Breaking Dawn, Part 2

Judd: They’re back for the last time. America’s Favorite Abstinence Vampire and his frumpy, brooding girlfriend-now-wife, Edward and Bella, are here to teach us one last lesson. In the past they taught us that it’s OK to string along your best friend for your own selfish needs. They taught us to save it for marriage and abortion is wrong. This year they teach us that if you were a lifeless, useless lump in while you were alive, becoming a vampire will miraculously transform your hair, posture and overall appearance into something less wretched, but still not great. We also learn that vampirism, unfortunately, won’t do anything for a shitty personality. Tom decided to skip the movie; I can’t imagine why; so today I’m joined by Michael Hedges. Who, like Tom, is a 14 year old girl at heart, but not as fat.

Hedges: Don’t forget, in the weirdest sub-plot of the movie, we learn that if you can’t get the girl you want, fall for her toddler daughter instead. I thought it was definitely strange that they pretty much glossed over this totally creepy and groan inducing story point after the first five minutes and we are supposed to just accept this as “romantic”. You see, since we last left Edward and Bella in part 1, Bella has become a vampire after the birth of her daughter Renesmee practically left her for dead. Luckily Edward was there to change her into one of the undead. At least this time Kristin Stewart actually has an excuse as to why her acting is so lifeless.

Judd: The pedophilia angle was really odd. Jacob sounded like every perv on To Catch a Predator trying to justify it. “I would never hurt her. I love her. I can’t help it. You don’t understand, it’s not like that, (but it really kinda is…)” Gross. This wouldn’t be Twilight without a big moral lesson, as well, and we learn that we shouldn’t be afraid of the unknown. Oooooh, so deep. Renesmee, being a half breed, is supposedly is the first of her kind. Apparently the Mormon Church didn’t allow Stephanie Meyer watch Bloodrayne or Blade or Angel, but whatever. So being the first mortal vampire in the thousands of years of their existence, The Volturi decide the Cullens must die. Bonus.

Hedges: In what I thought was probably one of the more interesting parts of the movie, the Cullens travel around the world trying to convince other vampires to stand with them against the impending attack of the Volturi. We introduced to vampires who possess low rent X-Men like powers which are realized through really bad special effects. I mean, honestly, how much money has this franchise raked in and they still can’t get a better team of CGI artists than The Sy-Fy Channel? I think the best part for me for this movie was the final battle between the Volturi and the Cullen’s assembled group of rag tag vampires and werewolves. I mean, watching Michael Sheen camp it up to the point where you know he couldn’t care less since his Twilight check cashed is just a thing of beauty!

Judd: I’m thinking Michael Sheen’s paycheck bounced, and that’s why he was so wonderfully terrible. Breaking Dawn, Part 2 is one of those movies that is so bad, its borderline good. Part 2 takes all the things that made the first four movies awful and elevated them to new heights. The makeup still sucks; the SFX are still abysmal, and the costumes are still laughable. But in this final installment, we can see Stewart’s wig sliding around on her head, the Volturi are dressed like Gothic drum majors and the talc used to give the vampires their pallor is starting to cake in the crowsfeet.

Hedges: You’re right, it is one of those movies that is so bad its almost good. Key word being “almost.” As with the previous four films this one overstays its welcome by about 20 minutes. I’m sure they could shave a few minutes off the running time by editing out some of the longing gazes into space the three lead actors seem to do when they need to punctuate a serious or dramatic line of dialog. I did enjoy the overly hyped up twist ending, and to be honest it is the best one of the series, which isn’t saying much since the let’s be honest, the bar isn’t set too high.

Judd:
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Lincoln

Swanner: I can’t tell you how nice it is to see great movies after a year that’s been pretty mediocre. People think that being a movie reviewer is all fun … seeing movies all the time. Most of those movies are not good, but then Fall arrives and the movies get better. Last night we saw Lincoln. A historical film following the fight to get the 13 amendment passed and ending the Civil War. Steven Spielberg directs a brilliant script by Tony winner Tony Kushner (Angels in America) with an all-star cast which includes a jaw dropping performance by Daniel Day Lewis playing Abraham Lincoln.

Judd: A Spielberg movie starring Day-Lewis as Lincoln, you don’t have to say any more to know that this is an Oscar pic, and rightfully so. Most everything about the movie is perfect, though the ending seemed a bit tacked on to me. We all know how Lincoln died; the movie should have rightfully ended with the passing of the 13th Amendment freeing the slaves. The movie also features fantastic turns by Sally Field as Mary Todd-Lincoln, David Strathairn as Sect of State William Seward and Tommy Lee Jones and Rep. Thaddeus Stevens.

