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Hello, movie fans! This is senior Hayden Mace from haydensmovies.com, bringing you the latest and greatest in movie news and reviews. It was a busy summer for me so I wasn’t able to get to as many movies as I would’ve liked, but I did make it to enough to put together my Top Five 2011 Summer Movie list.
5. Captain America: The First Avenger:
There were some solid laughs and decent character development. There wasn’t as much action as I expected, which wasn’t a bad thing, but it left for a lot of “down time” that wasn’t used effectively. At the end of the day, it was a solid summer movie, and I was entertained throughout. I was overly excited to see it, but felt slightly let down. Score: 8.2/10
4. X-Men: First Class:
As a Marvel fan, it was cool to see how relationships were formed and how things came about in this X-Men prequel. I thought what really put this movie ahead of Captain America was the actors. Michael Fassbender as Erik/Magneto stole the show. His character was dark and he played it to perfection. At the end of the day, it’s much better than some of the other X-Men movies. Score: 8.5/10
3. Midnight in Paris:
It was complex, yet simple. It was a deep movie that had layer on top of layer, yet the messages felt so clear. At the end of the day, the cast did a great job. It beat my expectations. Now I know what it means to see a Woody Allen film, and his films aren’t for everyone. Score: 8.9/10
2. Harry Potter:
I’m not a Harry Potter nerd, but I can say that I enjoyed the movie. It was, however, hard to like it to the fullest after reading the incredible ending in the book. At the end of the day, it was a roller coaster of emotions and a great conclusion to more than a decade of magic for millions of people. It was a great story with awesome action and a lovable cast. Score: 9.3/10
1. Crazy Stupid Love:
It was clever, emotional and, above all, real. The cast highlighted this movie. Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, Julianne Moore, Emma Stone and even Kevin Bacon, along with the rest of the characters, were incredibly believable. At the end of the day, it’s in my Top-Five movies right now. It’s well-developed and powerful. I saw it for a second time and liked it even more. It’s a great movie.Score: 9.5/10.
Summer “hits” I missed out on were Transformers: Dark of the Moon, The Help, Super 8, Cowboys and Aliens, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Horrible Bosses and Bridesmaids.
Hayden Mace/For the Review
Hayden Mace can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Everyone knows how popular Facebook is today, what with its addictive nature, privacy issues and massive influence. So initially the idea of “Facebook: The Movie” did not present itself to be the worthiest project for talents such as writer Aaron Sorkin and director David Fincher.
But “The Social Network” is far more than a movie about a website. Indeed, Facebook itself is hardly featured. The filmmakers focus instead on the real-life drama that was involved in the website’s development.
Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg) is the genius who co-founded Facebook with the help of fellow Harvard students. He is involved in two legal battles: one against his former best friend and one involving three other students who claim they are the originators of the idea for Facebook.
The film travels back a few years and fills in how each lawsuit arose.
After his girlfriend dumps him, a drunken Zuckerberg creates a website titled “FaceMash,” which takes pictures of female students from online Harvard dorm face books and allows browsers to choose which one is the most attractive. The page is quickly shut down but lasts long enough to attract the interest of some other students looking to create a social network exclusively for Harvard students. Zuckerberg begins to work for them but finds himself developing a separate idea that eventually becomes what is now known as Facebook.
None of the background story sounds particularly interesting, but Sorkin’s script’s witty banter makes it riveting. It is enhanced by Fincher’s excellent direction, which always places the camera in the optimum position.
The soundtrack, by Nine Inch Nail’s Trent Reznor, makes it clear that the characters aren’t simply nerds who spend all their time in front of computer screens but are actually the rock stars of our time.
Despite his tremendous intellect, Zuckerberg has trouble connecting with people. Eisenberg’s performance is wonderful in that it portrays Zuckerberg as somewhat sympathetic but also as a huge jerk. He handles Sorkin’s dialogue with ease and quells any debate of whether Eisenberg is the indie Michael Cera.
The rest of the cast, including new Spider-Man Andrew Garfield as Zuckerberg’s best friend Eduardo Saverin, aptly perform. Justin Timberlake is extremely charismatic as Sean Parker, who created Napster and is apparently the coolest guy in the world of Internet entrepreneurialism. Also worth noting is Armie Hammer, who plays both Winklevoss twins, two stereotypical but amusing Harvard men.
In some ways, “The Social Network” is old fashioned. It is a classical, accessible tale of a rise to power — full of greed, lust and betrayal.
That the film makes that story about subjects as complex as computer programming and depositions worthwhile is remarkable.
Sean Lemme/Staff reporter
Sean Lemme can be reached at email@example.com.
