Sunday, June 24, 2012

Wasting Time on DVD Duds

Last night was a DVD Double Feature for my hubby and me as we took a look at "The Woman in Black" and "This Means War", both new releases on loan from the library. 
"The Woman in Black" is a supposedly scary movie starring Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter) as a widower and father of a young boy who is sent by his law firm to a creepy old mansion on a piece of land that is inaccessible when the tide is in (but could be by boat? Not sure... they didn't really use that piece of the story like they could have). The grounds around the place are marshy, damp, foggy and very eerie. The town is haunted by a ghost (a woman in black, no less) who kills their children. Yet they all still live there. Knowing their children could die at any time, they all still live there. Go figure.

I got a little mixed up with the story of the ghost and her motivation, probably because I don't really "do" scary movies and I was busying myself with other things while watching. (A little peek into my psyche: normally I put on a scary movie and don't make it through the first half-hour. Or I put it on for other people to watch and then I leave after the first little bit, later asking them to tell me what happened. This time I stuck it out, but since my son and husband kept commenting throughout, it wasn't as intense as it could have been.)

I did figure it out, though, later, when I sat down to scream every time something appeared where it shouldn't. I screamed quite a few times. It's what I do. My son kept saying "Mother!" in an exasperated voice. Which made me laugh. I tried to hold it in, but I startle easily. Even my husband startles me regularly without trying, so this movie? Yep. Brought out the screams.

It's not really as creepy, spooky or scary a movie as it tries to be, but it does have a lot of startle moments. By the end, though, at the climactic scene where Radcliffe is trying to help the ghost leave and she freaks out and flies at him a couple of times screaming (oh, sorry, was that a spoiler?), I wasn't screaming anymore. I was just curious about him and why he looked more like Kristen Stewart than a man who was being attacked by a ghost! 
Radcliffe is only an okay actor. I never really felt sold on him as Harry Potter, though by the last two of those films I felt he was improving. However, in this movie he just looks serious. And tiny. The man is very small, and unfortunately his facial expressions aren't very convincing. When he has any. We kept saying how this man must not have any fear! He was in this house, alone, all night, and scary things kept happening and he kept seeing things (a hand on a window pane, a rocking chair moving by itself, etc.) and he would go investigate and then just go on with looking through the owners' papers. It was odd. He hardly said a word. Maybe that was done in an effort to create a certain atmosphere. It didn't work. 

Oh, but the creepy dolls? Totally freaky. especially the clown one. *shudder* 

The second movie, "This Means War" is a completely different story. It's the story of two lifelong best friends who just happen to be business partners. Their business? Assasins. Yep. Just like that we've entered a fantasy land. They both just happen to meet and fall for the same girl, played by Reese Witherspoon. She shines, as always, onscreen. She's funny, adorable and authentic, mostly. Her one bad bad bad character choice? Having Chelsea Handler as her best friend. Really. A girl this cute and likeable has a best friend who is trashy, rude, crude, vulgar and... wait. I'm just describing Chelsea Handler. She was (obviously) typecast as a version of herself, and she is just plain awful. She can't act, and her character was so over the top as to be completely unbelievable. Again, why Witherspoon's character would even spend time with her is beyond me. 

Chris Pine is fine as FDR (stupid choice of name, though) and Tom Hardy is okay as the other guy vying for her interest, Tuck. I had high hopes for this movie, as I like Pine a lot (Star Trek, anyone?) and I thought it could be funny. It wasn't. I did laugh about 4 times at various things, but overall it was just stupid. The side story about a Russian spy coming to kill the boys? Utterly predictable. For that matter, the entire last 40 minutes was utterly predictable. Every single thing. Annoyingly, utterly predictable. No surprises and the end wasn't even fulfilling, because by then, who cares? 

I also was disappointed that there was so much sexuality-- I mean, not that it was unexpected, but I really hoped they wouldn't go there-- especially after the guys promised each other not to. So, no one's word means anything anymore? Yep. 

The real question is why I sat through it and didn't walk away. I don't have a good answer. We all make bad decisions, sometimes. Watching "This Means War" was one of mine.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Monday with the Men in Black

Most summer blockbuster hopefuls are what we call "popcorn" movies-- fun, action-filled, witty and just entertaining. You can't think too much about the plots; generally the scripts aren't Oscar-worthy. The stories are simple, the action and special effects are incredible and if you're lucky, you get Will Smith in the bargain! 

This summer has delivered one of the best movies ever: "The Avengers", followed by the lackluster-reviewed "Dark Shadows" (which I've opted to wait to see until the DVD release), and "Battleship", which I won't probably see... uh... ever. There are others, and will be even more in the next few weeks, including the much-anticipated (at my house) "The Amazing Spiderman" and "The Dark Knight Rises". 

Tonight, my husband and I braved the local theater on a Monday night to see "Men in Black 3". As usual, we sat on the back row, half of which was occupied by a group of teenagers, which made me nervous. Until the trailers began and a group of four adults and about ten kids under the age of 10 walked in and sat in the row right in front of us. This would have been fine, except that there was the constant stream of children needing the bathroom and whose booster seats kept clattering to the floor and who talked and giggled and gasped loudly throughout the movie. The experience wasn't as bad as I thought it would be, but it was interesting how the kids (and the teenagers, one of whom, unfortunately, pulled out her cell phone during the movie) just acted like they were at home on their sofa. Sigh. But that's a whole 'nuther blog topic...

