Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters

hansel‘Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters’ is one of those movies that you wonder why it was bumped back from its original release date of March of last year to it’s opening night which was last night.  There was not a lot of publicity behind the bumping back of the film, and that leads me to believe that the studio, Paramount Pictures, did not have faith in the film, although other reports state it was to take advantage of an empty slot in IMAX availability.

What the delay did allow is for the rise of Jeremy Renner as a possible action star, thanks to roles in last years films ‘The Avengers’ and ‘The Bourne Legacy’.  As much as Renner has become known as a result of those films, I do not believe it is strong enough to carry a film, especially one that was really not marketed at all in North America.

That being said, I did enjoy ‘Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters’.  I enjoyed the take on the classic fairy tale that it told, especially with the setting of the siblings being adults and what that initial experience with the witch in the gingerbread house did to them in their formative years.

I have to admit that this is probably the one movie with the most gore in it that I have ever seen.  I generally do not watch movies with gore or horror movies, but this movie crossed enough genres to not be overboard and draw my attention as a result.

I had no real issues with this movie.  Yes, the story was a little light and the acting not up to Academy Award standards, but I wasn’t looking for that, I was looking for some laughs and some witches being killed, and that is exactly what I got and it was very enjoyable.

It’s a real shame, because this movie, due to its being bumped back in scheduling and the lack of marketing, will really suffer in the North American box office, and a positive box office would have allowed the creation of a possible franchise, and I found there to be real possibilities with branching this out.

In the end, I really enjoyed the movie and I will gladly watch it again in the future, and I would recommend it for anyone looking for some laughs and a suspension of belief for an hour and a half.

For all this and more, feel free to follow me on Twitter at @kymayer.  Cheers.

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Silver Linings Playbook

slpLast evening I took in my 5th Best Picture Nominee so far as I finally had the opportunity to watch ‘Silver Linings Playbook’.  This movie, which is also up for 7 other Academy Awards next month, is an adaption of a book of the same title that was written by Matthew Quick.

‘Silver Linings Playbook’ is the first film in 31 years to secure nominations in all four acting categories: Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress, and just the 14th movie ever to do so.  It is also the first film in 8 years to secure nominations in each of the big five categories: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress and Best Adapted Screenplay.

I really enjoyed this movie and I can fully understand all critical acclaim it is garnering.  The story was wonderful, it had its lighter moments for laughs, but it was also able to tug at the heart strings as well.

Its exploration of bi-polar disorder and how it affects the everyday nature of people’s lives was well done as well.  It also highlighted how even “normal” people suffer from lighter variations of situations like this, which was a nice change of pace.

Wonderful performances take place throughout the entire film, from Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence in the leading roles, through Robert De Niro in a supporting role, all the way to Chris Tucker, perfectly cast as a fast talking patient friend of Cooper’s character, and all of these actors bring to light their characters throughout the entire film.

Even at two hours in length, the pacing was well done in this movie to not make that feel like a long time at all, and in all honesty, this was never more evidenced by the fact that I only saw a single person leave the theatre during the entire movie for an obvious bathroom break.

‘Silver Linings Playbook’ slots in as my second favourite of the five Best Picture nominees I have seen so far from 2012, sitting only behind ‘Argo’ so far, but ahead of ‘Django Unchained’, ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ and ‘Les Miserables’.  So yes, I would recommend this movie as being well worth seeing.

For all this and more, feel free to follow me on Twitter at @kymayer.  Cheers.

Zero Dark Thirty

zerodarkthirtyLast evening I took in my fourth Best Picture nominee for the upcoming Oscar’s as I took in ‘Zero Dark Thirty’.  The follow-up for director Kathryn Bigelow after 2008’s ‘The Hurt Locker’ which garnered Bigelow Oscar’s for Best Movie and Best Director, ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ is the story of one woman’s obsession with finding the courier for Osama bin Laden.

I have only ever seen one previous movie that Bigelow directed, and that was ‘K-19: The Widowmaker’, not ‘The Hurt Locker’, so I was essentially going in blind for her style of film.

After watching ‘Zero Dark Thirty’, I really would say it was like two films in one.  The first two thirds of the film I would classify as an espionage film, and the final third as a war drama.

And with that breakdown, I honestly can tell you that I enjoyed the espionage parts of the movie, as Jessica Chastain’s character learned to ply her trade in the CIA in trying to track down the courier, and any leads that help and using interrogation methods to do so.  This part of the movie really held my attention and for this period of it I can see why this movie was nominated for Best Picture and why Bigelow was nominated for Best Director.

