Movie Review: Zoolander 2

So here is something I haven’t done in forever: a movie review. My sisters and I recently took our dad to see Zoolander 2 because he is a huge fan of stupid comedies and Kiefer Sutherland, who makes a cameo appearance that we didn’t tell him about beforehand. So we took him to see it and it was OK.

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I enjoyed the ridiculous amount of cameos and the humor was all right. I didn’t laugh nearly as much as I did during Sisters, the last comedy movie I saw in theaters. But then again Ben Stiller can’t compete with the powerhouse team of Amy Poehler and Tina Fey, in my opinion.

I know Sisters got criticized for its lesbian jokes being tired and stereotypical but out comedian Kate McKinnon was playing them so it seemed like a fun self criticism joke. Meanwhile in Zoolander, its gay/trans/genderqueer jokes were made at the express of Benedict Cumberbatch, who has played gay or seemingly gay characters before but also has a reputation for saying homophobic things. Maybe I am over thinking this but it made me uncomfortable. And Sisters just made me laugh.

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Unlike how the destruction of Derek’s school happened in October 2001 and seriously used footage of and shot footage to look like 9/11 made me uncomfortable. I know the original movie come out in 2001 but the school couldn’t have collapsed in 2002?

I should switch gears a bit, I don’t want to only shit on this movie because parts of it were fun. Penelope Cruz as the leader of the Interpol Fashion Division was great, along with Kiefer Suthetland as the head of Hansel’s pregnant 11 person orgy. That fact seemingly made Hansel and Kiefer sexually fluid, though I’m not sure the movie put that much thought into it. It was rated PG-13, so we barely saw Hansel kiss anyone though he was a part of two different orgies.

It also had some hilariously labeled locations and brutally murdered Justin Bieber in its James Bond-esque opening. There is a scene between Will Ferrell and Kristen Wiig that was so hilarious I’m not sure how they filmed it without laughing. Also there are seconds long cameos that seem so ridiculous I had to laugh, Susan Sarandon, Ariana Grande and Willie Nelson just being a few examples.

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Was it the wittiest of comedies? No, but then again I remember Zoolander being funny and I was probably 13-years-old the last time I saw it. I wasn’t expecting anything that witty. It had a few witty elements like multiple people calling Derek and Hansel old school and has beens and then they would use seemingly indestructible flip phones.

Was it better than the original, incredibly well done or the best comedy of the year, which are all things my dad said about it. I don’t think so. But then again, I wasn’t expecting it to be. I was expecting a good, funny time with a shit ton of cameos and that is what I got.

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Movie Review: “Bomb Girls — Facing the Enemy”

I promise I have not moved to Canada, I’m just really into Canadian television right now. So, I would like to talk about the Bomb Girls movie.

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For those of you have who never seen Bomb Girls the first two seasons, which act as a prequel to this movie, are on Netflix so go watch them because they are amazing.

The movie was not so amazing. My feelings on it have evolved when I first watched it I was ridiculously excited. The show was cancelled after season two but the fans were promised a movie to follow. But shows promised that all the time and it hardly ever happens. So, when it does you get super excited and don’t see the flaws in the movie the first time because you are just so excited that the characters are back. Nothing could have killed how exciting it was even though it was horribly emotional and tragic. All the reactions on Twitter seemed the same, everyone was too excited to question anything it did.

Then I watched it again. The little things I let slide the first time, like them killing Vera, who is the complete opposite of how women who like sex are usually portrayed on television. There is no slut shaming for Vera. She is the sexy queen of everything. She slept with lots of people, because she liked sleeping with people and she was Vera and nobody was going to tell her she couldn’t.

This is the girl, who spent the entire first season in the hospital after she got her scalp ripped off in a factory accident. Then she becomes a badass. For them to kill off a character like that was not necessary. When you make a character that so many people respect and relate to and look up to you shouldn’t just kill them off for a character arch for other person. Marco already had the motive to go be a war hero before Vera randomly decide to enlist.

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Vera in season two: “You know Marco’s a war hero waiting to happen.
He keeps trying to enlist they won’t let him.”

