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Tuesday: Dream House

Dream House is one of the worst movies to come out in 2011, avoid this one.

Dream House
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The film Dream House has quite a few talented people involved. Director Jim Sheridan is a six-time Oscar nominee. After it was taken out of his hands and was heavily edited, Sheridan requested for his name to be taken off of the final product. Even two big name stars in the film, Daniel Craig and Rachel Weisz, stuck by his side. This all by itself should prove that this would not turn out very well. This is the exact reason why I avoided Dream House like the plague when it was released in theaters. Daniel Craig, Rachel Weisz, and Naomi Watts are very talented actors and Jim Sheridan is a skillful director, although this was sure to be a misfire. Even the theatrical trailer had me scratching my head since it clearly states the mid-movie twist, which sort of eliminates any desire to check it out. To put it simply, this is one of the worst movies of 2011. I'm surprised that I didn't turn this one off halfway through, but I stuck through it.

Will Atenton is a successful businessman who forsakes New York City for the rural pleasures of New England. He soon discovers that the tranquil abode he's moved into was the scene of an as-ye-unsolved multiple homicide. Drawn reluctantly into the mystery surrounding the tragic events, Will and his wife soon begin finding plenty of reasons to worry about their own safety. Even direct-to-video disasters can't quite prepare you for this one. The way that this story unfolds, I wouldn't be surprised to hear that Director Sheridan didn't have any say in the matter. Dream House begins and flows just like any poorly written, predictable, and dull flick. However, once the obvious 'twists' start being revealed, the movie goes even more downhill from there. None of the buildup to these revelations are even satisfactory. A lot of the dialogue comes across as very lazy as if it was all taken word-for-word from the first draft. To be honest, this one is a bit difficult to classify under a specific genre. This certainly isn't a horror film. It isn't thrilling enough to be a thriller and the mystery was all taken out by the trailer, leaving us with a flick where every turn is known. All of the characters are one-dimensional and our leading role won't draw an ounce of sympathy from the audience. Everything in this movie feels so disconnected that it appears as if a tornado hit this movie and none of the producers tried to genuinely put this one together in order to make something of value. What we ultimately have is an absolute disaster of a script. My solution to have solved this issue would have been to burn the script in the beginning.

Not only do we have a very well-known and talented director, but also a very famous and skillful cast. Daniel Craig plays Will Atenton. He has proven to be a solid actor in movies such as Casino Royale and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011). All of the passion that we're so used to seeing him utilize in his roles is absolutely absent here. Naomi Watts performs as Will's neighbor and friend. Both her character and the performance feel like such a waste of space. I'm a fan of Academy Award-winner Rachel Weisz, but she also suffers here for the same reason as Craig and Watts. All three of these actors are fantastic in other films, but this is just an utter uninspired mess. However, the cast didn't have much to work with due to the fact that the script is such garbage. It's such a shame that this cast couldn't have starred in something worth our time. I would like to see them all together in a movie with a well-written screenplay. I have a feeling that they could really create something special if they were given the correct material.

The visuals are about as thrilling as the story itself. There are a few cheap scares as it attempts to make us jump. However, none of them are effective. There was a grand opportunity to create a genuinely eerie house, instead we have an average home that appears very average. There's some digital effects during the house's transformation, as shown in the trailer, that's very iffy. Even thought he script is junk, I would have expected for some strong visuals. These are nowhere to be found. If you get terrified by a tree branch hitting a window, then be prepared to be scared out of your seat. The audio transfer is decent. While it isn't reference quality, it certainly works. We hear every horrible word of dialogue with a lot of clarity. The subwoofer and surround speakers become heavily active towards the end of the movie. Otherwise, the movie primarily uses the center speaker for dialogue and doesn't move around too much. The audio track doesn't disappoint.

After witnessing this disaster, I can see why Director Jim Sheridan would want his name removed from this version of the film. Even the actors kept themselves away from this movie. After all, I don't see who would be proud of such trash. Some critics all The Thing (2011) a horrible film? I wasn't very pleased with that prequel, but Dream House makes that movie fantastic by comparison. This contains a very uninspired story with very disappointing twists. There's so much talent involved here, but it's destroyed by the script and the final editing. I heard how horrible this movie is, although my curiosity got the best of me as I wanted to see just how bad it really was. Well, it's just as bad as everybody is saying it is. Dream House is one of the worst movies to come out in 2011, avoid this one.