That being said, the final third of the movie I found to be rather slow and tedious as it showed the actual mission to capture or kill Bin Laden, and it definitely had trouble holding my interest.

As a result, I am not really sure about this movie.  I did enjoy enough of it to warrant a second viewing down the road, but after the first viewing I don’t see how Bigelow warranted a Best Director nomination ahead of some other directors, most notably Ben Affleck.

‘Zero Dark Thirty’ was an ambitious effort but when you take into account that the ending had to be modified after the successful real-life mission that is depicted at the end, and I think that negatively impacted the overall performance of the film.

For all this and more, feel free to follow me on Twitter at @kymayer.  Cheers.

Gangster Squad

gangsterLast evening I took in my first new release of 2013 in Gangster Squad.  The 1940’s anti-gangster film starring Josh Brolin, Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone.  This movie was originally scheduled for a September of 2012 release, but was sent back for some re-shoots after the Aurora, Colorado theatre shooting.

In the original trailer for the film, there was a scene where the main antagonists come after some mobsters by shooting through a movie screen.  When you consider that this trailer was attached to The Dark Knight Rises, which was the movie playing when the Aurora shooting happened, definitely made the producers anxious.

For the record, I have to state that I love the style of clothing from this time period and I definitely have a soft spot for movies based out of this time period as well.  For me, it is just such a romantic time period.

That being said, at times I feel like the story was a little lacking, but overall, I really enjoyed Gangster Squad.  I find that I am really enjoying Josh Brolin as of late and I believe that Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone are two of the best young actors in Hollywood today.

While it won’t win any awards, and will have a limited box office run, I truly feel that Gangster Squad is a movie worth watching and would recommend it to anyone that enjoys movies based on that time period or about gangsters or the mob as well.

For all this and more, feel free to follow me on Twitter at @kymayer.  Cheers.

Must See in 2013

2013 Top Ten Must See Movies

I did a light version of this on my Twitter account for 2012, and of the 10 movies I mentioned, I saw 9 (one got bumped back to this year) and of those 9, only 4 made my year end Top Ten list, so excitement does not always lead to quality at the end of the day, but then again, one of the movies that made my year end Top Ten wasn’t qualified because I didn’t look to gauge animated movies, something that has changed for this year’s list.

As we sit in January, there are currently 40 movies being released this year that are on my list that I would like to see in theatres.  I know I won’t get to see all of them, either due to time constraints or the fact they may not wind up playing in my city, much like what happened to Savages, Lincoln and Silver Linings Playbook in 2012 for me, but if I get the chance to, I will take in most of those 40, plus some others that wind up popping up on my list.

So, the point of this article is to list the 10 movies I am most looking forward to in 2012, and the list is presented in order that the movies are going to be released.  Here we go:

A Good Day to Die HardFebruary 14

diehardYes, I am very excited for a 5th Die Hard movie starring Bruce Willis, and why not?  The original Die Hard is the best Christmas movie of all time.  Yes, I went there.  And the second Die Hard movie still makes me wary of airports to this day.  While it has been a long time since I sat down to watch the third film and I have yet to see the fourth one, a recent refound respect for the originals has put ‘A Good Day to Die Hard’ on the list of must watches for me in 2013.

Jack the Giant SlayerMarch 1

jackthegiantslayerThis movie, as ‘Jack the Giant Killer’ was on my list of must-see’s for 2012 before it got bumped to 2013 and had a slight title change.  None of that has done anything to dampen my excitement about this movie.  The thought of an English-styled story about Jack and the Beanstalk with middle age knights is more than enough to keep my interest.  Now just to wait and see if it follows through.

Iron Man 3May 3

ironman3This should not surprise anybody at all, as most people know how much I love all of the Marvel Studios films that have been released so far, and the fact that I have long considered Robert Downey Jr. as the perfect option for Tony Stark.  After a drop in quality in ‘Iron Man 2’, I fully expect a return to everything that made ‘Iron Man’ the second biggest film of 2008.

Probably the nicest surprise is the inclusion of The Mandarin, the biggest enemy of Iron Man/Tony Stark in the comics as the villain of the third film and the fact that it is going to challenge the original ‘Die Hard’ as a Christmas time movie full of awesomeness is more than enough to drag me back in.

Star Trek into DarknessMay 17

startrek‘Star Trek’, the 2009 franchise reboot/timeline alteration from J.J. Abrams was so much more than just another standard Star Trek flick.  Not only would I say that it is my favourite movie of 2009, but I would be willing to go so far as to say that is the same for many others, and not all of those people would be classified as pre-existing Trek fans.  That is just how wonderful it was in truth.  As the marketing said, “this isn’t your father’s Star Trek”, and that was very true indeed.

