22 Jump Street

Another movie night with Dad! Don’t worry kids, this one’s relatively safe to watch with your parents. No awkward breast milking scenes like that one in Neighbors, although Seth Rogen’s pun-filled freak out made it all worth it.

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The Plot

The Jenko (Channing Tatum) and Schmidt (Jonah Hill) bromance is back! Home base is now the Vietnamese church across the street, newly decked out in Bond level electronics for no apparent reason.

Captain Dickson (Ice Cube) gives the duo their latest gloriously f-bomb-riddled assignment: go undercover at MC State to find the dealer of a study drug called “WHYPHY” that killed a student on campus. The acronym stands for “Work Hard? Yes. Play Hard? Yes.” Sounds like caveman language or an Internet meme, or both.

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The lesser known “Caves of Let’s Get Wasted”

Jenko and Schmidt’s partnership falters as they navigate college. On the football field, Jenko meets his other half Zook (Wyatt Russell) via a hilariously elaborate set up all to work in the phrase “meet cute.”  By night Jenko sets beer drinking and parkour records at Zook’s fraternity house, and Schmidt drinks Merlot while critiquing napkin art at the art school.

Jenko spends every waking moment with his new “no friction” friend Zook. Schmidt finally confronts him in a scene full of double entendres which concludes in the decision to “investigate other people” and have a “more open investigation.” Gold. The two continue their search for the drug dealer, all while trying not to destroy too much school property and convince skeptical students they’re not really old.

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My Take

Hill and Tatum are basically pseudo-romantic leads in this movie, and they have great chemistry. A few comedic scenes lagged or just weren’t funny, but the movie always picked back up with a scene that poked fun at Hill and Tatum’s partnership. Far and away, every scene with Ice Cube and his eye-brow-scowl face was fantastic. He probably single-handedly gave this movie its R rating.

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The fedora factor, though

I also appreciated the movie’s self-awareness; Deputy Chief Hardy (Nick Offerman) would deadpan lines about how a plot point was being recycled or how this was the exact same case from the high school investigation in 21 Jump Street.

In a sequel movie of a reboot, the cards are pretty stacked against you. The movie creators sprinkled other characters into a formula that worked already–the Hill/Tatum bromance, Ice Cube rants, Tatum’s dumb jockitude–all without ruining it. They also worked in some entertaining two-way split screens, my particular favorite the one comparing Schmidt’s bad drug trip with Jenko’s great one. Creed is involved.

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Thank you Photoshop for all you do

Definitely stay and watch the credits roll! Our heroes are back together again for spoofs 23-32 Jump Street, each with their own ridiculous movie cover.

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Rating: 4 out of 5

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Cast & Credit Info
Top billed cast: Jonah Hill, Channing Tatum, Ice Cube. Directed by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller. Written by Michael Bacall, Oren Uziel, and Rodney Rothman. Run time 112 minutes. R. English.

Her

Well geez. I don’t think I’ve got the words to give this movie the glorious, earth-shattering review that it deserves!

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The Plot

Theodore Twombly (Joaquin Phoenix), a hapless, well-intentioned introvert, writes love letters for a living. However, they’re not his own; Theodore understands relationships so well from the outside that he can assume anyone’s voice and write a letter to his or her significant other. This comprehension doesn’t seem to extend to his own life, and Theodore struggles to maintain his marriage. He is in the midst of a long-term separation from his wife, Catherine (Rooney Mara), and they didn’t part on particularly good terms. Enter Samantha (Scarlett Johannson), a newly downloaded operating system with a sultry voice. Samantha and Theodore become constant companions, and they gradually fall in love with each other. Their Human/OS relationship affects not only Theodore, but also those around him.

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My Take

As humans, we think that we will forever reign supreme over the Earth. Samantha is almost uncannily human-like; what she lacks in corporal form, she makes up for in high-speed intelligence and personality. Samantha retains and surpasses all of the characteristics of a human, except for having a body. This raises the age-old question of what exactly makes something “human,” and explores the idea of whether there’s something even higher than us on the food chain.

