Monthly Archives: January 2016

Kung Fu Panda 3 or The Perfect Way to End a Trilogy…Hopefully

kung-fu-panda-3-poster

I don’t have kids.  That’s Manchicken’s job.  He’s got three boys that are probably the coolest little monsters I’ve ever had the pleasure to know. Regardless of the lack of Darkmovienight offspring (seriously, the world is better off), I absolutely love animated comedies.  Some of the absolute best films of all time are animated comedies and we owe it all to just a few people and studios: Disney, Pixar, Don Bluth, and Dreamworks.  Now I know I’m likely missing out on a few key people (Steve Jobs and George Lucas had a LOT to do with the creation of Pixar), but as I see it, those studios and Mr. Bluth are the reasons we have cinematic gems like Kung Fu Panda 3.

If I had it my way, then there would be an army of these (credit to whomever's baby that really is)
If I had it my way, then there would be an army of these (credit to whomever owns this baby)

Despite my unhealthy enjoyment of children’s movies (this doesn’t hurt since Mrs. Darkmovienight and I only have the attention span of 90 minutes anyway), I can still spot a good one, a classic, or just a disaster. Sadly in today’s age, we’re only given those options.  For every Toy Story, there are at least four Alvin and the Chipmunks movies.  Now to kids, this really doesn’t make much of a difference.  I’ve seen some misses where the kids in the audience don’t even laugh (see last year’s The Good Dinosaur), but typically they’ll enjoy anything colorful you put them in front of for an hour and a half.

My soul died when one of the Trolls twerked in the teaser
My soul (what’s left of it) literally died when one of the Trolls twerked in the teaser Trailer

All of the mediocre children’s entertainment out there, it is extremely refreshing and relieving that Dreamworks decided to make a quality animated trilogy based on a Kung Fu Panda.  In almost all regards, these films shouldn’t work.  But somehow, they took a ridiculous idea, one of the largest, clumsiest, and cutest animals out there and turn them into an amazing warrior, sticking Jack Black’s voice in the titular character, and then unleashing it upon the cinematic world.  Well, in 2008 the first Kung Fu Panda was introduced to the public and collected about $215M from the Domestic box office.  Was it the star power?  Sure, you had Jack Black, Angelina Jolie, Seth Rogen, David Cross, Jackie Chan, and the immortal Dustin Hoffman, but those names meant nothing to the kids. Nah, what you had was an excellent premise, fun looking slapstick action, and of course, a touching story of becoming more than you thought you could ever be.

So you servers out there still have a chance to be a Kung Fu Master!
So you starving collect servers out there still have a chance to be a Kung Fu Master!

Well, eight years from the original Kung Fu Panda, Dreamworks releases the third (and hopefully final) chapter to this epic tale of inner peace, humor, kicking butt, and of course…noodles & dumplings.  If they choose to end the franchise right here and right now, then I believe Dreamworks will have succeeded in making one of the most complete trilogies in film during the modern era of animation.

Your eyes should be sweating right now...
Your eyes should be “sweating” right now…

If you’re not familiar with the Kung Fu Panda franchise, let me give you the nickle recap.  A lowly Panda named Po, voiced by Jack Black has an utter obsession with Kung Fu and the protectors of the valley in which he lives: The Furious Five.  These heroes of Kung Fu consist of Tigress (Angelina Jolie), Mantis (Seth Rogen), Viper (Lucy Lui), Crane (David Cross), and Monkey (Jackie Chan).  They’re also under the tutelage of Master Shifu (Dustin Hoffman).

In the first film, an important ceremony is held in which the Elderly Master Oogway (a tortoise voiced by Randall Duk Kim who is a relative unknown, but tied to many martial arts films), chooses “The Dragon Warrior”.  Prophesies and such as they are, point to The Dragon Warrior mastering Kung Fu, saving the Valley, and bringing the neurotic Master Shifu “Inner Peace”.  Through several slapstick moments and the usual cartoon foolery, Po accidentally interrupts the ceremony and is chosen as The Dragon Warrior to everyone’s disbelief.  Two things then stand out from this film: acceptance of yourself and not judging a Panda by his belly.  Shifu eventually trains Po in the ways of Kung Fu through Po’s exceptional appetite.  The main antagonist, Tai Lung (voiced by the insanely good Ian McShane) is defeated by Po as the Dragon Warrior by not only using Kung Fu, but his true abilities: his bouncy stomach and a lot of luck.  Oh and an amazing and advanced Kung Fu technique called the “Wuxi Finger Hold”.  Shown below the Wuxi Finger Hold is what equates to the Kung Fu version of “The Nuclear Option”.

