San Andreas (2015)

The first in a bunch of 2015 movies is going to be a disaster film.  If you missed the weekly adventures and updates, I got a good few 2015 movies for Boxing Day at some sweet deals. Instead of leaving them to sit on my shelf and forget about them until a few months later, I decided that I’m going to try and watch a few more 2015 a little earlier than a week before the Academy Awards.  As you can see, I chose to start with San Andreas so that is definitely not an Oscar choice, not by a long shot.  However, point is that I’m going to aim to get some 2015 titles watched, more than my little 25 movies or so that I’ve seen so far.

Enough of the rambling, let’s check out San Andreas! 🙂

San Andreas (2015)

San Andreas

Director: Brad Peyton

Cast: Dwayne Johnson, Carla Gugino, Alexandra Daddario, Hugo Johnston-Burt, Art Parkinson, Paul Giamatti, Archie Panjabi, Ioan Gruffudd

In the aftermath of a massive earthquake in California, a rescue-chopper pilot makes a dangerous journey with his ex-wife across the state in order to rescue his daughter.-IMDB

Disaster films (based on natural disasters) always work their hardest to make sure their audience needs to suspend their belief as much as possible.  Thing is, its got itself stuck in a category that almost guarantees to be bad movie-making with just a lot of crumbling buildings, floods, and other natural disasters when Mother Nature decides to tell the world (or the city) to go to hell. We’ve seen it in 2012 and The Day After Tomorrow for somewhat more popular choices. Despite saying that, you all know that I’m one to be able to suspend my belief quite a bit and plus, I change how I talk about a movie based on my expectations of it. San Andreas is a fun film.  Its predictable and has those normal natural disaster film tropes but you know what those other movies don’t have? Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. This man can make (almost) any film work with his expressions, one-liners and just his towering build.  There are a thousand things that don’t make sense in San Andreas, like him leaving his post to save his almost ex-wife and daughter but for all those things, there’s also a decent cast and story that kind of works. My best comparison would be like watching Uncharted as a movie because the moment you feel safe, impending danger happens almost immediately after. That is what disaster films need to be.

San Andreas

 A huge pro in San Andreas was that the cast we have here and the decisions they make, not just our main hero, Ray (played by Dwayne Johnson) made good decisions.  We had little heroes in the younger cast who saves each other and really toughs it out.  The youngest kid, Ollie makes some good calls.  Sure, romances and family drama shouldn’t be in the forefront of disaster movies but sometimes, in moderation, I can accept its existence.  Some of those moments were to let us understand Ray a little better so that we’d connect with his character also and his relationship with his ex-wife, who had just gotten engaged to this rich real estate guy responsible for the sturdiest skyscraper. We follow four groups throughout the movie from the experts, played by Paul Giamatti and his team at Caltech, Ray and his ex-wife finding their daughter, their daughter and the two brothers that escaped the building and ex-wife’s fiance Daniel. This movie is almost two hours long so it can sustain those story lines rather well (in comparison to other disaster film plots).

San Andreas

I’m not an expert in earthquakes and tectonic plates, even US geography and where the fault lines are and all that stuff, so I’m not going to talk about how sound the expert (played by Paul Giamatti) and his research worked here.  Like I said, there is a bit of suspending belief so I’m not sure I have to understand in depth but I got the idea so you knew that imminent dangers was hitting across that area. However, I do have to give it to San Andreas that its special effects were quite spot-on.  Sometimes, there are some cheesy or bad effects but this one made it rather believable.  If there’s any truth to this, if anything like this happens, Caltech is the place you want to be 😉

San Andreas

Overall, San Andreas is a pretty decent disaster movie.  A good part of that goes out to the great cast.  I personally love Dwayne Johnson and Paul Giamatti a lot so they already had extra points before the movie started.  It satisfied that disaster movie craving and actually exceeded what I expected to be much more fun with some good effects and smart characters that I was able to enjoy it even more.

Have you seen San Andreas? What are your thoughts? Do you enjoy watching disaster films?

Spectre (2015)

An interruption in our normal scheduling of Netflix A-Z for another S selection but the one in the form of a newly released film in theatres called Spectre.  James Bond, 007, Daniel Craig, Action: Are you ready for it? I haven’t seen James Bond in theatres or anything else on opening day in forever, but with an overly enthusiastic friend, I did and also in the VIP cinema where we got to choose our seats and order food, plus, it cost me nothing because I managed to redeem it before the points system changed.  Perfect timing!

