Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Miko vs. Miyavi

Seven years ago, one of my best friends mentioned a solo artist by the name of Miyavi. Her selling point was that his spastic personality reminded her of me, so I checked him out. I came across one of his first solo PVs for "Pop is Dead" and immediately fell in love with his high energy. It wasn't until I heard "Night in Girl" that I enjoyed him as an artist. From then on, I became a Miyavi fan.

Naturally, I went backwards and checked out his previous band, Due'le quartz. Miyavi was a young man by the name of Miyabi. He was a gifted guitarist with a rocky past and a mixed background that he denied for quite some time. He displayed energy, passion, and was a little contained when needed. Watching Due'le quartz's last live was a heartbreaking moment, but all good things must come to an end and Miyavi had a fairly successful solo career. His former band members Sakito and Kikasa (and Kazuki providing support drums for lives) had a decent, but short lived duo band [FIGURE;]. Kikasa supposedly managed an indies label, TUXEDO PRODUCTION, as well.

Since his band days, young Miyavi grew and evolved as an artist. His passion for music showed more and more over the years. He seemed more confident with his craft with Miyavizm - Shugi and showed off his acoustic abilities with his double album release MYV☆POPS and Miyavi uta - dokuso. Soon a new style was introduced with the enthusiasm of the KAVKI BOIZ. It mixed traditional visuals with slap guitar, tap dancing, and rap. I wasn't a huge fan of this era and I won't drift too far on how pointless his involvement with S.K.I.N was either. That's more of Yoshiki's doing than Miyavi's.

In 2009, Miyavi departed from PS Company and announced his marriage to jpop singer and J-Melo hostess Melody. He was opening his label J-Glam and was starting a family with his new wife. This was a rocky transition for some fans and I was surprised by the fan attacks. During this time, he made his first appearance at Texas' Anime Matsuri. The Q&A was the worst I've ever been to and the live was underwhelming. Despite his busy schedule with new material, business, and a family, Miyavi set forth on his first world tour that was unfortunately cut short due to health issues. The following year was another slightly underwhelming performance for myself.

WHAT'S MY NAME? introduced a very basic instrumentation and electronic elements with his improved slap guitar talent. In 2011, I was finally satisfied with his live performance in Dallas. Miyavi was a little more settled with himself as a musician, businessman, and family man. Unfortunately, this new Miyavi lacks lasting power as the spastic one I grew attached to. No, I'm not saying one of those "the old Miyavi was better, he never should've changed" type rants. Even if I enjoyed this era differently, I do notice the good points to them. Since Day 1 was released this year, I noticed how repetitive and almost uninspired Miyavi has become.

His departure from PSC was a smart move. He got to gain his own personal freedom with not only his musical journey, but for his own happiness outside of music. He has a proud wife, beautiful children, and a new love for himself by accepting his father's half. That's a huge positive! The misstep was the push to produce music and tour the world while trying to adjust in this new position in life.

Put away your rocks Miyavi fans and hear me out. Listen to "What's My Name?", "Strong", and "Day 1" and tell me that this isn't repetitive and uninspired. Even at his last live in Texas, some of the songs sounded the same. The energy was there, but the passion was lacking. Sure, he was never the best singer, but his lyrics were touching. His composition was unique from song to song. Now it's the same guitar slapping and random spouts of yelling lyrics over an electronic track with barely comprehensible English.

I love Miyavi and he will probably be my favorite jrock solo artist for a long time even though there are way more talented solo jrock artists I like, but I really want Miyavi to turn around and abandon this lackluster music style. He either needs to slow down with his schedule or rejoin a band to adjust his skills and reignite the passion in his music. Watch this live he participated in with Kiyoharu. The man can play when he's actually plucking some strings.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Review: The Dark Knight Rises

Starring: Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Gary Oldman
Directed by: Christopher Nolan
Language: English
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 164 minutes

This was my movie of the year, the film I was looking forward to this year, and also the movie I was the most nervous about. My expectations were all over the place since The Dark Knight became one of my favorite movies. Everyone enjoyed the sequel
so following it up and closing such an epic triology would be a challenge.