In Her, the Operating Systems were modeled after their human creators, but instead of remaining at our level, they banded together and began to experience Time and Life in ways that we couldn’t understand. Ideally, we would react with wonder as most humans did in this movie; those surrounding Theodore for the most part supported his relationship with Samantha, and the only one who didn’t was understandably his wife Catherine. However, there are countless other movies where we feared the technological “monsters” we created and couldn’t comprehend, so we destroyed them. I enjoyed this decidedly different and whole-heartedly more positive outlook on technological advancement.

In addition to exploring the theme of technology, we also get a healthy dose of lurve. In the end, Theodore and the audience come to realize that love will last forever, just maybe not in the Hallmark-card way we think it will. We change each other in our relationships, and that effect, large or small, permanently latches on to our psyche. We carry a bit of our loved ones with us always, and that shapes us into who we are. For this reason, if not just because it’s the right thing to do, we should be continually conscious of how we are interacting with other people.

All in all, Her was a beautifully shot film that accompanied an equally beautiful message of love and self-acceptance.

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Rating: 5 out of 5

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Cast & Credit Info
Top billed cast: Joaquin Phoenix, Scarlett Johannson, Amy Adams. Directed by Spike Jonze. Written by Spike Jonze. Run time 126 minutes. R. English.

Captain Phillips

Hollywood would have me believe that big boats are floating death traps! Mom, if we ever go on a cruise again, we’re taking a canoe. Titanic, The Perfect Storm, Pirates of the Caribbean, you name it; Captain Phillips deftly joins the ranks.

And so begins the first of my reviews of the Oscars 2014 Best Picture nominees!

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The Plot

Captain Richard Phillips (Tom Hanks) is assigned to the U.S. cargo ship the Maersk Alabama. In what was supposed to be a routine cargo delivery, the ship is hijacked by a gang of Somalian pirates led by Muse (Barkhad Abdi).

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                                                                 Not these guys.

Muse’s bosses, referred to as the elders, are basically Somalian war lords in a country that has been torn by civil war for over two decades. Taking a ship the size of the Maersk Alabama will win the pirate gang millions of dollars, which will all go towards the appeasement of the elders and the prolonged safety of Muse and the rest of his tribe. Armed with military-grade machine guns, the pirates take Phillips hostage and demand that he give up his crew and control of the ship. Beyond that, it’s spoilers!

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My Take

Being a “pirate” sounds all swashbuckling and cool, but in this movie it is by no means a glamorous profession or really in any way a choice; it’s a fight for survival. There’s no Captain Jack Sparrow, sword-fighting, or compasses that point in the direction of what your heart most desires.

One of the members of the pirate gang, Bilal, is only 16. They’re all drugged up on khat, and towards the end one of the pirates, Najee, seems to go through withdrawal if his erratic, paranoid behavior and crazed eyes were any indicator. Either that, or he was just freaking insane.

Barkhad Abdi did an excellent job in his portrayal of Muse, the captain of the villainous Somalian pirates and a character that would be difficult to make sympathetic. In one scene, Phillips pleads with Muse and tells him that there must be something out there besides kidnapping people. Muse replies stoically, “Maybe in America, Irish, maybe in America.”

Towards the end of the movie, Phillips again tries to reason with Muse and tells him that he should just surrender for all of their sakes. Muse replies, “I’ve come this far. I have a boss.” Phillips responds sharply, “We all have bosses,” reminding the audience, or at least me, that just because the pirates were trapped in a shitty situation didn’t justify the fact that they’d stolen a ship and assaulted its captain.

Tom Hanks also carefully crafted his character as the heroic foil of Muse. As captain of the Maersk Alabama, even when Muse claims, “I’m the Captain now,” he must stay level-headed.

This is a hostage movie that falters a little in pacing but succeeds overall because of its character development. Phillips and Muse are an enthralling duo as warring captains trying to stay alive and stay in control of their crew, and they make the long run time worth sticking out.