"You know the hardest part of this? The hardest part... is cleaning up afterwards." -Master Shifu
“You know the hardest part of this? The hardest part… is cleaning up afterwards.”          -Master Shifu threatening Po with the Wuxi Finger Hold

At any rate, Kung Fu Panda succeeded on all levels: animation, storytelling, character development, comedy, action, and a well tuned lesson to both children and adults.  Not to mention the absolutely jaw-dropping escape of Tai Lung from his prison in a mountain.  Not only is it possibly the best animated fight scene I’ve ever seen, but it truly blows you away with gorgeous animation and A-FREAKING-MAZING audio.  I just have to show it, see below.

Kung Fu Panda 2 followed a lot of the same plot and of course added 3D, another prophecy, and the villain, Shen, voiced by Gary Oldman (which is again a step up from so many other animated films).  This prophecy was about how a warrior of “White and Black” would eventually defeat Shen and save all of China.  Shen attempts panda genocide and Po goes all Moses in a radish basket.  It ends much the same way with good action, some pretty funny dialogue, and excellent animation.  Still, it falls into the dreaded “Sophomore Slump” and doesn’t exactly have the most vibrant life from the first movie.

Went through the first two films in record time, so have to take a reviewer breather. No, it has nothing to do with all the dumplings I ate today...
Went through the first two films in record time, so have to take a reviewer breather. No, it has nothing to do with all the dumplings I ate today…It’s none of your business anyway.

The first two films in the series do great jobs of everything discussed, but Kung Fu Panda 3 does something even more special: it ends a series well.  Again, this is so rare that you just have to admire Dreamworks for finishing strong.  It really did come full circle.  If you watched the first two, there are so many jokes that have continued throughout the entire series and they find their way into the third iteration with ease.

As far as the animation, it was beautiful, but I’ll be honest that it seems we’ve hit a plateau for computer generated animated features.  I honestly don’t know what is the next jump, but it’ll likely be about water, hair or grass…so we probably won’t even notice.

Again, taking Kung Fu Panda as an entire connected trilogy, you definitely see the growth of every main character (Dustin Hoffman’s consistent exasperation with Po learning complicated Kung Fu concepts that should take years is kinda brilliant).  Along with the characters that have grown well over the past few movies, the story continues to be stellar.  If you’ve seen the trailer, then you know Po attempts to train other pandas in the ways of Kung Fu.  Not only does this concept bring the series full circle, as Po teaches them Kung Fu that fits each of the other pandas’ skills, just as Shifu did for him in the first movie.  I really loved that symmetry.

While the first few films dealt with prophecies, Kung Fu Panda 3 concerns itself with legends.  This an important distinction and one of the reasons why I feel it was brilliant and will ultimately end the Kung Fu adventures of Po.  The latest baddie is Kai, again, voiced by the phenomenal J.K. Simmons, is out to take over all of Kung Fu and conquer China.  Only the Dragon Warrior can stand in his way.

"I can see the headline now...'Kai kicks the crap out of everyone', front page material!"
“I can see the headline now…’Kai kicks the crap out of everyone’, front page material!”

My only hope is that Dreamworks quits while it is ahead.  I’m sure that everyone went and saw Kung Fu Panda 3 this week, so it made money.  I just really want them to be smart and let this film be the end.  I know there will be HUGE temptations to keep going, but there are plenty of examples that show why a franchise shouldn’t go too long (I’m looking at you Pirates of the Caribbean franchise).

"But if I don't do these movies...how will I pay for the rum?" -Johnny Depp...I assume
“But if I don’t do these movies…how will I pay for the rum?” -Johnny Depp…I assume

Didn’t read my fancy words, here is the short version:

Kung Fu Panda 3  succeeded on all levels just like the first film: slick animation, compelling storytelling, true character development over three films, comedy with tons of call backs throughout the entire franchise, killer Kung Fu action, and finally the lesson that this series has consistently hammered- believe in yourself and you can do anything.  I loved it and at least up North, you and your kids have been stuck inside all week and you’re bouncing off the wall, so go see this film, you won’t regret it at all.  Every kid will love it and it has everything that you loved about the first few movies.  Just be ready for a little bit of Kung Fu Fighting:

-Darkmovienight

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The Revenant or A More Expensive Alternative to NatGeo

A word on historical accuracy

So, this film is based on a true story. The true story is wildly different from this one in the following ways:

  • The true story says nothing about a son or a Native American partner
  • The true story has a very different ending
  • The true story has a very different Native American subplot

These may seem unimportant, but I think that there’s enough that they should have skipped the whole “true story” thing. Perhaps – since the facts are short on this “true story” in the first place – they should have said it was based on an American Legend. Regardless, I don’t really care about historical accuracy.