There’s been a ton of Spectre reviews and you’ve probably read a ton so I’m going to keep this short and sweet!

Spectre (2015)

Spectre

Director: Sam Mendes

Cast: Daniel Craig, Christoph Waltz, Lea Seydoux, Ralph Fiennes, , Ben Whishaw, Naomie Harris, Andrew Scott, Dave Bautista, Monica Bellucci

A cryptic message from Bond’s past sends him on a trail to uncover a sinister organization. While M battles political forces to keep the secret service alive, Bond peels back the layers of deceit to reveal the terrible truth behind SPECTRE. –IMDB

What did I like:

  • Opening

There’s a lot to like about the opening.  I mean, not just the opening in Dia de los Muertos in Mexico because that was really fun and exciting. Plus, it did set the tone for what to expect for the rest of Spectre. But I mean like the opening with the song.  I’m not going to lie. When I first listened to Sam Smith’s song Writings on the Wall, I wasn’t that impressed. I like Sam Smith but something was off.  I didn’t even watch the video of it, just the music.  However, with the opening sequence, with the familiar faces of the last few Craig Bond films floating up in the background, it was done really well.

  • C played by Andrew Scott *a little spoiler territory*

I’m a huge Sherlock fan. I mean, who isn’t if you’ve seen it.  If you are that rare person who isn’t, just bear with me.  Andrew Scott is a phenomenon actor.  He just has this villainous or awkward vibe that flows from his body.  You know what’s the deal with him.  You watch your fair share of James Bond (and I’ve seen 50% of the 24 Bond movies) and you kind of get a good idea. Regardless, this guy is perfectly cast.

  • Bond Girls: Monica Bellucci and Lea Seydoux

spectre

We all know Bond girls are part of the highlights of a Bond movie.  They are a staple of beauty that stands out in the film. Monica Bellucci is a sexy lady and Lea Seydoux is much younger but also isn’t just pretty but her character helps Bond out a lot.  She’s not the usual damsel in distress. That makes her one of my favorite Bond girls right now. Plus, Bond girls work with the chemistry they have and man, were there some passionate scenes going on there.

  • Cars & Action &  Gadgets

spectre

 

James Bond is a man with gadgets.  He’s got the moves and the skills but he also has the perfect escape plan. Aston Martin versus the Jaguar (I think).  Sexy time watching awesome cars race through the city. That was an awesome sequence that was a ton of fun.

  • Villain

spectre

I haven’t watched anything with Christoph Waltz. Only little snippets of Inglorious Basterds and screenshots of Django Unchained. Don’t even know why but this man, just from screenshots looks like a fantastic villain. You know, that whole calm and collected villain which definitely is smart and has something meticulous and crazy swirling around his mind to unhatch the perfect plan. We get the back story of this man and just who he is.  We get to know what is this secret terrorist organization called Spectre. Brutal, intricate and smart all at the same time.  Christoph Waltz brings on a whole new angle of a subtle bad guy. He is toying with his prey in the most deadly ways.

  • JAMES BOND = DANIEL CRAIG

spectre

The biggest factor of why I love Spectre is that this one truly made me fall in love with Daniel Craig.  Sad that its his last one, right? Daniel Craig oozes with exactly what James Bond is to me.  Forget about how I said Pierce Brosnan is the appearance of James Bond.  Daniel Craig is the whole package.  He’s got the looks, chemistry, smarts, actions, skills and the story to match all of it.  This guy is an amazing James Bond, at least to me.

What did I not like:

  • The run-time

I always complain about this in Bond movies.  It is a chore sometimes to watch James Bond because it always has some resolution half way and then pan out into a second scenario.  Its obligation to have 2+ hours of run time always makes me feel like its working so hard to drag it out. I was pretty tired when I went to see this and while I enjoyed 90% of the movie and stayed away for 99% of the movie.  There were moments I managed to really feel like sleeping.  It was a matter of seconds in the length of the movie but Bond films do hold a certain formula.  While the Craig ones try to stray away from it and add a lot more substance and deeper back story and dive a little into who Bond is on a more personal (and emotional) level, it still does do step into that territory once in a while.