Having seen the opening five to seven minutes of ‘Star Trek into Darkness’, it immediately moved to the top of my list for 2013, and that is saying something in a year that includes a new Iron Man film and the middle portion of The Hobbit, but that just goes to show how interesting and fun this reboot has wound up being.

Man of SteelJune 14

manofsteelWarner Bros. has struggled to make good movies from its stable of DC properties.  Personally, I find that ‘Batman Begins’ was the last truly great film based off of a DC “superhero”.  Both ‘Superman Returns’ and ‘Green Lantern’ were subpar efforts and I find that the hype of ‘The Dark Knight’ and ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ overwhelmed both of those titles as well.

That being said, the trailers for ‘Man of Steel’ have done their job ten-fold on me and I almost hate to say it, but for the first time ever I am truly excited about a DC character to appear on the big screen.

Monsters UniversityJune 21

monsters‘Monsters, Inc.’ is in my top three list of favourite animated movies of all time, and even with scant footage actually released so far for the prequel ‘Monsters University’, I felt it was more than enough to break my golden rule of animated movies to include it in this list.

Usually animated movies are far too hard to judge until you sit down to watch them, and 2012 definitely held true as I was very disappointed with ‘Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax’ early in the year but completely fell in love with ‘Wreck-It Ralph’ near the end of the calendar.

A return to Monstropolis to see Mike and Sully getting their scaring education is a wonderful idea, and the teaser trailer with disco ball Mike is possibly the funniest teaser I have ever seen.  I still load it up and giggle to it when feeling a little blue.  Sign me up Pixar, you have another winner it seems.

The WolverineJuly 26

wolverine‘X-Men Origins: Wolverine’ is the worst movie that Fox has put out with the X-Men license, and despite my love for Hugh Jackman as the titular Canadian, I rarely watch this movie.  All of that looks to be fixed with the plot information so far on ‘The Wolverine’.

A film based after the original trilogy but with flashback scenes, based on his experiences in Japan, ‘The Wolverine’ looks to be everything that is right and cool with the title character and completely separate from the last film.  Also, with Hugh Jackman signed on for 2014’s X-Men: Days of Future Past film, will this somehow tie it together?  I can’t wait to find out.

Thor: The Dark WorldsNovember 8

thorYes, there are four comic book based movies on this list, and all four of them are actually here for different reasons.  ‘Thor’ did an admirable job of introducing the titular character to moviegoers, but the real star of that movie was Tom Hiddleston in his turn as Loki, and he even managed to turn that role into a scene stealer in ‘The Avengers’ as well.

Both Hiddleston and Chris Hemsworth are back for ‘Thor: The Dark Worlds’ and it looks like Marvel Studios will be using this movie to further the galactic side to their cinematic universe that we first saw in ‘The Avengers’ and that will continue in 2014’s ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’.  Look for this movie to be a marked improvement on the original as Marvel Studios looks to set up a tent pole for the future in November.

The Hobbit: The Desolation of SmaugDecember 13

hobbitI love Middle Earth, as evidenced by the 14 combined times I saw the three Lord of the Rings films in theatres and the 3 times I have already seen ‘The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey’ so far.  Peter Jackson has crafted probably the most wonderfully amazing world I have ever seen in film, and the return to Middle Earth, even in 3D and in 48fps, as done little dampen my excitement.

I have spent the majority of time after my three viewings of ‘An Unexpected Journey’ trying to figure out what the closing scene will be for ‘Desolation of Smaug’ and while I think I have narrowed in on it, I was wrong with the ending of ‘An Unexpected Journey’ and December is a long way off to try and wait for it.

Jack RyanDecember 25

jackryanGrowing up, I was a fan of three authors:  J.R.R. Tolkien and his Middle Earth; Robert Ludlum and his Jason Bourne series; and finally Tom Clancy and his Jack Ryan books.  Two of those three authors have had their works transferred wonderfully to film, while the third as seen mixed middling results so far.

‘Jack Ryan’ is the chance that fans of Tom Clancy have been waiting for.  Featuring up and coming star Chris Pine, who headlines two movies on this list along with his role as James Kirk in ‘Star Trek into Darkness’, Paramount is upping the ante with ‘Jack Ryan’ as it tries to create a new franchise vehicle, including casting Kevin Costner in a two-picture deal as they try and get another Clancy novel ‘Without Remorse’ off the ground as well.

By casting a younger actor like Pine, Paramount is clearly looking at multiple pictures here.  In the books, we see Ryan go from a young CIA analyst all the way to President of the United States, so there is lots of time to see Pine grow this role if all is done well.

