The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (2013)

IMDB plot:

When his job along with that of his co-worker are threatened, Walter takes action in the real world embarking on a global journey that turns into an adventure more extraordinary than anything he could have ever imagined.

You know when you think your life is boring and you starting daydreaming about going in some grand adventure? What if, at some point, you stopped daydreaming and started living?

That’s the basic premise of “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty”. Mitty (Ben Stiller) works in the Life magazine, taking care of their photo archive. When the company decides to end the printed version, their greatest photographer send the picture that surmises the quintessence of Life magazine. And that picture is nowhere to be found. With the clock ticking out, Mitty decides to go after the photographer, one of the few friends he has in life and never saw face to face. And that’s when his daydreams take him to… live.

Oh yes, it’s that kind of movie. The movie about “being yourself”, but for grown ups. But that’s the thing: It’s pretty well done. You can really empathize with Mitty — after all, who don’t daydream from time to time? Who wouldn’t have a more exciting life? And when he decides to take the leap into “living”, it’s a daydream who takes him. It’s a daydreamer dream! And Stuart Dryburgh did an absolute awesome job in the movie photography. I mean, after watching the movie, I — a recluse person who hates traveling — really thought about doing a trip to Greenland. I mean, Iceland. Whatever.

There is a small romantic plot of Mitty with his co-worker Cheryl (Kristen Wiig), a small friendship with his colleague at the archives Hernando (Adrian Martinez), a small spat with Ted Hendricks (Adam Scott), who is in charge of closing the magazine, the mysterious photographer O’Connel (Sean Penn)… but it’s all minor. Everything goes around Mitty/Stiller and he’s the focus. And that’s one thing I really need to applaud Stiller for: He does a really good job acting and directing. And I need to say this ’cause he’s the reason I could never watch more than 6 minutes of Zoolander.

It’s one of those movies with the rating of saving-a-cat-in-a-building-on-fire of going-to-space.

Edge of Tomorrow (2014)

IMDB plot:

A military officer is brought into an alien war against an extraterrestrial enemy who can reset the day and know the future. When this officer is enabled with the same power, he teams up with a Special Forces warrior to try and end the war.

Trans-temporal spoilers in this.

Edge of Tomorrow — or “Live, Die, Repeat”, depending on where you saw it — plot is this: Future Earth is under attack by some alien race. They start to win everything till, one day, for some unknown reason, a propaganda boy is sent to the front lines. He manages to kill one single alien in his untrained form, but dies and, somehow, return to the start of the battle. And then he has to fight again, and he dies again, and he returns to the start of the battle. Now gaining more insight about the battle on each restart, he can win the war. Or can he?

The premise is pretty damn fun: You know those movies with martial arts with an elder trainer/teacher/sensei is training some young pupil and you only see the pupil messing up and the trainer/teacher/sensei saying “Repeat!” over and over again? Imagine a whole movie about it! Ok, not a whole movie about it, but it sounds fun that you keep doing slow pieces of the story over and over again to see how Tom Cruise character, Cage, learning how to kill every enemy that appears in front of him, learning to do really awesome movements each time, and each time the combat gets awesomer in each run. It’s like seeing the pupil going from student to master!

Except, it doesn’t.

At some point, you think you’re doing something for the first time and then… boom, it’s the fifth-or-so time, when you never saw all the previous tries. That kills all the fun of the movie. There is another problem with this scene: All the time you were seeing the movie from Cage (Cruise) perspective; this point suddenly switch to Rita (Emily Blunt), giving the viewer the same suspense of the first of her. With no sign that the focus changed.

At this point, things go downhill, till it goes below 0 in the X axis at the end: because it’s a Tom Cruise movie and there is some sexual tension between Cage and Rita and nothing happens the whole movie, there must be something special at the end, right? RIGHT? Again, at the very end, the movie kills all the good, positive points it gathered till the middle of the movie, even with the few it loses by switching focus, in a single, very stupid solution for the Cruise problem.

Tom Cruise is Tom Cruise. He’s been doing sci-fis for some time already, so you know what to expect. Blunt is likable and weirdly enough both work find together. Everyone else got into the “seriously an extra”. Oh yeah, they have names, but heck if you can remember the name of two or more in the end credits (without reading said credits, that is).

