Les Misérables: My Movie Review

A few days ago I went to see the movie Les Misérables, going into it having no idea of what it was about, but being familiar with some of the music in it. Yesterday at lunch someone asked me if I liked it, and I responded “I don’t know”.

Les-mis

Just to get this out of the way, I’m not mentioning the names of any characters because, truthfully, I only remember the name of one of them, Cosette, and I’m not in the mood to go looking them all up. So go with me here as I give a synopsis, then opinion, about this film.

The title stands for “the miserable ones”, and man, did that turn out to be true. About 25 minutes in I leaned over to a young lady I consider as my niece and said “Wow, this is depressing”. Her response was “it gets worse”. As I stated earlier I knew it was a musical, and the only other musical I’ve paid money to go see was Phantom of the Opera, which I thoroughly enjoyed, and also didn’t know what the story was about before I went, though I knew all the music.

Overall this is the tale of a guy who’s finally released from a penal detention in France after 20 years because he stole a loaf of bread to feed his family, makes it on his own until he’s eventually rich. He tries to save a woman that was fired from his factory but she still dies and vows to take care of her child whom she’d left with some sleazy people. He turns himself in when another guy is arrested as him because he’d broken probation 8 years earlier, but runs to find and take care of the girl.

He hides with her about 9 years or so until a bunch of consequences find him hiding once again from Crowe, her falling in love with a young guy she just met, the young guy in the middle of trying to help start another French Revolution, the older guy saving him from being killed so he can get healthy and hook up with the young girl who’s been his daughter for all these years, goes away so his daughter will never know what he did, and then the young guy he saved learns he was saved by the older guy (he never knew), tells the daughter about it on their wedding day (along with the older guy’s background, which he never divulged to her), and they rush to the convent (I never knew men could be in a convent) where the older guy’s character is dying, dies and meets up with all the other people in the movie who died; whew!

The older guy is played by Hugh Jackman of Wolverine fame, and he actually goes through about 20 years of aging or so in the movie. He’s a credible singer, a Broadway guy, and he has the major part in this flick. The guy who gives him the “I’ll be watching you” speech is played by Russell Crowe. My wife would say he’s a “talking singer”, and I’ll go with that assessment. He had to be there because of his acting more than his singing, but truthfully I wasn’t overly impressed with his acting in this one. Actually, I’d never seen him in anything else that I could think of, and maybe this is why.

Anne Hathaway plays the woman who was fired from Jackman’s factory, and then whose life went into a major spiral, selling everything, having her hair cut, and becoming a prostitute. I knew the song “I Dreamed A Dream” pretty well, or so I thought, but seeing it performed in this movie the way they did it… this woman wins Best Supporting Actress, hands down! I have a much deeper appreciation for what this song was about.

The comic relief in the movie was handled by Helena Bonham Carter of Harry Potter and many other movies fame and Sacha Baron Cohen of Barat fame; he was unrecognizable to me and I only knew it was him when the credits came up. I hated them immensely, which probably means they did a good job.

Two people played Cosette, one as a young girl, then as an older girl Amanda Siegfried. Her singing was passable but nothing outstanding. Someone who I felt was really outstanding was Samantha Barks, whom I didn’t know but it turns out she’s also a Broadway star in her own right, and hot as well, even though she wasn’t supposed to be.

The guy who played the young man who Cosette falls in love with… don’t care, and that’s a shame. Truthfully, the student revolutionary piece kind of threw me off from the rest of the story, and the only part that actually made me care was when this young boy was killed by the French army on purpose; that was pretty cold.

One last thing before I move on. Crowe’s character, Mr. Law and Order, decides near the end to let Jackman’s character get a pass while he’s trying to save the young guy because Jackman had let his own life go when he could have killed him. Crowe’s character sees this as a flaw in himself and he jumps off a bridge to kill himself. What I didn’t expect was that they actually showed the body hitting the ground, half on the ground and half in water; I wasn’t prepared for that in this type of movie, and I have to admit I didn’t like it.

Overall review? There was a lot going on yet they kept it all together pretty well. I could have done without the revolution part but without it we’d have lost this one great song and I guess a purpose for Jackman to go try to save this kid. I wasn’t ever sure I cared about anyone in the movie until Jackman’s character was about to die. I almost cried, though I didn’t, but a lot of other people did; sniffles were everywhere, and I couldn’t blame any of them. It’s hard to say I enjoyed such a depressing movie but it did touch me. Since this isn’t normally the type of movie overall that I’d even watch, I’m not quite sure how to process it.

