Thursday, 13 March 2014

Spring Break Movies: The Ambivalent

If you've been following this blog for over a year (or if you've just looked back into the archives), I'm sure that you've noticed that I like to celebrate Spring Break by writing and posting every night of the week, with all of my posts following a common theme. I'm sure that you'll also have noticed that it is Wednesday of Spring Break and there have been no posts so far this year. I know, I'm disappointed in me too.

Basically, circumstances haven't been super conducive for writing posts this year. I currently only have an internet connection when I'm at the office during the day, so I don't usually have the ability to do research and post in the evenings when I'm free, which has been what I've done in previous years. To further complicate matters, I actually had a really cool theme picked out for this year but discovered recently that I wouldn't be finished my research in time (although hopefully I'll have it finished a little later in the year and I'll do a series then to make up). As a result, I've been scrambling to find a new topic that I can write about in the evenings (without an internet connection) and then post the next morning. So, let me present to you my thoughts on the movies I saw in 2013.

Because I failed to post on Monday or Tuesday, I've decided to group these movies into three categories: the ones I liked (The Winners), the ones I didn't like (The Losers), and the ones that I have no strong feelings about (The Ambivalent). Each of the lists are only 2 or 3 movies long, just because I didn't actually see very many movies this year. I also didn't see almost any of the movies nominated for Best Picture this year, so don't expect to see much overlap with the Academy's picks.

Now without further adieu, let's launch into our first group: The Ambivalent. As the title implies, I don't have much to say about the movies in this group, but let's get into this anyways.

Iron Man 3

Tony Stark in front of all of his Iron Man suits.
As you can see, all the different suits are important.
I enjoyed this movie well enough (more than the second one anyway), but it just seemed to be lacking something. It may be because it's hard to step down from the scale of The Avengers to the scale of Iron Man. I will say that they did try to make it seem like the stakes were still high, but it couldn't help but feel small in comparison. It wasn't the threat that made The Avengers seem as big as it did,  it was the cast. Having all of those superheroes on screen at once was a truly remarkable feat, so returning to one hero per movie was difficult. (On a side note, I still haven't seen Thor: The Dark World).

The best part of the movie though, hands down, was Ben Kingsley's portrayal of the Mandarin. He did a fantastic job with all of the different... emotions that that character had to show over the course of the movie, and his voice was spot on too, sounding equal parts intimidating and refined. I really want to see All Hail the King, the short film that he features in from Thor: The Dark World.

On the more negative side of things, the ending of the movie was a bit of a letdown for me because it sort of ended the franchise without offering much resolution. It's hard to explain without getting into spoilers (for obvious reasons), but a bunch of long running plotlines were just ended with a simple hand wave and newly introduced things were simply ignored in favour of tying everything up in a big sloppy bow. I assume the reason for it is the rising cost of Robert Downy Jr. as an actor so they don't want too many more sequels with him as the main character, so I can understand why it needed to happen. I just think that they could have left it open just in case.

Star Trek Into Darkness

Kirk, Uhura, Spock, and John Harrison doing action poses.
This poster showcases the two best parts of the movie: the cast and the blur.
I did have a lot of fun watching this movie, but I can definitely admit that it has some serious problems. Especially the whole "who is Benedict Cumberbatch playing?" fiasco. That was something that definitely did not need to happen. Even the director of the move, J.J. Abrams, has admitted that it was a bad idea. I haven't seen Star Trek II, but even still I could tell that they made way too many references to it. I sort of got the impression that it was a not-as-good remake of that movie, which I felt was completely unnecessary considering how different the first one was from any other of the Star Trek franchise.

It definitely wasn't as good as the 2009 movie, but that was in large part because of the different expectations for the two. The 2009 one more or less came out of nowhere and ended up being a whole lot better than people were expecting, while this sequel had massive expectations placed on it before it was even announced to be in production because of the quality of the first one. There was no way that it could have met all of those expectations, so disappointment was inevitable.

But there were definitely positives about the movie too. The obvious one is that the visuals were very pretty with plenty of lens flare and motion blur to go around. On top of that, some of the set pieces were well thought out (especially the cross-space boarding sequence) and Benedict Cumberbatch and Simon Pegg stole whatever scenes they were in. Seriously, those two are fantastic actors. Of course, they aren't the only good actors in the move, and it was a lot of fun seeing the cast back together from the first movie. I'm not sure if it's a good thing or not, but it looks like it will be a little while before the third movie comes out. I'll probably go watch it, just not the midnight showing this time.

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

The elves, dwarfs, humans, and Bilbo that are introduced in this movie.
The new characters in this movie are the focus here. Oh, and Martin Freeman.
I loved The Lord of the Rings so it shouldn't be a surprise that I like Peter Jackson's take on The Hobbit. The first movie was a pretty faithful adaption of the book (with some things added in from the Appendices in The Return of the King), but this second part starts to deviate a bit more from the book. New characters are added, and many events are added seemingly from nowhere to make the movie longer and more exciting. I don't really mind because they were pretty well done and I recognize that books and movies are not the same medium, but they did cause the movie to become longer than it was intended to be at first. As a result, even though it was obviously meant to be one movie, it ended up becoming two, so the ending kind of sucks. Well, not the credits; the credits are awesome. I've been listening to the song on the credits for months now. Personally, I like Peter Hollens' version better then the original, but that's just me. Surprisingly, I didn't mind the new characters that were introduced (such as Legolas and Tauriel, the two elves on the left in the poster). I think that having them there actually helps to make the world seem more alive and interesting (although they don't need to be as op as they are).

Aside from the ending song, the best part that isn't Martin Freeman or Benedict Cumberbatch is probably how they pronounce the dragon's name as "Ss-mau-gah" whenever they say it. It's so much cooler that way. British people know what's up when it comes to pronouncing words. And, as mentioned just above, I obviously love the actors. Martin Freeman may be my favourite ever. He's great in Sherlock, and he's great here. He is the perfect everyman.

I might have cared more about the movie if it had been the last one of the series, but it has a very "middle movie" feel to it, so I can't really get behind it. I am really excited for the last one though. I'm pretty sure that the finale is just going to be one long fight scene (and I'm not really disappointed).

So, that was the movies that I didn't have any strong opinions about. Tomorrow, we'll take a look at the movies that I did care about... and didn't enjoy.

Full Series

Day 1: The Ambivalent
Day 2The Losers
Day 3The Winners

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