I’m not just mad that they killed off Vera. I’m mad that they ignored her character arch over the first two seasons. She worked so hard to get to the top of the factory and establish herself at Vic Mu.

But, I blame Vera’s change in character on the writing.

Sometime in the middle of all the fans freaking out that the movie was actually going to happen, one of the co-creators Michael MacLennan, left the project. Nobody knows why. Then they brought in a guy, Donald Martin, who had never worked on the show or written an episode before, for some reason. The person that they brought in didn’t understand what Bomb Girls was about. Sure, it is about World War II and everything about it is the 40s and Nazis and Hitler. But, the show isn’t about the war. It is about how the average person is affected by the war. Many character’s had family oversees (Edith’s husband, Lorena’s sons, Gladys fiancé) and soldiers would cycle through (Lewis, Gene, Teresa) but they were never a main part of it.

As much as I feel like the fandom can agree that the show was cancelled because of Gladys spy story line, everyone has come to the point that the movie wasn’t that great because of the writing. They tried to rush to put in too much too quickly to the point that Vera’s death is overshadowed by the explosion at the bomb factory. This is the death of a major cast member which comes right on the heels of the death of a sort of main character, Ivan.

A lot with the writing was trying to fit in too much and make everyone spies. Sometimes you can tell the problem was just the writing by how great the actresses were still able to be with the poor writing. When Gladys goes and finds Betty, their dialogue would not have been as good as it was without Jodi Balfour and Ali Liebert delivering it so well.

That interaction in the first episode of season two when Betty tells Gladys she is just doing what girls do and their conversation in the boxing locker room are similar. It is the way Gladys gets to this point of having this little mean slant to what she says. In the show is it was “you telling me your hearts in this” and then Betty goes into her great quote. In the movie it’s Gladys saying “So this is free, hiding here from Kate?”

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It is the same thing, the way she delivers the dialogue. It brought it back to how the show is, which shows that this still is the same thing. It makes me feel like the whole thing is just these great actresses, these great characters and this great show trapped in this poorly written movie. I feel like that is why I like the Bomb Girls movie, but it is not that great.

I like parts of it but as a lot of people are saying it seems like the writer didn’t know what to do with Kate. As many people have been saying, you can interpret what Kate does to however your fandom wants it to go. I do that. I feel like Charlotte Hegele was acting it that Kate is in love with Betty.

It is the way that Betty looks at the picture and she asks her if she is still in love with Ivan. And Kate says, “no, things are different now.” For me, shipping McAndrews more than anything else, I took it as Kate is not ready to admit that she has feelings for Betty, but she might be ready to admit it to herself. I feel like if she was given better dialogue or a less rushed story or a story that captured what Bomb Girls was really about Charlotte Hegele would have been able to show us what she truly felt.

But, instead more time was devoted to Gladys being a spy. And though I liked Jakob as a character and the most out of any guy Gladys has been with, I’m a little mad that we go to see her make out with that guy a ton and McAndrews got three hugs.

The show never made it seem like the Gladys was more of a main character than anyone else. Gladys’ relationships were never more important than Vera’s or Marco’s or Betty’s. But, in the movie, we get to see Gladys be happy. We get to see Gladys be spy good. We get to see Gladys meet a new guy. We get to see Gladys do all this great stuff and come back to save the day and be the hero. While Betty is emotional destroyed, crying most of the time and doesn’t even know if the girl she is in love with likes girls. But, she bought a house with a room for her.

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I want to be mad that they didn’t do anything with McAndrews and if this really is the end of Bomb Girls and that is all we get I am going to be pissed, but I feel like I can take it and feel like Kate just isn’t ready to admit it yet. The movie seemed to give just enough to satisfy people and that kind of makes me sad, because if this was Xena I would take it.

But, it’s not the 90s anymore and this is a movie based on a Canadian television show. And yes, in the context of the show Betty and Kate can’t be Bo and Lauren but they could have at least kissed. What about after they trapped the head Nazi guy? Turn the intense hug into a kiss and then have them still be moving in together and leave it at that. That would have been something, but having them move in together and never defining Kate’s sexuality made it seem like the writer didn’t understand that Betty and Kate’s relationship and friendship was always an important aspect of the show.