Thoughts on the film

So, if you dislike Leonardo DiCaprio, this will be your favorite DiCaprio film. Leo spends most of the film mute, and in extreme pain. If you like Leo, then you will be disappointed that this is not his best performance.

The film starts with Hugh Glass (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his son Hawk (Forrest Goodluck) working with and guiding a group of fur traders. In this company is John Fitzgerald (Tom Hardy), Capt. Andrew Henry (Domhall Gleeson), Bridger (Will Poulter), and many others. Eventually they end up wandering through the woods trying to escape a band of Natives known as Arikara who were not trying to be particularly friendly at all.

While they’re in the woods, Glass wonders off hunting and stumbles upon a grizzly bear and her cubs. He is brutally – and I mean brutally – mauled by this bear. Somehow he manages to kill the bear, but not before he has more holes in him than the sum of all prior characters played by Leonardo DiCaprio. It’s actually pretty well done, the whole scene, and I find it to be the most compelling scene in the whole film.

This is what a grizzly bear looks like:

Photo courtesy of the San Francisco Zoo (click to see the article on grizzly bears)

Quick Note About the Cinematography

While I didn’t think that this film was a compelling story, nor did I love the acting, the cinematography was breathtaking. I wish I had watched this in IMAX because the cinematography was phenomenal. I walked away pining for NatGeo. The mountains, the rivers, OMFG the bear.

The Assets

I found the bear scene amazing. I had never really thought of what being mauled by a bear would look like, but I found this film’s take on it entirely believable. Did I mention that I liked the bear scene?

The Problems

I kinda felt like we watched two movies stuck together in an awkward hodgepodge. In one you’ve got a survival film where it’s man-against-wild, in the other you’ve got a film which is a movie about righteous vengeance. I don’t know why they had to mix that up like that, it seems like the whole child aspect was unnecessary given the historical account they claimed to be portraying and it really distracted from the survival aspect.

I found the Native American appropriation to be a bit weird as well. Nothing demonstrates how Native Americans lived well off of the land like a white man doing it while fondly remembering how Natives taught him to fight to survive. I found that part offensive to say the least.

The Recommendation

I loved the cinematography, and I thought that the final chase scene was actually fun to watch. Acting-wise, I thought that everybody except for Domhnall Gleeson and Will Poulter disappointed. Leo especially disappointed, and I have really been a big fan of his lately.

If you can see this film in IMAX, do it for the gorgeous camera work (cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki deserves all of the awards, this film is gorgeous). If you can’t see it in IMAX, see it in standard format but don’t pay full price. If you want to wait, I won’t judge you for waiting to see it until it shows up in a Redbox.

I don’t know how to rate this film quantitatively. Normally I’d say something like “four out of five bear claws.” Since this was really two movies squished together, I would say I give the chase sequence three out of five bear claws, and the survival piece gets three out of five bear turds.

13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi or Michael Bay’s 2nd Best Film

13-Hours-The-Secret-Soldiers-Of-Benghazi Poster

*****DISCLAIMER*****

Heavy subject in today’s review.  As usual with anything a little bit off kilter, controversial, or political, I want to state that we at I Watch Too Many Movies will not give our own personal opinion on the movie.  We are just here to review the movie itself.

*****RE-CLAIMER*****

Michael Bay is one crazy dude.  Not only can the man figure out a way to kill the Transformers as a franchise with exceptional CGI and explosions, but he can also slow down long enough to direct a film like 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi.  When I say slow down, I’m probably searching for the word restraint.

"Hold on you guys, this is serious material, tone it down." -Michael Bay (maybe)
“Hold on you guys, this is serious material, tone it down.” -Michael Bay (maybe)

Even if Bay twisted the explosion knob down from his usual 11, this was still an action movie after all, so yeah, there were explosions.  I will give it to Bay that he did something that I didn’t think was possible: took a highly charged political issue and made it about the event instead of the aftermath.  That takes some guts and I appreciate Mr. Bay for that action and sparing us from his opinion.

13 Hours was based off a 2014 book (13 Hours: The Inside Account of What Really Happened in Benghazi by Mitchell Zuckoff, who took actual accounts from the point of view of the Benghazi compound’s defenders. The book itself does not address any of the political controversy surrounding the attacks in the aftermath of the September 11th, 2012 horrible incident.

