August Movie Roundup

Scott Pilgrim (9 out of 10)
This is one of the more clever and entertaining movies of the summer. Sure, it’s one big video game, but it’s still visually stimulating and super funny. The comedy never stops in this one.   Kudos to director Edgar Wright’s ability to capture the entire comic book series (6 books) in 112 minutes.

There are six fights, one after another, which makes this one of the few movies with more than one major climax. Each fight could have been the big finale to any other movie: one involves a Bollywood-style dance number, one is a musical duel, and one is the big “Final Boss” that doesn’t end how you think.

The atmosphere in this film is huge. There’s both a Seinfeld and Nintendo references that i thoroughly enjoyed. The music has Beck, Metric and Broken Social Scene, along with old school 8-bit video game noises. Everything in this movie is over-the-top and excessively nerdy. From the music and sound to the look and feel of just the first thirty seconds of the film, you know exactly what you’re getting into.

Inception (8.5 out of 10)
Posted all my thoughts on this here and here

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (8.5 of 10) and Girl Who Plays With Fire (9 out of 10)
I saw both of these this summer. Take Batman Begins and The Dark Knight. i think Begins is a better cohesive movie, end-to-end, but Dark Knight is a great sequel with broader scope and more action. And, i think It works as a great movie only because it’s a sequel. Similarly, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo is a better individual movie. It’s tight and complete but The Girl Who Plays With Fire is a fantastic sequel. It takes the foundation of Tattoo and really blows it out.

Considering the first movie is mostly about one person and the second is all about another, it’s amazing how well these are connected, yet also how different they are. One is a methodical while other is frantic. One is focused with only 2 characters really, while the other all over the place with over 10. Regardless, both are fantastic and worth seeing.

The Other Guys (8 out of 10)
It’s great to have Will Ferrell back. I was worried he was going down the Eddie Murphy path where his movies got worse as he got older. But The Other Guys was one of his best. If you think of all the Will Ferrell movies and the ones where he gives the best performance, i’d rank Anchorman first, Talledega Nights second and this film third (and i do think Blades of Glory is underrated). Here he’s amazing as a homely cop but even funnier when he turns into his alter ego, Gator. I’d put this up against any of his other films.

Salt (6 our of 10)
This movie was just not at all interesting to me. Angelina’s character didn’t really talk the entire time. [**Spoiler Alert**] For the entire movie, you can’t tell you if she’s on Russia’s side or US’s. Thus, you have no idea what her character really thinks of really feels. You’re just watching her maybe kill people (maybe just maim), and based on those actions you’re led to believe she’s Russian. Of course, by the end of the movie, you realize that you’ve just been manipulated by fancy editing and lack of information. Pretty lame if you ask me. I’m just mad that the director wanted to make a movie like that.

Of course, the most interesting thing about the movie is the director, Phillip Noyce. It’s the same guy who was big in the studio system decades ago, doing Patriot Games, Clear & Present Danger and others. Then he moved back to Australia and did small indie flicks like Rabbit Proof Fence and The Quiet American. When he did, he employed a woman to stay in Hollywood and just read scripts. Specifically spy scripts. This is because he’s obsessed with spies. Growing up, his dad was a spy for Australia, and as a kid he used to go through town and follow people inconspicuously. So, this type of movie was the only thing that would bring him back to the studios. And after 5 years his woman found one. This is it. You can learn more in this KCRW podcast.

While that’s cool and all, i still wish it was a better movie.

Dinner With Shmucks (5 out of 10)
One of the more disappointing comedies of the summer. Steve Carrell is more annoying than funny and the plot is just rough. Say you meet a guy who is ruining your life – he tells your girlfriend about an old girlfriend, tells her to get lost, and then destroys your house by throwing wine bottles at all walls and tables. Now imagine this guy says he’s left his keys at your house, would you make a bed for him on your couch or would you drive him home? It wouldn’t be a movie if he just goes home but it’s a bad movie because he stays – because nobody would behave like the people in this movie. Don’t ever see this film

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