For all this and more, feel free to follow me on Twitter at @kymayer.  Cheers.

2012 at the Theatre

2012 definitely was the year for me at the movie theatre.  Final numbers show a record 62 trips to theatres to see movies, in a record 6 different theatres including 4 theatres for the first time ever, in 4 different cities, equalling the all-time high I set in 2011.

I saw movies that I loved, movies that I will more than likely never watch again, and movies that I wish I had never have seen at all.  It was that kind of year indeed.  What I want to do here is go over my own personal Top Ten for the year.  To make this list, a movie had to be released in 2012, and I had to see it in the theatre during the calendar year.

That means movies like War Horse, which was released in 2011 but I saw in 2012, and Django Unchained, which was released in 2012 but I saw in the early part of 2013 do not qualify.  That also means that movies like Lincoln and Silver Linings Playbook, that I have yet to see due to their not being released in my home town, could not make the list either.

Without further ado, here is the list:

10. Men in Black 3

mib3Call me sentimental, but I love the original Men in Black, and even though it had been ten years since the second instalment and this year’s edition, little had happened to dampen my spirit when it came to seeing Agents J and K on the big screen again.

A time travel film with heart and substance, and a well thought out ending, unlike another time travel movie that was released in 2012, all worked to re-create the magic that the original MiB had and brought this movie to the forefront as one of my favourites of the year.  Josh Brolin nailing a young Tommy Lee Jones was definitely one of my favourite characters of the year as well.

9. Ted

tedIn a year that was seemingly light on fresh comedies, Ted was a very refreshing entry into the comedy genre in 2012.  From the mind of Seth McFarlane, creator of Family Guy, Ted was a story about a pot-smoking teddy bear and his foray into the real world.  Yes, if you haven’t seen the movie, that is pretty much what it is about.  And if you haven’t seen the movie, do yourself a favour and do so, it will be completely worth it.

8. The Amazing Spider-Man

spideyWhile it has only been a few years since the end of Sam Raimi/Tobey Maguire Spider-Man trilogy came to a close, I was quite okay with a reboot of the story in the theatres.  What this reboot actually brought to us was the one thing missing the most from the first three Spider-Man trilogy was a wise-cracking, joke-making Spidey, but that is exactly what we got in The Amazing Spider-Man.

Director Marc Webb brought a wonderful high school Peter Parker to the big-screen that was well worth the money to see this movie.  This Peter Parker struggled to deal with the advent of his powers and the loss of his uncle and was beautifully done.

7. Jack Reacher

jackreacherMy Top Ten list has two releases from December and four from the last two months of the year, and the first of those to appear on this list is probably the most surprising in Jack Reacher.

To be perfectly honest, I have never been a huge Tom Cruise fan, and I do have to admit in the last couple of years he has certainly grown on me as an actor, and that continued with his role in Jack Reacher.

Jack Reacher had the perfect blend of action, suspense and comedy to make a believer out of me for both the story and the movie, but also Tom Cruise as well.  I really hope that enough people watch this movie and like it to warrant sequels to be made from other books by author Lee Child.

6. 21 Jump Street

21jumpThe first good comedy that I saw in 2012 was 21 Jump Street, a comedic adaptation/remake of the the 1980’s TV show that helped launch the career of Johnny Depp, and this remake helped thrust Channing Tatum to the forefront of the acting community in 2012.

Featuring cameos from cast members of the 80’s show, 21 Jump Street, co-written and co-produced by Jonah Hill and staring Hill along with Tatum, this movie was another one of the biggest surprises of the year for me, and much like Jack Reacher, I cannot wait to see what kind of sequel we will get with the Tatum/Hill pairing down the road.

5. Skyfall

skyfallI have to admit that in the past I have not always been a big fan of the James Bond films, but all of that changed with Daniel Craig and Casino Royale and even though Quantum of Solace was a bit of a step back in quality of film, Skyfall blew them all away both in terms of quality, but also in just how big James Bond can actually be worldwide.

Skyfall is the most well received and highest grossing Bond movie of all-time and Sam Mendes managed to merge old-school Bond with the Daniel Craig Bond all into one movie, and even at over two and a half hours, Skyfall was a movie that managed to keep me on the edge of my seat for the whole film.

4. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

hobbitFor anyone that actually knows me will be possibly surprised to see this film this far down my list and not closer to the top, but that is more indicative of the high-end quality of films that were released in theatres in 2012.

