Saturday, June 30, 2012

An Exercise in the Strength of Casting: Our Review of "People Like Us" (2012)

Directed By: Alex Kurtzman

Starring: Chris Pine, Elizabeth Banks, Michelle Pfeiffer, Olivia Wilde

Rating: PG-13 for language, some drug use and brief sexuality

Synopsis: Sam Harper (Pine) is in debt after a major mistake he makes at work, and when his estranged father dies back in L.A., he reluctantly returns home. It’s there that his father’s lawyer gives him $150,000 – but tells him to give it to a woman named Frankie Davis (Banks) and her son. Sam soon discovers Frankie is his half-sister that he never knew about and has to make a choice: does he give her the money or use it to get himself out of debt?


Andrew: Hello readers! Last night Sarah and I made the dangerous journey to the movie theatre on a Friday night, made it through the throngs of women who were there to see Magic Mike, and we slipped into a smaller theatre to see this weekend’s new Chris Pine/Elizabeth Banks drama People Like Us.

Sarah, we talked about this in our weekly preview on Thursday and were both looking forward to it. I didn’t know a whole lot about the movie up until a week ago, but you had. So what are your thoughts after a night of sleeping on it?

Sarah: Well I had seen trailers for it for a while now and I would have to say that I enjoyed it. It was very heartwarming, which is what I expected. It tugged on the heartstrings, and although it was a semi-predictable premise once you got into the movie, it was still good! I enjoyed it! What did you think?

A: I really enjoyed it! Yes it’s a bit predictable at times, which I don’t think is a bad thing because it’s a relatively simple premise, but I look at it kind of like Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, where you can kind of see what’s going to happen coming, but it’s HOW they get there and how the actors do. And I think the strength of People Like Us, bar none, are the two leads, Chris Pine (Star Trek) and Elizabeth Banks (What to Expect When You’re Expecting).

I totally bought them as half-siblings and they’re both so charismatic…

The charisma and likability of Elizabeth Banks and Chris Pine are the strength of People Like Us

S: And they had such great on-screen chemistry! And that’s point I want to make: this was a powerhouse cast. Everybody gave such amazing performances, even Olivia Wilde (Cowboys & Aliens), who is a minor character in the grand scheme of things. For being a pretty A-list actress, she took her role for what it was and did a great job. Michelle Pfeiffer is killing it these days now that she’s playing older roles, great roles that really fit her well.

And then this new kid comes along, Michael Hall D’Addario, who plays Frankie’s son, Josh, and he just does an amazing job. He was actually probably my favorite character. He did such a fantastic job, this young kid…

A: He reminded me of Jonah Bobo as Robbie in Crazy, Stupid, Love.

S: Yes, a lot like him.

A: The acting was phenomenal really, and the casting choices were even better I think. Pfeiffer, I totally bought her as being able to be Chris Pine’s mother. I think the eyes had a lot to do with it, all three of the leads have very blue eyes. But just the subtleties they play…like Pine’s Sam is really kind of a selfish jerk for half the movie. There are a lot of things about him early on that make him an unlikable character, but Pine is just so earnest and inherently likable that you can’t help but like Sam despite the mistakes he makes. You just go, “C’mon, man, just do the right thing!” You really just want him to succeed, make the right choice and tell Frankie the truth.

S: But at the same time the characters were so well developed… I didn’t really think Sam was such a jerk. I kind of knew the premise and you have to imagine things…neither one of these kids grew up with a father. The guy probably did the best that he knew how but just wasn’t cut out for the whole fatherhood thing. And so both of his kids suffered for it in very different ways, yet ended up pretty similar. They had great chemistry as a brother/sister couple and you could tell that they could grow to love each other as a family.

Then you have Pfeiffer’s character, who really had to live with the knowledge that her husband was unfaithful and had another family. You have to imagine the toll that would take on people. So it was just very interesting and impressive for an ensemble cast like this to pull it off.

A: Can I just point out real quick that Chris Pine is quickly becoming one of my favorite actors in Hollywood? He just has that charisma you look for in a leading man and there are very few new ones nowadays. He’s perfect as Captain Kirk in the new Star Trek films, I liked him in This Means War, and I liked him in this.