Eight years later after the events of Harvey Dents's death, the city of Gotham feels at ease since passing the Dent Act that stops criminal and violent organizations. The blame of Harvey's death remains on Batman's reputation and Comissioner Gordon's conscience. The man behind the mask has become recluse for all this time until an unexpected terrorist appears in Gotham by the name of Bane.

First of all, I'm a casual Batman fan. I've never read the comics, but I've seen bits and pieces of the 1960's TV show starring Adam West and the cheesiest version of the "Justice League". I've seen all the live action movies that have hit the theater, even the incredibly awful Batman & Robin. I've watched a few reviews from Pretty Much It, James the Nintendo Nerd, JesuOtaku, and Doug Walker. They all seemed to enjoy it, except for Doug, and had different takes on it. The person I agreed with the most was the guy on the right of PMI's review. Unlike The Amazing Spider-Man, I will be avoiding spoilers.

As mentioned before, I was more than excited about seeing this movie. I also was worried it wouldn't be as spectacular as The Dark Knight and also a casting choice. I love Anne Hathaway, but trying to picture her as the alluring and clever Catwoman was hard to imagine. I also worried that Bane would get overshadowed by The Joker's anarchist ways. Were my barely existing expectations met? Honestly...no...they were way beyond anything I expected!

The story was intriguing and those near three hours of film felt like a standard hour and a half of pure art. Yes, it is dialogue heavy, but Christopher Nolan is a fantastic storyteller. Every character mattered and were fleshed out enough to know them and understand them. The acting was convincing and I can understand the choices they made without question. As for my worries about Hathaway and Bane, they went away as the movie progressed. Hathaway's portrayal of Catwoman exceed my expectations and broke that awkward but loveable girl I remember her as in The Princess Diaries and The Devil Wears Prada. She was smart, sassy, and sexy. Then there's Bane. I believed he lived up to the Joker's intimidation and power, but in a different way. I can't admire him as much because honestly his appearance scares me inside. Joker's intimidation was his mind, something I'm used to as a fan of psychological horror.

The production was rich and smoothly transitioned from the previous movie. The cinematography and editing were smart. I don't pay attention to music often in movies, but the soundtrack was phenomenal and cleverly placed. The moments that lacked music heightened the tone effectively and you constantly felt invested. Lastly, I like how it tied in Batman Begins into the story to complete the circle.

I bet you're wondering if I have any complaints. The cons are rather small to me. Without any spoilers, Batman is mentally and emotionally tested at some point and there's a story attached to it. It can be a little confusing and may take a second viewing to fully understand. There's also a scene where Batman and Bane fight and there seems to be a small continuity error. I could be wrong, but it cuts away quite quickly afterwards. There were a couple cheesy moments too, but it doesn't ruin the movie. Lastly, there were a few moments where I couldn't understand Bane and had to pick up clues in the scene to understand what was going on. Maybe a second viewing might clear things up as well.

Overall, I thought the movie was just as good as the previous. I was a bit overwhelmed by how stunning it was afterwards and also a little saddened that Nolan's tale of Gotham's Dark Knight has come to a close. I truly felt inspired by this trilogy! I'm curious how the next reboot will pan out leading to a potential Justice League as well as Nolan's next hero, the Man of Steel. I highly recommend seeing this masterpiece.

Lastly, I want to close with a quote from my Facebook concerning the events that occurred in Colorado: "The Dark Knight Rises" was a possible life changing experience to me. It's a shame that it changed so many lives by a shooting that same night in Colorado. My thoughts and prayers go out to those who were affected that evening.

Rating: 4.5/5

If there's something you want me to review, check out this post on how you can submit requests.

Monday, July 23, 2012

The Little Shop of Horrors: 1960 vs. 1986

The Little Shop of Horrors is probably one of my favorite musicals. I saw the 1986 version many times growing up and it was the only version I knew of. Recently, I discovered that Jack Nicholson was part of the original version of the movie when I stumbled across the DVD at work. With that, I felt obligated to watch it and compare.