Not something to be overshadowed by Gladys and spies.

Vera getting killed I feel like was too much about the war and the show is not about the war, it is about war workers. But, what I did like about the movie is that they did have a bomb in the bomb factory. It is always part of this show that we never think about. It is what Kate thought about in that hospital bed. This show is about them making bombs, so how many countless James’ and Ivans and Veras have they killed?

I feel like the writer watched Bomb Girls and liked it but he didn’t get it and he didn’t love it like so many of us love it. Because there is the little things like Kate saying “I’m spending the night with my friend Betty” when in the show Kate calls Teresa Betty’s friend and Gladys getting to that point of mean because she has to make Betty realize how serious she is being or Jane Schmidt saying to Gladys “we’re the same” just like how that Nazi told Betty “we are the same.”

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But Gladys turned Jane in because she falsified her papers and is really German, just like Kate and Betty, respectively. There were references but it wasn’t the same thing. There was too much in this movie and it pulled away from the fact that this is an ensemble show about war workers and friendship and being who you need to be. This was supposed to be a five-part mini-series and if this is all we get I’m not satisfied. I want there to be more. This is an amazing show and I hope some network –Netflix or not – sees that and picks it back up because I don’t think this is the end, I hope it isn’t the beginning of the end but I am fine with it being the end of the beginning.

 


The Hunger Games: Mockingjay genreal thoughts

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A few parts in Mockingjay Part 1 and 2 have been announced this week. I will get to my thoughts on the casting of Cressida (Natalie Dormer!), Annie and Messalla in a later post, but I’m going to take this opportunity to talk about my thoughts on Mockingjay in general.

The Hunger Games has fallen victim to what I am going to call the Deathly Hallows effect. It is now common that when a book series is being turned into a movie series, the last book is split into two movies. Harry Potter did it first with the Deathly Hallows Part 1 and Part 2. Twilight then copied and made final book Breaking Dawn into two movies. So, inevitably The Hunger Games followed suit and will be splitting the final book into two movies.

I’m a little apprehensive about this decision. Now, I love Harry Potter 7.1 but I will agree with the criticism that it is a lot of camping and camping and a little action. I’m worried Mockingjay Part 1 is going to be the same. Its going to be a lot of hospital stays and hospital stays and a little action. Katniss spends a rather large portion of the first part of the book in the hospital with Johanna. She then goes out and does something badass, then she gets injured and ends up back in the hospital with Johanna. So, much like how Harry Potter 7.1 is Harry and Hermione hanging out in tents, Mockingjay Part 1 could be a lot of Katniss and Johanna hanging out in a hospital room.

I’m not saying that is going to be a bad thing, especially not for me. Johanna is a good character and much of Katniss’ internal thought process is given to us as she is in a hospital bed. Will non-book readers and flaking fans find it as exciting? I don’t know. I’m assuming much like in the first movie and seemingly in the second, we are going to see what is going on away from Katniss. For Mockingjay Part 1 that is probably going to be a lot of what is happening to Peeta in the Captiol, if not he is hardly going to be in Part 1. And little to no Josh Huntcherson is certainly going to piss off fans.

My best case scenario would have been The Hunger Games avoiding the Deathly Hallows effect all together, but if it had to split a book in two my first choice would have been Catching Fire. In my opinion how District 12 and Katniss herself are different after the events of the first book is more interesting than the daily life aspects of District 13 and Katniss getting to know her movie crew. I would sit through a whole movie exploring the psychological and sociological impacts of Katniss and Peeta winning the games, their experience on the victory tour and getting to know the other victors before they even enter the arena. How would a Hunger Games without a Hunger Games or big battle to replace it have gone over with fans? Probably not very well. But as a huge fans of the books and the world Suzanne Collins created, I would have liked it.


The Hunger Games: Catching Fire casting thoughts

I have been following the casting for Catching Fire pretty closely and I have been wanting to do this post for a while. But, I decided to wait until Finnick was announced. I didn’t think I would have to wait this long. Anyway, it was announced today that Sam Clafin will be playing Finnick. So, here are my thoughts on casting.