Anywho….a criticism I could see some people having with this movie, and it’s not one I have of it personally, is that it takes Sam such a long time to finally tell Frankie what’s really going on. But that Frankie and her son just accept Sam, this stranger that appears out of nowhere and kind of works his way into their lives, and they hang out…

S: Yeah, they accept him pretty quickly, don’t they?

We thought this trio right here (Pine, Banks and D'Addario) made a very believable and cute family
A: That’s the one thing I think some people might go, “That’s unrealistic.” I didn’t have a problem with it. I can see how some people might, but I think it goes to the strength of the writing and the actors that you bought that these two individuals needed each other and that there’s a sort of destiny that they needed to do this. They just made a cute, believable family unit.

It’s a bit of a tearjerker, it got to me a little bit because it hit a little close to home.

S: It was about halfway through the movie where I figured it might hit close to home with you.

A: And I knew it would.

S: I wasn’t prepared for that.

A: Well when I first saw the trailer and saw what the real premise is, I knew it would. So it hit a little close to me, but even if it weren’t for that, I still think this is a very good movie. If anything, see it because of Pine, Banks and Pfeiffer. They all knocked it out of the park.

S: It truly is a great cast.

A: And it’s a good directorial debut by Alex Kurtzman. I was looking forward to how he would do with this. I liked the way he used Los Angeles, he didn’t use it in a flashy “Hollywood” sort of way, he used it in more of a warm, West Coast way.

S: It felt a lot more like a small-town feel to me, which is different for a L.A. movie. Like, you didn’t feel like you were in this ginormous city. It felt intimate in a city that has millions of people in it.

A: And that’s a totally different take and I enjoyed that. I definitely look forward to more directing jobs by Kurtzman. So what’s our final grade?

S: I don’t think you need to see it in theatres. It would make a nice matinee, but you can wait to Netflix it. That said, this might be one that ends up on our shelf!

(Out of Five Clapboards)

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Our Preview of This Week's New Releases (For Friday, June 29th)

Andrew: Hello readers! It's time yet again for our preview of this week's new theatrical releases. Now, we have three new movies coming out this weekend but we're only going to preview two of them because we got the chance to channel our inner big-time movie reviewer by seeing an advanced screening of Seth MacFarlane's feature film directorial debut Ted, starring Mark Wahlberg, Mila Kunis and MacFarlane himself as the voice of Ted. You can find our review of that by clicking HERE.
So instead, Sarah, we'll focus on the other two big releases this weekend, starting with one I'm sure A TON of women have been looking forward to - Steven Soderbergh's Magic Mike. It stars one of this year's breakout stars, Channing Tatum, as a male stripper who has ambitions to eventually start his own furniture design company. The film also stars Alex Pettyfer (I Am Number Four) as Adam, a 19-year-old kid that Tatum's Mike sees something in, so he takes him under his wing, gets him a job at the club and dubs him "The Kid." Oh, and Mike has the hots for Adam's sister, Brooke, who is played by Cody Horn (who I only recognize from a few episodes of The Office).
Sarah, I think I've talked enough about the basic premise of the movie, so you take it from here.
Sarah: Well from what I can surmise from the trailers, I would say that this movie is going to make most men seem inadequate. Filled with some of Hollywood's sexiest leading men (like White Collar’s Matt Bomer and True Blood’s Joe Manganiello), who seem to remain mostly shirtless, Magic Mike promises to be most women's fantasy. Tatum has had a great year so far with 21 Jump Street and The Vow. His new film, super loosely based on his real life, is the one that I have been looking forward to the most. His humor and charm is going to bring the throngs of women out to the theatres this weekend, along with his stunning six-pack.
Official Trailer for Magic Mike

