Sunday, June 29, 2014

Captain America: The Winter Soldier * * * .5

Captain America: The Winter Soldier is the most action packed movie I have ever seen, and that's saying a lot because I have made similar claims about other movies such as John Woo films, Transformers, the recent Star Trek movies, and the last 30 minutes of either The Avengers or Man of Steel.  There comes a point where I wish the movie would just slow down a bit.  I can only take so many fist fights, gun fights, car chases and explosions.  When this movie does slow down, it is to give the audience a brief rest between the action scenes.  

While I am at it, I should point out that it is really not possible to (repeatedly) fall from a great height and survive, let alone be unscathed, even when over water.

Despite my complaints, the movie engaged me in the edge of my seat sort of way.  Some of the later scenes are very exciting, and the plot has the intellectual kahoonas to be about the trade off between freedom and security.  It is nice to have some smarts in a film that would have otherwise been just a dumb action flick.  The movie pays close attention to its characters and tries to throw in some tiny pieces of character development when it is not busy blowing up things.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Coraline * * *

Coraline is an eponymous named stop motion animated film about a young girl who is unhappy with her family life and finds a magic door that takes her to a "better" family in a more fun alternate reality. Needless to say, there is a catch, and parts of this movie have a horror film plot that would be too intense for younger children.

That isn't to say that older kids wouldn't appreciate the pretty good story with a moral message about not leaving your family, i.e.  "There is no place like home."  I am even more impressed with the quality of the stop motion animation, which is so smooth I mistook the movie for computer animated.  Although Coraline's world is pretty drab, the alternate world that she goes to is full of color and interesting visuals.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Noah * * * 1/2

From the perspective of movie story telling, Noah entertains very well with plot, action, special effects, creatures and magic that all seem more at home in a movie like "The Hobbit" than they do in the retelling of a biblical story.  The movie adds its own Hollywood spin that seems to have a lot of Greenpeace influence and a little bit Darwinian, while also remaining somewhat respectful to the biblical stories.  The fact that they embellished and changed the story so much might turn off some of the faithful, but the movie is both entertaining and emotionally moving.   And this is despite the mishmash of many different elements that don't quite match what you learned in Sunday School.  This is a new spin on an old story and it works.

Sequel?  Just kidding.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

The Edge of Tomorrow * * *

I don't usually watch movies in the theaters unless I think that it is going to be something special.  The audience is already familiar with the "time loop" concept that first appeared in Star Trek The Next Generation and later in the movie Groundhog Day, so what the film has to offer that is new is a whole bunch of special effects laden action sequences and the charisma of Tom Cruise, which he seems to have in spades.  The reason the movie doesn't feel so special to me is that the entire movie is all action with a few Groundhog Day twists and a barely budding romance.   

In other words, the film is Starship Troopers meets Groundhog Day which makes it kind of cool, but also makes it kind of Déjà vu all over again.

Actually I think that I am stuck in a time loop where I keep seeing movies with recycled plots and pointless remakes.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

The Truth About Frozen

This hour diatribe seems to miss the point of watching an entertaining movie.  All science fiction/fantasy deals with alternate physics that does not exist in the real world.  The audience is willing to suspend disbelief to watch an entertaining story.  If all stories only dealt with things that could be real (according to our current understanding) then we would have far less variety of things available to watch.  

Therefor magic does not represent madness, but is sometimes a metaphor for something else, such as Elsa having to hide her identity, in the closet sort of speak, and then later "come out."  

Magic also represents our desire for empowerment, i.e. to be able to do more than we are currently capable.  However, this desire to do more actually advances us as a species.   Some things that would have seemed almost magical in the world of Star Trek 50 years ago have come into existence, or may yet still come to pass.


John Coffey