Author Archives: ochippie

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Movie Trailer – Crazy Rich Asians

Category : Movie Trailer

Director: Jon M. Chu

Starring: Constance Wu, Henry Golding, Michelle Yeoh

Release: August 15th, 2018

I assure you that I am happy that POC are “infiltrating” Hollywood, that Asians are getting leads, that we are starting to understand that we don’t ALWAYS need a burly, white, 20-30 year old man as the hero of every film.  But that aside, this movie doesn’t look good.  Chu is not a director who I’d trust with this rom/com; just look at his filmography.  And the story just looks tired, without stunning performances to raise it up.


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Movie Trailer – Destination Wedding

Category : Movie Trailer

Director: Victor Levin

Starring: Keanu Reeves, Winona Ryder

Release: August 2nd, 2018

I can not believe I am about to say this, especially because I just got done saying how awful Ryder & Reeves are in my Dracula review, but; this movie looks hilarious.  I don’t know what it is, there’s this dry sense of humor dusted over everything, and maybe it’s just the trailer, but something about it looks magical.  I really still don’t think they’re very talented, but this duo might just be the regular people who I want to watch do this regular movie.  And Levin’s only other film is 5 to 7, which I really, really enjoyed, so hey, why not give this one a chance.


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Movie Review – Dracula (1992)

Category : Movie Review

Director: Francis Ford Coppola

Starring: Winona Ryder, Keanu Reeves, Gary Oldman, Anthony Hopkins

Year: 1992

I can understand how, in 1992, pairing Winona Ryder and Keanu Reeves together as a romantic pair could seem like a good idea, but I honestly don’t think I would have done it, even then; I have this little thing called ‘the ability to notice when people are horrible actors’.  Ryder was an 80s It Girl: Lucas, Beetlejuice, Heathers, Edward Scissorhands, Mermaids.  Reeves has just emerged as Ted Logan and Johnny Utah.  Putting the two together must have seemed like a no-brainer, but only if you hadn’t watched other people act and only if you didn’t know what actual talent was.  Letting them star alongside proven veterans like Oldman and Hopkins was the next bad idea, and it all culminated in a highly unusual picture that’s often incredibly bad.

This is Bram Stoker’s tale of the vampire Count Dracula, his desperation to be reunited with his lost love Elisabeta, and the famed Van Helsing’s mission to destroy him once & for all.  Dracula was once a warrior for God, but when his wife took her own life, he cursed his creator, turning to darkness with a rage that was powerful enough to curb death.  Now he can become vapor, a wolf, a bat, cast spells on others, and control the weather; basically he’s a badass, undead, bloodthirsty monster.  When Dracula meets the young Jonathan Harker, he also sees a picture of Harker’s fiancee Mina, who bears a striking resemblance to his own Elisabeta.  Capturing Harker, the Count begins to woo Mina, while Professor Van Helsing is called upon to cure another women who Dracula has begun to change into a vampire as well.  All characters converge in a final confrontation, with the fate of the world hanging in the balance.

It’s not all bad, but I can’t enjoy this movie completely, not the way it was meant to be enjoyed in the 90s when it came out.  The story is cool, as is the way the director stuck to Stoker’s work, letting the classic tale be told the way it would if you read the book, with bloody special effects that were probably cool at the time.  And Oldman is a great Dracula, creepy and captivating, the perfect villain.  But the rest is simply weird.  Coppola isn’t a good director; he struck gold with the first two Godfather films and you could make an argument for Apocalypse Now, but the rest is a mess.  And then there’s the leading duo, who are simply awful, but for some unknown reason are still Hollywood mainstays.  It’s baffling really, but there’s no accounting for taste.  The most laughable aspect was the trio of suitors who become Van Helsing’s soldiers: Cary Elwes the over-actor extraordinaire, Billy Campbell the Rocketeer, Richard E. Grant who has been in every movie made since and shows no sign of stopping.  They’re very silly, the movie is insanely over-the-top, Coppola takes a lot of risks, and most of them don’t pay off at all.  Maybe I missed the boat, maybe I needed to see this when I was impressionable, but watching it now it does nothing for me whatsoever.

My rating: ☆ ☆

 

 


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Movie Trailer – City of Lies

Category : Movie Trailer

Director: Brad Furman

Starring: Johnny Depp, Forest Whitaker

Release: September 7th, 2018

An OK director, good leads, a true story, but somehow I don’t think it’ll work.  The whole thing seems a little dull, a little forced, amped up to try to impress us, but without the power to actually do it.


