The Grand Budapest Hotel Review

Grand Budapest Hotel PosterHaving been a huge fan of Moonrise Kingdom, I had high hopes for The Grand Budapest Hotel. When the first trailer was released, it looked fantastic. And it is.  From the opening moments, The Grand Budapest Hotel is fantastic. The production design and direction is brilliant, the performances are excellent and there is a good layer of humor and emotion balanced nicely.

The Grand Budapest Hotel is told through a series of flashbacks about an Author (Jude Law) who goes to The Grand Budapest Hotel and ends up interviewing an older Zero Moustafa (F. Murray Abraham). In the 1930’s, he was a young lobby boy under M. Gustave (Ralph Fiennes) at the hotel. He then recounts to the Author how he came to own it through a series of events.

The Grand Budapest Hotel is fantastic. From the opening, the production design and direction is the first thing that stands out. These aspects are some of the many aspects that deserve Oscar attention and it’s unusual to be saying that about a movie released early in the year. The sets are excellent and the direction is unique, complementing the sets and adding to the atmosphere. The direction has 3 different aspect ratios for each time period. At first, it may seem odd, but it works.

The atmosphere is very fun as The Grand Budapest Hotel is hilarious. The writing and acting combined make one of the funniest movies I have seen this year. The script is very witty and consistently clever with great one-liners delivered by actors at the top of their comedic game. The tone as a result is very fast and adventurous. Wes Anderson once again shows how he is one of the best comedic directors currently working. There is also a layer of emotion near the end and with the relationship between Gustave and Zero.

What is unique as well is that the set contributes to that as well as the different aspect ratios. There are two set pieces in particular that benefit from this. The production design is excellent as well, with the designs of the miniatures partially used for the sets. The exterior shots look great as do the interior shots, using the three and two main ratios.

However, this movie would not have been as great without the masterful cast. Ralph Finnes is brilliant and absolutely hysterical as the owner of the hotel. He fits into Wes Anderson’s style perfectly. The supporting cast is excellent as well ranging from Tony Revolvi as Zero to Willem Dafoe as Jopling and Adrien Brody as Dimitri. It is one of the strongest overall casts of the year. The score is also great, as well as adding to the excellent style of Wes Anderson’s latest terrific work. Overall, The Grand Budapest Hotel is fantastic with excellent cast, production design, direction and style.

The Grand Budapest Hotel is rated R for  language, some sexual content and violence. I give Grand Budapest Hotel a grand grade of an A.  

Movie Review Ninja Rating

5stars

 

 

Watch the Trailer

categories On DVD | comments Comments (0)

Dawn of The Planet of The Apes Review

Dawn of The Planet of The ApesWhen Dawn’s predesccessor Rise came out in Summer 2011, it was one of the biggest suprises of the year.  I did not have high expectstions but it ended up being one of my favorite movies of that year. Following that, I had high expectations for Dawn of The Planet of The Apes. Dawn easily supassed them with brilliant CGI and motion capture, fantastic direction, cinematography and script coupled with great performances and an incredible musical score that add up to one of the best movies to come out so far in 2014.

Dawn of The Planet of The Apes is set 10 years after Rise when the Simian flu has wiped out most of humanity. The apes lead by Ceaser (Andy Serkis) have established a large living area  and have not had contact with the humans in years. Eventually, they run into a group of humans led by Malcom (Jason Clarke) and his wife Elle (Keri Russell). The two groups clash and the humans run back to their small civilization led by Dreyfuss (Gary Oldman). The apes follow them and warn the humans to stay or else war will follow. The humans can’t do that because the apes live near a power plant that they need acess to. Malcom leads a group there and forms an uneasy truce with Ceaser but tensions simmer among the other apes.