I’ll give a quick thought I had while I was watching the film.  In the beginning, the information on the screen read, “This is a True Story”.  If you’ll recall, I explained what these types of terms meant in the world of film.  When I read those words on the screen, I got to thinking about the “Chain of Custody”.  Quick definition is that when evidence or something else is handled by multiple people, each of them sign off so that anyone can quickly identify where, when, and who had the evidence.  Basically, it’s a much more accurate version of “Telephone”.

Unless you hear it from a Hamburger Phone, don't trust the Intel.
Unless you hear it from a Hamburger Phone, don’t trust the Intel.

Anyway, all I’m trying to say is that you can believe the depiction of the events in the film about as much as a packet of salt.  Here we have an author who discussed the events with the survivors, then we have Michael Bay and his writers dissecting the book and creating a screenplay from it, and finally the actors actually got a chance to discuss the events with the individuals that experienced those hellish hours.

If you want my opinion, the “Chain of Custody” had so many places to break and I believe it did.  That’s okay though.  Like I said, there were no allegations made in the film or the book, and the actors portrayed their characters who likely couldn’t care a “Lesser Hemsworth Brother” about the politics.

One is Thor and the other is living with Miley Cyrus. The different smiles say it all.
One is Thor and the other is living with Miley Cyrus. The different smiles say it all.

We’re glad they took the politics out of the event.  Great job Mr. Bay. Now, what did you fill the two hours with?  Actually a pretty solid action flick.  From the very beginning of the movie, it was obvious that our heroes were in hostile territory.  I mean even before Jim Halpert, excuse me, I mean John Krasinski‘s character lands in Libya, he’s given the evil eye about 100 times.

Yeah, I don't think I'd be too happy with someone waving a gun in my face either.
Yeah, I don’t think I’d be too happy with someone waving a gun in my face either.

At this point, it is my complete obligation to tell you that I really had a hard time separating Krasinski’s character from his portrayal of Jim Halpert in The Office.  He doesn’t deserve that at all, as there isn’t even a “Hint of Halpert” (say that five times fast) in the whole movie.  I just really kept waiting for him to turn and look at the camera and shrug his shoulders.  I saw an interview with him and he said that he never once slipped into a Halpert-ism.  In fact, all the actors do a very good job (but odd how more than two of them were from The Office). Perhaps it’s because they were allowed to discuss this particular incident directly with their real-life counter-parts or something else, but every single person took their job seriously.  It was the script that was a bit heavy handed.

Neither did we...
Neither did we…

Here is my huge issue, these guys went through hell and back.  You don’t have to spend every other minute reminding me that they either have a family, a dog, or a pet cactus.  WE GET IT, the stakes were high.  In Hollywood, there is a tendency to spoon feed the audience the emotions of the characters instead of letting the ambiance and actors do their jobs and, you know, tell the story.  Chuck Hogan, who wrote the screenplay from the novel, can do good work, I’ve seen or read it.  He wrote The Strain series with Guillermo del Toro and even wrote the novel in which the film The Town was based.  So I’m not quite sure why the audience is bashed over the head with a Skype call to family, new pregnancies, calling children, or even taking photos into battle throughout the whole movie.  If anyone had bothered to watch the trailer, they would know that there is tons of action, gunfights, and explosions, then they likely knew someone was going to die.  Come on, this is based on a real event, you could have spoiled the movie by reading a HISTORY TEXTBOOK.

Look at those smug bastards just waiting to spoil the movie for you. Just to be safe, you should Un-Friend them so they don't spoil the end of Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Look at those smug bastards just waiting to spoil the movie for you.  Just to be safe, you should Un-Friend them on Facebook so they don’t spoil the end of Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Other than being told repeatedly that this is a dangerous situation, the film is fine.  Typical action with plenty of gunfire, death, explosions, and the terrible feeling that you have no idea who is your enemy and who may be a sympathizer.  I was especially impressed by how the actors shot and reloaded in this scenario.   Typically, in every other action movie, an automatic weapon fires for minutes at a time and doesn’t need to be reloaded.  This wasn’t the case in 13 Hours.  Small 3-4 round bursts and dedication to actual tactical maneuvers that might be used in an actual battle.

The set was interesting in that the creators used all of the actual blueprints to construct the buildings in the film.  That’s a pretty neat bit of dedication.  Last thing that was impressive?  The beards.  Apparently, and this is true, if you’re going to be stationed in a CIA base, and you’re hired mercenaries, then you have to have an awesomely groomed beard at all times.