Seymour is a young, nerdy man that works for Mr. Mushnick as a florist. The shop has been receiving low business and they struggle to figure out ways to lure customers to their shop. Despite the poor business, Seymour is not only passionate about flowers, but he is very fond of his simplistic and sweet co-worker Audrey. Secretly, Seymour has been working on a project at the home that he shares with his hypochrondriac mother Winifried and brings the new species of plant he was raising to the shop. He gives it high quality soil and food to make it grow, but is puzzled and pressed for time to make it blossom to impress Mr. Mushnick and keep his job. After a little accident, he learns that his plant is not an ordinary plant that requires water and sunlight, but it is a carnivous one. Once Seymour runs of out fingers to prick and offer blood, he is pressured to find people to feed his plant, Audrey Jr..

Between both versions of the movie, the story is pratically the same. There are some differences of course. In the 1960's version, we get to meet a few of the customers quite regularly. There are more supporting characters than background. Viewers get a chance to see Seymour's living arrangement and meet his mother, which is not presented in the remake. The original is also not a musical. The 1986 version is actually based off the stage play that is based off of the 1960's movie. Lastly, the endings are different.

So, let's begin with comparing the characters starting with our protagonist Seymour played by Jonathan Haze and Rick Moranis. Both characters are the shy, clumsy, nerdy types, but I believe that Haze's portrayal seemed more incompetent than Moranis's. They were both loveable and you can truly sympathize with these characters and what they had to go through to impress Audrey, Mushnick, and most importantly pleasing Audrey Jr. If I had to pick a favorite, I enjoyed Moranis's version. Haze's portrayal seemed too incompetent and clumsy for my liking as Moranis seemed more realistic by not cheesing it up too much.

Jackie Joseph and Elle Greene play the love interest Audrey Fulquard and the characters are quite different, but not too much of a gap. Joseph's character was sweet, simple, and everything seemed so "lovely". It fit the time period of the movie. While Greene's character was just as sweet, she had this annoying speaking voice to me, although her singing is quite great. Strangely, I prefer the simple Joseph version.

Mel Welles's portrayal of Gravis Mushnik seemed a little harsher than Vincent Gardenia. It seemed like the dentist's purpose seemed more useful in the remake than the original. Steve Martin definitely had more screen time and left more of a lasting impression than John Shaner's brief appearance. They were both untrustworthy, sadistic dentists, but Martin's character had more of a relationship and conflict with the main cast. Bill Murray and Jack Nicholson both played the masochistic patient in a slightly different way. They both enjoyed pain, but Murray seemed more comical with his character and fit the tone of the remake while Nicholson seemed almost creepy with his excitement during his dentist visitation. Then there are the plants Audrey Jr. and Audrey II. Audrey Jr. had simple dialogue and was more manipulative to get what it wanted from Seymour whether it was by guilt tripping him or putting a hypnotic spell on him. While Audrey II had more attitude and sass. It was demanding as well, but seemed like more of a threat to the main cast. Even though they weren't in both movies, I really appreciated seeing Seymour's mother and her interaction with her son. I also enjoyed Crystal, Ronette, and Chiffon who were like narrators in the remake. They made the transitions entertaining and helped the tone for each scene.

If I had to choose which version I prefer more, I guess my bias lies with the 1986 version. Putting my sentimental attachment aside, I liked the storytelling better than the original, the characters seemed more interesting, and the ending was a bit more satisfying. Now the original isn't terrible at all, it's definitely worth seeing as well. The story is a little different in places, but it's just as entertaining. The ending was less satisfying for me though. It was a bit of a downer, but not all movies can have cliffhangers or happy endings. If you haven't seen either version, I advise you to check them out and if you can, go experience the stage play. If you have seen either or both versions, tell me your thoughts on the film and even the stage play below.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Review: The Amazing Spider-Man

Starring: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Rhys Ifans
Directed by: Marc Webb
Language: English
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 136 minutes

Another year of superheroes and so far I'm not complaining. Next to The Avengers and Dark Knight Rises, The Spider-Man reboot was up there on my list for the year to see.