A: I'm actually looking forward to seeing this because the trailer looks funny and because it's a Soderbergh movie. He's a different kind of director in that he's not going to just focus on the stripping part, I expect him to go into the reasons why Mike and his co-workers really do what they do, how it effects they're lives, etc. Essentially I think this movie will be deeper than it looks at first blush.
S: Agreed. It looks like it is going to be just a fun movie all around! I expect there to be a decent amount of laughter, although probably not as much as there was in Ted (seriously people, if there's a comedy you must see, it's Ted).
Now the second movie that we are going to be seeing this weekend is People Like Us. A little less humor and more heartwarming, this movie is about a young man, Sam (played by Chris Pine, Star Trek) whose recently deceased and estranged father has left him $50,000 and the knowledge that he has a sister, Frankie (played by Elizabeth Banks, The Hunger Games). His father has left him instructions to give the money to his sister, who also has no idea that she has a brother. Sam is left with the dilemma: does he give Frankie, a woman he didn't know existed, the money or does he use the money to pay off his debts? I think this looks like a really great movie filled with actors who are just fantastic.
A: I didn't know a whole lot about People Like Us until last week when I started reading up on it, and now I'm very much looking forward to seeing it. I like the two main leads, but more importantly, I'm interested to see the directorial debut for Alex Kurtzman. Kurtzman is better known for co-writing or co-producing a number of the last few year's biggest films with Roberto Orci. Check this list out:
- Mission: Impossible III (writer)
- Transformers (writer)
- Star Trek (writer/executive producer)
- The Proposal (executive producer)
- Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (writer)
- Cowboys & Aliens (writer/producer)
- Star Trek Sequel (writer/producer)
And he's one of the creators/executive producers of the television show Fringe, and an executive producer for TV's Hawaii Five-O. The Transformers movies and Cowboys & Aliens aren't great, but it's still a solid pedigree of writing and producing. So I'm interested in seeing how he does as a director, too.
 Official Trailer for People Like Us

S: I have heard that this movie is really sweet and that Michelle Pfeiffer and Olivia Wilde are great additions to the cast.
A: Oh, and we should mention there are actually FOUR movies coming out in wide release this week, because Tyler Perry's Madea's Witness Protection also comes out today, but honestly we're not going to see it and have no desire to see it and would rather not recognize its existence. I actually don't mind the concept of Eugene Levy playing a Wall Street man who unwittingly was part of a corporate scheme and whose family is put into witness protection, it's the Madea aspect we're not hot on. No offense to Tyler Perry (cuz we kind of ripped him a bit earlier this week, too.)
But yeah! We'll definitely be seeing Magic Mike and People Like Us this weekend, so be on the lookout for those reviews!
S: And also a big THANK YOU to all of our readers! Because of you our small movie review blog had over 1,500 page views in June and we broke that record this month in only 26 days!!! So THANK YOU for your continued support!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Oh How We Wish We Had a Stuffed Animal Like This!: Our Review of "Ted" (2012)

Directed By: Seth MacFarlane (Family Guy)

Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Mila Kunis, Seth MacFarlane

Rating: R for crude and sexual content, pervasive language and some drug use

Synopsis: When 8-year-old John Bennett gets a teddy bear for Christmas one year, he names him Teddy and wishes he were alive so they can be friends forever. Magically he gets his wish and 27 years later they’re still best buds, but John (Wahlberg) and Ted’s (voiced by MacFarlane) lazy and dependent lifestyle is ticking off John’s long-time girlfriend, Lori. How will John be able to balance his two relationships without losing either one?


Andrew: Hello readers! Sarah and I just got out of a advance screening of Seth MacFarlane’s feature film directorial debut Ted starring Mark Wahlberg (The Departed), Mila Kunis (Friends With Benefits) and MacFarlane himself as the voice of the titular teddy bear.

Sarah, we haven’t had a chance to preview this film on our site because it doesn’t go wide until this weekend, but this is one we’ve DEFINITELY been looking forward to ever since we saw the first trailer. Now that we’ve seen it, what do you think?

Sarah: It was awesome! It was hilarious. It was a laugh-a-minute movie – if it wasn’t always a big belly laugh it was chuckles all the time. I loved it.

A: I’m not quite sure if this is the funniest film we’ve seen this year, because 21 Jump Street was pretty freaking funny, but it might have topped it. This is your classic MacFarlane humor. There’s a fair amount of topical humor, and only a couple of his signature cutaway jokes that he gets criticized for (which are pretty damn funny in this film), but it’s very raunchy and it’s certainly offensive. No one is off-limits here.

This is going to be one whereas 21 Jump Street was funny but not very quotable, this one is going to be VERY quotable. It’s more in line with Anchorman, Wedding Crashers, those kinds of films.