Swanner: That’s a Spielberg thing … he loves his epilogues. That’s the only thing I hated about Schindler’s List. Know when to end the movie. I’m still thinking about the movie. I’m glad we get to write these review because it gives me time to process the film when most folks won’t see it for weeks. I was just fascinated by the film. It was like watching a really amazing play. Kushner’s back ground in theatre is what makes this work. The wonderful moments with Lincoln telling a story or Lincoln and Mary talking are still haunting me. Oscar contender…you better believe it

Judd: It’s a movie that I enjoyed, but I’ll never watch it again. Amazing performances aside, I’m not a fan of period pieces and while backroom political wheeling and dealing that made the 13th Amendment possible was fascinating, I wasn’t so swept up in it that I desire a repeat viewing. I’m not saying this to counter your gushing, because I think it’s well-deserved, but I think that any person like me may want to save it for a matinee or a rental. Lincoln is a masterpiece, but it’s still period bio-pic that we know the story to.

Swanner: I was saying the same thing actually. I don’t know that I’ll watch it again but I’m really glad to see it and honestly I’m glad I saw it in a theatre. At home I would have missed half the movie getting snacks and playing on my IPad. Sitting there in the theatre I was forced to concentrate and I’m glad for it. I did also want to mention the look of the film. Costumes, make-up, sets were perfect but cinematography was breathtaking. The scene with Mary going a bit crazy before the party. The way the light hit both of their faces made me gasp. The film is FLAWLESS for me and I’m telling people to see it in theatres where no distractions will pull your attention from this masterpiece.

Swanner:
Judd:

Skyfall

½Swanner: Making his 23rd appearance on the big screen, James Bond is back. In Skyfall, Bond’s loyalty to M is tested as her past comes back to haunt her. As MI6 comes under attack, 007 must track down and destroy the threat, no matter how personal the cost. True Bond fans have reason to be excited. You can really tell that Daniel Craig and company are really trying to get Bond back to his roots. Not to worry, it still has great stunts, action and some of the best technicians in the business.

Judd: Skyfall’s theme of the more things change, the more they stay the same is really extremely prevalent in today’s world, and it’s brilliant the way that the Bond character and universe can straddle the lines and make both work. Villain Silva, brilliantly played by Javier Bardem, tells Bond of a new computerized world. One where you can overthrow a government at the push of a button. M must convince Parliament that while “the golden age of espionage” is over, now it’s more important than ever to “work in the shadows”. Even Q, rather than played as an old, tinkering inventor, is played by the baby-faced Ben Whishaw, and in today’s modern world, it works. But as Q tells Bond, for as much can be done over a computer, there will always be the need for someone to pull a trigger. There is still a shit tonne of damage that can be done with a radio and a gun.

Swanner: Damn, you really were memorizing those lines. I myself have never been a big Bond fan (probably because my brother was and I hated everything he liked) but I have seen all of the movies. Roger Moore was always my favorite but that’s because I grew up in the 70’s and Live and Let Die my favorite Bond film. Skyfall and Daniel Craig really does re-introduce the Bond character to the movie going public. This felt fresher as if this was my first Bond movie. Director Sam Mendes along with screenwriters Robert Wade, Neal Purvis (both multiple Bond script writers) and John Logan (Rango, Aviator) round out this winning team.

Judd: I really, really liked Skyfall, and after the dismal Quantum of Solace, I’m glad to see Bond come back with something as good as or better than Casino Royal. I already mentioned the old and the new, and I thought it excellent the way the movie was able to wink at the ridiculous gadgets from Bond of Yore, but still incorporate them into saving the day. Bond movies have always contained an element of camp, some more than others, and I think that Skyfall elevates that camp to something more. The Oedipal thing between M and Silva was inspired, but in trashy, exploitative kind of way. I loved that Silva was bi/gay, and that Bardem played him ever-so-slightly limp-wristed. It’s hard to explain, but there’s a certain intangible something about these elements that is totally fresh, but also extremely dated. It’s everything Bond.

Swanner: For being as long as it was (2:23) it moved well. Bardem really shined. He was driven, but not insanely evil as so many villains have been in the past. He felt real world threatening. Also Judi Dench gets to flair her acting chops and that’s always a good thing. Whether or not you’re a Daniel Craig fan you have to admit that he’s the closest one to return Bond to his Connery days and that’s what’s been missing. Bond’s a killing machine and Skyfall kills it!!!

Judd: While Skyfall is not “art”, it is extremely well made, well written and well directed. It is definitely worth a full price ticket. It fits wonderfully into the Bond mythos and I can’t wait to see what’s in store for 24 and 25.

Swanner:

Judd:

Flight

Swanner: I usually don’t leave a movie and have it haunt me the way Flight did and still does. It’s not because I’m crazy for disaster movies (which I am) but it’s the story that really keeps me thinking. A pilot saves a plane full of people from crashing but is discovered to have been legally drunk while he did it. His being drunk had nothing to do with the planes problems or the landing … so is he somehow responsible. I’m really torn.