My Rating = One Star

Next movie: Metropolis

Thursday: Metropolis

Metropolis is a must-see for all audiences and is highly recommended.

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When viewing older films, they are generally relevant to society in some way, shape or form. Events that have occurred at that time greatly influenced the work of the filmmakers. In 1927, the silent masterpiece known as Metropolis would continue to be relevant in society even in 2012. Unfortunately, a lot of the footage was lost and an incomplete version was released. However, in the summer of 2008, a 16mm negative version of the uncut film was found. More than 25 minutes have been added into Metropolis, although there are still some missing pieces. To replace these spots, the screen goes to black and title cards explain what occurs during those lost sequences. It's delightful that modern audiences are now able to view one of the most iconic films of the silent era.

In the year 2026, when the populace is divided between workers who must live underground and the wealthy, who enjoy a futuristic city of splendor, a man from the upper class abandons his privileged life to join oppressed workers in a revolt. Metropolis deserves much more attention in modern society than it currently possesses. While there isn't any dialogue since this is a silent film, the story is exceptional. It's straight-forward, but it kept me engrossed from start to finish. It's strange how a lot of aspects of this society aren't so different from the year 2012. Despite the fact that this film isn't exactly short, the time spent watching this is definitely worth it. One could depict Metropolis for hours. It has so many themes and inspiration gathered from society that it should most certainly be shown in film schools all around the world. This is a gripping piece of filmmaking that has gotten only stronger with the restored footage. A lot of movies that have a bit of a longer running time are filled with a lot of filler. This fortunately isn't the case with Metropolis. Every minute oozes with originality. The characters and his or her role in society is rather interesting. By the time the ending approached, I found myself overwhelmed as I didn't expect anything to this caliber. I don't know very much about the actors, so I will not be giving that a dedicated portion of this review. However, the acting is solid. They're all equally convincing and perform marvelously with the expressions and displaying his or her character without the use of dialogue.

Currently, audiences have movies such as Avatar to drop jaws from how much money it took to make it to the ultimate outcome of the brilliant visuals. Metropolis is the most expensive movie of its time. For this period, these visuals are top notch. The cinematography is outstanding and all of the visuals overall are extraordinary. The camera work is great and the machine utilized for this movie has become a symbol for not only the movie itself, but has even taken its place in modern society by influencing many modern filmmakers. A lot of the restored prints did have a little bit of damage to them, which is why there are so many scratches and the picture goes a bit soft. However, the bulk of the film was remastered very well. For a movie made so many years ago, it still looks absolutely incredible. To add to that, the audio is spectacular as well. The orchestral score is truly memorable. The visuals here are much better than an average moviegoer would expect.

It's a bit difficult to make Metropolis overrated. It's a masterpiece of the silent film era. A lot of motion pictures that have been released ever since have traces of Metropolis. Whether it be visually or according to the story, this movie has changed filmmaking forever. Thanks for the restoration team, audiences are able to see this brilliant movie with 25 minutes of missing footage. There are so many references to society, one can dissect this one for quite a while. Not only does this film stand as one of the greatest silent movies of all time, but also one of the science fiction features as well. I'm a big fan of silent film, but this took me by surprise. I thought that it was being simply overrated. I was absolutely incorrect with thinking that. Metropolis is a must-see for all audiences and is highly recommended.

My Rating = Five Stars

Next movie: Like Crazy

Saturday: Like Crazy

See this with no expectations and you just might find yourself quite invested in this romantic drama.