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Movie Trailer – Mowgli

Category : Movie Trailer

Director: Andy Serkis

Starring: Rohan Chand, Christian Bale, Benedict Cumberbatch

Release: October 19th, 2018

We LITERALLY just saw this movie.  I know this time it’s not Disney and it doesn’t have the references to the classic animated musical, but other than other, IT’S EXACTLY THE SAME!  What am I missing here?  These CGI animals look identical to the ones in the new Jungle Book, their voices even sound the same, why has everyone gone insane while I stayed regular?!?!?!


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DVD Review – Maximilian

Category : DVD Review

Director: Andreas Prochaska

Starring: Jannis Niewohner, Christa Theret

Year: 2016

Like Rome or The Tudors before it, Maximilian attempts to bring history in bite-sized chunks to audiences who have become used to series television, especially the more racy kind that can be found on HBO and Showtime.  This is what we want now; short-run shows that push the boundaries, tell us sordid tales, and leave us wanting more.  Sometimes it turns into Emmy-caliber entertainment, sometimes we’re happy just watching a handful of episodes and then forgetting all about it, but American audiences in particular have shown a specific interest in binge watching; if we can swallow down a bit of education in the mix, all the better.  This Austrian series, which ran in 3 long episodes and is brought to us in 6 smaller segments, is exactly what we’re looking for; blood, sex, a dash of true story, and a whole lot of entertainment value that we don’t have to work hard to consume.

The Movie

The Duke is dead; long live the Duchess.  In 1477, at the end of the Middle Ages, the wealthiest nation in Europe is Burgundy, technically a duchy of France but fiercely led by Charles the Bold, a man who bows to no one.  When Charles dies in battle, the throne is up for grabs, since he left no male heir.  His daughter, Mary of Burgundy, claims the title herself, but without a man to stand beside her that claim holds no power.  The King of France, Louis XI, proclaims that his underaged son must marry Mary, therefore bringing the duchy back under his control.  The new Duchess wants nothing that France has to offer, but money can only buy so many mercenaries, she needs a warrior to lead her armies into battle, and that’s where Maximilian comes in.

In Austria, the impoverished Holy Roman Empire has lost its former glory over the centuries since Rome’s collapse, but Emperor Frederick still reigns, if mostly only in name.  His son, Maximilian, is a brilliant solider and handsome lad; he would make the perfect suitor for Mary of Burgundy.  With Mary’s money and Maximilian’s claim to the god-given title of Holy Roman Emperor, a true dynasty could be established, one to bring the entire continent out of the brutality of the old ways and into the light of modernity.  But first Maximilian will have to survive marauding Hungarians, the plague, and the assassins of the French King, if he is to reach Mary’s side and take her for his wife, turning the page of history with one dramatic sweep.

This series, which watches as a five-hour movie, is exactly the style that American audiences are enjoying right now; I’m surprised that it isn’t more widely known.  Perhaps it simply wasn’t released here; it’s entirely European and makes no attempt to be “Hollywood”.  You can tell because it doesn’t have a random, American explorer or some other ridiculous write in to appease us, which I’m very happy to report.  No, this is Austrian television, coming at you in German, French, Dutch; whatever language the historical figures would have spoken when they were alive.  In that way, I think this series does a tremendous job, but also might lose a few viewers who don’t want to spend the entire time watching subtitles from multiple languages, until their heads are spinning with accents, dialects, official names, and ancient map references.  But that all sounds good to be, as a history and a movie buff, so judge for yourself.

I was concerned at the beginning, because the first few episodes are full of court appearances and blustery discourses.  I didn’t know how many more times I could watch Maximilian be summoned to his father’s throne room to get a lecture, and then switch to a different country to see the same thing from a different royal family.  But thankfully that only lasted long enough to set events in motion; then the more dramatic elements began to pick up steam.  This is a love story at its core; Mary and Maximilian were said to have a true romance, and their relationship set the stage for the Renaissance in later years.  We see that love, some appropriate nudity, a side story or two, a touch of combat and battle; all the makings of an epic, European, Medieval melodrama, and almost always in the best ways.  What more could you ask for from a limited series; I really think that if more people got their hands on this tale it could break out in a big way.

The Blu-ray

Video – With an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 (1920x1080p), the video quality of the Blu-ray disc is excellent, everything you could hope for from a period piece of this nature delivered in a format that raises the ceiling.  The cinematography was lovely, as were the sets and the costumes, a real transformative piece of cinema.  The color tended toward dark, but that shouldn’t be surprising, given the era, and otherwise the picture was very nice.