 Sam Clafin as Finnick

I’m not really sure how I feel about this choice. In my opinion it was a little too obvious. Sam Clafin has been playing the young, hot love interest in everything since his role in Pirates 4. I feel like this choice is like giving the role to Orlando Bloom or Josh Harnett if this movie was coming out in 2006. I was more hoping for Armie Hammer, who was one of the top-three choices for Finnick, a victor/tribute from District 4. Finnick is supposed to be taller than every other character. Sam Clafin is only 5’11”, while Armie Hammer is 6’5″. But, most of the cast is taller than Josh Hutchinson (5′ 7″) anyway so maybe they didn’t want Finnick to make him look too short. With all that said, Sam Clafin will probably make a great Finnick. He is hot, but not overly. And he has the it-guy status for our world, like Finnick is supposed to have for Panem. So, maybe he is the best choice.

 Jena Malone as Johanna

Did I say something about obvious casting? Yeah, well I feel the same way about Jena Malone as Johanna. I like Jena Malone and I think she will make a great Johanna, a victor/tribute from District 7. And I think that because I know her as Rocket from “Sucker Punch.” Now “Sucker Punch” got pretty bad reviews and most people probably did not see it. But, I did and I liked it. Rocket was one of the supporting characters. She is just as bad-ass of a fighter as everyone else. She can be cunning and use sexual appeal to get what she wants. She seems strong, but really she was the hidden and terrible past, which lands her in bad situations that she needs her friends to help her out of. Now, Hunger Games fans, do you understand? Jena Malone will be able to play the perfect Johanna, because she played the perfect Rocket and Rocket is Johanna. As I said, I like it but it seems too obvious.

Aside from all that, I always pictured Johanna as a Southern California blonde with really long hair, which I know she isn’t. So, this did not fit my picture of Johanna, but I never pictured Johanna correctly. Well, at least we know Jena Malone looks good with short hair. Bald? I’m not so sure.

 Phillip Seymour Hoffman as Plutarch

“We are the Hunger Games. We can get big names. So, we get big names.” Phillip Seymour Hoffman will be playing Plutarch and adding his name to the “Big Names” list of all the adult characters in the series; Woody Harrelson, Lenny Kravitz, Elizabeth Banks, Donald Sutherland. You understand. I’m excited about this. Most of the adults characters seemed to be cast in the thought of, “What is the biggest name we can get?” And then they get the big name and the big name is awesome. I think Phillip Seymour Hoffman as Plutarch, the head gamemaker for the Quarter Quell, will also be awesome. He doesn’t do too much in the Catching Fire book. But I’m interested to see if that will be changed and we will get more of him, similar to Seneca Crane’s expanded role in the first movie.

 Lynn Cohen as Mags

I really like this choice. Though she always looked like my grandma in my head and I thought the Betty White suggestions were hilarious, Lynn Cohen is a more realistic version of Mags, a victor/tribute from District 4. I’ve never seen anything she has been in but she fits the Mags look. Most of the arguments of Mags casting is that she has to be light enough for Finnick to carry her easily, but just heavy enough that Katniss struggles with her. I think she works for that.

 Amanda Plummer as Wiress

I don’t have much to say about this choice. She fits my idea of Wiress, a victor/tribute for District 3, and she has been in a lot of stuff, sadly I have not seen any of it though. I’m sure she will be good. Tick Tock.

  Meta Golding as Enobaria and Bruno Gunn as Brutus

Enobaria and Brutus are the victors/tribute from District 2. Much like Cato and Clove, they are supposed to be excellent fighters and scary. I think the head shot that has been used for Meta Golding with a lot of her casting announcements is creating some fuss. That picture makes her look really young and really pretty. She is actually really pretty, but she is also 31. I pictured Enobaria a little scarier but I never thought Leven Rambin was scary until I saw her as Glimmer so I’m sure that will be changed. Brutus is perfect.