It touched me in a couple of places on an emotional level; I’ll own up to that. I liked the music but didn’t like what the director did. The shot the music “live” rather than in a studio, and to do it many of the music scenes were closeups, and I kept wishing they’d pull the camera back as that made me uncomfortable.

I’ll say this then. If you like musicals definitely go see this. If you like to cry, give it a shot. If you like happy endings, this ain’t it. This isn’t a bad movie, but I didn’t hear a single person saying as we were walking out “that was fantastic”. I think we were all too depressed. 🙂
 

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2013-2015 Mitch Mitchell

The Hobbit – A Review

Last Friday I decided to go to see the new movie The Hobbit. I had seen all 3 of the Lord of the Rings movies, enjoyed each of them, but truthfully had no idea what any of it was about. In my mind, I thought it was only about a guy called a hobbit who had to get a ring to a volcano to melt it; all that other stuff was confusing. And I had never read any of the books; I tried, but just wasn’t interested.

The_Hobbit

Also, this movie had gotten fairly maudlin reviews from many professional reviewers who griped about its length, griped about how it was shot (48 fps, or frames per second, versus the normal 24 fps for 3D), griped about what they said reminded them of Star Wars Phantom Menace… they didn’t like it. They liked Ian McKellen and Martin Freeman and nothing else.

The story of The Hobbit is how Bilbo Baggins, the uncle of LOTR’s hero Frodo, comes to discover and own the ring that ends up having to be destroyed later. It also talks about the adventure he goes on, along with 14 other individuals which includes Gandolf the Grey, who’s also in the LOTR movies, to help liberate the Dwarf Kingdom of Erebor that had been taken over by a dragon named Smaug. The second story arc is that the current exiled king of Erebor, Thorin Oakenshield, had thought he killed Azog, a top leader of Orcs, and it turns out that not only is he not dead but he wants revenge; who wouldn’t?

And the ring… it’s almost a subplot, to the extent that if you hadn’t seen any of the LOTR movies and were seeing this movie for the first time without knowing anything else you’d think it was just a plot point that was setting up the next movie, since this will be a 3 movie arc. That’s saved until the last 35 minutes of the movie, which is about 2 hours and 45 minutes long. We know how important it is, and it seems that Gandolf knows something’s different near the end, but the rest of us… if we didn’t have foresight into what was coming we’d miss it.

You know what? I thoroughly enjoyed this movie and knew exactly what was going on at every step along the way. Probably because this movie explains how they got to the LOTR movies and books, some things started to fall in place for me. The faster filming of frames made the movie lighter than traditional 3D, and that was nice. The one problem was that every once in awhile it looked like the background was moving when the action stopped; that was freaky.

The part some critics hated was the comedy part. There were a lot of funny parts in this movie that were interspersed with the serious and action parts. I loved that, especially early on when Bilbo is trying to figure out what’s going on. Frankly, I think all of us would react the same way to suddenly having lots of creatures in the house that aren’t like you and you don’t know why, and they’re eating your food and drinking your wine.

Even the scenes with Gollum were both intense and funny and, well, weirdly sick because I’d never gotten the real sense of just how dangerous he was and could be in the 3 LOTR movies, which might seem strange to some of you who saw those movies. It was well done here; frankly, I think this entire movie was well done.

Overall I had a great time. I didn’t notice how long the movie was while watching it. The critics said no action takes place until the last 40 minutes of the movie; I wonder what they were watching. There are great back stories here and lots of fun. Visually it’s stunning, and I’ll just say that it was fun seeing rock people fighting as opposed to Transformers, which I also enjoyed. This is a lot of fun, with no bad language and yet I’m still not sure that young kids should see this. But the teens will love it, the movie’s going to be successful, and I have no qualms about recommending it.

Go have fun!
 

