Django Unchained (2012)

Gorgeous poster, though probably not in the category of previous Tarantino films.  Argue about that.

Gorgeous poster, though probably not in the category of previous Tarantino films. Argue about that.

Directed by: Quentin Tarantino (we could argue over what his “best” movie is, but the safe bet will most likely always be Pulp Fiction)

Written by: Tarantino

Starring: Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio, James Remar, Kerry Washington, Laura Cayouette, Walton Goggins and Samuel L. Jackson.  Also, check the tags for many actors that basically filmed cameo roles.

What it’s about: in 1858, a former slave becomes a bounty hunter and searches for his wife

B-Movie Alternate Title: It’s a pretty B-Movie title already

Movie Mash Up: Inglourious BasterdsTombstone + probably hundreds of blaxpoitation movies that Tarantino has watched

What I liked: I have to admit, Jamie Foxx ruled in this movie, and I hate having to say that.  Tarantino wrote such a great character in Django, and knew exactly how he wanted the character to appear and succeeded on all levels.  I would argue that Christoph Waltz deserves to be nominated in the Best Actor category, rather than the Supporting Actor category for his performance in this movie, but whatever.  It is a fun movie, dealing with some super serious themes, and it may be Tarantino’s funniest movie yet.  Argue some more about that too, if you want.  The movie looks gorgeous, and flows fairly well (see below), so well that at points it doesn’t exactly feel like a near three hour-long movie.  DiCaprio was amazing in it as well, particularly the scene in which he actually accidentally cuts open his own hand, bleeding profusely all over himself, and continues acting.  Don’t know how Kerry Washington felt about having his blood smeared all over her face, though.

What I disliked: The running time of nearly three hours is fairly daunting, Tarantino movie or not.  You could make arguments about trimming the fat and lessening the homages to whatever obscure movie Tarantino was referring to with whatever camera angle or sound cue, but you don’t have the same movie then.  I consider myself a fairly knowledgeable movie fan, but I probably don’t know half of the references Tarantino is making, even in regards to certain actors and actresses he ends up casting for whatever reason.  There were some scenes throughout that I thought were misplaced or came from some wacky sitcom script (the Jonah Hill cameo scene springs to mind), and while they weren’t terrible, they did put me off a little.

Would I recommend it to anyone?: While it is pretty great, the exceedingly long running time and excessive (but totally in context) usage of the word “nigger”, probably means it isn’t for everyone.  Tarantino fans will eagerly lap it up, though.

Rating: 4.5 / 5

I am surprised this .gif hasn't been Hasslehoff'd.

I am surprised this .gif hasn’t been Hasslehoff’d.

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Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (2012)

Directed by: Timur Bekmambetov (only other film of his I’ve seen was Wanted and holy fuck, did THAT suck)

Written by: Seth Grahame-Smith adapted his own novel for the screen

Starring: Benjamin Walker, Dominic Cooper, Anthony Mackie, Rufus Sewell, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Jimmi Simpson and Alan Tudyk

What it’s about: one of the most self-explanatory movie titles ever, it’s right there

B-Movie Alternate Title: Tim Burton presents Abe Lincoln!

Movie Mash Up: (Buffy the Vampire Slayer300Cirque du Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant) – anything really clever or fun.

What I liked: Well it’s a fairly stylistic movie, but much like every Zack Snyder movie, there requires more to a movie than just flash to make it good.  At least this movie has a slight bit more substance to it than the stuff that Snyder shits out.  I thought the acting was fair to middling, nothing exceptional at all, but it’s not really the kind of movie you’re going to watch for acting tips.

What I disliked: I hate how writers keep coming up with new wrinkles to make their version of vampires fresher or “better”.  Sorry, but silver is used for werewolves, not vampires.  And as soon as you allow vampires to be out in the sun, you’re into Stephanie Meyer territory.  Stick with the Joss Whedon mythos and you’ll automatically make a better movie.  Again, mostly all flashy action set pieces, little to no real meaningful entertainment.  It’s a rote, average movie that looks very pretty.

Would I recommend it to anyone?: Not really.  If you go your whole life without watching it, your life will not have been better or worse for it.

Rating: 2.5 / 5

Green Lantern (2011)

Being a big fan of the DC Comics Green Lantern character, I was both looking forward to and scared of a film adaptation of the character.  Years ago there were rumours of the Hal Jordan part going to Jack Black, which would have been an absolutely shitty casting decision and doomed the movie right from the start.  Other actors were rumoured as well, and even though my pick for Jordan – Nathan Fillion – wasn’t picked, I was somewhat satisfied with the decision to cast Ryan Reynolds as GL.  Having seen the movie, while I’m not 100% pleased with the characterization (mostly due to certain aspects of the script highlighting Reynolds’ smart ass strengths), I was glad that the movie didn’t suck.

A lot of critics out there will tell you that it wasn’t that great, but I think it’s probably the best Green Lantern movie any of us could have hoped for.  I’m sure there was a desire to completely pack the movie with as many Green Lantern mythology as possible, but thankfully someone pulled the reins in on that.  What that ultimately provides is a stable foundation with which to build a franchise, and hopefully that is what happens.  Other than the unnecessary and stupid end credits Sinestro (Mark Strong) sequence, the movie is an exercise in not blowing its respective load.

Like I said, Reynolds was a decent choice for Jordan, though I think Ryan Gosling might have even been a better choice for the more serious Hal Jordan character, whereas Reynolds would have been an excellent Kyle Rayner GL.  If you don’t know what I’m talking about, don’t worry, it’s just comic book nerdery.  Director Martin Campbell puts together some visually stunning sequences, and there’s a strong supporting cast of, well, perfectly cast actors in Strong, Geoffrey Rush and Michael Clarke Duncan.  Peter Sarsgaard is at his smarmy and creepy best as Hector Hammond, and Blake Lively continues to surprise me with her performances.

It’s not a perfect movie, but it’s enjoyable and entertaining, and hopefully accessible to the non-nerds out there.

3.5 / 5