Is it a huge criticism? Actually no, because Skyfall and Spectre both rank relatively high in the Bond movies. I’ve taken a few days since Friday night to work out which I like more. While Skyfall is like an adrenaline rush of emotions and I love it exactly for that.  Its serious and is through and through an action thriller that has lots to offer but Spectre is deeper.  We get more personal with James Bond and his love, mindset and just that ending… I love it!

 Have you seen Spectre? Are you planning to? Are you a James Bond fan?

Netflix A-Z: Ek Tha Tiger (2012)

I wrote Bollywood at the end of Netflix D selection and no one even gave it a guess. Haha! 😉

Its a sign of how popular this post will be but I decided to stick with my choice so I’ll do this review.  My goal was to mix this up so expect some more foreign selections. Maybe not another Bollywood choice since it takes me a few sittings to get through because of the length but you will see some more. This one was a little different.  I had taken a look at the genre and I’ve never watched an Indian action movie so I figured this would be a new experience. That’s how Ek Tha Tiger made this list and well, maybe its because Netflix didn’t have all that many E choices….but that is besides the point.  This is how we find surprises, right? 😉

Let’s check this out! 🙂

Ek Tha Tiger (2012)

Ek Tha Tiger

Director: Kabir Khan

Cast: Salman Khan, Katrina Kaif, Ranvir Shorey, Girish Karnad, Roshan Seth

Tiger (Salman Khan) is among one of the best spy agents working for RAW in India.  His life is defined by one mission to the next.  This time, the mission sends him to London where he needs to only observe a scientist, Dr. Kidwai (Roshan Seth) who may be working on a new technology that might be for the Pakistani government.  However, his biggest challenge turns out that he has to try to not lose his mind and heart in the face of Dr. Kidwai’s part-time beautiful assistant, Zoya (Katrina Kaif). For someone who hasn’t been in love before, this might be harder than expected.

Ek Tha Tiger

Indian films have layers of plot and its good when it does because of their length.  It would be tough to sit through it without having some twist and that part up there is just the set-up for what is about to happen.  Okay, when certain parts happen, they seem to just be expected and staring you in the face the whole time.  Except Ek Tha Tiger does it relatively well.  Even the action sequences, while sometimes a little over the top and not quite realistic and had me going “Really?”, it was good. You also have to remember that a lot of times, a romance is truly inevitable (in any movie) and one that pulls in spies for two countries and what not.

Ek Tha Tiger

While this is simply a predictable romance story, the action thriller part does a fine job. The spy, the tension, the action: it knits into some good stunts and fight scenes. Plus, the cinematography of this is beautiful.  I think the big part is that the two leads, Salman Khan playing Tiger and Katrina Kaif playing Goya are wonderful as in their spy scenes.  As romantic partners, they do feel a little forced.  Their chemistry isn’t as natural as I have seen in comparison to other stories. I mean, it was forced and cheesy.  Then it kind of hits cringe territory and laugh out loud moments.

Ek Tha Tiger

Overall, Ek Tha Tiger is a really good Indian action thriller.  The romance stretches it a little.  however, the story itself while predictable still has a decent fun factor and the stunts and action choreographer are a little over the top but still entertaining.  The leads Katrina Kaif and Salman Khan may lack a bit of romantic chemistry but their action sequences are thrilling enough.

**Side note: You can’t really call this a typical Bollywood since there is only something like 3 actual songs where its singing and dancing randomly and it doesn’t even happen until a good part into the movie. However, there are some dramatic songs inserted a few times following the characters contemplating.  So, its not too bad.  It still keeps the action thriller as their main genre going ;)**

Have you seen Ek Tha Tiger? What do you think?

Any guesses for the F selection? Think teen drama.

Double Feature: Don (2006) & Je Crois Que Je l’Aime (2007)

While I was just about to hatch a schedule to get some Academy Awards nominated movies for this year within this next month, Netflix has decided to rule my life.  So many movies expiring.  I had about a week of break before it all started up again. Although, I’m working on reviewing everything I watch, I might just end up saving a few of these next few Netflix for the future while I get the more urgent issue done.