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2012 Mitch Mitchell

John Carter – Movie Review

The Saturday the movie John Carter opened, I went to the 3D matinee version with my friend Scott because, well, we each really had nothing else to do. I went into this pretty much blind, not knowing anything about the storyline except it involved someone from the United States who, in the 1800’s, somehow ended up on Mars; that’s it. I also knew it was written by the same guy who wrote Tarzan, Edgar Rice Burroughs. I haven’t seen many Tarzan movies and I never saw the TV show either, but I did have this one question; why didn’t Tarzan have a beard? lol


The basic premise of the movie is that a man named John Carter is a prospector who also has a gruesome family past he’s running away from. After somehow getting himself into and out of a mess between some cavalry morons and an Indian tribe (yeah, I know, someone’s going to call me on not using “Native American”, but if I won’t use “African-American” and I’m also part Cherokee…) and, with the commanding officer in tow after he’d been shot, escapes to a cave where he encounters an alien with something glowing in his hands and is immediately transported to this vast desert, which he later learns is Mars. Because of gravity differences he is stronger than the norm and has leaping ability beyond comprehension, and thus becomes the hoped for savior for two different groups of Martians, one hoping he’ll save them from the great white ape (sheesh!), the other hoping he’ll save them from annihilation.

The star of this movie is Taylor Kitsch, whom I’ve never heard of, but that’s his picture above. His co-star is Lynn Collins, and she’s just stunning, and in this movie she’s not always wearing a lot, which my buddy Sire would love. Turns out I’d seen her in X-Men: Wolverine as his love interest in the movie, though I couldn’t remember that while I was watching it.

For what it’s worth this movie was a lot of fun to watch. Not having any preconceived notions of what was to be expected based on the books, I thought it was visually stunning to see, very funny, aliens that looked like what I was hoping for (I mean, green 4-armed Martians; very cool) and some beautiful landscapes and skyscapes that showed its $300 million plus budget. We laughed a lot and the audience made those group sounds at all the right places, and to me that’s what this kind of movie is for. It won’t win any Academy Awards except maybe in some technical design category, but based on the makeup of the people who judge for the Oscar, it’s probably not happening.

Critics have beaten it up for being uneven. Just how “even” is a movie like this supposed to be? It’s received a 51% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, which pretty much means you either like it or you don’t, obviously. I’ll just say that it was much better than the previews led me to believe it’d be, because I wasn’t going based off what I’d seen. But I’m glad I went and if you have a sense of humor and love visuals you’ll enjoy this movie as well. And if you’d like to see another review of the same movie go see what Karen of Blazing Minds had to say.
 

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2012 Mitch Mitchell

The Muppets – The Review

Nobody is a bigger Muppets fan than I am. I can’t count the number of posts I’ve done on them on this blog, or the number of videos I’ve shared. Heck, I’ll probably be sharing one at the end of this post. Last weekend I went with my friend Scott to see it in Rochester; this is my review of the movie.

The storyline begins with new characters, a couple of brothers where one of them is a Muppet (go with me here) and one human, and his very cute girlfriend. The humans were played by Jason Segal and Amy Adams. The Muppet brother, named Walter. doesn’t see himself as a Muppet, just a misfit in the world, but he considers himself the biggest Muppet fan and really wants to be one of the gang. When Gary (Jason) decides to take Mary (Amy) to Los Angeles to celebrate their 10th anniversary of being boyfriend and girlfriend, Mary thinks it’s to get engaged until Gary tells her that Walter’s coming as well so that he can take him to visit Muppet Studios.

When they get there, the studios are decrepit, and when Walter goes off on his own, he overhears a conversation by a rich oilman who’s planning on buying the theater and drilling for oil that’s underneath, telling everyone else that he’s turning it into a museum to get his hands on the property. Walter, Gary and Mary go off looking for Kermit, who they find living in his mansion alone, tell him what’s going on, then finally convince him to try to get the gang together to put on a show to raise $10 million to save the theater and the studios.

That’s the basic premise; I’m not going to say how it all ends except to say that, in an odd way, it ends just like one might expect a Muppets movie to end, but without what I’m calling the type of quirky goodwill and smiles that I expected. As a matter of fact, I have to truthfully say that I was letdown by this movie a lot, and that’s depressing to me.

Jason Segal had a hand in helping to write the movie, and supposedly he’s a major Muppets fan as well. However, I felt like he missed just what the Muppets were all about. After all, he wasn’t born until 1980, which means he wasn’t even alive when the TV show or the first movie came out. Not that people can’t become fans of something later in life, but I think his age made him miss just what the Muppets were all about.

This movie missed all the stuff that made the Muppets funny. There were no corny jokes except by Fozzie Bear. There were no running gags. There were no puns. There were no surprises such as being in the wrong place at the wrong, or right, time. There was a robot, and none of us could figure out where that came from, and the robot drove the car. None of the newer Muppet characters were named in the movie, and only one, Pepe, the giant prawn, got a true scene in the movie.