“Kick-Ass” fuses extreme violence with comic lore in a striking, yet entertaining, fashion.
“With great power comes great…” Wait, sorry, wrong comic. Although, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that people might say, “Wait, another comic-turned movie?” There has been a slew of them during the last few years. But is that a bad thing? Not necessarily so. The newest rendition of comic-hits-the-big-screen, “Kick-Ass,” is a refreshing, hyper-violent, bloody good time, reminiscent of Quentin Tarantino’s “Kill Bill.”
The plot is simple enough: A less-than-popular teenage male decides he wants to be something more. But, unlike in so many movies, there is no super power introduced in this movie (unless you count sheer luck as a power).
The protagonist, Dave Lizewski (Aaron Johnson), has high ambitions as he purchases a green-and-yellow wet suit to wear while he battles crime with nightsticks. It goes about as well as one would think. (To all of you out there who think this might be someone to emulate, remember this: Criminals carry guns and knives. Wet suits don’t stop bullets.) Through his insane escapades, Kick-Ass, as he calls himself, vaults into Internet fame as a video of him kicking ass goes viral.
Soon after, he discovers that he’s not the only superhero in town. Enter Hit-girl (Chloë Grace Moretz) and Big Daddy (Nicholas Cage). In a quest for vengeance (now doesn’t that sound familiar?), Hit-girl and Big Daddy enlist Kick-Ass to enact revenge against Frank D’Amico (Mark Strong), the antagonist of the movie. Apparently, he’s a drug lord. Or a crime boss. Or something. It wasn’t made clear, but it doesn’t really matter. His son, however, serves to stimulate the palate, as he is Red Mist (Christopher Mintz-Plasse), another masked vigilante ready to be adored by the populace. It makes for an interesting dichotomy.
Hit-girl (Mindy is her name is the movie), an 11-year-old, blond-haired psychopath, commands the screen. It’s not often when you get to observe a pre-adolescent spit venomous expletives at everyone she is beating down. Watching her perform a series of neck-breaking acrobatics while reloading her pistol so she can take her next headshot is epic in and of itself. Add onto that the fact that she can pull off a purple wig, and you have a star in the making.
Big Daddy, however, is just plain creepy. Cage is just a freak show in this movie (the porn mustache doesn’t help any), and it’s just unnerving to watch.
Matthew Vaughn directed the film. Critics have likened him to Guy Ritchie, and with “Kick-Ass” now gracing the big screen, it’s easy to see why: There is a certain “RockNRolla”-ish vibe present, although “Kick-Ass” has a decidedly more upbeat take on life.
Admittedly, “Kick-Ass,” in all its blood-splattering goodness, is still a superhero movie. It is based on a comic book. But if you want to see a dude get his ass kicked in hilarious action sequences and a little girl who should be selling Girl Scout cookies taking out crime bosses with finely tuned shooting skills, by all means, enjoy the movie.
However, you may want to bring an umbrella: It’s going to be a bloodbath.
Editor-in-chief Dominic Baez can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Video courtesy of Marv Films
It’s not enough to have Perseus, Medusa and a kraken savagely clashing with enchanted swords, if-looks-could-kill eyes and god-like strength. No, now it has to be done in 3-D. The 3-D effects of “Clash of the Titans” were hardly worthy of a Greek epic, but the movie in its entirety didn’t make you want to jump into Tartarus head-first.
A remake of the 1981 classic, “Clash of the Titans” recounts the ancient Greek tale of Perseus (Sam Worthington), son of Zeus, and his Herculean adventures. Not sure what the myth entails? Read a book.
The plot, as with every other Grecian hero-based movie, embarks with a ridiculous — and completely fabricated — birth sequence. Not trying to ruin any surprises, but it’s not often that you see a coffin jettisoning out of the ocean by unidentified forces.
Because of mankind’s growing resentment toward the gods, they, Zeus (Liam Neeson) particularly, become angry with their “children.” In retaliation, Zeus, in his almighty wisdom, unleashes his brother Hades (Ralph Fiennes) — the same brother who Zeus banished to the Underworld after the defeat of Kronos — on the mortal populace. Clever, no? Well, no, not really.
In a series of unfortunate events, Hades eventually kills Perseus’ entire adopted family. So, as one can imagine, Perseus does not harbor warm, fuzzy feelings for the gods.
On top of this, when King Kepheus (Vincent Regan) and Queen Cassiopeia (Polly Walker) of Argos liken themselves to the gods and compare the beauty of their daughter, Andromeda (Alexa Davalos), to that of goddess Aphrodite, the gods lose it, and Hades storms the palace. Because Perseus is unaffected by his attack, Hades realizes that he is a demigod and tells him of his true father, Zeus. Not to be outdone by Perseus, though, Hades kills the queen and demands that the city of Argos further pay for its insolence and vanity; in 10 days, the kraken will be released. If Andromeda is not sacrificed, then Argos will be destroyed. It’s just a big, ol’, happy love-fest in Argos.