  E. Roger Mitchell as Chaff and Maria Howell as Seeder

These two are perfect. Chaff and Seeder are the only two victor/tributes that Katniss and Peeta really interact with before the Quarter Quell begins, because they are both friends with Haymitch. They are from District 11, whose tributes always seem to be buddy-buddy with District 12. They look nice and friendly, I just like them all round. And Peeta having two legs probably means only good things for Chaff’s missing arm.

  Alan Ritchson as Gloss and Stephanie Leigh Schlund as Cashmere

These two are perfect, also. Gloss and Cashmere are the brother-sister victor/tribute pair from District 1. They are supposed to be fierce and beautiful. They both models, in addition to actors, and they look like they could be related. So, good casting all around.

There is still no news on Beetee from District 3, Blight from District 7 and the morphlings from District 6. I don’t know if Darius or Gale’s family will make it into the movie, but there is no word on them either.


Movie Review: Brave

 Grade: B+

Starring: Kelly Macdonald, Emma Thompson, Billy Connolly

I wanted to see “Brave” before I realized that it was the first Disney-Pixar princess and the first Pixar female lead. I feel that if people realized this before this movie, Pixar would have faced some criticism. But, Pixar hasn’t been around that long and it did take Disney 86 years to have a African-American princess.

Anyway the first Pixar princess is very red-headed, Scottish princess named Merida, played by Kelly Macdonald. Merida is far more interested in learning to shoot arrows from her father, Fergus, played by Billy Connolly, than learning to be a lady by her mother, Elinor, played by Emma Thompson. This isn’t really a problem until Merida is told she must marry a prince of one of the three clans in the Kingdom to stop a war from starting between them.

All the princes are comically terrible and Merida insists that she doesn’t want to be married. After getting in a huge fight with her mother and ripping a tapestry, she flees the castle and ends up in a Stonehenge-like circle in the woods. Then a bunch of wisps, adorable blue, flame-like fairies, lead her to a witch’s cabin. The witch gives her a spell in the form of a cake to “change her fate” after Merida asks for a way to change her mother.

The cake ends up turning Elinor into a bear and if Merida doesn’t find a way to “mend the bond” before sunrise on the second day her mother will be stuck like that. Merida’s trouble-making triplet brothers, who later also get turned into cute bear cubs with giant heads, help them escape the castle while being chased by her bear-hating father. Merida and her mother bond over fishing in the woods and a near-death experience with another bear.

In the end, Merida and her mother are able to “mend the bond” and everyone is turned back into humans. Elinor decides that she should let Merida be who she is and chose who she wants to marry.

Overall it was a cute Disney-Pixar movie, emphasis on the Pixar. Did you notice how often I said “her mother”? This princess had mother because she is Pixar. Disney princesses — or Disney characters, for that matter — don’t have mothers. Most people know the story that Walt Disney didn’t like his mom, so all the princesses (Ariel, Jasmine, Belle, Cinderella, Snow White) are given fathers instead. The two newest Disney princesses Tiana and Rapunzel break this trend, but it still makes it into the least Disney-like Disney movies, Pirates of the Caribbean, with Will, Elizabeth, Jack and Angelica all having dads and not moms.

Aside from the having-a-mom thing, Merida differs from her Disney counterparts in another way. She doesn’t end up falling in love. Actually, she doesn’t even meet a person that could be seen as a love interest in any way. I love classical Disney movies and kept expecting an archer guy to bump into Merida in the woods some where. But, one never did.

I’m not really sure what I think about this. It was not what I expected out of kids’ movie about a princess. Of course, I was shocked when Eugene actually died — for a few seconds — at the end of “Tangled.” Maybe my Disney movie expectations are stuck in the 90s.

This movie was very focused on family and being who you want to be. Elinor gave Merida the choice to marry whoever she wants and she didn’t immediately walk into an “I chose you, Aladdin”-like statement. Maybe Pixar is trying to stay away from Disney’s teenage-marriage trend. I don’t know.

I would say it was because this is a kid-focused movie. But, if I was 4-years-old watching this movie I would have been really scared in a few parts. I felt the same way about parts of “The Princess and the Frog” too. Of course, this is coming from the kid who used to hide behind a wall during the giant Ursula scene in “The Little Mermaid.”