Audio – The disc was done in German and French DTS HD Master Audio 5.1 or 2.0.  Subtitles are available in English.  The audio quality is great as well, with a stirring soundtrack that helps move events along and will be stuck with you long after you stop watching.  The balance and sound mixing were done very nicely, no problems from the audio in any way, and the score only added to my enjoyment.

Extras – There is only one bonus feature available; a trailer for the film.

Final Thoughts

Highly Recommended.  I can recommend this feature because I enjoyed it so much, but I have to acknowledge that others might not feel as strongly about it as I do.  I love history, especially European and Medieval, so this story was right up my alley.  Also, incidentally, I love accents, attempting to place them, and following along with foreign languages as I try to pick out words I understand, especially with the help of subtitles.  And I’m a film critic, so really this movie just fell into my lap.  I would hope that others would be entertained by it too, because it’s in the current style and format, I only question audiences’ ability to stick with it when it takes a little work to follow through the course of history.  But the acting is great, the action is intense, it always feels real, and I could have watched more; it only got better and better after a bit of a slow start.  The video is very attractive, the audio is strong, there aren’t many extras, so the technical aspects are mostly positive, and definitely won’t distract.  Given a solid chance, this series could impress you; it did me.

☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ – Content

☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ – Video

☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ – Audio

☆ – Extras

☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ – Replay

 


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Movie Trailer – The Happytime Murders

Category : Movie Trailer

Director: Brian Henson

Starring: Bill Barretta, Melissa McCarthy

Release: August 17th, 2018

I’m not sure what I think about Jim Henson’s son perverted beloved muppets in this way; I can’t quite decide if it’s the worst or best thing that’s ever happened.


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Movie Trailer – Bohemian Rhapsody

Category : Movie Trailer

Director: Bryan Singer

Starring: Rami Malek

Release: November 2nd, 2018

I just don’t really like biopics about musicians, not usually anywhere.  They’re kinda boring, especially the same old I’m a genius, I got into drugs, the band started falling apart, our manager was a dick, fans loved us, it all went to our heads.  And I don’t even know if Mercury’s story follows that same path, but I assume it’s some variation, and I’m already tired of watching.  The music alone is some reason to watch, but the star isn’t, and the genre just doesn’t excite me.


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Movie Review – Thor: The Dark World

Category : Movie Review

Director: Alan Taylor

Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Tom Hiddleston

Year: 2013

The first Thor was  bad, but if you want to build a Universe you have to break a few eggs.  Or something like that.  Basically, the beginning of Marvel’s great project was bumpy, which is something people forget because it has become so good.  Does that give us some hope that the DC Universe will eventually come around too?  Maybe, Wonder Woman was solid, so perhaps there’s some hope for them.  The key might be willingness to change, and there were definitely some changes made in the second Thor installment, leaving many of the mistakes of the first behind.  But not all, sadly, that would have to wait for the third of the trilogy.

Thor had to leave Jane and planet Earth so that he could bring peace to the Nine Realms, having discovered his true powers and the calling placed upon him to be a beacon of hope in the galaxy.  He’ll be needed soon, because the ancient Dark Elves have awoken, and they are seeking the powerful Aether, a weapon that can turn everything it touches into dark matter.  Jane, still seeking information on Thor, stumbles upon the Aether, and it enters her body as a host.  Now the Dark Elves want her, and Thor must protect her with his life.  All-out war is on the horizon as the Nine Realms converge, a point in time in which the Aether can be used to destroy reality as we know it.

A slight improvement on the first, The Dark World is a move toward something better and more connected to the MU, a step away from the goofiness of the original.  Hemsworth improves, Portman doesn’t, so it’s easy to see why she was left out of Ragnarok and the Universe going forward after this film.  As always, Hiddleston stole the show with his complicated character; I don’t know what the franchise would do without the storyline between the brothers.  I just hate the Warriors Three, I’m glad they stopped appearing in the later films, because they aren’t needed or wanted at all.  These movies are just weak, it’s just early in the development of the Asgardian characters, but thankfully it gets much better.

My rating: ☆ ☆

 

 


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Movie Trailer – The House That Jack Built

Category : Movie Trailer

Director: Lars von Trier

Starring: Matt Dillon, Uma Thurman, Riley Keough

Release: November 29th, 2018

I can appreciate von Trier, he’s at least willing to experiment, to push the boundaries, refusing to play along with the Hollywood norm.  And I really liked Nymphomaniac, I thought it was great, so I don’t mind the graphic content that he often chooses to explore.  But it’s this simple; Matt Dillon is a terrible actor, so why would I want to see him butcher people for two and a half hours?