Edge of Tomorrow is still a fun movie to watch, if you let the little and medium things slip by. I give it 9 out of 3 lives, reseting, in the end.

R.I.P.D. (2013)

IMDB plot:

A recently slain cop joins a team of undead police officers working for the Rest in Peace Department and tries to find the man who murdered him.

Spoilers hidden in bad CGI.

What if there was a heaven for cops? What if, when they died on duty, they would have to continue to be on duty for all eternity (or 100 years, whatever comes first)? Well, that’s R.I.P.D.

In very simple terms, it’s the story about a cop (Ryan Reynolds) who “stole” some golden pieces he and his partner (Kevin Bacon) found out, which he intends to sell and have a nice house with his girlfriend/wife. But his partner betrays him, he dies, goes to heaven and, because nobody can be good all the time, he has the option to work in the heaven police department, where all good cops who died on duty can still work or he can take his chances in the purgatory. And hey, he gets a new partner too (Jeff Bridges)!

First, the bad things: CGI is pretty crappy. When Reynolds’ character dies, it’s almost like one rubber body where dropped from some high place. And I don’t mean that “ballistic gelatin” they use on Mythbusters. When the bad spirits that don’t want to go to hell transform into their “real” forms, it also looks like rubber. I mean, if they went to make up instead of using CGI, the final effect would be better. And when (SPOILERS) Kevin Bacon turns into his real form, it is far from the hideousness of the other spirits. Why? Because Kevin Bacon, that’s why!

On the other hand, there are some really funny puns around, specially when Reynolds are Bridges appear as their avatars (well, they can’t appear as their old identities; after all, they are dead): Reynolds’ avatar is played by James Hong (an Asian, thin guy) and Bridges’ avatar is Marisa Miller (a blonde female model). Also, their guns can’t appear in the real world, so they appear as different things. So there is this scene of Reynolds is chasing one of the bad spirits, trying to shoot him and the movie changes from the vision of everyone else, showing Hong holding a banana pointing to a building.

No surprises on acting. Reynolds is still the guy that sounds a bit off and not totally in character, Bridges is the guy surfing the script, having the most great time by himself, as is Kevin Bacon.

But besides the fun avatar scenes, the movie is ridden with cliches and rubbery CGI. So I guess it’s a 5 out of 8 ghosts for it.

Zero Dark Thirty (2012)

IMDB plot:

A chronicle of the decade-long hunt for al-Qaeda terrorist leader Osama bin Laden after the September 2001 attacks, and his death at the hands of the Navy S.E.A.L. Team 6 in May 2011.

Incoming vengeful spoilers.

How does one justify torture? In real life, it’s pretty hard. In movies, you make it look like the other guy is a really bad guy, so you don’t feel guilty when he’s treated like a piece of shit, a dog, or anything else, except a human.

And hey, guess how this movie starts? With the calls from 9/11! But why, oh why? Because, just after that, you have an American agent torturing a Pakistan guy! After all, it doesn’t make the American agent seem like a brutal, dehumanizing, torturer if you make it look like “Oh, but it was that guy who flown both planes in killed all those people! You heard their voices!”

But the story is not all about this. It follows Maya (Jessica Chastain), who was the intelligence counterpart inside CIA to locate Osama Bin Laden. And her first assignment after landing in Pakistan is follow the “interrogation” above, done by Dan (Jason Clarke). And the story goes around the fact that Maya got obsessed about a guy named “Abu Ahmed”, which she believes is the personal messenger for Osama Bin Laden. And, in the end, they find Bin Laden.

I don’t know if the story follows a real person (apparently not), but it fits a bunch of real facts (so it is kinda like Assassin’s Creed). But the story improves after it drops the pretense of American actions being “righteous” and shows how much the war changed some characters. Dan, for example, seems to feel completely dehumanized, incapable of feeling anything for any other human being after all the time torturing people; Maya seems to get one-track-minded about Ahmed and how he would lead them to capture Bin Laden — and then everything is thrown in the rubbish bin by making her identify Bin Laden in last than 10 seconds after he’s dead. It actually makes you think “Did they really kill him or it was just because she/they got so obsessed that killing anyone that looks like him made them believe it was him?” Maybe that was the point of the story anyway, but still…

Acting is pretty damn nice. When Clarke needs to be shown as completely dehumanized, he seems dehumanized. Chastain goes into the growing obsession through the movie and you can clearly see it.