Favorite quote:
Phillips: “We all have bosses.”

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Rating: 5 out of 5 

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Cast & Credit Info
Top billed cast: Tom Hanks and Barkhad Abdi. Directed by Paul Greengrass. Written by Billy Ray, Stephan Talty, and Richard Phillips. Run time 134 minutes. PG-13. English.

Thor: The Dark World

I’m a sucker for a super hero movie: hot people in latex, epic one-liners, and super powers! Lucky for me, they seem to be 89% of what the Hollywood machine is churning out for the foreseeable future. Since 2007, just the ones that I went to see included these gems: Fantastic Four: Silver Surfer (regret that one), Iron Man 1, 2, & 3, Thor 1 & 2, Wanted, The Incredible Hulk, The Dark Knight, X-Men: First Class (SO GOOD), Green Lantern (meh), Captain America, The Avengers, The Amazing Spiderman, The Dark Knight Rises, Man of Steel, and The Wolverine. It was wonderful. And there’s a whole bunch more.

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I saw the first Thor a couple months after Iron Man 2 back in 2011. My expectations were high, and I was ready for some banter à la Tony Stark. Unfortunately, the majority of the movie is devoted to back story. Worth $12? Nope. Thor 2, however, goes the opposite way of most sequels. That is to say, it doesn’t suck!

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Basic Plot Synopsis: There’s this uber-powerful dark magic, see, called Aether. Malekith (Christopher Eccleston), elf Lord guy of the Dark Elves, wants to possess the Aether in order to cover the universe in darkness. Which, side note, is a pretty stupid M.O. Thor’s grandfather attacks the planet, kills everybody, and seizes the Aether, locking it away in a stone column. Malekith and a few others secretly escape into space and into suspended animation. Hundreds of years later, he awakens when the Aether is released from its prison! Malekith & Co. lay siege to Asgard in an attempt to retrieve the Aether, and it’s up to Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and the newly jail-broken Loki (Tom Hiddleston) to save the day. Jane (Natalie Portman) and the gang – her intern Darcy (Kat Dennings), her intern’s intern Ian (Jonathan Howard), and Erik (Stellan Skarsgard) – are also there to “help.”

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My take: The snappy dialogue that was nonexistent in the first film abounds! Loki snarks about everything, Darcy provides blunt words of wisdom as only she can, and she even has a hapless sidekick in the form of Ian The Intern. The abrupt scene cuts hone in on the perfect amount of comedic timing, making everybody’s jokes that much funnier.

The filmmakers had a riotfest with the portals between worlds aspect of the story. Some of the funniest scenes in the movie were at the end during Malekith and Thor’s inter-dimensional fight sequence, zooming in between worlds with Mario-warp-tunnel speed. Scientifically speaking yea sure it was eye-roll worthy, but the whole stretch was so tongue-in-cheek it was priceless! Jane and Thor’s relationship, although not the focus of the movie, has enough scenes to make it believable and “awww”-inducing. The real focus, at least to me, is the damaged brotherly love between Thor and Loki. Scenes that explored their relationship vary from hilarious to heart-breaking, and everybody in the audience with siblings can relate. Minus the world-domination, throne-mongering, and trying to actually kill each other bits.

Best quote:
Loki: I think you missed a column.
Thor: Shut up!

Final Rating: 5 out of 5 Thor Hammers!
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Cast/Credit Info:
Top billed: Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Tom Hiddleston
Directed by Alan Taylor & James Gunn, and written by Christoper Yost & Christopher Markus. English. 2013. Running Time: 112 minutes. PG-13.

 

Desktop Pollito

I’m bringing this one back, y’all.

Behold, a desktop version of El Pollito that you can have for your very own! The file is 2000px x 1350px, so it should fit most standard desktop backgrounds.

Ah, those lovable, giant eyeballs.

