16 March 2010

Alice in IMAX 3D Wonderland

Well, this movie was Tim Burton being Tim Burton to the power of Tim Burton. Every aspect of this movie screamed Tim Burton. Danny Elfman did the music, Johnny Depp starred, Helena Bonham Carter starred, and then there were the visuals that only Tim Burton could produce. The usuals were accompanied by Anne Hathway, Crispin Glover, and a plethora of voices belonging to the likes of Alan Rickman, Stephen Fry and Michael Sheen.

This telling of the story reminded me of Burton’s take on Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. He tells a back story and the known story. In this version, Alice is set to be asked to marry a Lord. She freaks, and follows the White Rabbit and falls down the rabbit whole.

From here, she does her adventures in Wonderland. Along the way, we meet all the usual characters that Wonderland has to offer; the Red Queen (Carter), the White Queen(Hathaway), Mad Hatter (Depp), the Rabbit, Tweedledee & Tweedledum, Knave of Hearts (Glover), the Cheshire Cat and of course, the Jaberwocky. Almost everything is CGI. The only main characters that are not in someway computer generated are Mad Hatter, White Queen and Alice herself. The visual effects, though, are stunning. I did pay the extra money to see this in the IMAX in 3D. It was totally worth the extra money.

After the climactic fight with the Jaberwocky, Alice goes back to the exact time she left, and is confronted with the marriage proposal. It was just an odd addition to the story. I am not saying it was bad, but it just seemed like an afterthought. It almost did not feel like it belonged on this movie, but more like his Sweeny Todd.

As far as if it was good, I enjoyed the movie. It is not something I would necessarily purchase. It was entertaining, and lot of that had to do with the 3D aspect. Johnny Depp put in the same performance that he did for Willy Wonka. So, if you are not a fan of Depp in that role, this is not for you. Likewise, if you are not a fan of Burton’s works, this movie is totally not for you. Verdict: If you have the option to see it in 3D at the IMAX, totally worth your $12.50, or however much it would cost you. If not, eh, you could pass if you are sitting on the fence. It would be worth rent if you wanted to wait that long to see it.

15 March 2010


Because I loved The Bourne Supremacy and The Bourne Ultimatum, I was excited to see Matt Damon and Paul Greengrass join forces to bring us a war flick. I was severely let down. I guess after seeing two non-political war films in a row, I was expecting another. Not only was this political, it was so political that it distracting from the rest of the film. But looking back, I realize that the rest of the film wasn’t that great either.

Matt Damon plays Chief Officer Miller. He leads a team into WMD sites. We encounter him on his third straight attempt; and again, they come up empty. This prompts him to ask about the bad intelligence. This question makes Kinnear’s Clark Poundstone mad, and Brendon Gleeson’s Martin Brown happy. In a quick one scene cameo is The Unit’s Michael O’Neill.

The premise is then clear, we are at war with bad intel and there are no WMDs. This simple point is pounded down our throats for the remainder of this drab film.

So, this leads us on a search from a source code-named “Magellan.” From this point, we get rogue Miller hunting down the truth. What hinders this heroic soldier’s search for truth? Briggs, sent by Poundstone. Briggs is played by the always bad guy Jason Isaacs. He is a Special Forces soldier that is supposed to be “evil.” He is out to eliminate “Magellan” before he can be brought in to blow the top off the bad intelligence.

The other conflict, if you will, is between Poundstone and Brown. I found this almost more interesting than the truth about Magellan. Their dispute is over who should run the new regime in Iraq, and how it should be handled. Yet, again, it is very politically biased.

Finally, the climatic scene is a Greengrass fast paced, quick cut, scene on crack. I think the conversation before filming it went like this: Greengrass “Alright camera man, we are going to tape this camera to the heel of your shoe. Now, you are going to run through this dimly lit cluttered market. You get a five second head start, then we are sending Mr. Isaacs and Mr. Damon to chase you down. If they appear in your footage (no pun intended), then great. If they don’t, who cares? You can’t see anything anyway.” This was possibly the worst climax scene I have seen in a long time.

In the end, I was happy to see this movie end. I enjoyed Greengrass’s fast cuts and A.D.D. take on action in the Bourne series, but I feel that it has been played out. The script also had its terrible moments. “The reasons don’t matter.” “They matter to me.” Ouch. I was just waiting on Pounstone to yell, “You can’t handle the truth!” That is all that was missing to complete the travesty that was Green Zone. Verdict: Not worth the time or money, especially in theaters. But that is why I do this, to save you time and money.

10 March 2010

Taking Chance

I have a soft spot for the Armed Forces. My best friend of over 20 years is in the Army. My Best Man was in the Navy, now he is in the Marines. My cousin is in the National Guard and he did a tour in Iraq. I have lost a classmate in Iraq as well.

So, when I saw the preview for this TV movie, I wished I had HBO. After Kevin Bacon won the Golden Globe for his performance, I moved it to the top of my Blockbuster Online queue. Last night, I sat down to watch it.

We follow the true story of Lt. Col. Michael Stobl, played by Kevin Bacon, as he is the military escort for a fallen Marine. The Marine is Private First Class Chance Phelps. Stobl escorts him on his journey to his final resting place in Wyoming. Stobl felt connected to the Marine because they are from the same hometown. It turns out that he joined up in the same town, but he grew up in Wyoming.

Lt. Col. Stobl was an office worker who analyzes manpower for the military. He has a wife and two kids. He chose not to go to Iraq with Operation: Iraqi Freedom. He felt like less of a soldier even though he was a veteran of Desert Storm. This leads him to make his decision.

Taking Chance was an emotionally moving film. From the time Stobl leaves on his journey, he and Phelps are shown great respect all the way to Wyoming. I hate to admit it, but it made my cry so many times at so many scenes that I felt a little less masculine. One other interesting aspect was that we see the crew of people who prepare the bodies of the fallen. It was a very touching aspect that I was unaware of. I do not know how these people can do what they do.

Kevin Bacon was moving in this performance. He had very few lines, but he made the most of what he had. His actions and reactions to others also helped make the film emotional and moving. The direction and writing were superb. They use of cut scenes of the cleaning and the personal effects also helped set the mood. It is almost sad that this was not released in theaters.

Verdict: I loved this touching film. I thank soldiers when I see them on the street, at restaurants, at hotels, etc. This film showed people thanking and going out of their way to help Stobl get Chance Phelps to his grave sight. I highly recommend this movie to anyone that knows a member of the Armed Forces, especially to anyone who has lost someone. I enjoyed the fact that there was no political influence in the film. This was worth the rent, now I am looking to purchase it. It was the most emotional 77 minute movie I have ever seen. Also, look for Tom Wopat at the end.