In the end, I could give it some good points, but the fact that the start rubs everything in the completely wrong way, I can only give it 3 our of 9/11s.

X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014)

IMDB plot:

The X-Men send Wolverine to the past in a desperate effort to change history and prevent an event that results in doom for both humans and mutants.

Past spoilers alert.

Once upon a time, there were two timelines for the the X-Men: One in the “current” time, where Professor X is, actually, Captain Picard and the “past” time, where Professor X is actually an assassin. Well, at some point of a series, there is this need of “merging” things (sometimes with sad results, like when Asimov merged the Robots series with the Foundation series. But that’s something for another time).

Anyway, that’s what this movie is: try to merge both timelines in a single, coherent timeline. It falls short in the second part, but it’s entertaining to see them trying anyway.

To merge those two timelines they came with a new “ex machina” in the form of Kitty Pryde ability to transport people’s “conscience” to another time (dunno if it is an ability she has in the comics, but I never saw something like that in the previous movies). She can send people’s memories back in the time, to the same body, to the same person. Kinda like full time travel, but only inside one’s timeline.

(Weird how they gave Kitty, a mutant that can transport solid objects through other solid objects the ability to send something immaterial through time, another immaterial thing.)

So what they do? They send Wolverine, which can withstand prolonged time travel without burning all his brain cells, to prevent the death of Mystique and give the Sentinels the power to defeat all mutants. And that’s basically it. And being a blockbuster, you basically already know how this ends.

One thing that everyone is mentioning and I need to add my voice to it is the Quicksilver scene, in which he defeats a whole group of guards in a confined space. It is a brilliant scene to show his powers — beyond the “he’s fast”. Also, it reminds me a lot of “The Ballad of Barry Allen” which, although being about Flash, it shows somewhat how speedsters must feel.

Even if the scene kills it, Even Peters doesn’t seem into the role. Probably because his character just shows up, do his thing and then goes away, without ever being mentioned again (he appears in one of the last scenes, but meh). Everyone else is still the same: Did you like James McAvoy as Chavier? Good, you’ll like him here; did you like Patrick Stewart as Chaver? Good, you’ll like him here. And on, and on.

Again, it is entertaining, even if you need a big “ex machina” to make things work.

How to Train Your Dragon 2 (2014)

IMDB plot:

When Hiccup and Toothless discover an ice cave that is home to hundreds of new wild dragons and the mysterious Dragon Rider, the two friends find themselves at the center of a battle to protect the peace.

Warning: draconic spoilers.

So apparently I never posted anything about “How to Train Your Dragon” (the first[1]), but a quick recap: Hiccup is an outcast who manages to understand dragons and creates a bounding between the people of his village with dragons, which previously were seen as enemies. It has some nice touches and it has some good moments, with some nice touches of feelings around.

This sequel… not so much.

So Hiccup and the gang — including the dragons — are all grown up since we last seen them and now Hiccup may become the chief of the village, but keeps avoid his father to not get the title. And then, in his runs, he finds his mother. And then his father dies.

You know, this “you’ll never be a happy family” feels a bit too far stretched. Surely there was no problem if Hiccup’s mother appeared and he had to deal with his father and mother at the same time; or even if she never appeared and he had to deal with the fact that he could be Berk’s chief. But nope, let’s bring one parent back and kill the other, “to keep balance”.

As the animation, the lightning seems better than the first, but the lines feel a lot more cartoonish. Sometimes, it tries to use full face motion to show emotions going through the faces and… it just falls flat, specially Astrid. Not that America Ferrera did any good job voicing Astrid this time either. But I can’t fully blame her, even Cate Blanchett, as Hiccup’s mother seems off. Everyone else still does a good job, though.

Honestly, it’s hard to pinpoint where the script wants to go this time. In the first movie, it was about being an outcast and finding out that there are other outcasts isn’t so bad. This time is about… growing up without parents, I think. I mean, why else would they bring Hiccup’s mother back and then kill his father?

