Movie 411: “Beautiful Creatures”

beautiful creatures posterBeautiful Creatures. Let’s see.

Firstly, it’s an adaptation of the book.

Secondly, as an adaptation, I cannot compare because I have yet to read the novel. As a stand alone movie. It’s not too bad.

I admire the story line. It’s different. It’s a different point of view on the supernatural and I found it rather interesting. Another reason I like the story line is because the main character is a teenage boy (Alden Ehrenreich) and we see him falling in love with a girl (Alice Englert) who happens to have supernatural abilities. There have been so many movies where it’s the girl who falls in love with vampire/werewolf/warlock (pick your poison). It was nice to see it from a different perspective.

So, high marks on plot and story.

The continuity of the story was pretty good.  I don’t think it dragged on too much so the tempo was nice. I think the director did a good job in moving the story along and connecting all the dots. I think my only nag, if I have one, was that it felt like something was missing. I don’t think I can really fault that, though, because I think knowing that this is really an adaptation, I know there’s a lot the movie is leaving out. And knowing there may be missing parts to the story drives me a bit crazy. It was like that for Twilight and The Hunger Games. I watched the movies before I read the books.

The acting was good. I don’t remember seeing the leading male or leading female before and, assuming this was their debut on a blockbuster film, they did really well. They did falling in love, believable. I think they were missing some chemistry though. I didn’t find myself going “Aw, that’s love” but I didn’t say “Gosh, that sucked” either. Now, they did have some big names in this movie, Jeremy Irons and Emma Thompson to name a couple. And they did wonderful. Decent marks for acting.

Overall, the movie was okay. I don’t think it’s one I’d add to my DVD collection, but it is something that I’d watch if I were, say, flipping through the channels and this happens to be playing. And I wouldn’t mind watching it if someone suggests it for movie of the night. But, again, I don’t think I’d add it to my collection.

If I read the books (because I am so going to now, of course), and my opinion changes, I’ll revisit this review, but for now, my verdict stands.

Movie 411: “Chasing Mavericks”

(Blogging Note: As you can see, I’m trying to play around on the title of these posts. Please bear with me while I figure it out.)

chasingmavericksSo, for my “study break,” my husband I watched Chasing Mavericks, starring Gerard Butler and Jonny Weston.

When I first came across the movie, I was indifferent. It’s not that I don’t like surfing movies, but they all seem very similar to me. As a matter of fact, I told my husband “It sounds kind of like Point Break.” Truth be told, it kind of was. Plus, my indifference may stem from the fact that living in Hawaii I’m surrounded by the surfing community and … well, yeah. So, don’t hate me when I say that I wasn’t in a rush to watch it.

However, I’m glad I did.

Like any “coming of age” movie, this one fit the bill perfectly. A boy trying to discover himself takes to surfing when a neighbor pulls him out of the water, saving his life. Jay Moriarty has a troubled life and through it all, that neighbor, Frosty, becomes a father figure. Surfing helps them both to cope with life, to grow, to strive to be a better person. Jay’s main goal is to surf one of the most dangerous surf spots, Mavericks (see, kinda similar to Point Break, right? BUT …) I loved every minute. The story flowed nicely. There were some funny parts, some low parts, some “aw” moments, and it had a great conclusion which wrapped things up nicely.

I loved some of the teaching moments this movie had to offer. In fact, I jot down a few of them. My favorite is when ***SPOILER*** Frosty took Jay free diving and just as they were about to surface, a 15-foot shark comes swimming their way, causing them to stay underwater just a bit longer. In that moment, Jay starts to panic a bit and Frosty grabs him and calm him down. When they surface and climb on the boat, Frosty asks Jay “What was that?” and after a couple of exchanges Frosty tells Jay “Fear and panic are two different emotions.” He goes on to say that while fear is healthy, panic can be deadly. When Jay asks Frosty how to deal with panic, Frosty tells him to identify the thing you’re afraid of. ***END OF SPOILER***

The acting was nicely done too, but who can argue with Gerard Butler (ok, I know some people can, but … it’s Gerard Butler! “This is Sparta!”)? And Weston did a pretty good job. As the leading actor, along side Butler, he wasn’t too bad. Held his own. It’s the first time I’ve seen this actor and I hope he has a good career going for him.

Good story, good acting, good graphics. The water shots are awesome, by the way. Props to the camera men and women on that one. Nicely done.

If I had a rating scale, this movie wouldn’t be epic, but it’s not mediocre either. I think it’s DVD worthy and worth a watch. It was a good way to start my weekend.


The 411on “Battleship”

When this movie first came out, I heard mixed reviews–most of them expressed their disappointment with the movie. I can see what they mean. The movie isn’t perfect, but I enjoyed it!

