The Great Wall

My husband and I have enjoyed going to movies as much for the viewing experience as the actual flick. We choose opening nights for certain shows simply because of what happened when we watched Snakes on a Plane. We knew that was going to be crazy, but we didn’t expect to find a kinship with others who were there for the same reason. It made the whole night so much more fun.

So when we first saw the trailer for The Great Wall, we knew we were in.
And when our local theater promoted an IMAX Fan Event, date night plans were made (hello extended Valentine’s celebration!). Knowing the theater had only sold 11 tickets by the time we left to get there only made things better. Popcorn, souvenirs, AND room to breathe. Ahhhhhh.

We knew little of what to expect. The trailer made it seem like there might be dragons…or hordes of zombies reminiscent of World War Z. I hoped for the former. There were neither. =)

It’s important to note that going in with few preconceived notions makes it a lot easier to enjoy the story, because you’re not worried about it living up to anything, and it’s free to be what it is.
In the end, as the opening studio logos rolled, I just wanted it to be good.

The first spectacular thing for me was all the rich colors. My ever-knowledgeable husband says this director is known for his use of color in his films and that’s a big thing that draws me in. The different colors and styles for the armor were enthralling, as were the different fighting styles.

Yeah, I haven’t seen a battle use a wall so well. Ever.

And I was enjoying it so much that I didn’t realize until the end that I’d seen a weapon used that I’d made up for my novel. So so cool!

That Matt Damon is awesome goes without saying. So was Jing Tian. And oh my goodness did I love the women’s role in the fight.
I had similar ideas for fighting styles in my novel, but seeing it on the big screen was even better than what was in my head. Awe. Pure awe.

Though this is fantasy, there are things I imagine are logical for the time period, and certainly for the story. Just because they had gunpowder didn’t mean they’d perfected every use for it. Yet, they were pretty inventive with it.

Yes, there’s death and gore. But the whole thing was very well done. I have no criticisms because we got exactly what we were hoping for: a fantastic experience with a movie we didn’t have to turn our brains off to watch. Intelligent story, great characters, and action that leaves you breathless and saying, “What a ride!”

This movie is not for the feint of heart (or stomach), but is very enjoyable.

(Movies it makes me think of for slight comparison: 13th Warrior, Reign of Fire, John Carter, LOTR The Two Towers, Pacific Rim, Braveheart)

Movie Experience: The Dark Knight Rises

Obligatory IMDB blurb: Eight years on, a new terrorist leader, Bane, overwhelms Gotham’s finest, and the Dark Knight resurfaces to protect a city that has branded him an enemy.

I was not looking forward to this movie (*gasp, shock, awe*).  Batman has never been my go-to hero (my sister is currently wondering where she went wrong) and the Nolan series, though true to character, has been reeeeallly dark (pencil trick, ’nuff said). Then early reviews came in with less-than-stellar marks. My husband’s hopes sank even further than mine. 2 hours before the O-dark-thirty premiere, he wanted to hawk our tickets on Ebay.

However, said sister (who’d been in line since 11:30AM – a full 5½ hours before anyone else) was waiting on us, and we didn’t want to break her heart. Therefore, my expectations were low. And that, my friends, is when they dropped below zero.

A minute or so into the movie, the camera follows a vehicle holding some gun-toting characters (guarding 3 prisoners) to where they meet Mr. Clean-Cut-CIA and his plane. Once in the air, he blithely informs the 3 that his flight plan allows for only 1 of them and opens the door—
Everything went black

…except for the emergency lights. Could not have timed it better. Maybe it was a sign.

We sat there for the next 45 mins while the poor managers tried to keep 20 theaters full of people from rioting (17 of those were showing Rises). Tempers got a bit warm as did the air without A/C. I was never more grateful for the IMAX theater having single companion seats. I had my husband beside me and a whole aisle as my bubble of cool.

Finally, the power came back on. Then we had to wait for the system to reboot (IMAX would take the longest…) Fortunately, the movie started right away (though we wouldn’t have minded seeing Man of Steel and the exclusive Skyfall trailers again. 🙂 )

***Spoilers ahead***

Oh. My. Gosh.