Also, it seems weird that in those five years (or so says Wikipedia) after the first movie, the best dragon handlers are still the original six kids (Hiccup, Astrid, Snotloud, Fishlegs, Tuffnut and Ruffnut) with their original dragons. And the only Night Fury is still Toothless. I mean, seriously? After 5 years, nobody else became friends with the group, nobody thought “those kids are nice, I wish I could be friends with them”, nobody else bounded with their dragons to the point of being a good dragon handler and Toothless is the only Night Fury in the whole planet? Seriously?

Sadly, it seems this movie only wants to milk from the original. It’s the kind of sequel we dread about: Soulless and driven by greed.

I’m giving this 3 gronckles out of 8 hotburples.

[1] This “the first” to mention the first movie, when “maybe there will be a sequel, if this makes enough money” need a better name.

The Fifth Estate (2013)

IMDB plot:

A dramatic thriller based on real events that reveals the quest to expose the deceptions and corruptions of power that turned an Internet upstart into the 21st century’s most fiercely debated organization.

Some spoilers that should never be disclosed to the public may be disclosed.

This is not a movie based on a book. This is a movie based on TWO books — or so it says in the opening credits.

The movie follows the story of Julian Assange, from the time WikiLeaks was basically unknown to the point it got so famous, he had to hide in Equatorian embassy in London.

The whole thing is not Julian telling of his story, it’s mostly about how Daniel Berg/Daniel Bomscheit-Berg saw WikiLeaks rise to notoriety after he joined it. Also, the movie is not about WikiLeaks, but about Assange himself. Because Assange and WikiLeaks are so tied together, to tell the story of one, you basically tell the story of the other.

Reviewing the plot is too damn hard. First, because the story of WikiLeaks is a public one and second because, since it focus on Assange, it makes hard to say anything that won’t spoil everything. But still: In the very beginning, WikiLeaks disclosed documents about corruption in some African countries, then showing neo-nazis in one of England political parties, then exposed a large German bank, then displaying the murder of some Reuters reporters by the American military, which came with the cable communications which finally put the website in the spotlight of journalistic stage[1]. In all those “stepping stones”, the movie shows Assange reactions: How his platform for anonymous disclosure worked, how he managed to convince whistleblowers to publish the information they had in the site, how he dealt with the classic journalism and his ideals for the disclosing information. But to sum it, it shows Assange worried much more about the “ideals” of the WikiLeaks than the persons involved in it. IN a way, it shows that he was right, there shouldn’t be a distinction between disclosing information about neo-nazis in the government and the names of informants in Afghanistan; in the other, it shows that he was wrong, putting the very lifes of those informants in danger.

Yes, it’s not a faltering picture of Assange, but I guess moviemakers love this kind of stuff to paint their subjects more “human”. There is also the way the movie portraits the software part. As usual, it’s gibberish. It offends anyone that knows a thing or two about computers, which is basically the majority of people that followed these events unfolding — which is basically anyone capable of using the internet. But hey, better look cool than looking correct, right?

It is hard to describe acting. Benedict Cumberbatch, to me, is a “one trick pony” and seems to always act the same way. Surely, it may fit real Assange but still… Daniel Brühl, on the other hand, really seems like a real person.

I give it 7 out of 8 cables for it.

[1] Or, at least, that’s the way the movie tells the story.

Justice League: War (2014)

IMDB plot:

The world’s finest heroes found the Justice League in order to stop an alien invasion of Earth.

Heroic spoilers ahead.

Seriously, it’s pretty hard to talk about this animation without spoiling the hell out of it. So, you’re doubly warned now.

So for Justice League you have a bunch of DC characters that work together to save the planet from the evil forces of evil. But how did they finally get together? That’s what you find out.

You also find out who’s the most awesome evil character of all comics.

The whole story revolves around Batman (still being marked as a random viligant), Superman (still seen as some alien that doesn’t care about anything and nobody cares about him), Green Lantern (in hotheaded Hal Jordan), Wonder Woman (which I think came directly from the animation with her name), Cyborg (in its origin story), Flash and Shazam (yup, Shazam, not John Johns).