John (Wahlberg) and Ted singing their "Thunder Song" is probably going to be quoted for years to come. We're definitely singing it during thunderstorms from now on!

A: There are just a lot of great one-liners and it’s just a dirty, raunchy movie with a lot of those dirty jokes coming out of a walking, talking teddy bear. You’d think the gimmick would get old pretty fast but it doesn’t. And again, I have to stress that while there’s a lot of offensive jokes (a few that even made me say, “Wow,”), MacFarlane is an equal-opportunity offender.

S: Right off the bat there’s a joke about Christmas and Jews.

A: Yeah, so right from the get-go you get an idea of what kind of movie this is going to be.

S: So you either accept it from the beginning or you won’t. They’re not trying to be discrete here. I was actually surprised they didn’t pull any blatant, stars-of-today jokes. They only did a couple, one at the beginning and one at the end.

A: There are a lot of older references, which is another trademark of MacFarlane, some of which I think some people won’t get. I love that the 1980 film Flash Gordon is quite a big part of the film, actually. I loved it because my favorite band of all-time, Queen, did the soundtrack for that film and they use a lot of those songs in Ted.

So Ted, the character, was incredibly funny. MacFarlane was pitch-perfect voicing the animated toy. Yes, he sounded a lot like Peter Griffin…

S: Which they do make a reference to!

A: But I’m wondering how you felt Wahlberg and Kunis did having to act against a CGI character?

S: I thought they did a great job, not only against a CGI character but with the comedic humor MacFarlane has. They both have comedic chops…

A: And Mila is kind of the straight-man in the film…

S: She is, but she does have her moments, too. And she GETS it.

A: And I think that comes from being a MacFarlane regular as the voice of Meg on Family Guy. Which reminds me, I kept thinking during the film about how there’s a running gag on Family Guy that Meg gets the short-end of the stick (especially in the Family Guy Star Wars episodes, she’s barely in them) but I think Seth made it up to her.

S: She got a starring role in his film, so yeah, he made it up to her. And you know what? I had completely forgot she was in Family Guy.

Mila Kunis, who stars as Meg Griffin on MacFarlane's Family Guy, does a fine job playing the straight-man to John and Ted's immaturity.

But here’s the thing, and I want to get your opinion on this – I felt a lot of the time that we were watching a live-action Family Guy episode, with how the jokes were delivered. Obviously that’s MacFarlane’s style, it’s what you come to expect from anything he touches, and I’m sure it didn’t bother you but do you think it might bother some others? What would you say to people who say, “It’s just a live-action Family Guy with a talking teddy bear instead of Peter?”

A: If anyone complains about that I would say, “What did you expect?” They’re not hiding it. It’s FROM the creator of Family Guy, he sounds like Peter Griffin, obviously Seth has a certain kind of humor and it’s successful. That’s why he has three shows.

So yes, at times it may have felt like a live-action Family Guy, but it’s not. There ARE elements – from the comedic styling of MacFarlane, but…like let’s take a look at Ted. Yes he sounds like Peter, but he’s NOT Peter. He’s not stupid, he’s smart. Peter can be mean a lot in the show, Ted isn’t in the slightest. He loves John and he just wants to make things right.

So I think that leads to a big point in this movie: if you DON’T like the show Family Guy, this isn’t the movie for you. But if you love the show or you’re even just a casual fan where you catch a part of it on TBS or something, laughed and then changed the channel, you’ll find a lot of things funny here.

S: I loved the situational humor. It’s smart, clever and it’s just fun the entire time. There are many times my jaw dropped because I couldn’t believe what was just said or done.

A: This is the film The Dictator wanted to be.

S: Yes!

A: A lot of similar types of jokes they’re going for, but those jokes work here.

S: Same with That’s My Boy.

A: Yes, this is what those two films were trying to be and failed at. Ted has heart, it’s genuinely funny, and you don’t go into this looking for a deep, meaningful story. There’s a boy and girl who have a conflict over the bear, yes. But there’s also a subplot involving Giovanni Ribisi (Avatar), as a guy who wants to buy Ted from John, that I found added a bit to the film.

S: Because it turned it dark!