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Movie Review: The Wolverine

When I was at home last weekend, Dad and I went to see The Wolverine. For those wondering, it’s a safe movie to watch with a parent sitting next to you. There’s a ton of Jean Grey cleavage, but no explicit sex scenes. This one time, my dad got The Ugly Truth in the mail from Netflix with the reasonable assumption that it was a Katherine Heigl movie, so it should be pretty vanilla, right? So, so incredibly wrong. Thank god I’d already seen it in theaters because it’s de-he-hefinitely not a father/daughter movie.

Logan (Hugh Jackman) has given up being The Wolverine and begins the movie in Geico caveman mode. He’s an immortal with nothing left to live for, so he communes with CGI bears, drinks, and sleeps moodily outside in the rain. Enter the best part of the movie: YUKIO. The fiery-haired ninjette with killer bangs is portrayed by super-model-turned-actress Rila Fukushima. Yukio has been sent by her master, whose relationship to Logan is explained in a Nagasaki World War II flashback, to request Logan’s last respects before his death. Logan has turned moping into an art form and doesn’t want to travel to Tokyo, but Yukio is too awesome to resist, so he caves.

Upon his arrival in Tokyo, Logan learns that his dying friend Yashida (Hal Yamanouchi) and his beguiling doctor (Svetlana Khodchenkova) have discovered a way to end his curse of immortality. He also meets Yashida’s grand-daughter Mariko (the beautiful Tao Okamoto) and predictably pins her as a future lady love and damsel in distress. Doesn’t help that she tries to throw herself off a balcony minutes after meeting him.

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A combination of factors (thin white dress in the rain, Bambi eyes, suicidal) made me fear that Mariko’s character development was going off the balcony with her, but lo! I was wrong, and she gets just as much important screen time as Yukio. Mariko is the target of the Yakuza, or the Japanese mob, and Logan is enlisted to protect her. When the Yakuza strike, Logan’s injuries mysteriously refuse to heal, and the danger suddenly becomes a lot more permanent.

The premise, the location, and the acting were all very enjoyable, but several questionable one-liners killed it for me. Unless you’re my grandfather, it is not okay to constantly refer to somebody as “Princess” instead of their actual name. There were also way too many plot lines all occurring at the same time. For example, the random snake lady character. What?

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I went to the movie for Hugh Jackman, and he did a great job, so I left happy. I also discovered Rila Fukushima! Can’t wait to see where her Hollywood career goes! Favorite quote of the movie:

*metal detectors beeping*
Logan: Hip replacement.

Final rating: 2 out of 4 dog tags.
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Cast/Credit Info:
Top billed: Hugh Jackman, Tao Okamoto, Rila Fukushima
Directed by James Mangold, and written by Mark Bomback & Scott Frank. English. 2013. Running Time: 126 minutes. PG-13. 

Weekend: Music In Review

Mo (author of Punk Rocky) recced a catchy tune from Lorde called “Tennis Court!”

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Lorde, at just 16 (!!!), was discovered by Universal at a New Zealand school talent show when she was 13. I certainly couldn’t tell that she was so young; she has an air of maturity about her. Her vamped purple lipstick is pretty kickin’ too. Her other big single “Royals” is equally as toe-tapping, so check them both out:   

Royals | Lorde

 

Tennis Court | Lorde

 

Rogue Wave also has a new song out called “College” that came up as a suggested song on Youtube. But, enough of the song recs; my next blog post will be a movie review of The Wolverine! 

 

New Music Friday

I’ve been reliably informed that Tuesday is an off day for song recs. Good news is, now I can hop aboard the #newmusicfriday train!

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TBH I’m still listening to all the Washed Out songs that are available on Spotify, but I’ll pick a new song for variety’s sake. Another artist I’ve recently discovered is Daughter. I guess if I had to classify them into a genre, I’d say indie soul? Terrible with the music classifications.

Edit: Looked it up: the band is classified as Indie Folk! According to Wikipedia at least.

Anyways, the lead singer did a cover of Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky” that’s AMAZING:

Get Lucky (Daft Punk cover) | Daughter

So what have y’all been listening to? Pick one song that you’ve been jamming to this week, and I’ll illustrate it and upload them all tomorrow!