The movie introduces us to a young Peter Parker and his parents. Immediately this family faces conflict and causes them to leave their home. His parents leave him in the care of his Uncle Ben and Aunt May. The story fast forwards to Peter in high school. He's a smart, handsome photographer who wants to be part of the popular crowd, but not in a desperate way. We're subtly introduced to his crush, Gwen Stacy. Peter finds something of his father's in the basement while helping Uncle Ben and he begins investigating the hidden documents inside. This leads him to sneaking into OsCorp and meeting Dr. Curt Connors. This is also is the beginning of him becoming a new man.

I'm not sure where to begin with this one. There's just so much I want to say, so this'll be an unusually long review of a recent movie. I suppose I will start with my thoughts on the movie without comparing it to Sam Raimi's Spider-Man. First of all, I really enjoyed the take of the original story. We all know it well, whether you're a fan of the comic book or only saw the first movie. It was still interesting and showed the audience a different perspective of Peter Parker's life by showing us a brief moment with his parents and his relationship with his aunt and uncle. I also enjoyed the contrast of character personalities as well. Peter is a bit of nerd, but he seems more familiar as well as the other characters the audience come across. Lastly, the casting choices were very smart. The trip through this reinvisioned story was quite enjoyable despite a few plot holes. It definitely made me excited for the sequel and I hope it doesn't lose it's momentum by then either.

Since I was conflicted on whether or not to make this a review, a comparison, or just bunch it all together in a video, this will just have to sufficence as I put all my thoughts together in one massive post. I kinda don't want to compare this new version and the old. They both execute basically the same story in different ways. Sam Raimi gave a more comic book tone to Peter Parker's story and Marc Webb gave it a more realistic, slightly darker tone. Both movies are great in their own way and they both have problems here and there, but it doesn't take away from the entertainment value of either one.

Tobey Maguire's portrayal of Peter Parker was definitely nerder between the two. He was picked on, awkward, and pretty much fit the television stereotype of what a nerd is. Andrew Garfield was a more sarcastic, slightly cocky, but still an outsider type of nerd. They both shared a love for photography, felt awkward around their object of affection, and had a strained bond with their uncle which became a catalyst for them becoming Spider-Man. Once they learned that they had this new found power, they took advantage of it in a slightly irresponsible way. Lastly, they were both reasonably emotional when things didn't go right (ignoring Spider-Man 3) and it fit the tone of the movie. If they switched how to portray the same emotion, it would feel out of place.

Next is Peter Parker's love interest Mary Jane Watson played by Kirsten Durnst and Gwen Stacy played by Emma Stone. Like Peter Parker, these characters fit the tone of the movie that the directors wanted to portray and if they switched it would feel out of place...especially with the love interest. Mary Jane fits the standard mold of damsel in distress, which can be a little annoying. As for Gwen, she felt like a familiar character. She's smart, beautiful, and still seems like a typical high school student that gets nervous around Peter Parker. I honestly cannot picture her being the damsel in distress type.

Then we have our villians. Norman Osborn and Dr. Curt Connors both had a good head on their shoulders. They shared a vision of greatness to change the world, but the power seeped into them in the wrong way as well as an experiment gone wrong. Green Goblin was definitely more cartoony than Lizardman, but it fit the comical style of the movie Raimi visioned. Sometimes it was a little silly and went overboard, but the execution was passable. Despite some plot holes, Curt Connors's motive seemed reasonable as well and his interactions with Peter and Gwen seemed believable.

Lastly, I will lump all of the supporting characters together in comparison. I can't compare Peter's parents since they were not introduced in the Raimi version, but they both shared the aunt and uncle relationship. Both portrayals, once again, fit the tone of the movie. Aunt May were both supportive characters and had their weak moments when called for. Uncle Ben were both strong father figures to Peter as well and reasonably butted heads with him in a believable way for the tone of their respective movies. There are some extras that don't match up with each other, so I'll just generalize and say that they were decent characters and successfully delivered their purposes for the movie.

