6/27/08

Wanted: Take Control

Why It's a Geek Movie
Pretty much the only thing besides a strong sense of sarcastic humor that obligates me to categorize this movie in the Geek file is the fact that it's based on a comic book.  If it weren't for those painstakingly drawn pages, I would have been forced to skip it and leave it up to those guys who get their jollies from action flicks.

What's it About?
Wesley Gibson (James McAvoy) is a nobody and he knows it.  That is until he meets Fox (Angelina Jolie).  She opens a door for him to an underground group of assassins called The Fraternity.  They tell him that his father, who was one of them, has been killed and his mission is to kill his father's killer.  Trained by The Fraternity and able to do amazing things with bullets, Wesley sets out on his quest... and finds the truth.

How to Appreciate It
This movie is bloody and irreverent, but it fittingly deals with the bloody and irreverent lifestyles assassins.  You pretty much have to go into it with that in mind.  A good rule of thumb is that if you don't want to see violence, don't see a movie about assassins.

If you can get past that, though, the story of Wanted gives a clear message about taking control of your life.  I'm sure most the people who go see this will be there for the eye-candy: bullet-time, car chases and... Angelina Jolie.  But if you're in it for something deeper, it's there.

Is it Worth It?
If you're in it for something deeper, it's there... but not clearly enough.  There's a great twist in the plot but not only does it take about three quarters of the movie to get to it, and not only is it one of the most predictable twists you could make, but it's pretty much the only twist.

That's about it for the storyline.  As far as the action goes, it's exciting, incredible and quite solid.  They didn't do anything wrong with that.  Every now and then they injected a couple CC's of biting, irreverent humor that will potentially make you laugh out loud.  So if you're just along for the ride, you'll probably enjoy it.  The rest is just kinda... meh.

What you take away from this movie is to take control of your life.  I'm pretty sure you can learn that in everyday life without all the killing.

6/26/08

Wall-E: Robots Have All the Fun

Why It's a Geek Movie
Sci-fi, robots, and gorgeous CGI. Doesn't get much geekier than that.

What's it About?
Humans have left earth after leaving it a complete wreck. So in the true nature of the human spirit, they hiked up their pants and... lazily left the cleanup to robots. Several Wall-E units were left behind to... evidently make humongous piles of organized trash and after 700 years only one unit is left operational. In the meantime, the fat, lazy humans buzzing around in their hover-chairs, sipping on meals and gawking at their holographic screens millions of miles away on the starship Axiom, send Eve probes to Earth every now and then to see if it is able to support life. That is when Eve meets Wall-E and finds what every robot longs for... a living plant. I mean love. Both, really... But her directive is to find life. When Eve is taken back to the Axiom, Wall-E desperately follows her, and when none of the humans believe she actually found life, the quest to prove herself begins.

How to Appreciate It
This is another movie that's difficult not to appreciate. It's hilarious, action-packed, and full of story. But if you're not into the whole cutesy thing, you might groan your way through. Suck it up! Be a man and admit that you chuckled when Wall-E cowered behind the rock that Eve shot a hole through!

Is it Worth It?
Wall-E is another Pixar triumph! I'm making a note here: HUGE SUCCESS. From a general viewers standpoint, there was a lot to laugh about and a lot to gawk at. From a writer's standpoint, there was a whole universe of story going on besides the main plot. There was a backstory, a main story and several subplots that fit seamlessly into the main plot. The supporting robots were hilarious and helpful, the humans, though sadly misshapen from 700 years of letting robots do everything for them, were altruistic and willing to help once they knew what was going on, and the physics of space were spot-on...

Just like Mo was willing to jump his travel track to follow Wall-E, so you should consider making the effort to watch the robot yourself! I don't care if you don't have kids! Who said this was a kids' movie?? Just because it's animated doesn't mean it teaches you your ABC's! I don't care how old you are - go see Wall-E. You'll enjoy it.

