Movie Review #321: Sucker Punch

Behind the over-the-top special effects, you have to ask…does this even make sense?

Let me say this from the get-go: Sucker Punch is a visual treat. The camerawork and the visual effects, especially the backgrounds were very impressive and the female leads were no doubt eye candy (Jamie Chung, Vanessa Hudgens…. and okay Emily Browning). Sadly, those aren’t enough to make a good movie this time around.

In fact, the ones I stated above were the only nice things that came out of it. The film was so bad I had to check my database to see when was the last time I saw a film as equally horrible as this. And the answer was way back in 2009, when Cop Out and Knight and Day were released.What’s worse is that I tend to forgive most action blockbusters because the effects alone entertained me a lot.  But for Sucker Punch, despite the unique theme, it was just too slow and too dull to be enjoyable. The awful soundtrack hurt it a lot as well. But if it’s any consolation, at least the end credits were great. Not that it matters after you see the film.

GRADE: D

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Movie Review #320: Wreck-It-Ralph

A film that hit all the right buttons

Wreck-It-Ralph feels like a Pixar movie. It’s smart, funny, memorable, and has likable characters. But most of all, it’s touching. The last animated film that really moved me was How To Train Your Dragon. And although Ralph isn’t as excellent, it still belongs to the top tier of the genre.

The movie can be universally enjoyed by any demographic, but as a gamer I loved the theme very much. Whether the movie takes audiences to the land of first-person shooter game Hero’s Duty, or the candy-covered racing world of Sugar Rush, the visuals are spectacular and the corresponding reason why the characters are there is well-explained and it allowed the story to be more flexible and the visuals more varied. That made the movie even more unique and less cliché. And while I usually don’t bother taking note of the voice casting, I’d say their connections with their characters were quite nifty especially Sarah Silverman who voiced Vanellope von Schweetz. John C. Reilly, Jane Lynch and 30 Rock’s Jack McBrayer were good as well.

Another standout from the film was its soundtrack. Henry Jackman composed some great scores and I particularly liked the ones that played when the film travels to new areas. Other noteworthy contributors include Skrillex, Owl City and AKB48. Hardcore gamers might also take notice of some video game references (don’t worry no spoilers here), a cute  nostalgia factor that adds on to the entertainment of moviegoers.

There’s plenty of things to be seen and enjoyed in the film. The story has heart, the plot and the visuals seemed like it was concocted by Pixar, and there’s a strong chance you’ll emotionally connect with the cute and interesting characters. No matter how old you are, the film can grow on you and as far as a sequel is concerned I’d say it’s a no-brainer as I believe Ralph will definitely stay in people’s minds for a long time.

GRADE: B+

Movie Review #319: Winter’s Bone

A chilling story of a strong-willed 17-year-old

This truly is Jennifer Lawrence’s breakthrough movie. It’s a perfect example of her showcasing her ability to move audiences with her acting. Only a few actresses could’ve possibly pulled off Ree, the female lead of Winter’s Bone, and she nailed it. Cap that off with a chilling story and you have a grounded film that makes you shiver in its bleakness. But it’s no perfect movie as it tends to drag things out. And with the scenes isolated mostly in the Ozark Mountain, it’s quite possible to get a little tired of the setting. Still it’s a movie that only needed Lawrence’s powerful acting to make it a solid watch.

GRADE: B

Movie Review #318: The Phantom of the Opera

An absolute bore

As much as I like Gerard Butler and as much as I try not to hate Emmy Rossum, starring in a film that’s so lifeless and wearisome is unforgivable. I never cared about their characters and nor did I have any kind of attachment with them despite them trying. The pace of the movie was extremely slow that sometimes it’s unbearable. I can say that their only saving grace came from the moments where they sang, but when they stopped it felt like a nightmare. I guess opera isn’t really my cup of tea and while I disliked the film, it might be due to its polarizing tendency. So I could still see some people enjoying this film as long as they are patient with it. But as far as I’m concerned, it was downright horrible.

GRADE: D+

Movie Review #317: Jackass 3.5

Way better than 2.5 and 3

This should’ve been shown in the big screen instead of Jackass 3D, as this direct-to-DVD version is way funnier and less tiresome than the former and even Jackass 2.5. In here, there’s a lot less slow-mo sequences that disrupts the pacing of the film. When the presentation is simple and the stunts wilder, it’s just more fun to watch. Other than that you can’t really find another way to gauge this movie as comparing it to typical films is madness. So in the end you have an above average low-brow comedy that will distract you for a good hundred minutes or so.

GRADE: B-

Movie Review #316: The Gods Must Be Crazy 2

Things just got a whole lot crazier

Like I said on my review of the original (insert link here), slapstick comedy can only be funny for a while until it becomes overused and boring. And after seeing the predecessor I just couldn’t find myself enjoying this film as much. But at least I saw an effort in making the sequel better. The story is still evidently crazier, and now it’s twice as ridiculous. And even though I didn’t hate it, I can’t say I enjoyed the film that much. It simply a sequel that’s not as funny but still average nevertheless. But if you’re curious you can either catch the original first or you could skip it as it doesn’t really matter. I’d even say you’d enjoy no more than one of them as it might get tiresome if you choose both.

GRADE: C

Movie Review #315: Skyfall [Christmas Day Review]

Craig’s best Bond film to date

It felt like I was watching The Dark Knight Rises when I went to see the 23rd installment of the iconic James Bond franchise. And to tell you the truth Skyfall was just as brilliant, if not more entertaining, as TDKR. That’s no small feat for sure.

In terms of story, action, villain, and cinematography, Skyfall is far better than Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace. In fact it had a different vibe altogether, making sure the film isn’t bogged down by the gadgetry and cars and focusing more on the characters, their motivations, strengths and weaknesses. I have to admit I never really cared about M or even Bond during the last two films but in this one they really got to me. All thanks to director Sam Mendes who saw the bigger picture and put the pieces all together; and of course with the help of powerful performances by Daniel Craig, the gorgeous Berenice Marlohe, Judi Dench, Javier Bardem and Ben Whishaw. The opening credits were superb as well, with Adele lending her voice for the title song. The movie is a benchmark for great sequels, something I wish Sony and MGM will remember and put into heart when making the next set of Bond films.

GRADE: A-