Saturday, March 29, 2014

Top 20 Movie Posters: 10-1

Just in case you missed it, here is yesterday's post containing numbers 20 through 11, and my rambling explanation of how the list is organized.

Now on to my top ten!

Part 3: Respect the Artistry

Honorable mentions:
If fact many Shyamalan films have neat, artistic posters; a cute, warm collage of JGL's movie obsession; simple slick and stylish for the latest 007 flick. (review)

#10. Zero Dark Thirty
Now this is a bold move. White background and thick black lettering -- bold. No faces or pictures or even actor names of any kind -- bold. "Censoring" all the text to make it rather hard to even read -- very bold. And it worked. That's all. (4 of 4 I haven't seen)

#9. The Truman Show
It's enough for me that Jim Carrey's handsome mug is filling the whole poster with such an unfailingly optimistic expression, but it's made up of a collage of moments in the unknowing character's life -- a creative and memorable way of expressing the movie's theme and premise.

#8. Star Trek
What is it that you need in a poster to convince someone to go see the advertized film? In the case of Star Trek, all you need is those two words, in that font. That b-e-a-U-tiful abstract depiction of the Enterprise blasting into the unknown is just icing on the fanboy's (girl's) cake.

#7. True Grit
Bridges. Damon. Brolin. Coens. True Grit. Every bit of information you'd need to decide if you want to see this movie is right there. (And the answer is yes, by the way.) But just in case you're still lost and unsure, there's the bold western wanted poster style, and that there bullet hole with blood dripping down. Oh yes.

#6. The Dark Knight
Okay this one's pretty incredible. It has the innovative design and uncluttered minimalism of my #1 and #2 (the smoothness is a good contrast to other Dark Knight posters with cluttered, debris-filled backgrounds) and, the emotional weight of my #1 and #3. It lands at #6 simply because it's too twisted and unsettling for me to wholeheartedly love.

Part 4: Getting Personal

Honorable mentions:
I love this immaculate, beautiful image, but as a poster it needs less words; Shakespeare knew how to throw a party, Joss Whedon knew how to update into his signature style, and whoever made this poster knew what they were doing too (review); the teaser for the beginning of Bilbo's journey is inviting and expectant. (review)

#5. The Adventures of Tintin
Doesn't this poster just tickle and excite your adventurous side? Burning ships, crashing planes, a globetrotting trenchcoat wearer with unusual hair and an animal sidekick. The serious atmosphere and dramatic lighting, and the unabashed adventurous spirit it evokes (along with a certain name) promises less of the silly kiddie fare and more of the pure action/adventure fun of Indiana Jones. Oh, and by the way, Tintin delivers on his promises.

#4. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
Grab your towel, and don't panic. As a representation of one of the most odd-ball adventures through space out there, this poster doesn't quite convey the extreme extent of gleeful ridiculousness the film possesses. It focuses more on the visual splendor and spacey style -- which is gleeful and ridiculous in its own right -- and invites with bold, friendly letters, and assorted randomness hurling though blue starry space -- who wouldn't want to come along?

#3. The Hurt Locker
The New York Times says the movie is "ferociously suspenseful." I agree, and feel the same about this poster. The image strikes tension and dreadful excitement into you with the force of the explosion you sense is coming, but without being too obvious about it's intentions. You wonder what will happen; you feel the grit and honesty of the moment, and even though you can't see his face, if you know that's Jeremy Renner (now you do) you suddenly know the acting would just, well... blow you away. See what I did there?

#2. Super 8
It was a tough call between #3 and #2 for this spot, but this Super 8 poster lands it for one reason: rotate this poster 45 degrees counter-clockwise, and instead of ruining it, it's still a great poster. I prefer it turned this way though. Okay that's not all -- I also love the beautiful monotone landscape, the boiling clouds, the silhouettes, the little hint of sci-fy, and the fact that none of it is too overshadowed by showy text and/or lots of fine print. Minimal information; maximum intrigue.