6/20/08

Get Smart: That's the Second Greatest Spy Comedy I've Ever Seen

Why It's a Geek Movie
As I noted in the Indiana Jones review, nostalgia is a big part of geekdom. A geek will be one of the first to be able to tell you every line of dialog of every episode of every season of the original Get Smart TV show. Also, every geek longs to be a spy. Just admit it. C'mon. Really. I mean, if it's not a ninja or a pirate, a very close third is a spy.

What's it About?
Would you believe... a spy more manly and sexually potent than the combination of Peirce Brosnan, Sean Connery and Matt Damon put together? How about just one of them? How about a generally unlucky and geeky annalyst who happens to know what he's doing in the field?

Maxwell Smart is a analyst for Control, a spy agency that was "officially" disbanded at the end of the cold war. They still run covert operations keeping their rival, Kaos, on check. When the identities of all the field agents are revealed in a raid on the Control base, Max is promoted to field agent since no one knows who he is. This is his chance to prove himself to Chief and his hot partner, Agent 99.

Really, the plot is pretty simple to follow. Just like the TV show, it wasn't so much about the plot as it was about the laughs.

How to Appreciate It
If you're looking for a clone of Don Adams, you're not going to find it. This is not the Maxwell Smart you know and love. But at the same time, it absolutely is! Maxwell Smart was originally a spoof of James Bond. James Bond, along with his charm, is best known for his older movies - the ones that represent the sixties and seventies pretty well. What they tried to do, and what, in my opinion, they succeeded in doing with this movie is to take the same idea and apply it to an updated anchor - Jason Borne. The Borne Identity represents our current era much better than any thought of Dr. No or The Spy Who Loved Me. But along with this updated vision, they still had a comic legacy to maintain from the original Get Smart. Well not only would it totally not fit for Steve Carrell to do a spot-on Don Adams impression in the middle of a realistic Borne Identity spoof, but it would do the original a disservice. To appreciate this movie, understand that updating a classic means giving and taking. In the end, you're going to have to end up taking it as it is... and loving it.

Is it Worth It?
To be honest, I don't think I've ever laughed any harder at a Steve Carrell movie! Don't get me wrong, I love the guy and think he's hilarious, but that's just how good this particular project was. Maybe it was the combination of hilarity and nostalgia, but at one point I think I almost ran out of breath. I honestly believe that if Zombie Don Adams rose from his grave and saw this movie he would break one of his brittle, decaying ribs from laughter before brutally devouring the rest of the audience. And then maybe he'd grab for someone, slip on some buttery popcorn on the floor, fall to the ground and say "Missed it by that much!" The guy would laugh... and it would be the last laugh he ever laughed.

Enough about Zombie Don Adams. You will enjoy this movie more than any zombie could ever dream of enjoying any piece of art. Go see it now and I will personally guarantee that you will enjoy it or my money back.

6/13/08

The Incredible Hulk: Hulk DOES Smash!


::blink:: Wait, hold on...

Let me catch my breath...

::INHALE:: ... ::exhale::.... Ok... ok, I think I'm good... Let's do this.

Why It's a Geek Movie
I think we covered this in the Iron Man review. Movies based on comic book characters will always be in the geek realm.

What's it About?
Bruce Banner, a scientist who creates a process by which he believes humans can prevent radiation poisoning, ends up fudging his experiment by turning himself blah blah blah blah yadda yadda yadda - we all know about the Hulk. He's the big green guy who smashes things. The government wants him as a weapon and he just wants to get rid of his little anger problem. The real story this time, though, is that a power hungry dude is after the same kind of power the Hulk has. He turns himself into The Abomination and epic city-smashing ensues.

How to Appreciate It
Let's get this clear from the get-go... Hulk (2003) is to The Incredible Hulk (2008) as Batman (1989) is to Batman Begins (2005). The two movies have absolutely nothing to do with each other... and that's a good thing. It's an incredibly good thing. One might say it's an awesome thing. So if your grief with this movie is that the last one didn't fare too well, then get over yourself and go to the theater now.