A: Yeah, and I found it unexpected going into the movie. And during the course of the movie I forgot about him, so when he came back into play it worked on two levels for me.

S: It’s one of those conflicts that happens in the film but didn’t even give a hint about in the trailer. From the trailer you expect the film to be just a conflict between the girl and the bear…

A: There’s just more to the movie than we expected, which was good.

A young John Bennett wishes for his new teddy bear to come to life so they can be friends forever. With Patrick Stewart narrating. It's almost as awesome as an Apache helicopter.
S: And it was just a fun movie. This was one where the whole audience laughed together. There were no points when it was just us laughing, like with Dark Shadows. The whole theatre enjoyed it.

If you have children and saw the trailer and thought your kids would love to see it, NO. It’s VERY raunchy. Don’t let the cute, cuddly teddy bear fool you.

A: A couple of other quick points: there were some great cameos…

S: FANTASTIC cameos. And there are cast members from Family Guy

A: Yep, Patrick Warburton and Alex Borstein were in it, so it was cool MacFarlane threw them in there.

S: Patrick Stewart was the narrator and darn near steals the beginning of the movie.

A: And I loved the music, because it was a lot of symphony stuff like Seth uses for his shows, and the animation for Ted was amazing. He looked incredibly real and fit right in with the real world actors and surroundings. It helped the impact of the film so much I can’t even explain it.

S: Real quick, something I loved about these actors being in it is that there is this group of actors who have surrounded MacFarlane and recognized that he just wants to make people laugh. Yes, maybe his style is simpler than the South Park guys because it’s more relatable to everyone. They make fun of everyone in a way you don’t have to think too hard about.

A: And for any MacFarlane critics, there are absolutely no political overtones or jokes in the film. There are jokes about 9/11 but they’re not political. So there’s none of his left-wing stuff or atheistic stuff, so don’t worry about that.

So we loved, and just in general, if you love or like Family Guy, you’ll enjoy Ted.

S: We hope that you guys see it this weekend because it’s a lot of fun.

A: I can guarantee that we’ll be buying this the first day it comes out.

(Out of Five Clapboards)
 Photo Courtesies: The Reel BitsFront Towards

The First Trailer for "Alex Cross" Is...Interesting, To Say The Least

Andrew: Hello readers! It was a review-heavy weekend for us here at Two Tickets For... and we're looking to keep that going with a new review tonight, but for now I wanted to post a trailer that SHOULD have made me excited but instead left me a little disappointed.

I'm talking about the trailer for this fall's Tyler Perry/Matthew Fox thriller Alex Cross. It's based off of the novel "Cross" by James Patterson, one of his many novels about Washington, D.C. criminal profiler Alex Cross. It's one of my favorite book series (in fact I just bought the latest one, "Kill Alex Cross" on paperback) and I enjoyed the two Alex Cross films starring Morgan Freeman, Kiss the Girls and Along Came a Spider, so I got excited when I heard they were making a new one.

But now that I've seen the trailer, my enthusiasm has waned a little bit. I think it's mainly that Tyler Perry is NOT who I would have cast in the role. I really wish Idris Elba (Prometheus) , who was originally supposed to star, had been able to do it because he would've been perfect. Oh well.

Take a look at the trailer to watch Matthew Fox look super crazy and Tyler Perry act as someone other than Madea:

Monday, June 25, 2012

Seeking a Good Movie? Look No Further!: Our Review of "Seeking a Friend for the End of the World" (2012)

Directed By: Lorene Scafaria

Starring: Steve Carell and Keira Knightley

Rating: R for language including sexual references, some drug use and brief violence

Synopsis: After the news that asteroid is going to destroy Earth in 21 days following a failed Armageddon-esque attempt to save it, Dodge Petersen (Carell) is abandoned by his wife, essentially leaving him with nothing. Then he meets his eccentric neighbor, Penny (Knightley), and together they search for his long-lost love and a way to get her back to her family in England before the world ends.


Andrew: Hello readers! Last night Sarah and I saw the new Steve Carell/Keira Knightley dramedy Seeking a Friend For the End of the World. Sarah, this is the third of the three movies we previewed on Thursday that we’ve seen now, and if I remember correctly you were kind of on the fence about this one. So now that we’ve seen it, what did you think about Seeking a Friend For the End of the World?