Ahhhh, I can smell America from here
Ahhhh, I can smell America from here

Didn’t read my fancy words, here is the short version:

Michael Bay actually showed some restraint in this film about a real-life event that was devastating for our country and he kept the political aspects completely out of the film.  The actors did play “super-hero” versions of their actual counter-parts, but they hit the right notes and didn’t ring false at all with just a few real touches.  I was a little disappointed in the script as it intravenously fed you the stakes of the event and the artificial terror of someone dying.  It’s not a bad film to see in theaters, but you’ll enjoy it just as well by streaming or buying it on Blu-Ray.  Oh, and if you even had to wonder what I consider to be Michael Bay’s best film, then shame on you.

Just can't beat the combination of Cage, Connery, Helms, and Bay
Just can’t beat the combination of Cage, Connery, Helms, and Bay

-Darkmovienight

*****BONUS*****

Quick little bonus for all you good boys and girls.  In the first 15 minutes of the film, I realized that all grizzled looking action stars had one thing in common: they either roll up their shirts or wear short sleeves.  Just take a look (and know this is just the tip of the iceberg):

Rolled up from 13 Hours
Rolled up from 13 Hours
Short Sleeves from Casino Royale
Short Sleeves from Casino Royale
Short Sleeve Over-Shirt from Die Hard 3
Short Sleeve Over-Shirt from Die Hard 3
Rolled Up Sleeve from Chris Pine as Jack Ryan
Rolled Up Sleeve from Chris Pine as Jack Ryan
Short Sleeves for the Thieves in Ocean's 11
Short Sleeves for the Thieves in Ocean’s 11
So many Rolled Up Sleeves in Argo
So many Rolled Up Sleeves in Argo

Now you can look for it in the next film you watch.  Have a nice day.

Loss: Alan Rickman- The Voice of God

Alan Rickman (1946-2016)

Tombstone

Hello Bleary-Eyed fans.  Sadly today we wake up and write a much different review.  I don’t believe we’ve had an actor perish while we’ve been writing, but when the news of Alan Rickman’s passing hit this morning, we knew that we would have to do something special.  In his honor, we’ll quickly go through his famous roles and what they meant to us and the film community at large.  Today, we present our favorite roles of the accomplished actor Alan Rickman:

Favorite Film Roles:

Die Hard (1988)- Hans Gruber

Hans Gruber

For most of us, this was the first time we met Mr. Rickman.  Not only was he a menacing villain, but a cold and calculating one.  His plans of using the FBI’s own tactics against them were pure genius.  Only the most badass cop of them all, John McClane could defeat such a mastermind. As a side note, the genuine expression of Alan Rickman’s face when he plumeted to his death was real as the director had cut the actor loose on the count of “2” instead of the promised “3”.

He never saw it coming, but gave us an amazing image we will never forget.
He never saw it coming, but gave us an amazing image we will never forget.
Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991)- Sheriff George of Nottingham

Sherrif of Nottingham

Kevin Costner gets most of the credit for this blockbuster, but if asked my opinion, Rickman’s Sheriff of Nottingham is his most roguish and handsome role he portrayed.  Just look at that lush hair.  Also, to his credit, his character took an exceptionally long time to die in the end.  I remember it being spoofed in Robin Hood: Men in Tights and loved every minute of it.

You also have to admire the insane threat here...
You also have to admire the insane threat here…
Dogma (1999)- Metatron

metatron-alan-rickman

This is by far my favorite role of Alan Rickman’s.  It has a lot to do with the blasphemy portrayed in the film, but Mr. Rickman’s irreverent Metatron will forever be something that I cannot stop laughing at.  Even a movie being directed by Kevin Smith with Ben Affleck and Matt Daemon, Rickman makes his presence known and delivers the “Straight Man” character very well.

Galaxy Quest (1999)- Alexander Dane

Alexander Dane

Continuing in 1999, Rickman chose an excellent role in the famous Star Trek meta-comedy Galaxy Quest.  This role really let Rickman use his comedy chops and explore his range as an actor.  But it was the simple act of kindness he portrayed in the role which still brings a tear to my eye.  In the throws of death, an alien who truly believed in Rickman’s Dr. Lazarus, begged for that belief to come true.  Portraying not only the actor of this fictional character, Dr. Lazarus, Rickman gave the alien what he wanted in the best words possible:

“By Grabthar’s hammer, by the suns of Worvan, you shall be avenged!”

That scene still gives me chills
That scene still gives me chills
Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007)- Judge Turpin

Alan-in-Sweeney-Todd-alan-rickman

Most likely his most creepy character on the list, Rickman’s Judge Turpin was as vile as his voice was wonderful.  Many bass singers get so little work in the form of musicals, but Rickman proves that the lower octaves can indeed impress.  Tim Burton set a beautiful and haunting stage for one of my favorite works of Stephen Sondheim and then let the actors do the rest.