If you're going to be nit-picky you're probably going to pick out how in the world any kind of process can randomly generate more mass than it began with since Bruce seems to get heavier as he transforms... Ok, so the physics are off... since when has that stopped us from enjoying a good action flick, eh? Suspend your disbelief for a while and enjoy the ride!

Is it Worth It?
In case you haven't caught it by now, the answer is yes. The CG is flawless, the storyline is deep enough to enjoy, but shallow enough to follow, the acting is convincing and the cameos... Oh, the cameos! But I won't spoil anything for you. You probably already know what people make appearances, but in case you don't, I won't spoil it.

The best part of this movie is the action! It jumps right into the action by by-passing the long, drawn-out origin story by way of a montage in the opening credits. We see Banner sitting in his experiment chair, changing a bit, smashing a bit, then running away. We're left with a good impression of how this all started so we can jump right into the real story: how he can stop it.

The best part about the story in general (besides the movie) was how it ties in with the universe of Iron Man. Hints are dropped here and there and then your mind is blown at the very end. That's all I'll say.

Yes it's worth it! Go see it now! OR I SMASH!

6/6/08

Kung Fu Panda: Prepare for Awesomeness


Why It's a Geek Movie
Kung Fu. The ancient Chinese martial art masters both mind and body, and while most geeks only have a handle on some of the mind part, it's no secret that a true geek gawks at a Kung Fu master with the greatest of respect, admiration and awe. And he dreams every night that he can do the same things.

And, of course, geeks have a special brand of humor that, while not exclusive to them, is appreciated the most by them. It's the perfect blend of stupidity and intelligence. Where dull as a hammer and sharp as a needle meet, you will find the awkward silences, the thudded facepalms and the absurd exaggerations that make geeks guffaw. Jack Black and the team that put this film together seem to understand this brand of humor better than a lot of people.

What's it About?
Po, the panda, works at a noodle shop with his father (a goose?) and dreams of becoming the greatest Kung Fu master of all time. Of course, he never believes this dream will come true until Oogway accidentally chooses him as the Dragon Master and the only one capable of defeating Tai Lung, a dangerous Kung Fu master who once sought to be the Dragon Master himself. The story revolves around having to form this flabby, pathetic excuse for a fighter into a warrior by believing in his own capabilities and being trained in the manner for which he is most suited: through food.

How to Appreciate It
Why are adults turned off by cartoons?? I don't get it! It's like just because it's animated it's for kids! Anime totally blows that theory out of the water...

To appreciate this movie you have to get over the fact that it's about a village full of talking animals. Kung Fu itself uses different animals to represent different styles of fighting. In the same way, animals can be representative of various character types, just as in Kung Fu Panda. Yes, it's animated, but it also has a rich storyline and hilarious comedy. Animation is not exclusive to children - that's a just a fact you're going to have to face.

Is it Worth It?
Most definitely. I'm not even going to ad an "if" to that - if you go to see it, you will not regret it... crap, that was an "if."

The animation is beautiful, the voice acting is real, the storyline is rich and as vibrant as the jaw-dropping scenery. What I was most surprised by is the cast. Of course Jack Black plays the part of Po, but this film also boasts such names as Dustin Hoffman, Angelina Jolie, Lucy Liu and Jackie Chan! Who knew?!

Of course, I was watching it from a writer's perspective, meaning I was paying the closest attention to the story. It did not disappoint! As always, I will not ruin the story for you, but suffice it to say that depth was not a problem in this 3D-modeled movie!

Kung Fu Panda has my approval! If you see anything this summer, see Iron Man... and then Kung Fu Panda.

6/5/08

Steve Also Reviews Movies

I've totally been shown up by Jen Reviews Movies. I thought I could get away with just posting reviews when the movie comes out, but she's got so much more! Including a potentially embarrassing picture of Eric Bana.


I shall not be out-done! I need a video camera... Where's my video camera? ...Where's my money to buy a good video camera?

::finds webcam::

...::cough::... where's my video camera??