Thanks to a recent international flight and a holiday, I’ve seen quite a few movies in the past few weeks. I don’t think I’ve reviewed much of anything lately (wine or movies), so how about we jump right in?
Captain America – Not really what I was expecting, but I’m not sure it’s fair to say that since I really didn’t have any expectations at all. Full disclosure: I didn’t know that Captain America is one of the Avengers, okay? Although admittedly, the full title of the movie (Captain America: The First Avenger) should probably have clued me in. ANYWAY, all that to say that I was confused by the end until I realized that it’s a total setup for next summer. The movie itself was entertaining, provided you are able to suspend your knowledge of reality in the same way that is required of all comic book-based films. I’d probably be willing to watch it again, although I’m not in a rush to buy the DVD or anything. Three stars out of five on my totally arbitrary rating scale.
Transformers: Dark of the Moon – I didn’t finish it. That’s how bad it is, and y’all know I love me some crap movies. I started it on the flight to Dubai, but turned it off ten minutes in because Shia LeBeouf is such an insufferable douche. Then on the way back to Houston I tried again. That time I made it about halfway before I decided there was no point in suffering further. I hated every single thing about it. None of the characters are likable (at least not in the first half), the plot is stupid, the little robot/Transformer things are beyond annoying, and the entire movie just totally blew. Zero stars. Don’t even bother, but if you need to torture someone you intensely dislike then this could be a useful tool.
X-Men: First Class – By far the best movie that I watched on either leg of my trip. I was really, really impressed. It has an entirely different feel than any of the original X-Men movies, and takes itself far more seriously. But it works. I haven’t been blown away by any previous James McAvoy roles, but he was a great choice for Professor Xavier. All of the characters were well-casted, although there is always something amusing about Kevin Bacon as the bad guy. Either way, the entire movie was engaging and highly entertaining. I enjoyed it immensely and can give you my enthusiastic recommendation (for what it is worth, which is admittedly not much). Four-and-a-half stars out of five, easily.
Battle Los Angeles – I kind of watched this one out of desperation. In addition to the above, I’d already re-watched Green Lantern and Fast Five, and was running out of in-flight action movie options. It was okay. Plenty of action, things blowing up, etc., but the plot was…thin. Very thin. Like they didn’t even try, really. Just “all right, we’ve got some aliens, let’s toss ’em in L.A. and add some angst-ridden Marines and we’ve got ourselves a movie, folks!” Certainly not Oscar-worthy but it wasn’t terrible either, not by a long shot. I’d watch it again if I didn’t have any other options. A solid 2.5 stars.
The Expendables – N and I had both wanted to see this for a while and were excited to discover it in Netflix Instant last week. Unfortunately, the excitement did not last. We were disappointed. I think that sometimes writers just punt, plot-wise, on ensemble movies like this one. Like we’ll be so distracted by the presence of all these big-name actors that we won’t notice the crappy writing. Personally, I was distracted by Sylvester Stallone’s face. He’s had work done or something and it just…isn’t right. Beyond that, it was unnecessarily bloody and not all that great. Not even Jason Statham could save it and as we’re all very aware, I do love me some Jason Statham. Sad. About the best I can give is 3 stars, which is of course enough for me to want to see the upcoming sequel.
Johnny Mnemonic – This movie randomly came up in conversation with N about a month ago, and ever since then I’ve been desperate to see it again. I first saw it fifteen or so years ago when it first came out on video (my love of crappy action flicks is nothing new), and haven’t seen it since. About the only thing I remembered was that the videocassette (yes) was bright orange, so it was definitely time for a re-watch. And it didn’t disappoint. An easy-to-follow plot, unrealistic fight scenes, military-trained mind-reading dolphin, post-apocalyptic setting suspiciously reminiscent of Blade Runner…what’s not to like? I was also fascinated by Dina Meyer. She has not aged AT ALL in the past fifteen years. She looked exactly the same in this movie as in recent guest appearances on NCIS. Amazing. I want to know what moisturizer she uses, is what I’m saying. Overall, Johnny Mnemonic is a totally ridiculous, unbelievable, fun ride. Three stars out of five.
Burn After Reading – Not my typical kind of movie at all, but I thought it looked interesting and N wanted to see it so last night we decided to give it a go. The verdict? Quirky, off-beat, but definitely funny. There were a few parts that totally threw me for a loop and the plot required a LOT of setup (about an hour in we were still waiting on all the pieces to be set into motion), but both N and I thought it was good. Definitely clever and not your standard cookie-cutter Hollywood comedy. If you like your comedies dark and with an actual plot, then this is the movie for you. I got it for $1.99 at Target on Black Friday and I’m glad, because I’ll certainly be willing to see it again. I have a feeling I missed some of the wit the first time around, as it moves pretty quickly. Four stars out of five for sure, and maybe more once I’ve seen it again.
Have you seen any of these? If so, what did you think? I’d be particularly interested in reactions to X-Men: First Class, as N hasn’t seen it and he’s usually the one to determine Actual Quality Movies. Since my tolerance for crap is much higher than most people’s, it throws off my ability to tell. Just because I thought it was actually a good, non-crappy action movie doesn’t mean it was. Any thoughts?