Sarah: I liked it! The concept behind the plot obviously made me think but it was not what I expected. It was actually pretty intense.

A: What did you expect?

S: I expected more comedy. I expected to be a little bit funnier. Maybe that’s my fault…

A: I think that’s more the trailer’s fault.

S: It could be more of the trailer’s fault, I do think they gave away a lot of the funny parts in the trailer to get audiences, but it was much more in line with Carell’s Dan in Real Life. It has its funny moments but is pretty intense the rest of the time. I had this pit of nervousness in my stomach pretty much the whole time we were watching it, especially towards the end.

A: I think you nailed it on the head comparing it to Dan in Real Life. This was actually, like we said at the top, more of a dramedy. It has its funny parts, which the trailer gave away a lot of, but it’s also very serious, dark and introspective. I liked how it shows the different kind of responses people might have to knowing they only have so many days to live.

The journey Penny (Knightley) and Dodge (Carell) go on was pleasantly surprising to us.
I actually REALLY liked this movie because of that aspect. I was surprised, like you, as to what was really going down. But I really, really liked the different portrayals. You had Connie Britton’s character, a married woman who is way too aloof and she makes a move on Carell’s Dodge and says something sobering along the lines of, “Nobody is anyone’s anything anymore.” That was her character’s response to the end of the world, and there are plenty of other examples in the film I liked.

S: There was also the Dodge’s housekeeper who kept coming back to clean his apartment, and all the other people who kept on doing their regular day jobs like nothing was happening.

A: And I think that’s a great representation! There would DEFINITELY be people who couldn’t take it and they would find comfort in doing what they’ve done every other of their lives.

S: I do too. Seeking a Friend For the End of the World is very much a character study. Each character was extremely developed, which takes time to do so some viewers might perceive it as being slow.

A: One thing I liked, as you were just saying, while it was slow you have Carell’s Dodge and Knightley’s Penny and both of them going through a, “What DIDN’T I do in my life? What did I waste my time doing? What can I do to make up for it?” And their search for that.

(POSSIBLE SPOILER FROM HERE ON OUT) Much like Warrior last year, you knew what was going to happen regarding Dodge and Penny’s relationship or could see it coming from a mile away, but it’s HOW they got there and the reactions and the acting! Steve Carell for the second year in a row BROUGHT it. We loved him in Crazy, Stupid, Love and this might be equal work.

S: It’s a little different because he’s dourer, like he was in Dan in Real Life, but there’s just something about him in his eyes and how he says his lines, his delivery. It kills you.

A: And Keira Knightley did well especially the scene where she’s able to call her family…

S: Oh gosh yes. And what I thought was interesting was that they realize throughout the story that what they’re seeking is not what they thought they needed before the world ended. I think that journey is very important, and it really makes you think. None of us are guaranteed tomorrow, what if something like this WERE to happen? It’s not completely out of the realm of possibility that something like this could ever happen. It makes you wonder and think about what would YOU do if the world was ending in three weeks?

While looking like an unlikely romantic couple, Sarah looks at it as more of the two needing each other than anything else
A: And again I thought it was a great representation of the different reactions to the apocalypse. One of my favorite details was at the beginning they show a billboard that has flyers on it and one is basically an ad for if you want to hire an assassin to kill you before the world ends, and we’re introduced to a character who does end up hiring one and it made me think. Like, “Damn, I never thought of that. People really MIGHT do that!”

S: And how many people would commit suicide because they wouldn’t want to live knowing the end is near? You know you’re going to die but everyone’s going to die at the same time but you can’t wait.

A: And it’s the detail of this one guy who hires an assassin to kill him because he can’t kill himself because you can’t get into heaven that way. People would DEFINITELY think like that. And there’s a scene later where there’s a mass Baptism, and this one is a joyous scene, all these people who maybe weren’t even religious before the apocalypse…

S: Want to be saved before the end.

A: Exactly. I loved those details. A lot of it could maybe be seen as cheesy or hokey, but I didn’t see it that way. It was all very earnest…

S: Very heartfelt and real. And Steve Carell absolutely pulls this movie off. There are plenty of funny moments, like Friendsy’s restaurant scene is a blast, and there are a lot of funny turns by actors like Rob Corddry, Patton Oswalt and others. The casting was top notch, just perfect across the board. And it just made us think!

