Movie Reviews Roundup

Sunday, May 30, 2010

This roundup of reviews is mostly current movies with one throwback to the 90s. Oh, and they include spoilers, so don't read if you don't want to know!

Review of Just Wright:
I went and saw this movie with my mother and thought that it was a sweet romantic comedy and a good light movie to go and enjoy. It wasn’t perfect, but in the face of the terrible romantic comedies that have been coming out lately, this one stood out as decent and likeable. Queen Latifah is a good actor and does a nice job of portraying a strong woman who can stand on her own two feet. Common also did a good job and my mother didn’t know that he was a rapper until I told her. He might not have been totally believable as a basketball star, but the whole movie required you to put your more skeptical mind on hold, as most movies do. It was nice to see someone whose body type and skin color does not fit into Hollywood’s stereotype get the guy in the end, especially over a thinner girl. It made me very happy and I left the theater feeling as thought I had not wasted my time. It’s a romantic comedy, so it’s not the most serious of movies, but for what it was it was perfectly fine. I recommend it.

Review of Robin Hood:
I will admit that I didn’t even intend to see this movie and went into it with extremely low expectations. I was going to see Iron Man 2, but it took me a while to walk to 42nd street from 52nd or so. I could have made Iron Man 2, but barely, so on a whim I decided to go see Robin Hood. I had seen both of the trailers and they were so badly cut (at least to my eyes) that I could not tell what was going on or why I should go see it. I decided not to go see the movie on the basis of my dislike of the trailers. I will admit that I was very wrong—I thoroughly enjoyed this movie and want to go see it again. The action was very well done, the characters were engaging and compelling, and although not very historically accurate, the sets and cinematography were beautiful. All of the scenery was gorgeous and there were some shots that I wanted to pause and stare at for a bit. I don’t like Russell Crowe very much, but found him to be a decent Robin (although he spent a lot of the time unsmiling and frowning in situations that didn’t call for those facial expressions. Maybe he was trying to be serious). Cate Blanchett was very good as Marion—I liked that they made her more courageous and willing to put herself in danger for others. She wasn’t a maid in danger; she was a grown woman who could take care of herself. Mark Strong was amazing as usual as the villain, Godfrey. He has played three villains within the last year or so and will continue to do so, I hope. He plays a very fine villain and always gives a strong, menacing performance. There’s something in me that always roots for villains, but I find myself allying against his a bit. I still like him, but Godfrey was so evil that I turned against him and rooted for Marion instead. I think that that is a testament to his performance. Max Von Sydow was affecting as Sir Walter Loxely—a bit cryptic in his comments to Robin when he should have just come out and told him what he knew—but overall a nice fatherly figure. William Hurt (as William Marshall) kept looking like he was smirking during serous scenes. I decided that he was amused by everything. The characters that I wanted to see more of were Robin’s friends: Little John, Will Scarlett, Alan A’Dayle, and Friar Tuck. All of them were extremely likeable and I sort of want to see them in a buddy movie, roaming around England and helping people out. I would love to see a sequel to this movie and I highly recommend it.

Review of Iron Man & Iron Man 2:
Prior to last weekend, I had seen none of the greatness that is Iron Man. I was skeptical of all the hype because every time someone tells me a movie is awesome, it disappoints me in some way (Napoleon Dynamite, anyone?). But I have to admit, the first Iron Man enthralled me. Maybe it was just the great special effects or the fact that the movie satisfied my inner nerd, but the storyline was strong and the acting was great. I think that Tony Stark is a quintessential bad boy – so much so that I sometimes didn’t believe him as the hero later on and continued to mutter to myself questions like “why did that journalist sleep with him?” Overall, however, the movie was really well done and I found myself wanting more adventure at the end.
Iron Man 2, in comparison, finds all its strength in the villains. The storyline is understandable, but it has definitely been done before. Whenever Ivan was on screen, he stole the show – it was a fantastic performance! In general, I feel like the flashiness of the fight scenes in the second movie were much less gripping as the first movie’s complex storyline; it felt more like a traditional action movie in terms of the unnecessary violence and big budget ideas. Yet the movie was still entertaining, even if it dropped a star or so in my rating scale from the first movie.

Review of Prince of Persia:
Prince of Persia: Sands of Time is an adaptation of the popular video game of the same name. The movie, however, does not stick to the game storyline very well and uses a much more contrived plot in order to fulfill its goals. Although I have not played the game myself, I know from anecdotal evidence that the movie uses a lot of the elements from the game (such as accurate background story, costumes, and scenery), but takes the storyline on a crazy journey. I think that the movie is entertaining – as many adaptations are – not for the plot but for the big budget adventure that happens in the 2 hour time frame. There were some scenes that were blatantly over the top in this movie and I felt my attention flagging when the predictable love scenes appeared, so I would not recommend this movie if you want something completely entertaining. But if you’re looking for a summer movie with all the bells and whistles from large glowing hourglass rocks and assassins powered by black magic, then go for it.
And, as for the Iraq war metaphors that some have mentioned are contained in this movie? I really don’t see it as anything more than a trashy action flick, sorry guys.

Review of Super Mario Bros:
Another video game adaptation, this film from 1993 is one of the weirdest I have seen. In an attempt to explain the back story of the two plumbers, this movie takes you on a romp through another dimension where the evolved species was dinosaurs rather than mammals. The villains of this dimension are King Koopa (Bowser) but as a human-looking man who has taken over the mainly barren expanse of their world. The Goombas are truly freaky since they are de-evolved dinosaurs with human bodies, and all of the elements of the Mario games are subtle and make you say “Oh!” when you realize what they are. The Mario brothers are plumbers in modern day Brooklyn and follow Princess Daisy back over to the other dimension as she realizes that she is not of that dimension (via a kidnapping by the Koopas, as usual) Overall, I enjoyed this movie in a perverse way; it took the elements of Mario and made them into a cohesive storyline. The graphics left much to be desired and it didn’t stick to the original game at all. I think, quite honestly, it would be a terrible movie even if you hadn’t heard of Mario at all beforehand. But there was a sense of ironic humor that really made me smile and I could always laugh at the absurdity presented throughout. Bonus points for having Dennis Hopper (recently deceased) and John Leguizamo – star quality in a strange B movie!

Make sure to take a look at the other movie reviews Liberty and I wrote and our other collaborative work: comic alterna-history zine The Bearniverse.