This was a fantastic movie. A very fitting end to the trilogy and so full of win. I don’t know if just having no expectations made it awesome (even stale food is a feast when you’re famished), but I think the critics need to stop being whiny fanboys. (no offense to nonwhiny fanboys 😉 )

Let’s start with the things I didn’t like: Selina’s hair. Long hair left loose like that is a DNA nightmare for a jewel thief. She would have known that no matter how early in her career she’s meant to be portrayed. It didn’t add to her sexiness, either.

The douche bag who blew the bridge. I know, I know, you’re supposed to hate him even though he was just doing his job, so this was actually something I “liked” in that respect. But man, I wanted to…be unladylike.

Some people have pointed out the cliches in this film, and even I know there were a couple tiny plot holes. They just don’t bear being that nit picky in my opinion.

So, on to the win moments:

The Batcycle. How do you top that sweet move in the Dark Knight? Like this.
The Batplane was great, too.

“So that’s what that feels like.”

“Your wife said you’d be taking a taxi home.”

Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Just yes. Cillian Murphy. :firm nod:

The chant. I always liked it from the trailer; knowing the significance makes me love it.

On a side note—For those thinking Alfred would never have left Bruce (despite the storyline of the comic this came from…) I posit the following argument: Alfred has just admitted to his master that he lied. Good intentions aside, that cuts at the heart of his honor. And Alfred is very honorable. His logical conclusion, especially since Bruce didn’t argue, was for him to leave.
(Mr. Bates, Downton Abbey fans?)

All in all, I ended up really liking this movie. I highly recommend seeing it in the theaters, the final act just makes everything worth it.

Movie Experience: The Amazing Spider-man

Obligatory IMDB blurb: Peter Parker finds a clue that might help him understand why his parents disappeared when he was young. His path puts him on a collision course with Dr. Curt Connors, his father’s former partner.

(Sorry, but every time I hear Peter Parker, I can only think of Peter Piper and his peck of pickled peppers.)

This was the first movie where I really saw the difference between 2D and 3D. I’d seen the trailer a bajillion times when my husband and I went to John Carter and The Avengers in IMAX 3D. When the theater brought Avengers back to IMAX after Dark Shadows couldn’t pull in the crowds, we went to see it again. I realized something might be wrong when they showed 1 different trailer than the line up we’d been seeing (trust me, it was a refreshing change).

And the Spider-man trailer was in 2D. While I did like one thing (no longer felt slammed in the face when the tower fell off the roof of the OsCorp building), it just didn’t pull me in and make me feel like part of the experience.

My sister went out to tell a manager that the movie hadn’t switched over (yes, we were about to be treated to Dark Shadows), and when it started again, it went through the usual trailer line up. That’s when I saw how much better this movie looked in 3D. Yes, it’s extra, but given that going to the movies should be an immersive experience, it cemented my love for 3D (otherwise, we’d stay home and enjoy Netflix or the billions of Blurays we have).

Alright, on to the movie.

I’m not a comic book fan, but my husband is, so I often feel I straddle the line between real fans and those who’ve vaguely heard of the characters. It’s been forever since I watched SM1 and it was eh for me. I didn’t see SM2 or 3. So, I approached this one knowing only bits and pieces of Peter’s backstory.

I really liked it.

Having two awesome actors for his aunt and uncle (Sally Field and the *insert holy music* fantastic Martin Sheen) lent real weight to the cast. I can’t speak for how well all the actors did when compared to the comic books, but it hit all my requirements for a good story. It drew me in, made me care about all of them, made me sympathize with the villain (okay, that might be a new one here), and…it made me cry.

Watching what happened to Peter with the guy with the star tattoo and then his uncle…feeling the weight of a wrong decision…then the character at the end and the weight of a promise that tears you apart to keep…

I loved the scenes where he learned 1) that he had powers and 2) how to use them. I didn’t get seasick with the camera angles like I thought I might; director did a good job not keeping it too close up while making you see the world from Peter’s perspective as he slung his way across the scenery.