#1. Moon
Gosh, what it there to say that doesn't point out the obvious? The psychedelic moon surrounding the lonely astronaut design is so minimal, yet incredibly unique and perfectly evokes the quiet, unsettled feel of the film; the lighting, color, balance of the text and the image... all flawless. And unassuming at first, but knowledge of the movie helps you realize the effort and thought that must have gone into assembling this piece -- just like the film it represents so perfectly. An easy pick for my #1.

Now feel free to tell me which ones I forgot -- I'm sure there are many. And maybe which ones you agree with me on?

Friday, March 28, 2014

Top 20 Movie Posters: 20-11

Inspiration struck, and before I knew it I had complied a list of my favorite movie posters, and here it is. You may notice a lack of older and classic posters. I did this for two reasons: one, that most of them I knew were great posters before I could really appreciate them enough to think it for myself, so while I love, for example, the Back to the Future and Indiana Jones posters, I've always been biased for them. Secondly, works of art like that are in a whole level of their own, much higher than most of my picks. I picked them because somehow, one way or another they resonate with me, so just be forewarned that this is pretty subjective, and enjoy!

If the title is a link then I've reviewed the movie, but there are only four posters total in this list promoting movies I haven't seen. This post contains numbers 20 through 11, five numbered posters plus three honorable mentions per category. (If I numbered the honorable mentions they'd all be below #20 (rated lower, numbered higher.))

And now that I've done my best to thoroughly confuse you, let's begin!

Part 1: A Lasting Impression                                

 Honorable mentions:
The only intriguing thing left about Elysium (1 of 4 I haven't seen); a bold an memorable poster for a bold and memorable movie (review); a little on the silly side design-wise, but still memorable and fitting.

#20. Zombieland
This poster just screams "violent, R-rated zombie-comedy, and unashamed" and it left an impression. I did eventually see the movie (well, most of it -- it was cut for TV, and I saw most of that -- I closed my eyes a number of times as well) and only then stopped relating the movie to this fantastically blunt poster. (mostly)

#19. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
(This is 2 of 4 that I haven't seen.) But, in spite of the middling reviews, this one maintains my attention, with simplistic and surreal posters like this one. There are several more similar posters, but this one wins my vote.

#18. Little Miss Sunshine
Its very simple: I watched this movie because I just had to know who these people were, and why they were running to catch up with that yellow VW van. That is how a poster should work.

#17. The Devil Wears Prada
I first saw this firecracker before I knew who Meryl Streep or Anne Hathaways was, in a Blockbuster. Yes, it was a long time ago. And the fact that I still remember it so vividly should be a great hint as to the scale of the artistic impact it had on my developing artistic brain.

#16. The Hunger Games
I was so blissfully ignorant before this symbol caught my attention at the movie theater. They were giving them away for free (yes for free) and I almost took one, (even though for some silly reason I thought it was for a video game or something) because of the demanding, teasing, simple beauty of the gold and flames, and intriguing tagline. Ironically, I would now consider paying money for it -- a symbol worthy of a little obsession.

Part 2: Representing the Films.

Honorable mentions:
Just in case you try to take the title too literally, Felicity's expression will set you right (review); obvious, bold, short, and stylized -- just like the film (review); so many miles over the top, you'd never assume this to be anything close to a serious movie. And you'd be right.

#15. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
This is a fan's poster, because if you're a fan of The Hobbit, you know that when you think of The Hobbit, you think of Dwarves. Lots and lots of them. And you love them. And the way this poster shows off a smidgen of each of their personalities.

#14. Les Miserables
Okay, yeah, its a pretty nice, but not super interesting or exciting poster. Unless, that is, you notice that the image is a real-life copy of the iconic drawing used for the book cover and the Broadway poster. Then it all suddenly makes perfect sense. (3 of 4 that I haven't seen -- yet!)

#13. Wreck-it Ralph
Keeping things minimalist with Wreck-it Ralph, with a super-cool and simple pixelated head shot of the hero-villain, reminding everyone of its retro video game roots.

#12. Toy Story 3
This one's so obvious they didn't even need to put the title of the movie in there. The style is very similar to #15, but the toys did it first, so they get the originality credit.

