Holiday Movies: What Made Me Hit the Theater for Holidays 2011 & Review!!

I don’t know what made mid-2010 to 12/2011 the year & a half of movies, but I have seen a slew of movies– most of them award nominees and winners. The award season for 2012 will be astonishing in what wins or doesn’t win. There’s a few things I haven’t seen yet — but mostly because those specific movies are in limited distribution (1-3 theaters in Los Angeles makes it hard to see!)

However over this holiday period there were a several movies launched and I saw my share of them.
Here are four that I saw and my comments on them. If you saw them, I would love to know your input. Also I will be doing a podcast series with Janet P.Lanet about the current crop of award nominees and obviously some of these same movies – if not all– will be discussed.

Hugo

This was marketed as a family movie and most people seemed to have thought it meant kid-fare and that’s so far from the truh of what this movie is about. While the movie is based on the book The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick

The book’s plotline:

Orphan, clock keeper, and thief, Hugo lives in the walls of a busy Paris train station, where his survival depends on secrets and anonymity. But when his world suddenly interlocks with an eccentric, bookish girl and a bitter old man who runs a toy booth in the station, Hugo’s undercover life, and his most precious secret, are put in jeopardy. A cryptic drawing, a treasured notebook, a stolen key, a mechanical man, and a hidden message from Hugo’s dead father form the backbone of this intricate, tender, and spellbinding mystery.

This is one amazing movie for those who realize that the child within is still alive. For those who want something more from a movie, this will provide a lot about for those who really want to see something with a philosophical bent that shows despite major disappointments in one’s personal or professional life, one can ressurect those hopes, dreams and goals that they sought to accomplish or create. It’s a movie with a great deal of actiing “magic” . The cast is exceptional and include Ben Kingsley and Sasha Baron Cohen (playing against his usual type) alongn with two pre-teens who are genuine in their depth and not out of touch with the reality of who they are and who their characters are. This was a movie that I had watched in trailers and Martin Scorcese creates magical stories– this one just happens to involve children.
Catch it in theaters ASAP because while it’s scheduled for DVD, this is better on the big screen.

Sherlock Holmes:A Game of Shadows:

Robert Downey Jr and Jude Law revisit these characters with the second of what is going to be a longer thread of movies spun off by the triumverate of Downey/Law/Ritchie!. This episode picks up pretty much where the other one left off but then there are some gaps where the history is filled in a bit as the plot and movie unfold. While I liked Sherlock Holmes 1, I was a bit disappointed because it seemed to be a light on the plot and heavy on action.

Sherlock Holmes 2 has a more substantial plot while maintaining the action – which evolves directly from the plot line! Better writer? Who knows. I do like the ‘bromance’ aspect of the relationship between Law & Downey. Noomi Rapace– her English is excellent– is a great foil and brings some serious thought and weight to her role which could have just been a throw-away. However thankfully Rapace plays this role with a depth that shows that her actiing is just getting so much better.

Is this a film for everyone? Not likely. I absolutely had to see it because I am 1) a Sherlock Holmes fan since I was a kid and 2) I wanted to see what they did with the sequel. It’s better than the first film. It’s a popcorn flick– go have a box of popcorn, a soda and enjoy being somewhere else for a while. Don’t ask for anything more from this flick. However what Ritchie put out there and Downey & Law give to their roles is infinitely fun and definitely a thrill ride!
The ending is amazing!!

If you weren’t impressed with the first Sherlock Holmes, then you might want to see this on DVD!

Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol
It’s been a long time since we saw Tom Cruise reprise his role as Ethan Hunt, leader of the IMF. What’s interesting is what’s missing in this installment. Ving Rhames isn’t there and the wife of Ethan Hunt (remember her?) she’s not there either– there is some indication that she’s been killed. The team is implicated in a mission gone wrong when the Kremlin is bombed. The Secretary of State gives Hunt a mission but during the car ride , the car is ambushed and the SoS is killed along with his aide. Hunt gets word that the President has disavowed all knowledge and Ghost Protocal has been invoked. In other words, IMF is on their own.