Judd: You also cry at the Folgers’ “Peter Comes Home for Xmas” commercial, so becoming emotionally invested in something this cheesy doesn’t surprise me. Flight, starring all-star cast Denzel Washington, Don Cheadle, John Goodman, Bruce Greenwood and Melissa Leo, is a tarted up Lifetime movie about alcoholism. And it’s not that the performances weren’t great; Washington is excellent, moving back and forth between a charming and belligerent, but the movie is much better when hanging out with the bad influences, than it was when we’re being preached at by teetotaling bible thumpers.

Swanner: Only someone inhuman doesn’t get emotional over the Peter comes home for Xmas Folgers commercial. I don’t get how you can disconnect from these kind of things. You probably we’re yelling out “loose the girl” in Sophie’s Choice, you demon. I found myself very pulled in to the characters struggles. Yes, I got tired of the preaching but we run into those people every day. Robert Zemeckis directs from a script by John Gatins (Real Steel). Two other actors worth mentioning are Kelly Reilly as Washington’s love interest and Tamara Tunie as the seasoned flight attendant.

Judd: The movie was as subtle as a plane crash with its constant references to God and God’s Will (12 Step Staples) and its A-B-A-B plot structure with Washington drinking to excess, lying about it the next day, drinking to excess, lying about it the next day. I mean, we even had “The Scene” where the alcoholic tells us he can quit any time and that he chooses to drink. It was a by the book script with a cast that deserved better.

Swanner:I’ll admit that I don’t think I’ve ever heard God and souls mentioned so much in a movie, I understand that ultimately this is Leaving Las Vegas with some humor and a plane crash and a rockin’ John Goodman. A much easier watch than most addiction movies. The cast was really strong and the plane sequences are pretty awesome. The thing that bothered me the most was that through a lot of the movie I was craving a cocktail. I’d expect Washington and Kelly Reilly names mentioned come award season.

Judd: I don’t mind addiction movies, but I don’t like moralizing addiction movies. I’ll take a movie like Trainspotting over Flight any day. I don’t need to be preached at to know our addict is on a path of destruction. Fans of Washington will love this boozy melodrama, but I’d rather get my contact high from somewhere else.

Swanner; ½
Judd:

Wreck it Ralph

Swanner: Every year we can usually count on a new animated feature from Pixar and one from Disney. Granted they both are technically from Walt Disney Studios but there has always been a difference in tone and story. Disney is usually lighter, musical and one or both of the parents have been killed. Where Pixar you never know what to expect except the highest of quality. Wreck It Ralph is from Disney but it’s the closest they’ve gotten to Pixar picture quality but it’s still got that Disney feel.

Judd: Are you talking about picture quality – as in the sharpness, design and overall quality of the projected image or are you talking picture quality wherein the word “picture” is synonymous with “film” or “movie”? If it’s the first, I might be inclined to agree with you; if it’s the latter, then you’re off your frickin’ rocker. Wreck It Ralph it a tribute to videogames from the late 70s through today. Ralph is the Bad Guy in an arcade game called Fit It Felix, Jr, and he is tired of being reviled and never winning. So one day Ralph decides to leave his console to win a medal in another game.

Swanner: Yes I’m talking about the look of the film. It’s Pixar beautiful but it still has that Disney “feel”, not that’s not a bad thing, except in Brian’s eyes. The film does play to a younger audience. This film should appeal to that Cars audience. I was never a fan of the Cars franchise but it does have a dedicated audience. WIR has a few things going for it like a clever script written by newcomers Jennifer Lee and Phil Johnston and some seasoned direction by Rich Moore (Futurama). It also has a really good cast of voices including John C Reilly who gives Ralph plenty of personality and heart, Sarah Silverman, Jane Lynch and Jack McBrayer (Kenneth from 30 Rock)

Judd: I will agree that there is some cleverness to the script, but it shows that this is Lee and Johnston’s first time out the gate. The script meandered and needed a good deal of tightening up. The overall plot was not worthy of the quality jokes. While the target audience is the younger set, parents, especially gaming parents, are going to love the references to Sonic, Pac-man, Mario Bros, Q*Bert and others. I liked the way certain characters movements were animated to copy their videogame counterparts. That was a nice touch.

Swanner: I thought the difference in movement and style was a nice touch as well. Unlike recent animated films, WIR was entertaining for me … geared for kids but I liked it too. I was never much of a gamer but I still am savvy enough to get the jokes and know most of the characters. I had a good time so grab your quarters and reserve your place in line. Give Ralph a chance to win your heart and maybe a reply.

Judd: Ugh. The movie is too long and borderline boring. John C Reilly does great voiceover work, but Lynch, McBrayer and Silverman play themselves – though Alan Tudyk does a pretty good Ed Wynn. While I wouldn’t recommend anyone going to the theatre to see the movie, I would say if you’re a gamer with a four year old, Wreck It Ralph will be worth a rent.

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