Still, here’s a little double feature for two foreign movies…

DON (2006)

DON 2006

Director: Farhan Akhtar

Cast: Shah Rukh Khan, Priyanka Chopra, Arjun Rampal, Isha Koppikar, Boman Irani, Om Puri

A simple man (Vijay) from the city of Mumbai is recruited by a police officer to masquerade as the Don, the leader of an international gang of smugglers. But things go wrong, the officer is killed and now Vijay is on his own, with only his lover (Roma) and a lame ex con artist to help him to prove his innocence. – IMDB

Don is an Indian action thriller with a runtime with 171 minutes (a little less than 3 hours), it took me about 3-4 evening to finish.  Unlike Kahaani, which was a little shorter, this one had an incredible issue with pacing.  It was just so boring and I kept falling asleep so I had to turn it off.  Its not really a problem with the story because as it is a thriller, the little twist ending was decent.  I’m pretty sure the thought would have skimmed your mind at the turning point of events but if you were like me, you might dismiss it.  The last hour was massively better than the first two thirds.  I am glad that I didn’t give up and just turn on something else. I did have another 2 Indian movies in queue ready to expire.

I’m not exactly sure if there is a hype for Don. Seeing as there was a sequel, I figured the first one must have been relatively well received. This one is definitely far from one I’d ever venture to see again.  So slow, felt extremely long and man, I just wasn’t buying Don as Don.  The songs weren’t particularly appealing to me either. The only actor that saved this movie was Boman Irani who plays DCP de Silva.  That man acted the hell out of that role. By the way, this man was the Professor in 3 Idiots (review HERE) and he was so awesome in that one also!

I’m taking a little break before I check out Don 2 but I’ll eventually do it, maybe when its bordering on Netflix expiration again 😉

JE CROIS QUE JE L’AIME (2007)

JE CROIS QUE JE L'AIME

Director: Pierre Jolivet

Cast: Vincent Lindon, Sandrine Bonnaire, Francois Berleand, Kad Merad

Lucas, a wealthy, 43 year-old divorced businessman, is irresistibly attracted to Elsa, a 38 year old renowned sculptor from whom he has commissioned a piece to decorate the reception at his office. –IMDB

Je Crois Que Je L’Aime (English title: Could This Be Love) is a French romantic comedy.  The only reason this landed on my Netflix queue was because I had previously seen a movie called Queen of Play with Sandrine Bonnaire and she was pretty amazing in that one.  Coming to this one, Sandrine Bonnaire still holds the charm as the female lead as a ceramic artist passionate about her work and willing to give up a job to avoid any trouble of difference in opinions.  Still, being caught where she needed the money, she gave her new employer, wealthy businessman Lucas a second chance.  Sandrine Bonnaire plays the more serious Elsa.

On the other hand, there is no doubt that Lucas, played by Vincent Lindon, has a certain chemistry. The story is more mature as these actors are older than the average romantic comedies.  Its a different vibe.  I don’t have a problem with these things, love is love, age isn’t really an issue.  However, the story didn’t really build up from much. Thats not saying that its not good because it has a good bit of fun moments mostly because Lucas is so afraid that being tricked out of his money in his previous relationship, he ends up being suspicious before falling in love but he just can’t help falling in love with Elsa, so he hires a private investigator to check her background and track her and the lack of communication between those two are absolutely hilarious.

There are some funny and sweet moments but the story was not built up properly so it had choppy moments.

Overall… Je Crois Que Je L’Aime was more entertaining than Don. Although both of these are average, beware of Don’s length and pacing before you attempt.  Consider yourself warned 😉

Have you seen either of these? Thoughts? 

Three Quick Reviews: Less Than Zero, Youth in Revolt, Limitless

As most of you have seen, I’ve been taking it easy with the whole posting world.  One reason is that its hit me that I’ve been really tired so I’m trying to find a balance between everything I post to kind of not slack off on the quality of the context but slow down the frequency of posting, especially now that I’ve start up a second blog.  However, I do want this one to keep one of its main focus on movies so no worries, I will get back to it. Plus, I have a few theatre visits planned so because of slowing down, I had a few movies hanging out in my drafts and I realize the best way to approach this is to do quick reviews 🙂 I promise to not do this frequently but sometimes, its quite refreshing 😉