The Harry Potter Series (2001-2011)- Professor Severus Snape

Severus-Snape

Rickman will most likely be immortalized as the mysteriously motivated and terrifying Professor Severus Snape.  An extremely large group of the Millennial generation will have grown up watching Rickman as Snape. His performance here was excellent and kept those that had not read the books guessing up to the very end.  While some of his other roles were my personal favorites, I know that many are crying tears of sorrow for the lost Potions Master.

Dignified, tortured, betrayed, and most of all, talented
Dignified, tortured, hated, but most of all, talented

Voice Work

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (2005)- Marvin

Marvin

A delightfully depressed robot in the midst of absolute chaos.  He did Douglas Adam’s character supreme justice.

Alice in Wonderland (2010)- Blue Caterpillar

caterpillaralice

Portraying the sarcastic and witty Blue Caterpillar in Disney and Tim Burton’s collaboration of the Alice in Wonderland live action film was a brilliant vocal casting.  One cannot even remember the voice from the Disney Animation film of the same name.  Also, being a much better guide than the Cheshire Cat, despite calling Alice “Stupid girl” multiple times was beautifully ended while he spun his cocoon.  It was serene, poignant, and truly moved the plot ahead of an otherwise slowly plodded movie.

Cocoon
Not unlike his fate reported today, Mr. Rickman is only starting a new journey as something else that anyone can only guess at

Of course an actor of his talent had many more movies, these were just a snapshot of his life.  Us here at I Watch Too Many Movies bid farewell and wish that he rests well for the rest of eternity.  Thank you for your films sir and thank you for your legacy.

-Darkmovienight

The Hateful Eight or Samuel L. Jackson steals the show…again

the-hateful-eight-poster1

Warning, the following review will indeed be a review of a Quentin Tarantino movie, we cannot do our job without being slightly profane.  Rest assured that no racial slurs will be used, but if you’re offended by gratuitous violence and language, you wouldn’t see this movie anyway, let alone read a review.  Now, on with the show, er, review:

Now I will get into detail about the film and showcase some of its best features as well as a few failings, but first I want to give you a little bit of history regarding the “70MM” presentation you might have heard about for this film.  If you’re not interested, just skip to the picture of the film strips.

Yes, I said history, I promise you'll survive.
Yes, I said history, I promise you’ll survive.

As you’ve likely seen, The Hateful Eight is being shown in this fancy “70MM Ultra Panavision” at select locations.  Most of you will likely not get this opportunity as it requires a theater to rent, borrow, sell their souls for a projector that can handle it, and it’s being shown as a  special “Roadshow Event”.

I threw a lot at you there.  Let me break it down just a little bit in more detail.  I’ll get to the film comparisons soon, and I won’t get too technical here, just take my word for it, it’s an extremely panoramic film that  not only gives excellent detail, but can make landscapes absolutely breathtaking (there were quite a few examples in The Hateful Eight). What really makes this exciting is that this is the first movie filmed in 70MM and shown since 1966.

Yes, it WAS the same year that Adam West's Batman did "The Batusi"
Yes, it WAS the same year that Adam West’s Batman did “The Batusi”.  It’s not like China first synthesized Insulin to save diabetic peoples’ lives, the Batusi had way more of a cultural impact.

I also mentioned the special “Roadshow Event” earlier.  Basically, when TV was first invented, everyone went nuts for this home entertainment miracle and thus stopped spending money at the theaters.

I have a 1080p 55" Sony with great audio and as you can see, I buck the trend.
I have a 1080p 55″ Sony with great audio and as you can see, I clearly buck the trend.

So, what was poor disenfranchised Hollywood to do when their adoring (paying) customers stayed home and watched Batman, the first episode of Star Trek, and The Andy Griffith Show instead of dressing up all fancy like, shelling out the nickles and dimes (or *gasp* a dollar) on The Good, the Bad and the Ugly,  El Dorado, or even Batman: The Movie.

As much as I love Batman, I just can't blame everyone for skipping this one...
As much as I love Batman, I just can’t blame everyone for skipping this one…

Anyway, the answer from Hollywood was to make going to theaters an “experience” again.  This came in the format of an old tactic called a “Roadshow Event”.  The premise was simple, limit the supply (the movie release) and people would rush to see a “Special Screening” of Ben-Hur (1959) or It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963)- and oh, I made sure that I had the correct amount of “Mads” in the title there.  Genius idea, but without the best distribution methods, no Drones for Lyndon B. Johnson to deliver things…that we know about.