As for the movie itself, I really enjoyed it. Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith are still a funny team; the aliens are entertaining and surprising, though as my husband pointed out once before, everything to do with outer space and aliens is always coated in drippy, gloppy slime, which is kind of nasty... The story involves time travel, which never quite makes sense, but is still fun to watch, and a spot-on Tommy Lee Jones impression by the much younger Josh Brolin. He's great-- I don't know that I've ever seen him in anything, though I've heard his name a lot, so it was fun to see him doing something so entertaining.
Smith's quips and one-liners are funny, as expected, and the story takes a sweet turn, while the filmmakers obviously had a great time creating a very colorful 1969, including the launching of the Appollo 11 rocket and other fast-paced historical scenery. It's creative, funny, and I would recommend it to most teen and adult audiences. There are a few s-words dropped here and there, and of course, lots of violence and a scattering of scantily-clad women (this is the new standard for PG-13, right?). I liked it. My husband liked it-- he even managed to stay awake the whole time. That's saying something...

Update: I totally forgot to mention my favorite line from the movie. Will Smith: "I put on my pants!" LOL! I laughed louder than any of the other 20 people in the theater. And not just because I inherited my dad's loud laugh. 

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Oh. My. Awesome. I am Sherlocked.

My sons and I finished the second series of BBC's amazing "Sherlock" tonight and the final episode was, in a word, brilliant!! So good. I can't find words to describe the awesomeness. Except... awesome.
Moriarty returns as Sherlock's nemesis and taunting villain, with new tricks up his sleeve, oozing smarmy superiority and intelligence and wickedness-- he's one we love to hate. Oooh and we do despise him.

This series (season) continues the subtle, very effective character development, as Sherlock begins to recognize and act on the value of his few real relationships, in his own way. He has moments where he's almost human, but he is still very much the same old Sherlock, deducing, assessing, noticing and comprehending things beyond we simple thinkers, taking jabs and insulting people without thinking. He seems to be learning to follow John's good instincts, though, sometimes. Now and then...

As with the first season, I love the various usage of modern technology, especially the texting. It's rather amusing that Moriarty (along with other characters) sends Holmes text messages, and that Watson's blog is so much more popular than Holmes' is also funny. I don't know what Sherlock Holmes purists think of this show, I'm not one, but I love that it's modern while still staying true to the essence of the characters, and the spirit of the mysteries.

Also, as with the first season, my favorite character is John Watson. I love Mrs. Hudson (sometimes she threatens to steal scenes-- wonderful stuff) and I get a kick out of Mycroft and LeStrade and Molly-- her interactions with Sherlock are surprising in how insensitive and even cruel he can be, but quite funny at the same time. And of course, Benedict Cumberbatch (whose name is just fun to say) is also perfectly cast, and incredibly fun to watch. But my favorite is Watson, who (as I think I said in this blog before) is played perfectly by Martin Freeman. His long-suffering, bemused, frustrated, and sometimes deeply emotional expressions are so good that I forget completely that I'm watching an actor. He is very, very good, and I can't wait for "The Hobbit" later this year.

My favorite scene, I think, was Sherlock wearing nothing but a sheet as he's called to Buckingham Palace. He and John are shown sitting on a sofa and they both burst out laughing, demonstrating that they've developed a true friendship, in spite of Holmes' biting comments and prickly nature. I love the chemistry of the two leads-- not romantic chemistry, though, which is good. It's continually humorous that the "public" thinks the two are a couple, but I like that the writing and the acting very effectively demonstrates how a good business partnership/friendship and brotherly affection is possible without the requirement of a romantic relationship. It's very good stuff.

Sometimes the dialogue goes so fast I miss things- the accents don't help, but I don't care. It's just a good reason to go back in the future and watch them again. And I will. I will also bemoan the fact that Series 3 will probably not be available to watch for about a year. Especially with the doozy of a cliffhanger at the end of the third episode.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Book Review: Dick and Jane and Vampires

I really find "Dick and Jane and Vampires!" by Laura Marchesani, a surprisingly entertaining little book.

It's hard to explain why I like this book. Every time I check it in or out for someone at the library, it makes me smile. When I flip through it and see the vampire pop up in various poses with the classic early reader characters of "Dick and Jane" it just makes me chuckle. Maybe I have a morbid sense of humor. Maybe it's the author's treatment of the scenes of the children and the parents and the vampire. I just know I get a real kick out of this book and its simple, amusing, tongue-in-cheek humor. I love how gentle it feels, just like the original books, but the sly satire is perfect.
It probably helps that I actually DID read Dick and Jane books when I was learning to read. I must have gone to some ancient elementary schools, because I think I'm too young to really have "grown up" on Dick and Jane, but maybe I was learning to read during the waning years of these classic Basal Readers, because I do remember reading them.

And, like many of you, I've had about enough of the shelf-filling teenage-girl vampire "romance" books. I have very little interest in reading most of the current ocean of vampire and werewolf and ghost books. I don't even really care to read things like "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies". I like books about such things, but I feel like if it's been overdone, it's probably not being done well.

"Dick and Jane and Vampires", though, is done well. It's definitely a funny take on the vampire infestation in our public libraries. If it's available in yours, then you have a pretty cool library. Go check it out.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Avengers Awesomeness!

Oh, you have to read this. You just have to! Probably the best celebrity-involved story I've read in ages! Thanks to Jen at epbot for posting this or I wouldn't have seen it! I teared up a little reading it. I only wish I could have been there... instead of the kid... but still-- so very awesome. I'll pretend I'm not green-as-Hulk with envy!

Here's the link to the article. For the record: Chris Evans and Tom Hiddleston are AWESOME!!!