Lets get it going…

LESS THAN ZERO (1987)

less than zero

Director: Marek Kanievska

Cast: Andrew McCarthy, Jami Gertz, Robert Downey Jr., James Spader

Clay(Andrew McCarthy) heads off to college leaving his two best friends behind as they both carry on with their lives.  His ex-girlfriend Blair (Jami Gertz) decides to stay behind and pursue her career as a model while Julian asks his dad to open his own business.  When Clay comes back home for the holiday as his ex-girlfriend’s request, he realizes that things aren’t as smooth as he had expected for his friends.  Julian is now a drug addict who has lost all his father’s money and owes even another rich kid drug dealer money. Putting his own troubles aside, he tries to help with Julian’s situation before its too late.

less than zero

After watching Pretty in Pink, I have gained a fondness for Andrew McCarthy.  He has a weird vibe in his movies but the boyfriend told me that he heard that this one was good so I gave this one a shot.  I didn’t know that Robert Downey Jr. was in this.  Let me just clarify that I’m only a fan of his newer movies so that gave me a little bit of doubt.  Surprisingly, I thought this was a well-made movie that had a strong message about the danger of drug addiction with youth. The most notable performance goes out to Robert Downey Jr.  I never thought I’d say this about his earlier works but he did a very convincing role.

As I was reading, this is supposed to be loosely based on a book with the same title but I’ve never read it so I can’t compare.

Have you read the novel? Have you seen Less Than Zero? What do you think about it? Are you a Robert Downey Jr. fan?  

YOUTH IN REVOLT (2006)

youth in revolt poster

Director: Miguel Arteta

Cast: Michael Cera, Portia Doubleday, Jean Smart, Zach Galifianakis, Steve Buscemi, Ari Graynor, Justin Long, Ray Liotta

When Nick Twisp’s mother, Estelle (Jean Smart) moves out to the country to live in a trailer while her boyfriend (Zach Galifianakis) hides away from sailors that he cons money from. There he meets a girl, Sheeni Saunders (Portia Doubleday) that he falls in love with completely.  Any hideaway comes to an end and when he has to leave, he promises Sheeni that he will find a way to get back to her.  With Sheeni’s smartness and his absolute desire to get back to her, Nick tries to find a balance between himself and a slowly develop completely bad alter personality called Francois to give himself courage to be a rebel.

youth in revolt sheeni nick

As I sat through Youth in Revolt, the only thing that ran through my mind was that it was weird.  Its a good weird though because it made me curious about what else would happen.  Honestly, the more fun parts of this was when Nick channeled Francois into his life.  It turned into his own journey to be more courageous and figure out how to be who he had to be.

Youth in Revolt

Although, I wasn’t sure about Sheeni’s intentions, Nick’s desires to be with her had some pretty cute elements to it along with some pretty funny dorky ones as well. Plus, there are many stars before they did some bigger movies in their career here.

What do you think about Youth in Revolt? Have you seen it?

LIMITLESS (2011)

Limitless

Director: Neil Burger

Cast: Bradley Cooper, Abbie Cornish, Robert De Niro

Eddie Morra (Bradley Cooper), a uninspired writer whose girlfriend (Abbie Cornish) just left him, tries this experimental drug called NZT which unlocks 100% of the brain’s capacity.  This allows him to not only finish his book but also learn things at quick pace which he uses in financial investments.  Thats when Carl Van Loon (Robert De Niro), a powerful  and cunning energy business man uses him to settle a deal that he is trying to land.  As the drugs unknown effects start taking a toll on him, there are also others who have learnt about this drug and want to have their hands on its limited supply putting Eddie in danger on multiple fronts.

Limitless eddie

The premise for this was a good one.  I think it had a really decent idea but the execution fell short.  The script could have been stronger but what it does have is one of the better roles that I’ve seen of Bradley Cooper.  I personally have mixed feelings about him but so far, aside from my hatred for The Hangover, he’s been involved in decent movies. I haven’t seen Silver Linings Playbook so that doesn’t count.  As ridiculous and predictable as some of the events are, it has a pretty intriguing beginning to set up how the movie was heading and right away, it wasn’t a movie that you needed to really over think the details too much if you intend to enjoy it.  And I didn’t, so I actually found it alright.  It could have been better but lets not be too picky sometimes 😉

What do you think about Bradley Cooper? What are your thoughts on Limitless?