This is where the “Roadshow” portion came about.  They would bring the projector, a full panoramic (and sometimes curved screen, which you might say they were ahead of the…oh forget it, you would probably lynch me for making that joke about modern Curved TVs), and the film from area to area to show the film.  It made for those “Special Events” and got the attention of people again.  While 1966 was the final year a 70MM film was made, Hollywood did okay by reviving an old gimmick with new technology that would last well into the 1980’s:

Oh, and then Avatar (2009) came out and the theater chains found out they could charge a premium...
Oh, and then Avatar (2009) came out and the theater chains found out they could charge a premium for the same gimmick with just fancy new tech…and glasses

Bit of history on the “Roadshow Events” and now just a quick showcase of 70MM film in general.  I’ll do it quick and I won’t have you all do any math.  The 70MM film format had a ratio of 2.76:1 (that means the screen is 2.76 times as wide as it is tall). Compared, most movies today are projected in either 1.85:1 (35MM) or 2.35:1 “anamorphic widescreen” format. High-Def screens feature a 16:9 ratio, which is close enough to 1.85:1, and besides, only nerds like me appreciate.  As I said earlier, this is done to give amazing landscapes, epic scale of set pieces, and almost turning the film into a “play-like quality”.  Just take a quick look below to see comparisons of the different types of film.  I tossed in a true IMAX comparison just for fun.

70MM Comparison
Visual aids, the best thing since sliced bacon
IMAX Comparison
It looks like IMAX is compensating for something…

History lesson is over, let’s talk about all the filthy, gory, disturbing, racist and other offensive non-sense Tarantino loves to showcase in all of his films.

As I said in the title, Samuel L. Jackson really steals the show here.  His character not only progresses much of the story forward, and is the most clever.  Don’t get me wrong, I love Samuel L. Jackson and every Tarantino film, but I think it’s time they take a break from each other.  If you were to look at Tarantino’s IMDB page, you would see seventeen director credits.  All but eight of them, are TV shows, guest directing gigs, etc.  The meat of his directing career, the eight true films, starting with Reservoir Dogs (1992) and leading up to The Hateful Eight, Samuel L. Jackson appears in six of those eight films.

I mean, there is no cardinal sin here since both Samuel L. Jackson and Quentin Tarantino are both insanely talented, and they haven’t gotten to the level of Johnny Depp and Tim Burton.  The latter two’s collaborations are getting worse and worse as the years go by.  I don’t want the same phenomenon to happen to Jackson and Tarantino.  And like I said, Jackson steals the show.  He’s the one the audience is rooting for and he can do no wrong.  In fact, in this performance, I believe he leaves a little on the table even though his dialogue is crisp and well delivered, it just feels that he’s playing “Samuel L. Jackson” and not the character in the film.

Everyone else has their assigned duties.  Kurt Russel pokes his head out from whatever hole he was in and punches a woman in the face so many times that I wanted to call the cops for assault and battery.  You’ve got other normal Tarantino actors: Michael Madsen and Tim Roth who put on great performances.  I really appreciate Roth who has one of the most prolonged but easily hilarious scenes I’ve seen.  You have to pay attention, but it’s there and it is glorious.  The others involved deliver the script to mount as much tension as possible before we have the “Tarantino Battle Minute”.

I name this particular sequence the “Tarantino Battle Minute” because it happens in every one of his films.  First, there is a seriously long discussion/dialogue featuring one person to a medium sized group.  This is Tarantino’s specialty.  No other writer/director ever produces such authentic dialogue.  It’s natural and in some situations, like half the scenes in Inglorious Basterds, it builds the tension to a serious boiling point.  That’s the second part, the “Tarantino Battle Minute”.  After all the conversations, there is a lightning quick amount of carnage.

Heads are blown off, people disemboweled, simultaneous murders, limbs ripped apart or off, testicles shredded, eyes stepped on, and in one case, the top of someone’s head is cleanly sliced off.  All this will occur in a matter of moments. The longest example is from Kill Bill: Vol. 1 when The Bride destroys the gang known as “The Crazy 88”.  But suffice it to say, the “Tarantino Battle Minute” usually ends up looking like this afterwards:

“YOU DIDN’T MENTION KNEECAPPING.” – DJANGO UNCHAINED (2012)
Actual dialogue: “YOU DIDN’T MENTION KNEECAPPING.” – Django Unchained (2012).  I suppose I didn’t mention “kneecapping” up there…

You know these are in the movie.  They’re bloody fantastic (I mean that in the most serious and every way possible).  But, that brings me to a moment of hesitation in The Hateful Eight, I essentially knew what was going to happen the entire time and that’s kind of a bummer.  I know a lot of other films follow a director’s style and exact same formula, but that doesn’t make it any better.  What I can, and will say, is that even though I knew it was coming, it still showcased some of the most ridiculous and gratuitous violence with guns I’ve ever seen.  I say guns because The Bride murders with a blade.