From the opening sequence that is mainly dialogue free with the apes using sign language to communicate (it is subtitled), Dawn is very impressive. From the performance capture on the Apes themselves to the musical score, it is a very good opening sequence that foreshadows the quality level to come.  While the rest of the first act is slower with a lot of setup there stil are scenes like the opening’s quality. Then, a few scenes happen and Apes kicks into high gear and stays in it for the rest of the runtime. What follows is a mix of stunning action and powerful emotional moments. Tbere is one action set-piece around the midpoint that is brilliantly done inlcuding 2 shots that are two of the best and most striking shots of the year. These shots are mostly due to the incredible CGI. Using the combination of the actors and their movements and the animators, the CGI is life-like and shows the techinal prowess able in modern day cinema. However, besides the one already mentioned, the other action scenes are stunning. There are beautifully shot and are not in shakey cam so the individual movementa of the actors in the motion-capture suits and it looks excellent.

However, it is not just due to this technical mastery that Apes works. There are a lot of incredibly powerful emotional moments. Lots of these moments are silent and some of them are between the apes. This shows the ability and talent of the director, visual effects team and composer’s level of talent and mastery of their work. There are other moments like this involving humans and they also work excellently.

While the score and script helps, it is mainly the actors both in the motion-capture suits and outside of. Andy Serkis once again proves he is one of the best in the business for motion capture as he delivers the best performance of his carrer. One of the biggest surpasss though is Toby Kebbel as Koba. Koba is one of the best villians of 2014 and Kebbel gives an excellent performance. The dynamic between alpha and Caesar leads to some of the best scenes of the movie. The human cast is great as well. Jason Clarke is great and has several fantastic scenes. Keri Russel is very good as well. The standout among the humans is Gary Oldman. He is fantastic and nails one of the best and most emotional scenes in the movie. Overall, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is easily one of the best movies of the year with brilliant CGI, incredible levels of emotion and a great cast.

Dawn of The Planet of The Apes is rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action, and brief strong language. I give Dawn of The Planet of The Apes a dawning A.

Movie Review Ninja Rating

5stars

 

Watch The Trailer

categories On DVD | comments Comments (0)

X-Men : Days of Future Past Review

X-Men - Days of Future PastThe summer movie season has been very strong so far. Godzilla was a blast and Edge of Tomorrow was a fantastic sci-fi action movie. 22 Jump Street was a lot of fun as well.  X-Men : Days of Future Past continues the strong Summer movie season of 2014. The old and new casts are fantastic, the action is thrilling and well done and the script hits emotional beats that work.

X-Men : Days of Future Past is about Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) who is sent back in time by Professor Xaiver (Patrick Stewart) and Magneto (Ian McKellen) in order to stop Boliver Trask (Peter Dinklage) from creating the Sentinels which are going to destroy all of the mutants in the future. For him to do this, he has to get Young Professor X (James McAvoy) to get out of his depression and find Young Magneto (Micheal Fassbender).

From the opening action scene, Days of Future Past feels like the original trilogy. The action is very well directed and fun. There is one standout sequence early in the movie that is one of the best movie scenes of the year. The rest of the action is very well done too. The X-Men powers are fun to watch and very well executed with strong CGI.

However, this movie would not have been as good without a strong script. The script is a good balance of  humor and emotional beats. The humor works and adds some levity to the story.  There iare also emotional moments between certain characters that are some of the strongest moments in Days of Future Past. A few emotional scenes  stand out as the best of the movie.

These moments would not work as well without the strong cast. James McAvoy is fantastic, nailing the emotional moments as is Micheal Fassbender.  Another standout is Evan Peters as Quicksilver who is very funny. Hugh Jackman,  Jennifer Lawerence and the rest of the ensemble is great as well. Overall, X-Men : Days of Future Past is a fantastic summer blockbuster.

X-Men : Days of Future Past is rated PG-13 for sequences of intense sci-fi violence and action, some suggestive material, nudity and language. I give X-Men : Days of Future Past a past A-.

Movie Review Ninja Rating

4stars

 

 

Watch The Trailer

categories On DVD | comments Comments (0)

22 Jump Street Review

22 Jump Street21 Jump Street was a very fun movie. 22 Jump Street is a very fun sequel that contains some of the funniest scenes of the year. There is also a strong level of meta (self-referential or making fun of it’s self)  humor that works very well but does get tiring and it’s all backed by a fantastic cast.