The story is basically: Lantern is doing his round finding something weird in Gotham and clashes with Batman. They find an alien artifact and decided to ask the resident alien for answers: Superman. Meanwhile, Cyborg’s (still not a cyborg) father is working on the same device, which apparently was found by Flash and Wonder Woman is in a diplomatic mission with the US president. Then hell breaks lose when the devices active, bring a bunch of aliens, the airplane with the president is attacked and it’s saved by Wonder Woman and Superman, while Cyborg (still not a cyborg) is caught in the activation of one of the devices and suddenly mixes with some experimental technology (THEN becoming the cyborg). Meanwhile, Billy Batson (Shazam) finds something weird in his house, turns in Shazam and, chasing the alien, finds the rest of the group.

And then, when things seems to start to work out… DARKSEID.

(By the way, I think this is the proper place to point the most awesome line in any animation ever: Shazam approaches Darkseid and them proclaims “Hey, Blackheart the Deatheater or whatever your World of Warcraft name is… SUCK ON THIS!” which I think embodies exactly Shazam personality.)

The style is mostly the same classic hero animation. There is nothing impressive but at least there is nothing that brings it down.

But, as usual, animations are mostly about voice acting and this one does not disappoints. Jason O’Mara does an awesome Batman (and I mean it); Michelle Monaghan does sound like Wonder Woman (by the way, Jack Snider: Is there still time to replace Gal Gadot with Michelle Monaghan?); Alan Tudyk is mostly ok as Superman, but still doesn’t disappoint; Christopher Gorham does a perfect Flash (“Sorryneedthistosavetheworldthanksforyourhelp”).

In the end, it seems a very good point of reference for what expect for the real-life “Justice League” which should appear… somewhere in the future. I’d give it 5 out of 7 masked vigilantes.

jOBS (2013)

IMDB plot:

The story of Steve Jobs’ ascension from college dropout into one of the most revered creative entrepreneurs of the 20th century.

Historical (accurate or not) spoilers here.

After a very interesting movie, an ok biography and whatever else they can throw to make more money of his name, jOBS is yet another take on the co-founder of Apple Computers.

Just to be clear here: I read the biography and watched the old movie (both links listed above) and I’ll draw some references from both to explain this all. So… yeah, triple spoilers event!

First of all, this movie is the one the paints Jobs more ruthless than any other thing I saw/read. In “Pirates of the Silicon Valley”, Jobs is portrayed as a fun guy who only mistake was to leave a daughter behind — someone who, later, he made peace. In his auto-biography, he’s a genius who left a daughter behind, lost the company he created but, ultimately, got back into the company, made emends with his daughter and, ultimately, made the company profitable again. In this movie, Jobs is a quirky guy, who left his daughter behind, pushed his employees to the brink of madness, drove out his only true friend, saw enemies everywhere, lost his company, got back into the company and decided to take revenge on everyone he saw as being part of making him leave in the first place.

So… yeah, this is not the “Jobs was a genius” kinda of movie. Maybe it is the more accurate one, maybe it makes him more dark for the sake of getting more points for showing a different facet (or maybe it’s Hollywood tendency of making everything “darker” these days leaking over a biography). Who knows?

Thing is, Jobs is shown as a dark personality here. And you know, when he talks in that calm tone he used to show in his previous WWDCs? Well, it’s there, but the way Kutcher makes the same movements and talk in the same pace and with the same volume… it sounds much more like a cold, vengeful person than a patronizing, friendly person.

Speaking of which, Kutcher kills on those two aspects: voice and movement. When he talks, you hear Jobs; when he moves, you see Jobs movements (at least, from the presentations he did). The looks… well, not so much. But yeah, I can’t point the good job doing Jobs Kutcher did.

I can give this 6 out of 10 IBM PCs.

Lone Survivor (2013)

IMDB plot:

Marcus Luttrell and his team set out on a mission to capture or kill notorious Taliban leader Ahmad Shah, in late June 2005. Marcus and his team are left to fight for their lives in one of the most valiant efforts of modern warfare.

Enemy territory of spoilers ahead!

