Tag: movie

Monsters University Review: Back to School for the First Time

MU

 

Pixar films have earned a reputation for strong characters and passionate story-telling. Cars 2 and Brave both turned profits, but didn’t have the response of Toy Story 3. Monster’s University returns to Pixar’s entertaining, heartfelt movies, with a great message.

Monster’s Inc. (2001) introduced Mike Wazowski (Billy Crystal) and James P. “Sulley” Sullivan (John Goodman), two workers collecting screams from children to power their city of Monstropolis. Pixar’s first prequel, Monsters University, takes us back to the duo’s college days, before they were professional “scarers”.

Monsters University is the origin story of Mike and Sulley as a duo, a tribute to other college films and an important lesson about expectations.

Young Mike gets inspired to work at Monsters Inc. after taking a tour of the facility. Years later, he optimistically enrolls in Monsters University and begins his freshman year in a fraternity of rejected students, Oozma Kappa. After a fight gets them kicked out of the Scare Program, Mike and new acquaintance Sulley must lead their group to victory (and reinstatement), by winning the annual “Scare Games”.

Monsters University takes cues from other great collegiate comedies with a G-rated twist. Dean Hardscrabble (Helen Mirren) is as stern as Animal House’s Dean Wormer. The Oozma Kappa outcasts are a nice nod to Revenge of the Nerds’ Tri-Lambs and the Scare Games contest had a montage as hilarious as the one in Old School.

The campus of MU is presented in great detail. There are other clubs and greeks on campus, a hall of notable alum, frat parties and cliques from goths to jocks. College rituals are honored, as students touch a statue on the way into a building, similar to teams on game day.

Randy Newman (Toy Story Trilogy) composes the music, boasting proud anthems and even a chorus performing the Monsters University school song.

As a prequel, Monsters University smartly works its way to showing how Mike and Sully become a team. Both characters face problems that can only be solved by helping each other, forming their friendship in the process. Other Monsters Inc. characters are also introduced, including Randall “Randy” Boggs (Steve Buscemi) and Roz (Bob Peterson).

Monsters’ University entertains while teaching a very important lesson. The students’ journey is a bumpy road and reminds that expectations aren’t always what they seem. The characters face real obstacles that parents can appreciate and kids can learn from.

I have to give major kudos to the marketing team for this movie. Monsters University has a fully interactive website, and a recruitment video that holds up against any real-life schools’, further immersing fans in this world.

Pixar returns to the heart of their films, with relatable characters and a touching, entertaining story. The 3D didn’t make a real difference, so save the extra money. Pixar takes us to school in Monsters University, with a valuable lesson wrapped in a tribute to college life. This campus is full of school spirit and worth a visit.

 

Rating 8.5/10

 

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This Is The End Review

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Disaster movies have threatened the world in every way from alien invasion to zombie attacks. In all versions of the apocalypse, we’ve seen everything except friends bringing humor to their demise. This Is The End makes the apocalypse a laughing matter and a visually unforgettable one.

Written by actor Seth Rogen (Knocked Up, Superbad) and longtime collaborator Evan Goldberg (Pineapple Express, Superbad), This Is The End throws a group of friends together for a party. The apocalypse begins, without warning, forcing them to face it and each other.

The only thing about this group is they’re all famous actors, playing versions of themselves. That instantly makes this movie more appealing than the same group playing characters or a cast of unknowns on screen.

Seth Rogen and his famous friends Jonah Hill (21 Jump Street), Jay Baruchel (Tropic Thunder), Danny McBride (Eastbound and Down), and Craig Robinson (Hot Tub Time Machine) partying in James Franco’s (Spider-Man trilogy) house is enough to get any comedy fan to watch. Nothing is off limits as jokes are made about these guys’ real lives.

Seth Rogen is teased about The Green Hornet movie while Jonah Hill’s (Money Ball) Oscar nomination is brought up. Craig Robinson carries a towel because he sweats so much (something he really talked about on Conan O’Brien), and James Franco is painted as a weird guy with too much man love for Seth.

Everyone from Kevin Hart, Aziz Ansari, Emma Watson and Channing Tatum are on screen long enough to do something insanely funny. Michael Cera steals the show, deciding to go far away from his usual awkward persona to a coked up sex addict. He hits on everyone at the party, slaps Rihanna’s ass and loses his mind.