Now for the final part I want to discuss on this lengthy movie review. I highly advise those who haven't seen the movie yet to skip to the end because there are going to some spoilers. They cannot be avoided as I want to talk about my thoughts on the plot holes in this movie. So, once again, move onto the last paragraph of this post to avoid spoilers.

Despite all the praise this movie has received, I'd have to agree with those who commented on the plot holes and lack of unveiling Peter Parker's untold story. I haven't researched many people's opinion on the matter, but I heard some thoughts from some reliable sources: Pretty Much It, Badass Digest, and Doug Walker (a.k.a The Nostalgia Critic). Now I remember viewing the review from the PMI team when the movie premiered at midnight and some of the love for the movie on first viewing was rather low due to indulging on the various trailers and teaser pictures released. This affected the enjoyment of the movie, but it was later stated that the second round made the movie more enjoyable. I must say that I will agree with Eric that if you didn't give into all the promotional clutter, you'll enjoy it more. Even though I want to get into the movie industry and enjoy films as a fan, I don't really seek out extra trailers, teaser photos, concept art, or any other promotional efforts that are not shown on TV, YouTube ads, and movie previews. I like it that way. The same goes for music videos, but that doesn't concern this post.

I know I just praised this movie earlier, but my biggest praise was the casting choices and story angle. Of course, more of the problems I have involve the story. Aside from the plot holes, the climax wasn't all that exciting. After you've seen the movie, you'll notice that the trailers on TV reveal the final act. It's borderline anti-climatic, but it still held my interest just nothing extremely exciting. As for the plot holes, it seems this has to do with the editing department and the possible last minute decision to change Peter's back story. I understand that this movie was supposed to reveal the untold story of Peter Parker and it was completely cut out. I get how that can be upsetting, especially since all the promotional videos kept pushing that information and we never got it. So, I suppose at the last minute they decided to use it as a lead up to the sequel. It's clever, but they shouldn't have pulled a false advertisement move.

Before looking at the sources I linked above, I noticed these odd things in the movie. First was Peter Parker's purpose as Spider-Man. Most know, especially if you've read the comic or seen Sam Raimi's version, that Uncle Ben dies and it's Peter's fault in some way. Once he becomes Spider-Man, he uses his power to find the killer and then suddenly his search stops like he forgot or something. I found that odd, but I shrugged it off and continued enjoying the movie. Then there was Mr. Ratha's sudden end off the bridge. Did he die or survive somehow? Honestly, his conclusion didn't even look like he died at all. I thought he was going to show up later or that Lizardman was going to attack, but no...just another nice little hole in the story. As fascinating as they made Curt Connors, Lizardman was a bit underwhelming with his motives and personality. It just seemed so cliche and out of the blue. Aside from that, Dr. Connors's back story is quite vague. We see close ups of his wedding ring, but no tie in on its significance. Another sudden moment that happened in the movie that I didn't catch on to immediately was the dinner scene where Peter meets Gwen's family. The sudden mood change didn't flow very naturally. Another moment involving Lizardman that seemed completely useless was when the officers become infected and turn into lizard-like creatures. I got excited and thought the city would be in chaos, but they simply cut away, never heard from again until the anecdote is released and they change back to humans. Ah, my heart just sunk a little reflecting on a possible epic moment.

For those who skipped to this paragraph, I would like to close that after the movie was over, I was immediately pumped for the sequel. I like the direction they're going in despite the plot holes and somewhat anti-climatic ending fight scene. Hopefully, they will tie up some loose ends in either the sequel or the deleted/bonus footage when the DVD comes out. Once again, I love the reimagining and casting choices a lot. Marc Webb has a good thing going and I hope he keeps his momentum going...and that Sony will back off, especially with promotions. If you haven't seen it yet, I highly encourage to see it!