22 Jump Street opens with a recap of 21 Jump Street as if 21 was the first season of a TV show and 22 is the second. After a botched drug take down, Jenko (Channing Tatum) and Schmidt (Jonah Hill) end up back in the office of Deputy Chief Hardy (Nick Offerman) who sends them to 22 Jump Street . They are once again under the command of Captain Dickinson (Ice Cube) who gives them the assignment of infiltrating a local college to find a new drug and then find the dealer and supplier. They are given the same identities and as their infiltration gets deeper, Jenko and Schmidt start to have relationship problems.

22 Jump Street is hysterical. The chemistry between Hill and Tatum remains fantastic. The development of their relationship is very funny as well with the subtext present throughout many scenes. Another contributing factor is the writing. The writers are not afraid to make fun of themselves, sequels and movies in general. These jokes work and differentiate 22 from other comedy sequels. They are constant and eventually get repetitive but it works for the point that the writers are trying to make. The meta humor also leads to a sequence that is hilarious that makes fun of sequels. However, some of the funniest scenes of the year so far are not because of the meta humor.

They are because of the other aspects of the writing and cast. The rest of the writing is great as well besides the meta humor. It is very funny and very silly and just like the original, it is also crude.  The jokes are consistent and constantly hit. There is one sub-plot/character relationship that is unexpected and provides some of the best comedic scenes of the year.

The cast is also fantastic. As mentioned above, the chemistry between Tatum and Hill is excellent. They are hilarious together and sell some of the more ridiculous script choices. Ice Cube is very funny in a role that is much larger than the original and much funnier. The rest of the supporting cast is strong as well making for a great comedic ensemble. Overall, 22 Jump Street is a strong comedic sequel with a clever level of meta humor backed by a strong cast.

22 Jump Street is rated R for language throughout, sexual content, drug material, brief nudity and some violence. I give 22 Jump Street a jumping A-.

Movie Review Ninja Rating

4stars

 

Watch the Trailer

categories On DVD | comments Comments (0)

Godzilla (2014) Review

godzilla-imax-poster-205x300Godzilla is fantastic. The visual effects and CGI is excellent, the score is pulsating and the large scale set pieces are incredibly fun to watch. This is all backed by a strong cast.

Godzilla starts with an incident at a nuclear power plant in 1999. Inside is Joe Brody (Bryan Cranston) and his wife Sandra Brody ( Juliette Binoche) and scientists Ichiro Serizawa (Ken Watanbe) and Vivenne Graham (Sally Hawkins). During this incident, Sandra is killed and Joe becomes determined to figure out the truth. 15 years later, Ford Brody (Aaron Taylor Johnson) is returning home from war to his wife Elle (Elizabeth Olsen) but is called to retrive his father from Japan. His father , who is living in Japan,  was arrested near his old house in a restricted area. They sneak back in and while there an incident occurs that triggers several things to happen that the scientists, the Brody’s and military must solve.(I am trying not to give away too much of the plot)

One of the best aspects of Godzilla is the visual effects and CGI. Godzilla’s design and look is much more like the original and unlike the 1998 version. His reveal is excellent and his roar sounds fantastic as well. The buildup to the reveal is handled well as are the numerous other buildups for several other scenes teasing what is to come later. These buildups also work for the pace. The pacing is consistent throughout and does not slow down in any of the acts. The other visuals besides Godzilla work as well. The aftermath of destruction and ruin looks realistic and the destruction during the chaos does as well.

The direction is another great apsect of Godzilla. Edwards does a fantastic job directing the aformentioned ruin and devestation. There are also some standout sequences including the HALO jump with an superb combination of direction and effects. Edwards also does an excellent job with the action scenes. Unlike some other action scenes, there is no shaky cam and the full size and scope of the battles is evident. There is also a great score that pulsates during these scenes adding energy to the epic action.

The technical aspects are not the only good things about Godzilla. The cast is good as well. The standout is Bryan Cranston who is fantastic and emotional. Elizabeth Olsen is great as well and Johnson is good in the lead. Overall, Godzilla is a fantastic sci-fi monster movie with great technical aspects, direction and cast.

Godzilla is rated PG-13 for intense sequences of destruction, mayhem and creature violence. I give Godzilla a roaring A.

Movie Review Ninja Rating

5stars

 

Watch the Trailer

categories On DVD | comments Comments (0)