This Is The End is still an armageddon movie and does a terrific job at it. The film budget of $25,000,000 is a lot for a comedy but must have all gone to special effects. The various creatures and demons that chase these guys around are straight up terrifying.

The movie takes on a Ghostbusters vibe with funny moments during legitimate scares. It’s a better scary movie than the entire franchise that goes by that name, and a lot funnier.

The horror scenes actually get pretty disturbing and could have been a bit shorter. For a movie filled with dick jokes, the creepy stuff just lingers too long.

Danny McBride also became unlikable and wasted by the end of the movie. For a guy known for playing lovable jerk, Kenny Powers, he just came off as a mean weirdo. You almost want him to die before it’s over.

The actors seem to enjoy making this and a lot of the best dialogue feels ad-libbed. The soundtrack is great, including Craig Robinson singing a song about panties and the return of a 90s pop act that you could never guess. This Is The End proves that as long as you’re having fun, even facing the apocalypse, there’s always something to laugh at.

Rating 8.0/10

 

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Is Man of Steel the New Movie Powerhouse for DC Comics?

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Directors Zack Snyder (300, Watchmen) and Christopher Nolan (Dark Knight Trilogy) both made large contributions to the success of comic book films. Now, tasked with a reboot of Superman, the potential for a Justice League film and a last chance for this character hang on their shoulders. Man of Steel boldly sets itself apart from previous Superman adaptations while paving a way for future DC Comics’ films.

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Is The Hangover 3 the Worst of Them All?

Hangover 3

I’ve never been to Vegas but I can’t picture the city without thinking of The Hangover (2009).

A group of friends retracing steps and misadventures, still holds up as one of the funniest comedies in recent memory.

The second Hangover (2011) rehashed the first trip, this time in Bangkok, but had laughs and shock value.

The third Hangover ends The Wolfpack’s story, almost without a trace of humor.

The first Hangover cost only $35 million to make and brought in nearly $280 million, becoming the highest grossing R-rated comedy at the time.

Of course, Warner Bros wanted to make money, so the second Hangover followed.

Hangover 3 tries so hard to NOT duplicate the “we got drunk and lost a friend the night before a big wedding” formula, it’s an entirely different, humorless movie.

The focus this time splits between Alan (Zach Galifianakis), who has gone off his medication after losing his father (Jeffrey Tambor) and Mr. Chow (Ken Jeong).

Chow has been laying low, communicating only with Alan, via email. A drug dealer named Marshall (John Goodman)wants Chow’s head for stealing millions of dollars from him.

Marshall tasks The Wolfpack with finding Chow and holds their friend, Doug (Justin Bartha) as collateral.

Even though it’s the second time in 3 movies that Doug isn’t there for most of the adventures, he isn’t missing a thing.

Maybe the complaints of the first two movies being mirror images of each other inspired a definite change in this one. It’s so different, it’s lost the heart of what made The Wolfpack enjoyable.

Most of the movie feels too serious to be fun and the attempts at jokes come off as awful.

Alan’s drive home with a giraffe in a convertible, meets a gruesome, predictable and awful end.

I’m struggling to remember a truly funny moment, where the first two films had several.

Sadly, the funniest moment in the entire film comes during the credits. It was one moment that reminded us of how ridiculous the original movie was and why we loved it so much. If only the rest of this movie had more of that.

Zach Galifianakis’ character gets the most chances at comedic moments.

His trademark weirdness is worth a few chuckles, but even his character’s arc takes a dramatic turn. Stu (Ed Helms) and Phil (Bradley Cooper) take a backseat to Alan and Chow’s story.

The writers had nothing for these guys to do this time around.

The unexpected success of the first film created a studio demand for a trilogy. Instead of an ending to a story, we get another cash grab.

Hangover 3 attempts an Ocean’s Eleven meets Big Lebowski approach, but lacks the heart or humor of either.

What happened in Vegas the first time (and even in Thailand the second time) made for great comedy.

What happened on the third trip should never be talked about.

Hangover 3 feels like a real hangover. It’s a painful experience that you want to forget and promise yourself will never happen again.

Rating 4.5/10

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