#11. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
The beautiful coloring and imagery assures fans that the film will be more stylish than The Hunger Games without sacrificing any of the grit, and the Mockingjay wings assure an attention to beloved details. But what clinches this poster's potency is the quote at the top -- "The sun persists in rising, so I make myself stand." -- powerfully representing our heroine's character and motivation.

Numbers 10 - 1 in tomorrow's post!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

New Trailers: The Maze Runner & The Giver

It started with The Hunger Games -- this explosively huge fad of basing films on dystopian YA novels, and now everyone's rushing to capitalize on it. Ender's Game and Divergent have already squeezed in efforts, but neither were/are nowhere near close to finding fame like that of Katniss Everdeen. These two films are next in line to give it a shot:

The Maze Runner: Set to release in September, Dylan O'Brien leads, and at least two already-awesome-in-my-opinion actors also star -- Will Poulter, and Thomas Brodie-Sangster.

The Giver: Set to release in August, Brenton Thwaits is the lead, with two huge names in acting -- Jeff Bridges and Meryl Streep -- supporting, and also Katie Holmes and... Taylor Swift? I kid not.

Both are based on novels of the same name, The Maze Runner is the first part of a trilogy, and The Giver already has a reputation of being a great book, being twenty years old. I admit it; I've been interested in these films (and books) since I heard of their existence, and these trailers only add to that. What can I say? I'm a fan of the genre -- in on the craze.

I also like reading the novel first, so this is what I want to know: are they any good? Has anyone read them, and liked them? Or disliked them? I'd love to hear your opinions. Also, whether you've read the books or not, what do you think of these trailers? In on the craze, or not?

Monday, March 10, 2014

The Lego Movie

Spoilers free!

I think this is going to be a rather short review. Why? Well, because the only way I can think to describe anything in this movie is, "awesome."

Cue the music.

...Everything is awesome!...

Acting -- awesome. Chris Pratt makes the perfect unassuming-normal-Lego-figurine-who-turns-out-to-be-the-hero-and-really-awesome as Emmett. Not that that's something for which we see lots of failed attempts. But he is funny and charming and silly, and while not often serious, good on that side as well. The supporting cast in the form of Elizabeth Banks, Morgan Freeman, Will Ferrell, Will Arnett and Liam Neeson were also... well, you know... with names like those, how could they possibly be anything else? And all the cameos (of actors and characters) were brilliant. I liked Billy Dee Williams' cameo... as Lando Calrissian.

...Everything is cool when you're part of a team!...

Plot -- awesome. The beginning was absolutely packed to the brim with laugh-out-loud moments and one-liners, and once the plot got going it just kept slowly adding on a surprising amount of substance and heart -- more than I was expecting even after hearing there was more than you'd expect, but of course it never got too complicated for the crumb-crunching target audience. It also had an adorable ADHD kind of flow -- chasing random rabbit trails until satisfied, and then remembering the main pathway. It all made me feel as if I were the one controlling the direction and didn't know it; it was very often reminiscent of the way I played with Legos. And it's probably the same case with anyone else who has ever laid hands on a single brick.

...Everything is awesome!...

Animation -- you guessed it -- awesome. It looked seriously like there were real, tangible Legos up there on the screen, and it helped with the illusion of mixed reality and imagination to give the animation a stop-motion feel. They also gave the Legos realistic details like dirt, scratches, dints, and even breaks, like on Benny the spaceman's helmet. At times everything moved so fast though, the "stop-motion" made it a bit difficult to tell what was going on, but still, very much worth it for the perfect playful atmosphere it gave the movie.

...When we're livin' our dream!...

So yeah, I thought it was pretty awesome, (the word insinuated itself into my head effortlessly) but it's an interesting case, because I currently have no desire to see it again, and usually if I give a movie 4 stars, I would by now. It was clever and intricate enough to hold my adult attention, but simple enough so that I didn't miss anything, and that requires no future viewings (for now anyway -- never say never) and that's perfectly fine with me. In fact, it's awesome.

The End.
Good luck getting that song out of your head.
You're welcome.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014



I'll admit it: I cried during this movie.