Also, let me spoil the end of this review: I won’t be generous with this movie, so I’ll say this: I’m being critical of the movie as a movie, not as the personal experience of Luttrell and his company/co-workers/friends.

The story is, basically this: A bunch of broguys in the army, doing brothings, like brorunning go into a bromission, which is find if a VIP target is in a small village in the Afghanistan. The do, their radios didn’t work, they are found by some villagers that support that Taliban and are left with three options: kill the villagers right away, left the villagers tied to die of starvation or cold or left them go and face an army of Talibans protecting the village. The pick the 3rd option, things go wrong and Luttrell is… the lone survivor! (and… roll credits!)

But seriously, the movie rubbed me in the wrong way right out of the start: It starts with some cadets training to be SEALs. Yeah, yeah, it’s the hardest job in the planet, they are the most trained people in the planet, yadda, yadda, yadda. I get it. I don’t get it, though, that it shows those guys almost drowning, almost dying of hypothermia and for those who can’t get it have to be public shamed in front of other guys, and why should I care for them. Oorah, good for them. I couldn’t care less on how hard you survived some abusive physical training.

And then cue to those guys (now the actors) buy bros, doing bro things, like going bare chested, in the morning, talk to another bare chested bro, to ask about horses. Again, I know how I’m making it sound, and I’m making it sound on purpose, but I don’t mean in any shape or form damage the real guys image. It’s just the way the movie put it.

But hey, I had to endure 30 minutes of this absolute no pace at all of the story so hey, I can make as many jokes about this as I want.

But ok, this is a movie about waaaarrrr, so what it is about waaaarrrr? Well, it’s a bunch of fuck ups that actually made me feel sorry for Luttrell and his company for getting into it: Apparently they barely knew the terrain, the really didn’t know anything about the villagers and their habits, they knew communications would have problems and they did absolutely nothing to mitigate those problems. Oh yeah, and none of them knew how to talk to the villagers, just in case. Military intelligence my ass.

Actually, that’s the best 30 minutes of this 2 hour long movie: Their movements in the mountain, how the collect more information about the village and the VIP, how the find good spots, how those guys can sleep in the middle of this… This part is actually the good — and only good — part of the movie.

And then you have the shooting scene. And from the village of 10 or so houses, about 200 Talibans appear. At least 25 stay in the mountain to cut their escape route, about 50 are killed by those 4 guys and there is still a bunch that come back to the village. A little exaggeration of the movie makers, I guess. In no way, such remote village could hold that many people — and we are talking to extra people, we are not counting the people who already lived in the village.

And the shooting scene goes for another 30 minutes. And there is a lot of blood being splattered around. And there is a lot of talibans dying in a single shot. And there are those 4 guys being turned into pin cushions with so many bullets and cuts and whatnot, but they still fight ’cause MURRICA, FUCK YEAH! And there is so much blood in those 30 minutes that Dracula would have a hard on. And it’s boring, it’s hard to follow, the camera keeps shaking, and sometimes they put this “hey, look, this is the sniper scope!”, which cuts half of the screen space. And then you have “oh, look, this guy killed three talibans but oh, no, he took a shot in the shoulder, but now he killed more three but oh no, another shot in the leg now”. And it goes on, and on, and on, that after the first 5 minutes you get bored watching it.

Apparently there was some helicopter being hit by an RPG when they were almost saved, but I was skipping most of it to avoid the boredom of watching this nonsense that I partially missed it.

(Again, not saying that if Luttrell & co had to face that many people, take that many shots, still kill that many enemy soldiers while fighting for their lifes it’s pure bullshit; what I’m saying is that, for theatrical presentation, it’s bullshit.)

And the last 30 minutes is Luttrell being rescue by one of the villagers, getting caught by the Taliban VIP, almost dying, seeing the villagers raise against Taliban (in what, thinking now, it was a way of saying “see? Not all of them are bad!”) and his final rescue.

I won’t talk about acting, ’cause, again, bored to tears, I skipped most of it. The only thing I can say is this: Every time Taylor Kitsch was on the screen, every time he spoke sometime, all I could think of was “Wil Weathon?”

In the end, I have to give only 3 saved soldiers of a battalion of 10. Everyone else died in the hands of the enemy.