Friday, December 30, 2011

Mini-Reviews: War Horse, The Muppets, Limitless

We’re coming up on January which means that we’re approaching three things relevant to this blog: 1) My Top Ten Movie list, 2) The Academy Award nominations and, of course, 3) Beta is Dead’s Second Year Anniversary. On top of that I have an extremely specific film in mind for my first review of 2012, yet I had wanted to write a few more before then. It seemed like a good time to play catch-up so I decided to do another round of Mini-Reviews and do a few of movies I’ve been meaning to do but haven’t been able to.

Like last time this will be shorter and more to the point, lacking the rant elements of my normal review. Less funny: perhaps. More likely to result in me being looked at a serious reviewer: Maybe. And in the end that’s what’s important: the recognition and praise of total strangers.

Today I’m reviewing Limitless, The Muppets, and War Horse. Click below to check them out.



War Horse

Director: Steven Spielberg
Screen Writer(s): Richard Curtis; Lee Hall
Starring: Jeremy Irvine; A horse

This film is based on a children’s novel of the same name as well as a stage production based on the same book. This is the second Steven Spielberg film of the year. Hell, it’s the second Spielberg flick of the month, the other being The Adventures of Tintin. Anyway War Horse is indeed a beautiful film, both visually and with its music. If you like flute solos you’ll love this movie. There’s a lot of great acting to be found here as such awesome thespians such Tom Hiddleston and Benedict Cumberbatch show up (Albeit in a somewhat limited capacity). I can firmly say that everything you need for a good movie is present here. It has one of my favorite scenes in all of film; the wire cutter scene near the film’s climax. I also enjoyed ho dirty and horribly unpleasant war is depicted here. As we’re dealing with an actual historic conflict (World War I) rather than a fantasy/science fiction affair (Like “The Unification War” or “The Peacekeeper War”) it’s good that we recall just how horrifyingly awful the subject matter is. Plus it’s nice to see WWI over WWII depicted on film for a change.

The main I problem I have with it though is that I feel like I’ve seen this basic story before, though granted those times were probably starring dogs trying to get back home, not horses. Adding to that the narrative structure, with involves Joey the horse in successive stories about him and various owners, didn’t do much for me and I honestly got a bit bored at times and wasn’t all that invested with the tension of the film. All of this is just me though. I left the theater not feeling strongly about this film. I understand that it’s a pretty decent Spielberg film (Though J.J. Abrams may have made an even better Spielberg film in Super 8 earlier this year) and you may like it or even love it. Check it out.

Now that's a lad who loves his horse a bit too much
 I give War Horse 3 Adorable Pandas out of 5.


Pros 

-Great music

-Good acting

-A great looking film

Cons 

-It can be a bit dull at times

The Muppets

Director: James Bobin
Screen Writer(s): Jason Segel; Nicholas Stoller 
Starring: Jason Segel; Amy Adams 

The Muppets technically never left, they just haven’t been around in a wide format (Thanks a lot, internet). But this is the first theatrical film they’ve done since the abysmal Muppets from Space in 1999. Anyway it’s awesome seeing most of my favorite Muppets back on the big screen, including several characters I had been told were retired (Welcome back Rowlf). The music featured here is mostly up to the standards of passed films, some of them being down right infectious. And of course old favorites make an appearance. While some of the jokes featured in the film aren’t exactly winners fairly regularly there is comedy that is absolutely brilliant that easily cancels out any of the stinkers. I’ve heard some people say they didn’t like that Walter, a new Muppet, was the lead over old favorites Kermit and Miss Piggy. However I think it’s fine as the way the script works out someone outside the group needed to be the focus; a least Walter is a pretty cool character (Far, far from the worst Post-Jim Henson creation). His fanboy nature amuses me.

On the other hand I was completely uninterested in Gary and Mary and their subplot. While I think Walter was pretty necessary for the plot focusing any time son human characters that aren’t Muppets is a waste of time in movies like this because it creates scenes that aren’t our favorite characters doing crazy stuff. I’m sorry but I don’t give a crap about Gary forgetting about his anniversary. Yes, Jason Segel is great here (As writer and actor) but his character is 100% superfluous. We needed more Muppets, less humans. But bottom line the movie is a great family film for both those who, like me, grew up with the Muppets and the children who may not have gotten the chance.  It really feels like a new beginning for Jim Henson's beloved characters.  Sadly The Muppets hasn’t done as well as it should have in the box office. I blame the recent Twilight movie, which I do with most everything

I give The Muppets 4  Mr. Green Frogs out of 5.


Pros 

-Fun music

-Can be insanely hilarious at times

-Absurd moments actually help the movie (Including the Tex Richman rap)

Cons 

-The human romantic subplot has no business here

Limitless
 Director: Neil Burger 
Screen Writer: Leslie Dixon 
Starring: Bradley Cooper; Abbie Cornish; Robert De Niro 

This movie is based on a book called "The Dark Fields" by Alan Glynn.   I found that watching Limitless brought up a bunch of memories of Fight Club in tone and unique cinematography; in a good way, of course. The storytelling in Limitless is topnotch and as a thriller there haven’t been many more in history that I was as invested in while watching. It’s a great looking flick that is greatly enhanced by the details included. Like how when anyone is on the brain enhancing drug all colors on the screen get brighter. This is a slick looking, and slick feeling movie and you’ll feel cooler just by watching it. There are also no major flaws in the film that I can see, which makes reviewing it a bit difficult. It’s one of those movies that are really good and you have to nitpick to come up with any real problems. I can say that the movie might be hard to connect with because the main character, Eddie, isn’t the most likable human being. It’s not that he’s an asshole per say but he’s not exactly someone who I always wanted to cheer for. It might be that he does some pretty morally questionable and generally incompetent things during the film but lacks any sense of it being a necessary side effect of a nobler goal since it’s never revealed what his end game was. What exactly is he working towards and what he needs all this money for is a mystery but I think if we had been told we’d be more likely to forgive his faults. Still that aspect isn’t really enough to hurt the film. This flick was positioned to be my favorite movie of the year since I saw it in theaters.

Let’s give Limitless 4 out of 5 Adorable Pandas.


Pros 

-A very cool looking film with a cool looking atmosphere 

-A very engaging plot 

-Very reminiscent of Fight Club 

Cons 

-Eddie could be a bit more likable

The Lesson: Taking drugs will make  all your dreams come true

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