Like Crazy
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Each year, there are a bunch of films that are released after appearing in the Sundance Film Festival. A lot of buzz, whether it be positive or negative, is spread after the movies have been shown within the festival. I have never personally attended one of the events planned by Sundance, although movie studios release them under their distribution months, sometimes even a year later. The feature film Like Crazy won the Grand Jury Dramatic Prize. This is most certainly a large honor. Paramount Pictures picked up the distribution rites and have finally released it to Blu-ray and DVD. Most of my readers are probably a little bit surprised that I was actually excited to check this one out due to the fact that I am not generally a fan of romantic dramas. In fact, I never even watched the trailer. I read the synopsis and heard a lot of positive hype surrounding it. Every long once in a while, I find romantic dramas or comedies that really stand out in their genres. I was hoping to find a gem out of Like Crazy, as so many other viewers did. Upon its release to other moviegoers, it received mixed reviews. If you've seen other Sundance romantic dramas, many of them are strikingly similar when it comes to their styles, which is what many people were complaining about. This didn't affect my desire to see the movie and get my own opinion on it.

American Jacob and British Anna meet and fall madly in love at college in Los Angeles, but must make their relationship work long distance when Anna returns to London. With an ocean between them, their trust is tested, forcing them to confront the idea that their love may be impermanent. Can it survive again the odds? We've seen this story a million times. Whether it be in big romance flicks or independent films, this story has appeared time and time again. Like Crazy doesn't do very much to break the mold when it comes to the plot. It's a straight forward 'boy meets girl' story with many issues in their path of happiness together. They are in different countries and Anna isn't able to return to the United States because she spent the summer with him, overstaying her student visa. They're forced to try to make it work through a long distance relationship. Soon enough, they're both dealing with other love interests. However, it's quite clear that neither of them are interested in the other people. They continue to be drawn back together through text messages and phone calls. What could have made Like Crazy go from good to great is to actually extend the running time. I would have liked to see more scenes of Jacob and Anna getting to know each other in order to give us an even more genuine relationship. I would have also liked to see more detail put into when Anna and Jacob aren't together while they have other love interests. Jacob's temporary love interest, Sam, is a character I certainly would have liked to get to know better. This is a rather short film that seems to rush over some portions a bit. Fortunately, the dialogue is well-written and believable. Some of the situations are sure to irritate some audiences, but the characters are infectious. Sure, this story starts off as being a simple and predictable flick. However, it evolves to become just as complicated as love. The ending is sure to cause some controversy with some viewers. We aren't necessarily given a definite ending and we are left to piece it together ourselves with the information given. I personally didn't find this to be an issue, in fact, I thought it fit with the tone of the rest of the picture.

Along with a decent script is a fantastic group of performances. Anton Yelchin was born to play the role of Jacob. He fits the character to the point where I couldn't imagine another actor starring here. He's very believable from start to finish. Felicity Jones is phenomenal as Anna. She's extremely authentic and delivers on everything from the dialogue to making the audience truly care about her. Jennifer Lawrence has a small supporting role here. She plays Jacob's love interest while Anna and Jacob are separated. While she isn't in the movie for very long, she does a fantastic job here. There's one emotional sequence she has that certainly leaves a mark on the audience that makes the scene feel so realistic. These three actors are incredible in Like Crazy. Without such marvelous casting, this movie could have been a mess. Not only do they fit the characters, but each person truly gives his or her role an incredible amount of depth. The acting is the strongest element of Like Crazy. While watching this, audiences won't feel like they are watching actors. It feels all too genuine.

Even with the mixed reviews, I enjoyed Like Crazy. This isn't a perfect film and there definitely are some serious flaws. However, it's an intimate romantic drama that will remain to be memorable to me. The script is well-written, for the most part, although I would have liked to see the filmmakers take more time to explore the 'honeymoon' portion of Anna and Jacob's relationship as well as the time they're apart with other people. These are two elements that simply felt missing. The acting is powerful, to say the least. This is one thing that many other romantic dramas with this concept don't have. The great acting is what sells the genuine relationship between Jacob and Anna. Both Anton Yelchin and Felicity Jones are impressive and even Jennifer Lawrence does a sparkling job in a supporting role, even though I would have liked to see her get more screen time. Those who have been interested in checking this out should get his or her own opinion. Don't be swayed by good or bad reviews. See this with no expectations and you just might find yourself quite invested in this romantic drama. Like Crazy is imperfect as it certainly has its flaws, although it's still worth seeing.

My Rating = Three and One Half Stars

Next movie: Amadeus