As a huge fan of both J.R.R. Tolkien’s works based in Middle Earth and Peter Jackson and his Lord of the Rings film trilogy, returning to both of these sources was bound to be a success to me and that is indeed what happened with An Unexpected Journey.  Even filming in the untested 48fps format did not dilute how amazing this film was.

Martin Freeman was wonderfully cast as Bilbo Baggins to carry a new trilogy in Middle Earth and the returning characters did more than enough to create continuity to cover the 60 year gap in the timelines of both series of films.

3. Wreck-It Ralph

wreckitWhile the only animated film from 2012 to make my list, I honestly feel that Wreck-It Ralph was the one film, animated or not, that carried the most heart-warming story of the year.

I have been quite critical of many Disney animated films in the past fifteen to twenty years, excepting Pixar for the most part, but the last few years have seen a definite turnaround for Disney in their animated department and a return to form as well and Wreck-It Ralph is the best of the recent lot and probably my all-around favourite from Disney since Aladdin in 1992.

I love Wreck-It Ralph.  I love the movie, I love the main character, I love the premise, and I love the story.  If you have not seen this movie and grew up in the late 80’s or early 90’s playing video games of any kind, you owe it to yourself to watch this film and fall in love with it.

2. Argo

argoThis is probably the best all-around movie I saw in 2012.  Ben Affleck continues to re-invent himself as one of the better directors in Hollywood today and also is proving that he is quite an adept actor as well when being a little more choosey with his roles.

This is how good Argo is: it would be my personal choice for Best Movie at the upcoming Academy Awards and Affleck would also be my choice as Best Director as well.  It really is telling about someones skills when they can tackle a known-subject in history such as the Iran Hostage situation of the late 70’s and make it be suspenseful at every turn, and that is just what Affleck did with Argo.

1. The Avengers

avengers_movie_wallpaperI would actually like to meet someone in North America that watches movies that has not seen The Avengers.  I think that may be one of the hardest things to do in the world today.  That is just how big The Avengers turned out to be.  Not many out there would have expected the convergence of Marvel characters Iron Man, The Hulk, Thor and Captain America along with other characters to be the biggest and loudest movie of the year, but that is exactly what happened, and this was the movie I had the most fun watching all year, leading the way with five viewings in the theatre alone.

The Avengers was directed by former Marvel comic writer and Buffy, The Vampire Slayer creator Joss Whedon.  What Whedon proved with The Avengers is that giving control of a comic book movie to a comic book writer is bound for glorious success, and while we will have to wait for more than two years to see what Whedon whips up for us in The Avengers 2 in 2015, I don’t see how it does not blow The Avengers away.

For all this and more, feel free to follow me on Twitter at @kymayer.  Cheers.

Django Unchained

djangoLast evening I took in the latest Quentin Tarantino directed film, Django Unchained.  Like many Tarantino helmed films in the past, Django Unchained is, like the title itself, unchained and unrestricted in bringing a horrible era in the history of the United States of America to the screen in a manner that still allows the film to be entertaining at times.

I will admit that I have not always been a big fan of Tarantino’s films, as I am not always a fan of the over excessive violence that he portrays in them.  That being said, I only found a couple of incidences that I would qualify as over-indulging in Django Unchained, and to be perfectly honest, I felt they suited the tone of the film quite well.

Having long been a fan of ‘spaghetti westerns’ as a child due to my father’s love of them in general and Clint Eastwood in particular, I will always have a soft spot in my heart for films that evoke the 60’s western love, and Django Unchained does just that, being my favourite ‘western’ that has been released in years.

There is also a lot of controversy around Django Unchained due to the proliferation of a certain word that is said in the film.  I fully understand how that can bother some people, but for the time period that the film takes place in, that word was used in a high rate of proliferation, and in order to try to accurately depict the time period, that word had to be used in the film.

Django Unchained, as most Tarantino films do, lightened the mood at times with some humour as well, just enough to not make the movie feel like an almost three hour drag.

For me personally, the standout star of the movie is Christoph Waltz as the bounty hunter Dr. King Schultz who grants Django his freedom and assists him in his attempt to free his wife from slavery.  I only truly remember Waltz from his role as the villain in The Green Hornet.  I say that, as I have never successfully watched Inglorious Basterds all the way through, as I always end up falling asleep.  I have heard that Waltz is amazing in his role in that film as well, so after seeing Django Unchained, I know that I need to give Basterds another try.

That being said, Django Unchained was a great choice to start of my 2013 theatre campaign and was another great option for the 2012 release season and may sneak through with some Academy Award nominations as well.

For all this and more, feel free to follow me on Twitter at @kymayers.  Cheers.