Rating: 4/5

If there's something you want me to review, check out this post on how you can submit requests.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Top 5 Recommended Music Videos

"Best Partner" by JASMINE
I don't mention her enough, but she is so underrated and talented. Unfortunately, her music videos aren't mind blowing, but they're still visually appealing in some way. This is her newest release that takes artistic angles of the characters and herself in this deep and powerful song. It's not her best song, but it's still beautiful and I like that her stylist toned down her style for something a little more neutral. Totally waiting for JASMINE and Daichi Miura duet!

"Stay Close" by Fireflight
This video has a combination of polished looks and a independent student film project. It's not a terrible thing, but it makes you think and matches the lyrics of the song in a subtle, deep thinking way. It's a pretty simple video in some ways, but the production seems a little higher than the previous videos I've seen from this underrated Christian rock band. I'm glad they haven't lost their punch either.

"I Love You" by 2NE1
It's been a while since I felt that a YG group was worthy of being on my recs. I just had more problems than enjoyment, but I shall go into detail when I get around to reviewing their respective releases. I was a little skeptical at the beginning of this video since it really gave off some sort of Madonna/Lady Gaga vibe in the speaking, then the music started. This is definitely a different side of the girls and I appreciate that. The song is addicting and the visuals are very much appealing. I enjoy the styling and it almost makes up for their Japanese choices. Granted this whole music video package isn't perfect, but the flaws are more minor compared to "SCREAM". I won't go into detail too much unless asked.

"Resuscitate Me" by September
It's hard to find truly emotional dance songs with stunning visuals and this is one of them. I know this is an old song, but I just ran into it recently and honestly I can do whatever I want with my recs. I love the inflections of her voice and the passion she gives with her vocals and actions. The video is quite effective without being too out there like some dance songs.

I love this band and it's a shame I don't mention them that often. They make incredible music and they hardly let me down. This is a fairly simple, but catchy song. They also chose the nearly overused church and desert scenery, but it's edited very well and you almost don't mind it. Everyone gets their own spotlight in the PV and it's quite enjoyable to watch and, most of all, listen to.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

How the KPop Industry Can Lure Me into Lives

You can call me I'm a snob or even say my standards are too high. You can even stoop down low and call me dumb for feeling this way, but I have no real desire to attend a kpop live...except Rain, he's worth it. You probably think that's strange since I do listen to the music, but while trying to connect to the fandom in the beginning, I could never get into live performances of the groups I enjoy. Despite 2NE1 formerly being my favorite girl group and Big Bang stealing H.O.T's spot as my favorite male group, they simply aren't worth me traveling to the East or West Coasts to see them live this year. Why is that?

I'd like to blame my surroundings for my high standards on live performances. I've been spoiled by pop culture and TV with their precision, creativity, and synchronization. I've been to lives that don't require back tracks to give the performers the option to lip sync while they dance together. They also give high energy to the fans without depending on them too much. There's also growing up around dancers that not only had to perform for their peers and family but for competitions. KPop lives don't appeal to me because of these reasons. I could say I'm going a little too far by calling them lazy with the exclusion of T-ara, but I wouldn't say it if the industry didn't emphasis on how much they invest in these idols' careers.

I know image is everything, but sometimes it seems like companies spend more time and money on their appearances, not just styling but high budget videos, than the actual talent. This mostly shows in live performances for me. Of course Super Junior and SNSD can't be saved. They can't even get their choreography together in music videos and usually groups shine in those. Even Block B's choreography seems decent in their videos and they admit that dancing isn't their strongest skill set.

I also know that they can't be perfect all the time, but if you brag about these things then I expect a lot. Seeing Backstreet Boys and *N'SYNC who are known for great harmonies and entertaining choreography, kpop idols were set on that level for me. America gets on artists immediately if they're caught lip syncing like the Ashlee Simpson incident. There's no excuse, especially when you brag. Daichi Miura produces heartfelt vocals and mindblowing choreography that is more complicated. I know for a fact that SM Entertainment is very guilty of this when their groups make a comeback. If the skill isn't perfected, companies try to cover it up with flashy, expensive stage production which can sometimes emphasis that the group is lacking.