And there was a lot of sadness in this movie, way more sadness than happiness. Walter was sad that he couldn’t find his place in life. Mary was sad because she didn’t think Gary would ever see her as a woman. Kermit was sad because everyone had disappeared and he didn’t even have the dream anymore; this was probably the most depressing thing of all because it’s always been Kermit who believed in everything. Miss Piggy had moved on, but she was sad because she and Kermit hadn’t ended up together. Everyone else had failed in life except for Gonzo, who was rich, powerful and respected in plumbing yet yearned for show business (what he does was probably one of the few truly Muppet inspired gags of the movie).

And the music… well, I liked the opening song, but I’d have to admit I wasn’t enthralled by much of the rest of it, though there was a nice touching scene of the gang doing Rainbow Connection. When the first movie came out I went and bought the album the very same day and played it incessantly for weeks (well, when my roommate wasn’t in the room at least lol).

This wasn’t a bad movie, just not what I expected from a Muppet movie. As much as the critics panned and fans stayed away from Muppets From Space, I actually thought that movie had some charm and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Will this movie actually spark interest in the Muppets again? I’m not sure, and that’s disappointing. It could have been so much more, and I’m not sure the updated version had the same spark as what I remember (and I have the movie, another movie, and the 1st 3 seasons on DVD so I know lol). I hope so, but if it happens I also hope someone remembers what made them what they were in the first place. By the way, this was a nice tribute to Jim Henson, as they made sure to show pictures in the background with him and Kermit; nice touch. Okay, yes, here’s a video:


 

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2011 Mitch Mitchell

Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows Finale Review

Almost two weeks after the movies opened in the United States, I’m finally ready to write my review. Okay, spoiler alert; I loved it so much I saw it twice!

You know, often you go into movies after you’re read the book knowing exactly what’s going to happen. Since they broke this book up into two movies and since the first book stayed so close to what happened in the book, I thought I would know what was coming in this one as well.

For the most part… I was wrong. Sure, some things followed the book fairly well, but one has to imagine that it must be difficult allowing the types of speeches and conversations that happened in a book that was almost 1,000 pages long to translate word for word into a movie would be, well, a headache. So, the movie takes many liberties in the movie and totally changes some things around to keep the action going; after all, they wanted the movie to be able to appeal to everyone and not just Harry Potter fans.

Even so, many of the action scenes took place differently than they do in the book, just like in the 6th book. That’s okay as well because I understand for spacing purposes you’d lose a lot if you expanded the field of battle as well. However, in the book the battle between Mrs. Weasley and Bellatrix LeStrange goes on much longer than it does here, and in the book Voldemort has a long battle with many wizards at once, which doesn’t happen here.

Harry’s entrance into the castle goes much different in the movie than in the book, and his encounter with Professor Snape in the movie never happened in the book. And some people might recognize that Malfoy has one friend different than the same two friends he had in the first six movies. That’s because the actor who played that part got arrested a couple of times for drugs and they had to replace him. Of course, one of the actors still in his role never quite developed physically into the behemoth he was supposed to be so his part always had to be written differently from the books.

And the kiss… yes, the kiss between Ron and Hermoine. Actually, this is why I had to go to the movie a second time because I missed it the first time. They moved it around in the movie and, because they didn’t have it when I expected it to come, I went to the bathroom; major mistake! Glad to see it the second time around and it made sense putting it where they did once I saw it again.

In general, this was enjoyable; then again, when I know it’s going to be something I like, I’m an easy grader. I saw it the first time at the midnight showing, 3D, and the second time a week and a half later in a regular theater, where the guy gave me the senior discount; maybe I shouldn’t shave before I go to any movies anymore. lol The theater was packed the second time as well, and almost everyone that reviewed this movie has said it’s fantastic, and it’s gotten a 96% positive review from Rotten Tomatoes; those folks usually hate everything. Even Roger Ebert gave it 3 1/2 out of 4 stars; when’s the last time that happened for a film that people actually saw?

I’ll be waiting until both movies come out together before buying this and, as long as it is, I hope the movies include way more footage. Yeah, I’m a glutton for punishment, but I really want to see more, just as I did with the Lord of the Rings trilogy when I purchased it. Great stuff. Don’t be a curmudgeon; go see this!

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2011 Mitch Mitchell