle are also exceptional.

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Elizabeth Debicki plays Jordan Baker. I feel that her character was the most neutered in this adaptation. All of the major beats of her character were covered, but her romance with Nick was definitely played down.

The remainder of the cast were all fine- particularly the minor roles of the Gatsby houseguests and partiers.

The Final Word

This was a great movie. It could have very easily gone horribly wrong, but it never did. I strongly disagree with the reviewers bashing this as fluff. It captured the spirit of the novel, and the ultimate story of the 1920’s in a far superior fashion than any of its predeccessors. I do not know how well this will translate 40 years from now. It’s modern stylings may seem horribly out of date, but that’s kinda the point. It was never real, all bullshit. The 1920’s were this flash in the pan wild party that fooled the entire world into thinking they were set for life. The end of that party brought decades of despair. We are in the middle of a period like the depression, following the party of the 1990’s. All the party was an illusion, and behind the curtain was…nothing. Just like Gatsby. In the end there was nothing. The house was ransacked by Wolfsheim, no one came to his funeral and he was forgotten. He was never real.

Good Movie.

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Great book.

Against all odds…

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Started school in 1997. Attended College, on and off for a while, and got an Associates Degree in 2008 from Bristol Community College.

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Now, years of struggle have led to today.

I am now a graduate of UMass Dartmouth and it’s Charlton College of Business.

I did it.

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Finally.

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No more shame.

I am Strong.

UMass Dartmouth Strong.

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Corsair Strong.

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Iron Man 3

The 364th film I have seen in theaters…

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I, and a few close friends ventured out on Thursday May 2nd, for a 9:30pm Preview screening of Iron Man 3: The start of Avengers Phase 2!

Plot

It is an indeterminate time after the events of Avengers. Tony Stark is becoming a bit of a recluse, constantly tinkering in his armor lab, unable to sleep at night. He is going through something of a nervous break down, probably a PTSD issue from the battle with Aliens. As he deals with it, a Terrorist named “The Mandarin” is bombing America. The latest injures Happy Hogan, causing Stark to declare war n Mandarin… The Mandarin retaliates by destroying his California Home, nearly killing him, and Pepper in the process.

The rest of the movie is the battle and Tony coming to terms with what iron man means to him, how it defines him, as he deals with the mandarin’s threat. Of particular importance are the repercussions of being a public Iron Man on those he cares about.

That’s all you get! no spoilers!

Cast

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RDJ is the man. He so inhabits this role that a future recast will be all but impossible. His work here is top notch as Stark’s weaknesses and insecurities catch up with him.

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I actually thought that Paltrow was underutilized in this one. She fell into the “Damsel in distress” trap this time out.

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Don Cheadle returns as Rhodey, The War Machine- this time renamed “Iron patriot”. I was a bit sad to see Norman Osborne’s alter ego appropriated, but it worked.

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He pretty much stole the movie in THE SCENE. Ben Kingsley is a great actor and he was an ideal choice for this.

Props must be given to Writer/Director Shane Black, who infused his own sensibilities into this film. Where Favreau thrived in 1, he was swallowed by the “Avengers machine” in Iron man 2- losing the clear image of his “voice”. Black manages to avoid this and give us a movie very different from Avengers.

Go see it…again!

Oblivion

The 363rd film I have seen in theaters…

oblivion-tom-cruise-posterA Tom Cruise vehicle directed by the Joe Kosinski (Tron: legacy) is on the menu for today!

Plot

We open in the year 2077. Cruise plays Jack harper, one of only two people on Earth. The other being Victoria, played by Andrea Riseborough. In the year 2017, aliens attacked the Earth, and a long war ensued. In a last ditch effort to win the war, humanity unleashed it’s nukes and destroyed most of the Earth. The human survivors flee to Titan, a moon of Saturn, to survive. Humans built a space station called “The Tet” orbits Earth as massive machines suck up seawater to turn it into energy for the Titan colony. Jack and Victoria oversee the operations of the drones that protect the giant Hydro-rigs from patches of Alien resistance that remain on Earth. All goes well, until a space craft lands that holds humans in suspended animation. Only one passenger survives- Julia, who knows secrets that will change Harper’s life forever!

Nothing groundbreaking is presented in this film. Many of the sci-fi themes dealt have been covered before, but they do a decent job of crafting a great story that keeps the audience engaged.

Cast

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Tom Cruise plays the action hero- a role he knows well. Cruise is an odd creature. He can make so many crappy movies, and give me a general feeling of aggravation in many of his roles, but every now and then he pulls out an amazing performance. Like Valkyrie, Cruise sells the material as the human embodiment of WALL-E.

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Andrea Riceborough’s Victoria is an interesting character. She loves Harper deeply, but is dedicated to the mission above all. As Harper begins to change, her world view is shattered.

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Morgan Freeman plays Malcom Beech. Standing next to him is Jaime Lannister. I would tell you all about them, but I am actually not gonna spoil this one. They are both good in their roles.

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Olga Kurylenko plays Julia. Her identity is the key to the story. Another well cast actress.

Sally

Melissa Leo plays Sally, The Mission Control person who maintains contact from the Tet Space station. She was also in Movie 328- Olympus has fallen.

Well. Not much a review this time out. It was a good movie, with great actors, great effects, and a decent story. Of the four new films I have seen in 2013, this one is the clear best so far.

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