1) Good story – Now, I admit, we’ve seen this story line before. US thinks they’re doing a great job by establishing a satellite that can communicate with outer space until BAM! we’re under attack by aliens who want Earth for their own. And actually, one of my top favorite movies has a similar story line than this, Independence Day with Will Smith. But it’s unique in a sense that the story takes place in Hawaii and not only does it take place in Hawaii, it takes place during RIMPAC. That is truly a unique angle. For those of you who’s not familiar with RIMPAC, I suggest you click on the link. For those of you who really don’t want to know, trudge ahead. But RIMPAC helps boost Hawaii’s economy not only in tourism, but in technology and defense as well. Just saying.

Anyway, it was really cool for me to see RIMPAC from this point-of-view, even if it isn’t the “real” thing.

Edited to include: My husband pointed out the movie showed Pearl Harbor and Kaneohe under attack, but we didn’t see anything of Hickham. I’m wondering if it’s because they’re a joint base now? Wait! I bet that’s it. I forgot they were Joint Base Pearl Harbor Hickham.

2) Good Graphics – For me, the graphics seemed balance. They weren’t off the charts awesome!, but it was decent. There were some parts that were questionable, but overall it was too small to cause any real distraction from the story. It was nicely done and edited really well. In my humble opinion.

3) Good Acting – The acting was pretty good. There were a few actors/actresses where you stop and think “this must be their début,” but overall I think the cast did a great job carrying out this story line. A few of them I hope to see again; they have great potential.

Is it DVD or Blu-ray worthy?

It doesn’t quite meet my Blu-ray criteria, but I would watch it again and I’d say give it a fair shot.

Movie Junkie 411: Checklist for Reviews, TV & Movies

Ok, so I’m like the worst critic because I’m generally positive. If something makes me laugh, cry, think about things, or keeps me interested from beginning to end I generally give a positive review. In one of my English classes, when we got to the assignment on writing a film or television review, my professor said I should set up a rating scale. She counseled that it is wise, when writing any type of review, to think about what makes it good and what makes it bad then judge your item from there.

It’s good advice; great advice even, except that–again–I’m generally positive so . . . yep, worse critic ever. But I decided to give it shot. I decided that perhaps maybe I should just sit down and think it through. So here goes.

Edited: Ok, I’m editing this draft to separate guidelines for a good Film and TV and guidelines for books.

Firstly, it has to be a good story. “Well, what’s a good story?” That’s a tough one. A good story, to me, would be anything that’s a different from what’s already out there, a new take on something that’s already out there, or a really good remake of something that’s already out. I know that doesn’t say much, but really, can you actually describe a good movie? In general? If you can, props to you. I’m interested in hearing how, sincerely. For now, that’s my basic guideline on bullet number one (not that there’s actually a bullet, but you know what I mean . . . right?). Some movies that I watched recently that I loved because of the story line are Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters, Jack the Giant Slayer, and Whip It (but this was an adaptation of a book so I’m not quite sure how to grade it, just yet, but it’s an example).

Secondly, if the movie or TV show is doing graphics, it has to be good. But not only good, it has to be balanced. Any movie or tv show that over does it in this department irritates me–just a little. Of course this bullet (because, you know I’m using “mental” bullets; it’s why you can’t see the bullet points–FYI) is null and void if that’s the effect the director is going for, but if the story is about everyday life and you’re doing heavy graphics, then it looks fake and throws off the “escape from reality” feel that movies and tv are suppose to give. You know? A movie that I thought did graphics well was Journey 2: the Mysterious Island. I was really impressed with the blend of graphics I gave the whole graphics department a shout out on my twitter feed. What I really loved was the play of color, angles, and slow motion shots during the “bee chase” scene. It really did amaze me.

The last on this list is the acting should be decent. When I can tell it’s acting, it’s not decent. I don’t mean to sound so harsh, but there are some movies out there where the acting is sub par and it’s distracting. It looks fake and it feels fake. Again, it really screws up the “escape from reality, come have a good time” feeling that film and TV are supposed to create (thinks It’s common sense, but in case it isn’t–I’m not talking reality TV). Now, I can usually forgive this if it’s a really good story or the graphics and camera angles are nicely done, but it’s still worth a bullet (because, remember, I’m using “mental” bullet points).

Not as important as these elements, but something I keep in the back of my head about a good movie is sound and audio. I know it doesn’t seem important, but for me, if the audio is shotty, I won’t be able to continue watching the movie and/or TV show. For me, it’s so much more than just good sound quality. This also applies to “cue ominous music” or more specifically the timing and music score. There has to be a good balance of dialog and music.

That kind of sums up my criteria for a good movie. I know, I know. “Really, Jei-Nhy? That’s it?” Yep. Like I mentioned, worse critic ever, but hey, I’m being honest.

So, to give you an example of a movie that scores high on all the points I just mentioned, a movie that my husband and I call it a “go to” movie–a movie we fall back on when there’s absolutely nothing to watch and we’re bored–is Reign of Fire. Yep. It’s a unique storyline, the graphics are good, and the acting is good. It has a bit of action, a touch of romance, and it gets the wheels churning in your head. It’s one of those movies that is all-around, you know? A little bit of everything. The perfect “go to” movie.

If I ever do a movie/TV review, this is what’s going through my head when I do it. It’s my mental checklist, if you will.

That’s a wrap!