Dislikes: The music during the fight at school. It didn’t build up. Good music doesn’t stand out and adds to the tension of the scene. This one felt like a throwback to the Transformers cartoon where the background music is screaming even when the characters are just standing around talking. It’s like amateur writers who use tons of exclamation points! Everything feels IMPORTANT!!! when in fact, it has the opposite effect. I was so busy thinking about this aspect that I didn’t realize the scene in the library was Stan Lee’s great cameo (though it was still hilarious). The music reset after that and wasn’t really a problem for the rest of the movie.

There was one time where it would have been impossible for him to put the mask on (after rescuing the kid from the car on the bridge) and a couple times where he seemed to take it off for reasons left unexplained to the audience. (Continuity or reasonable explanations are required if I’m to suspend disbelief.) Some of the security detail around his first visit to OsCorp and the way the spiders got on him were kind of like wha? to me, as well. I just didn’t get why plucking one of the web strands would make the machine stop, throw spiders on the intruder then continue as if nothing had happened. That scene should have played out differently.

Also, once you have confirmed sightings of a giant lizard rampaging the city, I don’t think you’d waste manpower on a masked vigilante in that moment. Find some other more realistic and compelling way for these two to cross paths. Just my nit picky 2 cents worth.

Overall, it was great. I’d give it 3.5/5 stars and recommend seeing it in the theater just for the shots of him swinging through New York.

Movie Review Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter

The trailers made me want to see this movie. I knew nothing of the story or even what to expect—whether it leaned more toward action or horror—I just knew it looked like a “fun” experience.

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter

We chose to go to a midnight because the type of audience can often make or break these movies. We banked on it making it for this experience, like Snakes on a Plane: a theater full of people who just want to have fun.
Turns out it was a good thing—but not entirely for the reasons we’d expected. As of Thursday afternoon, almost no tickets had been sold for the 3D show. This allowed the theater employees to get passes (if a movie is almost sold out, they have to pay for them). Since my sister is the awesome Regal Employee she is, we were able to get back the $ we’d forked over Wed night to buy our tickets. Yay! So, while the theater was mostly empty, we didn’t have to deal with any negativity.

As far as the movie: In my mind, I don’t see this as THE Abraham Lincoln. I do believe, though, that they kept true to his character with (understandable) creative license. I did not have a problem with the way he was portrayed in this movie. Do I think he would like it?
Erm, no.

And that’s where my opinion is divided, too. On one hand, this movie worked for me. There’s so much action and cool special effects. I loved the way the vampires’ eyes glowed like cat eyes (a 3D only effect, I’ve heard) and the highlighting of the dust motes. It never got in the way for me and added an interesting texture you don’t normally see in movies. I also didn’t mind the slow motion during the action scenes—likely because it was a draw in the trailer for me. One person complained, “There was a bass drop every five seconds.” But that worked for me, too. It just fit with what I expected/wanted to experience.

The story worked for me. I loved the way they showed historical events with new motivations. I have no problem suspending my disbelief if it isn’t abused. And I don’t ask for much. Don’t have characters know things they shouldn’t or act completely out of character without good reason…etc. There were small hints dropped about one character that led to the belief that he could do what he did…but also allowed you to buy it when his motivation was revealed. That makes me a happy viewer.

I only saw one scene that threw me out: a wound that had healed, reappeared. I chalked it up to a choppy timeline. Since the rest of it was so well done, it really didn’t bother me.

What did bother me had much more to do with personal tastes than something the movie did wrong. It’s violent and scary…for me. These aren’t your sister’s vampires. 🙂 They are as scary as you’d expect monsters to be. A lot less psychological and a lot more blood and gore. The first fight scene established this, and once I knew what to expect, I just went with it.

Bottom line: I had a great night out with my husband while we ate nachos and kicked Vampire butt.
That said, I wouldn’t buy it or go watch it again. And I wouldn’t recommend it to some of my…delicate friends. 😉