A: Honestly this film is in my top five of the year so far behind The Cabin in the Woods, 21 Jump Street and The Avengers.

S: I don’t know.

A: It really made me think and it GOT to us. It’s a dark comedy, it’s very dark at times, and along with all the representations of how people would react, there are some things that happen in the film that took me by surprise and that was a good thing. Some people might not like them, but I did.

S: Yeah, there were some surprising moments. While we could see the romance coming, everything else that happened was a pleasant surprise.

A: What’s our final grade?

S: I don’t necessarily think you need to see this in theatres. It would be a good matinee but also works just as well on the small screen. We won’t own it the day it comes out, but I do think we’ll own it some day.

FINAL VERDICT: A must-see in theatres!

(Out of Five Clapboards)

Sunday, June 24, 2012

As Silly and As Fun As It Sounds, And We Liked It!: Our Review of "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter" (2012)

Directed By: Timur Bekmambetov (Wanted)

Starring: Benjamin Walker, Dominic Cooper, Rufus Sewell, Anthony Mackie, Mary Elizabeth Winstead

Rating: R for violence throughout and brief sexuality

Synopsis: After seeing his mother killed by a vampire as a child, Abraham Lincoln (Walker) grows up looking to avenge her death. Trained by a reluctant vamp named Henry Sturgess (Cooper) who informs Abe that vampires are all around us, and are thriving in the South off the blood of slaves, Lincoln dedicates his life to ridding America of all vampires. Eventually the Civil War breaks out with Lincoln’s Union Army having to face a Confederate Army full of the undead.


Andrew: Hello readers! Last night Sarah and I caught a matinee showing of this weekend’s new action film, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. This film is directed by Timur Bekmambetov , who is more well-known State-side for the highly stylized Wanted; is written by Seth Grahame-Smith, who also wrote the book the film is based on; is produced by Tim Burton and stars the relatively unknown Benjamin Walker in the title role.

Sarah, this was a film we were looking forward to because we GET the joke. Every time we saw the trailer we said it looked like a fun action flick to us. So now that we’ve seen it, was it a good action flick?

Sarah: Oh my gosh yes! The action was pretty awesome! We didn’t see it in 3D but the action was MADE for 3D. It was pretty bad-ass. What I liked about it the most was that the vampires, besides one main factor, were portrayed the way vampires should to be portrayed. They were terrifying!

A: Yeah, the one trait being that the vampires in this film can walk in the sunlight, but other than that the film follows canon. I agree with you, the vampires were definitely to be reckoned with. They aren’t your Twilight vampires…

Benjamin Walker stars in the title role of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter and he certainly fit the part.

S: Yeah, but in this one when they morph into the monsters that they are it was pretty sweet. I enjoyed it. And another thing I thought about it: We know the story of Abraham Lincoln to an extent from what we learned in history class. So it’s almost as if the film was in parallel to the real story that we know so well. So they were saying, “We’re going to show you the parts that were left out of the history books.” I liked that.

I will say though, seeing the movie makes me want to read the book because this film was incredibly choppy.

A: It’s choppy at times because it doesn’t transition smoothly. It goes: here’s Abe fighting vampires, but now we need to make him meet Mary Todd because he marries her real quick, then back to fighting vampires. It kind of goes from action sequence to action sequence but interspersed with down time simply to move the actual Lincoln story along. It’s choppy but it doesn’t detract from the film for me because you go into this movie expecting to see Honest Abe slaying vampires left and right. And he certainly does that, but he also has to get from place to place. Normally this might not be good for a regular movie, but with an action movie like this it didn’t bother me.

S: I would argue that it will bother some people. We went into it knowing it was based off of this book that had its tongue planted firmly in cheek, but if you’re going in there expecting a normal storyline, you’ll be sorely disappointed.

A: There’s going to be two kinds of people for this movie. There will be the people who are totally gung-ho, who when they first saw the trailer and saw the title, you laughed at it because you get the joke and see that it’s by the guy who did Wanted and know it’s going to be a stylized action flick, or you’re going to be one of the people who saw the trailer and said, “This looks stupid.” You’re either one or the other. There’s no middle ground.

