Saturday, September 25, 2010

Movie Reviews: Triple Feature of Movies With Subtitles

If you are wondering why I suddenly seem to be seeing a lot of movies lately, the reason is that Brian put his tail between his legs and ashamedly returned to his job at the theater.  I guess you just can't teach an old dog new tricks.

So with Brian back in his suit and tie at our local cinema, we are once again reaping the benefits of free movies.  Hence my recent Easy A and The Town reviews.  So last night, once we were free of our jobs, we decided to have a movie marathon.  Oddly enough, the movies we decided to see all had one unifying theme:  they each sported a subtitle to create titles of impressive length.

Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps movie poster, property of 20th Century Fox
Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps ADMIRABLE

I must admit that I have never seen the original Wall Street movie, but apparently viewing it's not necessary to understand the plot of this one.  Seeing as this sequel comes a good 23 years after the original, the screenplay was smart to provide the audience with any needed background information.  However, the screenplay wasn't always so smart... and at times this movie got a little preachy and a little sloppy.  The plot was all over the place and could have been fine-tuned just a tad more, and sometimes its message of "greed is bad" was a little too obvious.  Especially in the last ten minutes or so when the characters have their change-of-heart moments.

However, despite those two comments, I still found the movie to be very interesting and very well-acted.  As much crap as people like to talk about Shia LaBeouf -- yes, he's been arrested and can be a douche blah blah blah -- he's a very talented actor.  This movie proved to be a good one for him, giving him the opportunity to work against such greats as Michael Douglas, Josh Brolin, and Frank Langella.  He stars as a young Jake Moore who plans on marrying Winnie Gekko (Carey Mulligan), daughter of the infamous Gordon Gekko (Douglas).

Throughout the film, he grapples with his own inner capitalist while seeking advice from Gekko, eventualy working for Bretton James (Brolin), and trying to avenge the death of his first financial mentor Louis Zabel (Langella).  All this while trying to convince left-wing Winnie that he's not obsessed with Wall Street.  I've been a big fan of Carey Mulligan since I saw her in An Education, and she is flawless in this movie as well.  Her character goes through a lot when she is forced to reintroduce her estranged father into her life... and it's even more troubling for her as she begins to realize how like her father her boyfriend is.

For Brian's review of this movie, click here.

Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole movie poster, property of Warner Bros.
Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole ADMIRABLE

By far my favorite movie of the night, Legend of the Guardians was spectacular on many levels.  First off, let's talk about the visual style of this movie.  Directed by Zack Snyder (300, Watchmen), it should be of no surprise that this movie looks amazing.  The animation in this movie is photo-real and gorgeous.  At one point, Brian leaned over to me and whispered, "This animation is flawless."  It's true.  If you are a fan of the medium, you will definitely appreciate the artistry of this film.

Some might argue that the visual aesthetic is a little show-offy (if that's even a word) -- I mean, Snyder does pull off his signature slow motion to highlight the action -- but there is a lot more to this movie than a good look.  The story, although typical at first glance and fairly fast-paced, is quite adult for a kids' movie.  Which is good.  Only in modern times has children's entertainment become idiotic and empty.

The story involves a young owlet named Soren (voiced by Jim Sturgess) who is kidnapped by the Pure Ones (akin to the Nazis) and is forced into slavery when he objects to the mistreatment of the "lesser" breeds of owl.  His brother Kludd, however, (voiced by Ryan Kwanten) is sucked into the doctrine of the Pure Ones and becomes a soldier.  Their choices drive the brothers apart as Soren escapes with a ragtag team of owls and embarks on a journey to elicit help from the Guardians: a legendary group of owls who defend justice.  Kludd however stays and remains loyal to Metalbeak and Nyra (Joel Edgerton and Helen Mirren) who lead the Pure Ones on their evil quest for domination.

Brian's only lament was that he felt the characters were a bit one-dimensional, and I can see his point.  Soren is good because he's good.  Metalbeak is bad because he's bad.  However, this movie is still very remarkable.  The ending may not be a surprise (telling you that good prevails is hardly a spoiler) but getting there is completely entertaining.

For Brian's review of this movie, click here.

Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb movie poster, property of Columbia Pictures
Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb AWESOME!

This movie was originally released in 1964, but they were playing it at Brian's theater as part of a Cult Classic event this month.  One of Brian's coworkers was there with her boyfriend, so we sat with them.  Apart from the four of us,  I think there were only another 5 or so in attendance... which is a shame.  This movie, directed by Stanley Kubrick and starring Peter Sellers in three roles, is a comic gem.  Very odd, unconventional, and quite arguably, genius.  If you haven't seen it, I urge you to do so!

I don't want to give away too much, but basically an insane Air Force General Jack Ripper (Sterling Hayden) commands all of his planes to bomb the U.S.S.R. without any authority to do so.  The President (Sellers) is now in the War Room of the Pentagon trying to fix the situation before the planes reach their target.  He argues with a Commie-hating General Turgidson (George C. Scott), seeks advice from an ex-Nazi genius Dr. Strangelove (Sellers), and desperately needs a secret code that only Group Captain Lionel Mandrake (again Sellers) knows.

Ah, what an enjoyable night at the movies!

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For Brian's review of this movie, click here.

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