Of course it's not what you may think -- I didn't cry during the opening sequence, even though it was pretty moving. Nor at the end, even though it was a satisfying sweet and magical, and a surprisingly deep ending fitting to the rest of the film. Nor during any of the sweetly melancholy and thoughtful moments in the middle.

No, I cried...

Because I was laughing too hard.

I guess there's just something totally original and brilliant and hilarious about having a snowman come alive, and naively dream about spending a nice summer day at the beach. Add a cynical listener who stoutly resolves, "I'm going to tell him" and an unfailing optimist who shoots back, "Don't you dare!" and suddenly I'm trying desperately to regain composure so I can hear what was going on during the following two minutes.

And that's more or less how the whole movie went. Introducing the cynic, and the optimist.

Just like I suspected all those months ago, Frozen is another example of Disney being very weird and releasing a trailer that makes their latest soon-to-be-smash hit animation princess flick look like the first-ever awful Disney Princess movie. Okay, the trailer maybe wasn't that bad, but a sigh and an eye-roll is a big difference from not being able to breathe from all the laughing, and then being nearly floored by the maturity of the message. The trend started with Tangled, so, the next Disney movie whose title is an adjective is the first movie whose trailer I boycott. I don't need all those good jokes spoiled anyway.

I might as well admit this too: I (and the rest of the universe) adored the music.

"Reindeers are better than people. Sven, don't you think that's true?" No, wait a minute...

"Let it go, let it go... can't hold it back anymore!"-- That's the one.

I can't get it out of my head and it's very distracting. Although some of the lyrics gave me a kinda odd new-age-y impression once or twice, the tunes are undeniably catchy, and just pure fun, and of course, very often hilarious. 

All the voice work was top-notch. Kristen Bell as Anna was quirky and chipper and cute, Jonathan Groff as Kristoff was funny and charmingly grumpy (I loved the way he spoke for Sven -- too good). Santino Fontana as Hans was, well, perfect... and perfectly sinister... and perfectly annoying when he reveals himself! Why oh why must you be evil? Then Josh Gad as Olaf was a laugh a minute, so consistently hilarious. And I must mention Alan Tudyk, (in a small role but still) who was totally wacko as the Duke of Weaseltown, er, Weselton... whatever.

But Idina Menzel as Queen Elsa blew the rest of them away. She effortlessly outshone everyone, even Bell in their every scene together (though not too much so as to make anyone seem actually bad) but most impressively, she occasionally out-shined the gorgeous animation work; sometimes her vocal inflection was more expressive than the animator's expressions. (And no, that's not a flaw; it's too impressive to be called a flaw.)

Especially since the animation was so gorgeous, as I mentioned. But that's no surprise; in fact I knew that it would be since they released the first picture -- of concept art.

Who needs a trailer anyway? All you really need is a similar picture to this, and the name "Disney."

The theme about true love being sacrificial love was awesome, and I was pleasantly surprised at how matter-of-fact they were about it. And that the only way Elsa can control her powers is by embracing it, and wielding it through love, not through her own effort of trying to force it -- that's some powerful stuff. I was impressed, pleased and practically even proud at these things.

However, I thought the theme rebuking the idea of "love at first sight" came off a bit heavy-handed. They were probably only trying to say "Don't rush into what you may think is love but is really only skin-deep," but what I heard was more like, "If you meet your dream fellow, and he appears to be everything you wanted and a perfect match for you, dump him, because he's probably a fake and will try to kill you." Of course, Hans being a bad guy just confuses everything -- the point would have been better made if Anna had chosen Kristoff over Hans because Kristoff was the better man, not because Hans was a bad one.

Gosh, look at me -- I'm hyper-analyzing a Disney movie! But seriously, if Hans was good, and had saved Anna with selfless love, would he still be the wrong guy for her? Just because he seemed perfect?

The Hans twist was definitely unexpected, and halfway sensible, but I can't help wondering how the story would have gone if Hans was just being shallow like Anna. Maybe, like Anna, as the story progressed and he grew in character (like he appeared to be) he'd find a more difficult, but ultimately more rewarding match in someone else...a. (Get it? Get it?) Yes, my ideal ending for this movie was a double wedding.