We were firmly entrenched in the former and went in expecting to have fun with it, and we did. If you were one of the people who saw the trailer or commercial and thought it looked stupid, do NOT see this movie, because you’re not going to like it.

Now what did you think about how they took Abe’s real-life things, like his son dying at a young age, and changing it to fit the story they’re telling here?

Adam (Rufus Sewell), the leader of the vampires, doesn't take too kindly to Honest Abe trying to chop him down

S: I enjoyed it.

A: It didn’t offend you?

S: No! Are some people offended by it?

A: A couple of reviewers I’ve read so far have been, yeah.

S: I wasn’t offended, I actually think it’s kind of one of those things were it feeds into my getting enjoyment out of conspiracy theories. That’s sort of what this movie is, there’s a conspiracy underneath what this man of history was. It didn’t offend me. But I like those kinds of things. If you’re someone who is easily offended by them changing history to make it…not silly, but silly in the fact that it’s a little unbelievable, then you won’t enjoy this film.

A: I’m with you. It’s revisionist history for entertainment. It’s fiction. It makes me think of Inglourious Basterds. In Inglourious Basterds, Hitler is killed in a way that he wasn’t actually killed in real-life. They shine a light on The Basterds and they get the glory, when in real-life a lot of different things happened and a lot of people lost their lives trying to end World War II. I don’t know if people were offended by Inglourious Basterds because of things like that, I know I wasn’t, but you look at it and say, “We know what really happened and we respect that.” This is just make-believe. It goes back, again, to if you’re offended by the idea, don’t see it.

What did you think of Benjamin Walker in the lead role?

S: Oh my gosh! When they started his transformation to an older age Lincoln, just like at the beginning I thought the makeup was a little rough. But other than that he looked, acted and embodied Abraham Lincoln. I thought he did a great job. Was it an Academy Award winning portrayal of Lincoln? Of course not, but I thought he did a good job in the role.

We had this main actor who is kind of unknown and is surrounded by actors that are very well known, and I thought he did good job of standing on his own. I look forward to seeing him in other things.

A: I thought he there was magnetism to him. He certainly looked the part. He’s tall enough, he’s got the facial features (I’m not sure if he wore a prosthetic nose the whole time) and he sounded the part, I thought he was great. I especially liked the parts when he was playing a younger Lincoln. When he was playing an older Lincoln the makeup didn’t work sometimes, but towards the end he looked great.

A: I also want to add, I should mention the horse stampede sequence.

S: Oh I thought that was better than the train sequence, actually.

A: There are two big action sequences that are worth it alone to see it on the big screen because of the scope of them and how well they were done. One is a  horse stampede where Lincoln is chasing after a vampire and the vampire is literally throwing horses at him (it sounds silly but on the screen in action it’s actually pretty sweet), and the second is the final train sequence - my favorite part of the whole film - at the climax where there’s a huge fight aboard a train carrying silver to the Union solider at Gettysburg to fight the vampire soldiers from the Confederacy.

The climactic train sequence is one of two great action scenes worth seeing on the big screen alone.

We didn’t see it in 3D but that was a helluva action scene. It’s one of the more impressive ones I’ve seen in a while actually, because it transitioned between being an intimate, tight fight scene on the inside of the train, to being on the outside with the burning bridge. I was really impressed.

S: For what it’s worth, I thought the horse sequence was better. But I will also say Bekmambetov is so notorious for his shots where he ramps the speed up and down and there were times where it worked really well. I think it worked well in this because vampires move so fast. So when they were in action, it helped in showing the capabilities of the vampires.

A: It’s just a good action film. It’s bloody and gory, so if you like that sort of thing it’s there in spades. I just thought it was a really well done movie for what it’s supposed to be, and again, we GET it. We went with it and I think that’s why we liked it.

S: So if you saw the trailer and it even moderately piqued your interest, go see it. If you saw the trailer and thought it looked totally ridiculous, don’t see it.

FINAL VERDICT: A good way to kill a Saturday afternoon!

(Out of Five Clapboards)

Photo Courtesies: Hollywood