Now some things I can dote on are the cinematography and set design.  I saw the film in its 70MM format, so your experience may vary, but what I felt was true immersion with the landscape and the characters.  It’s something that 3D tries to do all the time, but can’t quite get it right. You immediately see why Tarantino resurrected a decades old film format: not only “just because he could”, but he wanted the audience in that cabin and wanted us to be able to see every detail around us.

That’s really the last thing I can say about the film: the set was perfect. You have eight people in a one-room shack with no where to hide.  The outhouse is indeed outside, along with the stables.  The door has to be nailed shut due to it being broken.  And with all the decorations, tables, bed, bar, fireplace, and eight strangers, it gets extremely claustrophobic and paranoia, even in the audience, looms everywhere.  Tarantino could not have constructed a more perfectly tense location for the characters to interact.

I said "Characters" not Deadpool
I said “Characters” not just Deadpool

I wouldn’t be doing my job very well if I didn’t warn against the coarse language throughout the entire film.  I cannot imagine any of our readers offended by the slurs and curses, but I have to at least say something.  And it really does add to the dialogue.  The film takes place in the Post Civil War time and listening to the transition and moderate to no acceptance of anything or anyone was fascinating.

Didn’t read my fancy words, here is the short version:

The Hateful Eight is a Quentin Tarantino film.  Everything he does in every other movie he has done is present in this feature.  I can’t imagine this would be your first Tarantino film, so if you like what he’s done before, you’re going to like this movie.  I will say I’m getting tired of Samuel L. Jackson stealing every scene he’s in, but that’s a minor complaint.  Still it kept a little enjoyment from me, not much, but I wasn’t as invested in the character as I usually would have been.  Finally, if you live somewhere that has the 70MM Roadshow, see that version, you’ll be treating yourself.

-Darkmovienight

credentials-energy

I’m a Freak Friday…and Happy New Years!

Good afternoon our Bleary-Eyed movie viewers.  Hopefully you’ve had enough time to sober up from last night’s festivities or you’re like me and went to bed at 10 PM, so you’re just wasting the day away until reality comes back and you actually have to do something.

Not saying every
Not saying everyone is a sweaty construction worker, this is merely a comment on Climate Change- it’s real and we need to wake up before it’s too late!  This photo was taken in December…in Alaska!

Yesterday we ended 2015 with our thoughts on Star Wars: The Force Awakens and a quick look at some of the most amazing trailers from the excellent 2016 slate.  We don’t have a lot today until we catch The Hateful Eight tomorrow, which certainly looks interesting, but I will say it doesn’t have enough Christoph Waltz for my taste:

Hopefully we’ll have a review for you all on Tuesday and get to tell you what Mr. Tarantino’s film has in store for the unsuspecting public.  Until then, I know many of you may have asked: “Just who are these handsome gentlemen who are telling us which movie we should see and which one we shouldn’t?”

First, I’ll not dignify the “Handsome” remark above as it just wouldn’t be proper.  Lastly, not secondly, I will give you a tiny bit of our credentials from 2015.  I will direct your attention to the picture below:

2016-01-01 16.57.40

What you are viewing above you are 63 movie ticket stubs.  Also, it represents 56 individual films, I mean seriously, you think we wouldn’t see Star Wars twice?  We began this lovely site somewhere in the third or fourth row and hopefully you’ve enjoyed everything we have thrown at you in that time.  If you didn’t, let’s just say we have friends that can change your mind…

Hipsters
“We read “I Watch Too Many Movies” before it was mainstream.  And we’ll totally be sarcastic when talking to you…that’ll show you” – Hipster “Enforcers”

Anyway, other than Hipster Attack Squad Plaid, we wanted to show you we take our jobs seriously here at I Watch Too Many Movies.  We’ll watch good movies, we’ll watch terrible movies, and we’ll watch movies that will likely make most of you sleepy, but watch them we shall.

So keep that in mind, if there is a film arriving in theaters that you’re thinking about going to see, and you’re not sure about it because those supposed “Professional Movie Reviewers” used some fancy words like “Celluloid” in their review.  We’ll only ask you one question?  Who ya gonna call?

Terrible babysitters, not us. Dear god not us.
Terrible babysitters, not us. Dear god not us.

Happy New Years Day everyone and we can’t wait to bring 2016 to a digital device near you…probably in your hands, on the screen, or streaming to your TV, you get the point.

Christoph-Waltz
Ah! There he is! Thank you so much Mr. Waltz, your so kind giving me the credit for your last few Oscars.

-Darkmovienight