It didn't happen, (there wasn't even a single wedding) but that's okay, that's what I get for deciding how the story should go. And I did have a bit of a bone to pick, but honestly, I liked Frozen -- a lot. I liked the humor, the look, the sound, the characters and the heart. It was all wonderful. In fact I may even love Frozen. I can't say positively yet because I've only seen it once and I wouldn't want to rush into anything, but there was definitely an element of... immediate... attraction.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Upcoming Movie Roundup - March

It's long overdue, but I finally saw Frozen in February! And then I went even further, and -- now brace yourselves -- saw a movie, in the theaters, in the same month it was released in! Gasp. Yes, I somehow managed to convince my cynical family of the worthiness of The Lego Movie and we all saw it together. So expect reviews for those two movies soon!

In March, there's quite the wide variety of new interesting movies -- something catered to everyone, so what was catered to you? And are you going to go see it? For me, so far, it looks like a bunch of very near-misses.

Mr. Peabody and Sherman
Mar 7th; PG
This is a case of really good marketing, because I had zero interest in a Mr. Peabody and Sherman movie, even though I remember them fondly from The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show. But, then I saw this trailer, and it was funny -- really funny. It looks very amusing and mildly intelligent (for a kid's movie) and included in the cast is Patrick Warburton, aka Puddy, aka Buzz Lightyear (of Star Command), aka Kronk, (yeah I think you get it now) aka the only person who can make you laugh just by speaking. His entire role was probably shown in the trailer, but still. And since it's already reviewing positively, I now have a positive inclination to see it... eventually.

The Grand Budapest Hotel
Mar 7th (limited); R
Ralph Fiennes. Saoirse Ronan. Adrien Brody. Willem Dafoe. Jude Law. Bill Murray. Edward Norton. Jeff Goldblum. Tilda Swinton. Lea Seydoux. Tom Wilkinson. Owen Wilson. And, of course, Wes Anderson. Yep. All in one movie. I think I've said enough. (And used enough periods.) The bubble-burster though, (for me anyway) is the R rating. Thanks a bunch Anderson.

One Chance
Mar 14th; PG-13
Craig Owens-- I mean, James Corden plays a real-life British fellow who wants to be an opera singer, but is stuck working in a shop until he gets a chance to audition for Britan's Got Talent. It looks like a light, sweet, feel-good movie, and undoubtedly Corden will be absolutely wonderful, but that may not be enough to pull this movie over the typical height of typical movies of this type.

Muppets Most Wanted
Mar 21st; PG
This is a guaranteed hit, no doubt about it. It's got the Muppets; it's coming off the success of the last Muppets movie; it's got Ricky Gervais and Tiny Fey supporting, plus a list of actors (and various other famous people) with cameos a mile long, at the top of which is Tom Hiddleston. TOM HIDDLESTON. The trailer is very funny and actually has a plot to its name, and there will be more original songs by the awesome Bret McKenzie. I didn't watch Sesame Street as a kid; I don't have any sentimental connection here, but with all these draws, even I want to see this. Doesn't mean I will, (at least for a while) but still.

Mar 21st; PG-13
I'm sure I could go on and on about this film, the book it based on, why I think it might turn out to be stupid, and why I'm hoping it won't, but the bottom line is this: the quality of this film is the determining factor for if I decide to jump on the bandwagon and risk becoming a fan or not. If the general consensus is good enough (I'm not sure how good good enough is, unfortunately) it'll be the push I need to pick up a copy of the book, and if it's very good, maybe to even see the film before reading the novel. So I wait to see.

Mar 28th; PG-13
Ugh. One look at the trailer and all the discrepancies changes and embellishments made begin to flood in like waters from the deep. My only interest in this is my interest in knowing exactly how botched it turns out to be. It's disappointing, because a sincere, Biblically accurate telling of the flood is something I'd absolutely be beside myself to see, but this one appears to have been turned into just another epic disaster movie, with lots and lots of action, and drama, and more action. Cause that's what people like. At least they made the arc look accurate, and they got a pretty talented cast too. And a part of me is always a little impressed when people make movies based (however loosely) on the Bible.