Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Movie Note: Another Threefer

So, I had the opportunity to see three new movies over the past week, and thought I would share some thoughts on them.

The first I saw was The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies. I have to admit not recalling this from the book, but according to Wikipedia, it is actually in the book. My faulty memory ends with the slaying of Smaug. I guess I just blocked the battle entirely.

Anyway, this is the least of the six Middle Earth movies. It's mostly the battle, which last approximately forever, and sort of sets up the Lord of the Rings movies, which I think we can all agree, are truly superior. Basically, it starts with Smaug, goes into a bunch of talking about how Thorin is going mad with greed or power or both, then ends with the battle. Not a whole lot of blood, not a whole lot of character development, and [spoiler alert] some of the characters get killed.

If you haven't seen the first two, this one won't make any sense. If you have, it will make slightly more.

My (now) eight-year-old son really enjoyed it, though, so that counts for something.

Oh, and we saw it in 3d, in IMAX, at the 48 frames per second rate. It was visually amazing. The high frame rate gives the whole thing the look of a stage production; almost as though you were watching it occur live. It's a bit disorienting at first, but I quickly became used to it. And he didn't say anything at all.

The next movie I saw was Into the Woods.

I have to admit: This is one of the musicals from my high school days to which I could sing the whole score, from beginning to end, in character, so I might be a bit biased.

The story is a mash-up of several fairy tales; Cinderella, Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel and Jack and the Beanstalk. They are tied  together with the story of a baker and his wife, which I don't recall as being an actual fairytale, but then (see above) my memory ain't what it used to be.

If you're familiar with the musical, you know it's basically one long song, with very little speaking. Even the discrete songs within the show all have kind of a similar sound, with the same note sequences. And words. Lots and lots of words.

I was going to bring my eleven year-old-daughter to this one, but as it turned out, I ended up bringing my cousin's seven-year-old son, as well. I wasn't sure thet he would like it, but apparently he likes musicals, so why not. They've been advertising the heck out of this on all the Disney channels, and it IS a Disney movie, so I figured they might have lightened the dark second act to make it a bit more kid-friendly.

But no. It's still pretty dark. There are a couple of character deaths, and we find out that Happily Ever After really isn't. (Killer line: "I was raised to be Charming...not Sincere.") The music is well done, the singing is good, the effects are well executed, but the last half hour is a bit slow.

Oh, and they use the original fairy tales, not the Disney-fied versions, so Cinderella has golden slippers, and her stepsisters meet a somewhat "Grimm-er" fate.

Still, apparently the kids enjoyed it. There was applause in the theater after the show, which is something of a rarity nowadays. And apparently they talked about it quite a bit afterwards, when I was elsewhere. Of course, my family is sort of like the Addams family, so I guess I shouldn't be surprised.

Really, though, it's not bloody, there's no cursing, no real naughty parts, although [spoiler alert] one of the princes has a dalliance with the baker's wife. And there is actually a strong moral theme that runs through the show: taking responsibility for the effects one's actions cause. The worst part was actually a couple of really inappropriate previews: The movie itself wasn't objectionable.

If you're like me and love Broadway musicals, this was pretty good, and definitely worth a look, especially if you can catch a matinee.

The last movie...well, I performed my patriotic duty and streamed The Interview so you wouldn't have to.

I know there's been a lot of fuss about this movie, and I'm of two minds: I wish the battle could have been waged of something actually worth watching, but at the same time, if we can fight for this worthless piece of garbage, we will certainly be on firm ground when something worth fighting for comes around. I hope.

We all know the story: A celebrity interviewer gets the chance to interview North Korea's Kim Jong-Un, and the CIA decides to have them assassinate him while they are there.

The whole movie is like a rough cut of a shorter, better movie. The lines are forced, the jokes are ill-timed, the acting suck. It was total amateur hour from a group of people who should have been able to make a much better showing.

An alleged comedy, it's not worth wasting your money for, even if it's free. You will never get that time back.

It's not suitable for kids, or for anyone, for that matter.


Bonus: I watched Edge of Tomorrow, or as they retitled it for video release, Live, Die, Repeat:Edge of Tomorrow, on Blu-Ray, and it was entertaining. It's amusing and a nice two-hour diversion. Not bloody, but lots of what they call sci-fi violence. No dirty parts. And not a whole lot of language, either. I've become pretty sensitive to cursing recently, and tend to notice its absence. My kids like to count the bad words in movies and make their mom put money in the swear jar for it. So it's nice when the language is kept clean.

The only real problem with the movie was the ending. It made no sense to me whatsoever in the context of what had happened before. It doesn't ruin the whole thing: getting to the end is a fun ride. I just don't understand what happened or why, and that was a bit disappointing.

Another Bonus: Into the Words, from Forbidden Broadway. If you know Broadway musicals, Forbidden Broadway is an incredible send-up musical revue. They keep it updated with new shows each year.

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