Featuring Paula Patton, Simon Pegg (REALLY sharp as a tack in this role) and Jeremy Renner (as the outsider on board for this misson), this starts out as a “business as usual” mission but soon turns out to be anything but. If you don’t like Tom Cruise or thought the MI3 was a waste (it was), this might not be the movie for you– however this one has a twist since Renner plays (quite well too.. I was thinking he was a mole) an outsider to the IMF and was sent in because he had necessary information.

If you like Tom Cruise or the MI series, this is a very good movie to see. The plot is deftly handled and has layers and layers of twists– which keeps you interested. It is a popcorn movie PLUS (meaning you really don’t know when to run to the restroom). Now that the crowds have thinned out, this will be easy to see. I saw it within the first week and went VERY early to a show to have a good seat. (smart move on my part.) I liked it. I found Cruise had regained some of his balance as an actor and definitely pulled off a great number of stunts. The trick for Cruise is can he build and continue his momentum from this movie. (Everyone else in it was great. Simon Pegg was a real trip!). There is secret reveal at the end- so don’t leave early!

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
I have to preface this review in that I saw the complete trilogy in Swedish in theaters. I read all three books and watched the movies on DVD starring Noomi Rapace. So there’s quite the bar to meet because I liked the original series a lot and didn’t quite think that the US version would make the grade. This is not the same movie. This has the same plot but the characters and which ones are emphasized and how true it was to the book (it’s not as much as the original movie in spots) and how close it is to the original movie (close in some parts, very different in others. There is a lot of nudity and it’s handled differently from the original)

My take on this movie is that the title of the film and the names of most of the characters play out just as they did in the original film and are relatively true to the book. There are people missing in this movie — particularly Miriam who was seen only once in the film– and others who weren’t seen in the original movie (Lisbeth’s guardian) that were featured to show off Lisbet Salander’s humanity– which is too often masked and tucked away. Rooney Mara’s Lisbeth is more opaque than Noomi Rapace’s Lisbeth. Where Rapace’s character’s eyes were windows to her soul, Mara’s were blank and her anger was cold, frozen and rock solid. She didn’t flare– like the book or the original movie did. The interaction with the characters seen in the original is entirely missing on the periphery yet those characters gave dimension to the story.

However if you consider this as a different movie, then it’s really well done. It’s just not the same movie except for some sequences. I think that the acting was well done. Daniel Craig’s role seemed more to be a foil except where he was thinking about the mystery while in the midst of having sex with Lisbeth and she had to stop him from talking.

Interesting movie but the thing I liked the least was the opening title sequence. So reminiscent of a James Bond sequence, extremely dark and having ZERO to do with illustrating the movie, it was harsh and the music was grating. I really didn’t like it– and had I not seen/read the original film and books, I would have left at that point or been disengaged from this movie. NOT a good sign.
See this with extreme caution since the brutality is still there and very evident. It was a cruel movie in some ways and in other ways, easier to understand though if you don’t pay attention to what Lisbeth and Michael are doing, you will lose track of the plot threads.

If you have seen any of these movies, your “take” or reaction to them might be entirely different than mine. Let me know what you think.

Stevie Wilson,
LA-Story.com

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Author: Stevie Wilson

Digital and social media pioneer and disruptive innovator who has a passion for topics and conversations the reveal what So. California Lifestyle is . My blog: LA-Story.com appeals to a global audience (from Asia to Africa; Middle East to Europe, No. America to Latin America & more) in various topics (fashion; beauty; health & fitness; movies & music; food and spirits; IT Security + tech etc) Known for: podcasts and video conversations with notables about interesting products & brands; places that reflect the So. CA vision and special events (Oscars, Golden Globes, Emmys & more that reflect celebrity , athletes and home-town "stars" lifestyle and initiatives.) in podcasts & videos . Travel to learn what's hot in Los Angeles, NYC, MIami and stops closer to home that make this blog a must-read because my voice, authenticity and ability to grasp the essence of most sectors, brands & products make it easy for the online audience and consumers alike to learn what makes a brand, initiative or product unique - whether, food, fashion or finance (or any other topic "on the table") With 15+ Years online launching websites, online magazines, forums, products & brands, my voice, authenticity and ability to grasp the essence of most sectors, brands & products make it easy for me to share what the online audience and consumers alike want to learn- how to shop, live and reflect the lifestyle they Need to leverage digital and social media space? Reach out to me!

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