Pacific Rim Movie Review

As soon as I saw that Idris Elba was going to star in an upcoming movie, I was geared up to go see it. Elba plays the lead in this BBC show Luther that’s just fantastic. If I really admire an actor, I like to go and support their movies. I saw the epically confusing Tinker, Tailor, Solider, Spy in theaters for Benedict Cumberbatch, and he did a damn good job with his 8 lines. Then, I discovered what Pacific Rim was going to be about.

We’re all grown-ups here, or at least we all know how to hide our inner kid-dom, so let’s be honest. The last two installments of the Transformers series ruined the mecha genre for me (Update: there’s going to be a 4th. There is no hope.) When I first watched the trailer for Pacific Rim and saw that a large majority of the movie was going to be weaponized refrigerators dueling rabid dinosaurs, I was pretty bummed.

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BUT. Yes, there’s a but. Luckily for me since I was going to see it anyways, Pacific Rim packs a lot of heart along with a heavy dose of giant robot. The movie begins with an alien invasion. These creatures, called the Kaiju, are not from outer space, and they’re not winning any beauty contests as they emerge from the depths of the ocean. Kaijus destroy city after city until man figures out a way to stop them. So, Man builds piloted robots, or Jaegers. Since the robots demand so much of their Daft-Punk styled pilots, the burden is shared by two people who brain-share. One person’s left brain melds with the robot and the other uses the right brain. The Jaeger strategy works until the Kaiju begin to adapt; suddenly, the Earth’s days are back to being numbered.

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Idris Elba plays Marshall Stacker Pentecost, head dude of all of the Jaegers. He sports a permanent no-nonsense expression that encourages respect from assistant Mako Mori (Rinko Kikuchi) and typical let’s-poke-the-bear insolence from our hero Raleigh Becket (Charlie Hunnam). Even still, you never doubt their loyalty to the idea that Stacker Pentecost knows best; Idris Elba creates a rock-solid, empathetic yet stoic character that everyone turns to for guidance.

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It was a nice change to see a butt-kicking, blue-haired lady steal scenes from the boys, but Mako Mori was the only female character in the entire movie to have any substantial lines much less character development. There was one other Russian lady pilot who had maybe 6 words of a line, and that was it. The job of a pilot in the movie’s universe is physically demanding, so I guess I can sympathize with the argument that there would thus be less female pilots. However, there is no excuse why there wouldn’t be a lady scientist, Kaiju specialist, Marshall, Jaeger engineer, something! I question how Guillermo del Toro read through this entire movie’s script without realizing that there was at least a hundred male roles and maybe 2 roles for women. Surely that would be pretty obvious.

Here’s one of my favorite quotes from the movie:

Advisor guy: Suits and ties, suits of lies, that’s all they are Marshall.
Marshall: We don’t need them.

EPIC.

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Final rating: 3 1/2 out of 4 Bucket Helmets

Cast/Credit Info:
Top billed: Charlie Hunnam, Diego Klattenhoff, Idris Elba, Rinko Kikuchi
Directed by Guillermo del Toro, and written by Travis Beacham & Guillermo del Toro. English. 2013. Running Time: 131 minutes. PG-13. 

Follow-up Wednesday

I went through a ridiculous amount of fun ‘W’ words and finally just gave up. Maybe the creative juices will be flowing better next Wednesday, we shall see.

Anyways, hooray for new music 🙂

Julia recommended I check out Wye Oak’s song Civilian. I really liked this style of their sound. It’s more upbeat than the stuff I’m used to by them. Aaaand there was some sick tambourine action going on in the background! Here’s what my brain was doing while I was listening to this song:

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Jeffrey recommended that I listen to another one of Washed Out’s songs, called Eyes Be Closed. I kept thinking that this would make epic roll-down-you-windows driving music. The music video I watched also had a girl on a motorcycle, and I want to one day be a girl with a motorcycle, so I related. Here’s what my inner self was up to while listening to this song:

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Awesome suggestions! Now, I’m off to further stalk anything Washed Out’s ever made.