Friday, March 22, 2013

Oz The Great and Powerful: C

oz the great and powerful

Scott and I saw Oz The Great and Powerful a couple of weekends ago. I was a little reluctant to see it. While I enjoyed the musical Wicked's jaded retelling of the Wizard of Oz story, I was concerned this retelling of Oz would merely be a pointless CGI update of a classic movie like 2005's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

James Franco's performance as the wizard was more convincing than I expected. While it's hard not to recognize familiar actors, his character seemed plausible. Zach Braff's two characters were basically Zach Braff which I didn't feel fit well. And through no fault of Mila Kunis's performance, I couldn't help but affectionately think "Meg" each time she spoke.

There were little things that annoyed me. The movie tried to pay respect to the original classic, but the effort was weak. The opening title and first scenes were in black & white to reference the 1939 movie. However, instead of actually using 1930s film techniques, the title sequence was merely a CGI rendering -- like the motion picture version of a cheap Instagram retro filter.

What concerned me the most though was that this prequel was setting-up to a Wizard of Oz remake. I know corporate Hollywood now merely regurgitates the same few movie franchises repeatedly, but the Judy Garland Wizard of Oz is practically sacred and timeless. A reboot should be a fully creative reboot -- not retro-looking.

Overall, not a terrible movie, but predictable.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Argo: A

Argo (2012)

Scott and I saw Argo just before the Oscars. It was an enjoyable movie with an interesting story and great cast. I prefer historically-based movies -- even though I always wonder how much of it was true. However, I haven't heard any complaint about the movie's accuracy. It even compared the actors with the real life characters in the end titles.

Zero Dark Thirty: C

Zero Dark Thirty-00

Scott and I saw Zero Dark Thirty about a month ago. I remember it was a compromise selection as there wasn't anything playing that we really wanted to see.

I enjoyed director Kathryn Bigelow's The Hurt Locker, so I had high hopes for this movie with similar military themes. Like the bomb-defusing scenes of The Hurt Locker, Zero Dark Thirty had some intense scenes waiting for a potential explosion. However, the suspense for me waned as we all knew the main character probably wouldn't be killed.

The much discussed interrogation scenes were disturbing and were definitely torture. Is it just me though, but I'm a bit weary of re-opening the torture debate of the last decade. I suspect many of us would prefer to put the Bush/Cheney/Rumsfield days behind us and hope that doesn't happen any more -- or at least we won't hear about it.

The movie was well-paced, which I appreciate. The movie's biggest drawback was it basically ended at the completion of the Bin Laden killing mission, which was not very suspenseful considering the details of the raid have been widely reported. Like The Hurt Locker which focused on a soldier's struggle to transition to civilian life, I would have much rather have seen what happened to the characters after the Bin Laden mission ended.