It was different from Disney princess movies, very cute, very good and the PG rating was deserved.


Movie Review: “The Hunger Games”

Grade: B

Being a pretty big fan of The Hunger Games series, I assumed I would start this post with a wild statement about how awesome the movie was. But after re-reading the book, seeing the movie (twice actually), and have conversations with multiple different people (ranging in age from 13 to 22) about it I have come to a conclusion: it was OK. Getting to see everything on-screen was cool, but the movie kind of feels like an abridged version of the book. There are two things that cause this: lacking details and internal dialogue.

Let’s start with lacking details. The movie showed us ever major event that happened in the book and it is two hours and 22 minutes long. Because there was a lot of stuff that had to be included for the movie to make sense, small stuff was excluded. Some of it I agreed with. Eliminating Madge as a character made sense for the sake of time and all she really does in the first book is give Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) the mockingjay pin. While eliminating the prep team–Venia, Flavius and Octavia– was probably also done for the sake of time, I think it effects the story more. The prep team is a representation of the Capitol and, later, how Katniss learns to understand how people in the Capitol think. Lots of other small details are left out too such as the explanation of Katniss’ relationship with her mom, her relationship with the citizens of District 12, the red-haired Avox girl, etc. Personally, I think the movie should have been longer to allow for more details. I would have sat through a three-hour Hunger Games movie, and I’m sure most fans of the book would feel the same.

Speaking of the book, the biggest problem the movie seemed to face was the inability to use internal dialogue. The book is told in the first person by Katniss and a majority of the content is her thinking to herself alone in the arena. Obviously, Katniss’ thoughts were a little harder to convey in the movie. The movie does a good job in some parts; Katniss shoots a rather disgusted look at the girl from District 8 who lights the fire and the feeling of betrayal is accurately portrayed when Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) walks by with the Careers. This problem seemed to have a greater effect on the movie than the lacking details. If I had not read the book I feel like a would have been confused. Also, it seems to play down the fact that Katniss is faking the star-crossed lovers from District 12 thing. One of my friends suggested voice-over or narration by Katniss, I think that would have worked.

But, regardless of the problems I had with the movie, I did like it. Seeing some things on-screen were more intense than reading them such as Cato (Alexander Ludwig) snapping the boy from District 3’s neck and Clove (Isabelle Fuhrman) hitting Katniss in the head with a knife. Combat-wise, the feast scene was my favorite part. The movie did change a few things. I don’t really like or dislike them, I more just interested to see how they play out. Some of the things are small in terms of how they will affect the story, like Peeta having two legs for example. Others will affect the series or at least the next movie, like District 11 rebelling after Rue is killed when in the book it doesn’t start until the Katniss and Peeta are there on the victory tour.

While we are on the topic of District 11, whose tributes black, I would like to comment on the racist backlash that the Hunger Games is facing. Some of this is kind of old, but I just took notice of it yesterday. Click these links if you don’t know what I’m talking about. Now, I saw the trailer and thought the movie looked cool, so I read the book. I only mention that because my image of Cinna was already set as Lenny Kravitz. The first time I read the book, I didn’t picture Rue (Amandla Stenberg) and Thresh (Dayo Okeniyi) being black. I pictured tan, way tanner than Katniss but not exactly black, even though they are described as having “dark brown skin and eyes.” When I saw the trailer again after reading the book, I felt embarrassed that I totally missed it, but I looked at the characters and thought, “that is perfect.” . I’m disgusted that people are mad because they are black and that’s not how they pictured them. Obviously it was what Suzanne Collins wanted and it shouldn’t change how Rue, Thresh and Cinna are thought about.

That paragraph kind of sums up my views on casting. I thought everyone was perfect. I really like that Jennifer Lawrence looks nothing like Katniss, but dressed up like Katniss she looks exactly how I pictured her. I have tried to explain this many times and kind of failed, but it’s like Katniss isn’t an actress she is a character and only a character.

In conclusion, I thought the movie could have been better (or maybe just longer), but I still liked it. I will probably see it again, buy it the day it comes out on DVD and see the midnight showing of Catching Fire.