I suppose it is difficult to fit extra training into an idol's busy schedule of commercials, TV appearances, and photoshoots, but American artists do it all the time without losing their performance value. This shows that the kpop industry is still at a toddler stage if fans constantly need to see activity from groups without ditching them for a new fanbase. If they can fix that issue then I believe groups can blow not only myself, but possibly other fans and potential fans away with their performances and gain more money from lives.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Review: 21 Jump Street

Starring: Jonah Hill, Channing Tatum, Ice Cube
Directed by: Phil Lord & Chris Miller
Language: English
Rating: R
Running Time: 109 minutes

If you didn't know, I love Johnny Depp. He's probably my favorite actor. I started watching his first TV series 21 Jump Street from my job and even reviewed it. My mom bought me two seasons for me for Christmas one year. So, I've seen four out of five seasons of the show and even became a fan of not only the show but Dustin Nguyen. When I heard there was going to be a movie and saw the trailer from one of my best friends on Facebook, I was immediately disinterested. So, naturally I skipped it in the theaters. Recently, I picked the DVD up from work, thought about a review I saw of it, and gave it a chance.

The story starts in 2005 where we're introduced to our main characters Morton Schmidt and Greg Jenko in their opposing stereotypes of awkward nerd and jerky jock. The movie fast forwards to present day when the two meet again in police academy. They notice they can benefit from each other with their strengths of brawn and brain. Of course, they succeed and patrol together. Unfortunately, they don't take their job serious enough and get transferred to the Jump Street Program: an undercover group that pose as high school students due to their young appearance and stop illegal activities. Schmidt and Jenko become the McQuaid brothers, move into Schmidt's parents' home, and accidentally switch stereotypes when they enter high school.

If you couldn't tell, I wasn't expecting much from this movie and it honestly started off that way. The main characters were too goofy to represent such a serious show and once Ice Cube's character appeared, I couldn't handle all the unnecessary profanity. I guess he wanted to make up for all those family friendly films he's been in recently. Unfortunately, that completely turned my mom off from watching the whole movie despite my thoughts on it. It was hard to get into it, in the beginning, especially when you're thinking about the show, but a little further into it, I forgot that the movie was called 21 Jump Street. Forgetting to compare the two made me surprisingly enjoy it.

The movie does share some ties to the show like having two male leads, using the McQuaid name, the purpose of Jump Street and its location, and cameos from the original cast members. Honestly, if they took those ties out and changed the title, I think I would've been less judgmental in the beginning and the movie would be better for Jump Street fans. Also, less profanity would be nice.

As bizarre as the casting was, Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum had great chemistry. The story flowed despite a couple lagging places and dumb jokes. The movie provided a decent and fun trip for me. Although, the title and cameos put me back onto earth that it doesn't reflect the show completely. For Jump Street fans expecting the same feelings from the show, I advise you to take this one as more of a comedic or even a parody of the show.

Overall, the movie is fun despite my negativity toward certain aspects. It has some cheap laughs and kinda pokes fun at stereotypes. If you want something easy on the mind then pick this up. Once again, I advise you not to harshly compare this movie to the show, you will be very disappointed and upset.

Rating: 3.5/5

If there's something you want me to review, check out this post on how you can submit requests.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Review: We Need To Talk About Kevin

Starring: Tilda Swinton, John C. Reilly, Ezra Miller
Directed by: Lynne Ramsay
Language: English
Rating: R
Running Time: 112 minutes

I forgot how I found out about this movie on the internet somewhere, but the trailer intrigued and the male lead was just as alluring as the vague storyline. If you haven't seen the trailer on YouTube or any where else, check it out and tell me if that doesn't pique your curiosity.

Former travel writer Eva Khatchadourian is a meek and scared woman who lives a solitary life after an incident that occurred with her son Kevin. She deals with the townspeople's violent treatment toward her in public and settles for working as a clerk at a travel agency. Eva's memories reveal the highs and lows of her past that lead her to this moment as well as the actions that lead her son to imprisonment. As she visits Kevin on his eighteenth birthday before he is transported to an adult facility, she recalls her memories of their relationship to present day.