So, Perseus, along with Argos’ finest forces and Io (Gemma Arterton), a never-aging mortal who has been watching over Perseus since his birth, takes off in an effort to defeat the kraken.
Their quest takes them across Greece to the rocky Garden of Stygia, home of the final battle between the gods and the titans. Here, the Stygian witches reside. (They share one eye — it’s rather disturbing.) The sister witches inform Perseus of how to kill the kraken (the head of Medusa will be involved), but, in an err in judgment, Perseus learns that he will not survive the battle.
Armed with his newfound knowledge, Perseus battles his way to Medusa’s lair, which is the beginning of the end.
Superfluous 3-D effects aside, the movie was a pleasure to watch. The action sequences were intense, the plot made sense (for what it was) and it didn’t take itself too seriously.
However, that does not make up for the fact that this movie has no footing in Greek mythology. For one, the kraken was never part of Greek antiquity; Poseidon, not Hades, threatened Andromeda, Hades never harbored any ill will toward Perseus; and as far as Greek mythology is concerned, Io never had anything to do with Perseus. And, to top it off, where are the titans? Not anywhere in this movie, that’s for sure.
So, while it’s clear that no historians were contacted in the making of this movie, it still offered a nice slice of action pie. Just see it in 2-D; the extra dimension will just leave you wanting to be turned to stone.
Editor-in-chief Dominic Baez can be reached at email@example.com
Video courtesy of Warner Bros.
To those who’ve never read the Lewis Carroll classic “Alice in Wonderland,” Tim Burton’s rendition might portray a dark, garish, almost cruel reality. Quite the contrary, however, Burton’s long fall into Underland represents the dark humor and wit that oozed from Carroll’s imagination.
Still, this isn’t enough to redeem this miscellany of stunning visuals that distracted more than delighted; a weak Alice (Mia Wasikowska) that deterred from, rather than enhanced, the excitement; and awkward action scenes that seemed painful to film and even more so to watch.
The film merges Carroll’s “Alice in Wonderland” and “Through the Looking Glass,” which provides some needed background. However, to those who haven’t read both books, the blending can be confusing.
This “Alice” production, directed by Burton, runs closer to Carroll’s storyline than Disney’s version. Alice, 19 years old and soon to be married, stumbles down the infamous rabbit hole once again into a fantastical world that the locals called Underland.
But in this nightmarish landscape, unlike Disney’s colorful world, a grayish tinge permeates the air, creating a rather startling similarity to Burton’s “Sweeney Todd” (not to mention the severed heads everywhere). Even still, the graphics provide a gorgeous visual treat, nearly running on par with “Avatar.” It’s hard to be upset with something so pretty.
As Alice gathers her bearings, nostalgic characters such as the Blue Caterpillar, Tweedledee and Tweedledum enter the fray. However, doubt surrounds Alice’s return to Underland as a fierce debate ensues as to whether she is the correct Alice to defeat the Jabberwocky — the Red Queen’s evil monster.
As the story progresses, the Red Queen (Helena Bonham Carter), desperate to hold onto her power, battles her sister, and rival, the White Queen (Anne Hathaway). And of course, the White Queen enlists Alice’s help.
Bonham Carter’s performance as the Red Queen screams “petulant child,” which is spot on for the movie.
Hathaway’s portrayal of the White Queen, unfortunately, was somewhat blasé, which was a pity. Hathaway is a talented actress, and she could have done more, despite the fact that she requested the role.
Regardless, no performance quite compared to the Mad Hatter’s (Johnny Depp). His performance was both over the top and insufficient. Depp presents a strung-out version of the Hatter, but in certain scenes, especially the tea party, it works to the movie’s advantage. The blatant flamboyancy, coupled with Burton’s filmmaking tendencies, coalesced into a crazy cinematic blur. It’s occasionally a bit much, but you’re left wanting more, especially because everyone knows Depp can do crazy better than anyone else.
Overall, it just depends on whether you want to see the movie. It doesn’t run too long, and it’ll be palatable for the majority of audiences, especially with the visually pleasing 3-D effects. However, the recommendation here would be to wait until it comes on Blu-ray.
It doesn’t matter, though; Alice’s Wonderland (or Underland, if you choose) may just be a teenager’s out-of-control dream, but damn, it’s a pretty one.
Rated: PG (action sequences)
Running time: 1 hour, 48 minutes
Dominic Baez can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org