We Need to Talk About Kevin is a very dark story that brings up the real life conflict of nature vs. nurture. Aside from the intriguing storyline, the way the movie is edited is unique and keeps your attention so you don't miss any piece to this complex puzzle. Of course, this is a movie that you'll have to view more than once so you can discover new details and broaden your perspective on the whole situation at hand.

The casting choices were definitely interesting and smart. My main worry lied with John C. Reilly's character as Franklin, Eva's husband. I'm used to thinking of him as a comedic actor, but honestly I don't think I've seen many of his movies anyway. He did a great job as being the complacent father. I guess the movie had to stick with that Bad Seed/The Good Son formula in some way. Tilda Swinton gave an excellent range of emotions as Eva. You can see her trying to make things perfect for Kevin, even if it was possibly a little too late. Kevin's little sister was believable as well and I sympathized with her when the time called for it. Last but not least, the casting of the three different Kevin characters were very well chosen. They had a similar look and demeanor about them and it felt very fluid as the movie progressed.

My mind hasn't been stimulated this way in quite some time and I am completely engrossed in this story. I'm looking forward to owning it, rewatching it, sharing it with friends and family, and delving more into the extras. The visuals are stunning and fit the tone of the story, the characters are believable and you can naturally attach yourself or understand them, and the story is very thought provoking. I highly recommend this movie if you're looking for something different and dramatic.

Rating: 4.5/5

If there's something you want me to review, check out this post on how you can submit requests.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Quick Movie Review

Gone (2012, USA) | Rating: 2.5/5

Alright, another movie starring Amanda Seyfried~ Well, I must admit this is better than Red Riding Hood for sure. I was tempted to see this in the theaters, but I ended up waiting for the DVD release instead and checked it out. It has an interesting story and I had some predictions for it. Unfortunately, my predictions didn't come true and the story went in a generic fashion throwing in stupidity and minor mental instability into the mix instead. It wasn't a terrible movie, but it didn't have that punch at the end either.

Brave (2012, USA) | Rating: 4/5

One of the summer movies I was looking forward to seeing and I saw it with my mother, which I highly recommend future movie goers to do. It's a very touching story and the animation is astounding. I couldn't get over the hair textures for the longest. The accents took a little while to adjust to, but the characters are great and the audience can relate to them easily. Lastly, I think the media or whoever needs to get over the whole "Merida is a lesbian", because that's a really stupid thing to say.

The Secret World of Arrietty (2010, Japan) | Rating: 3/5

I've heard this was based off of or inspired by The Borrowers and I can only think of the movie starring John Goodman from 1997 that I had on VHS. It's a good inspiration for a story with tiny people and those who find them pest. It's not the best of Miyazaki's work, but I did enjoy the story and I really should re-watch it in Japanese to see the differences. There were a couple things that seemed a bit rushed for me and the ending is kinda bittersweet, but touching.

Madea's Witness Protection (2012, USA) | Rating: 2.5/5

Had a family outing to the theater that included my dad. This is the only time he goes to the theater is when Madea is on the big screen. It has its stereotypical Tyler Perry formula, but there's no abusive romantic catalyst which is nice. It focuses on a different aspect of relationships among spouses and family. It seems like Mr. Perry picked up some extra money to put all three of his characters in the same scene more than once. Although, not very good, but he's still learning and I commend him for that. There are some awkward acting moments with him as well and if you analyze the movie too seriously, you'll find a few more faults. Take this movie lightly.

Mirror Mirror (2012, USA) | Rating: 4/5

I found it amazing and a little annoying that two movies covering the same fairy tale were coming to theaters in the same year. I was leaning toward the dark side and avoided the light, but I was swayed when I watched this movie. I haven't seen the other movie yet, but I'm anticipating comparing the two some day. For now, I'd like to say that I'm pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this movie. The visuals are stunning and I couldn't get over the elaborate costumes and intriguing story. It's different than the animated Disney timeline and I enjoyed the new direction without straying off too far from the familiar.

If there's something you want me to review (or want a more in depth review of the movies above or previous ones), check out this post on how you can submit requests.