The Brothers Bloom

I went to this movie after being assured by my friend David that I had seen trailers for it and consented to watching with him.  I had a free ticket and nothing better to do, so I indulged him and went.  This being said, I went in to this movie not remembering what it was about or knowing anything about the directors and actors.

To sum it up in a few words without giving too much away, it’s a story of con artist brothers, starting with their first con and leading up to their biggest and final job to lead them into retirement from the criminal world.  The younger brother is an ever-reluctant party to the older’s schemes, and they get mixed up with an eccentric millionaire’s heiress.

The best way to describe The Brothers Bloom is a quirky, slightly artsy high-brow comedy.  It reminds me somewhat of Ocean’s 11 (I only saw the remake) between the content and iconic character types.  The movie was very enjoyable up until about the hour and 30 mark, where I felt it could have ended and I would have been satisfied.  Instead, it goes a bit further at a slow, and predictable pace where the movie concludes in what to me felt like a very cliché and expected end.

Even with a weak ending, it was a good watch overall.  The brothers had a great chemistry, and Rachel Weisz gave a great performance as Penelope, the isolated, quirky millionaire who gets wrapped up in their last adventure, unaware she’s the mark they’re conning out of millions.  However, I felt the best character overall was Bang Bang, the “Silent Bob” sidekick of the Brothers Bloom.  The movie could be watched focused solely on her and you’d enjoy yourself.  While not a central character, she serves as an easter egg in each scene, usually doing something completely random and unexpected to draw slight attention to her.

My advice: If you have 2 hours to spare and enjoy plot-driven, non-vulgar comedies with a bit of action, this is a good watch.  Not completely necessary to watch in a theater, but if you plan on watching elsewhere, make sure you can pay attention or you’ll lose yourself to the con as well.

Almost Famous: Bootleg Edition

Every director hopes to have that one film that defines who they are and is the legacy/foundation upon which their career is judged:

  • Coppola – Godfather
  • Lucas – Star Wars
  • Spielberg – ET
  • Zemeckis – Back to the Future
  • Hitchcock – Psycho

For Cameron Crowe, that film is Almost Famous.  AF is based on Crowe’s experiences as a teenager and a writer for Rolling Stone.  The story follows William, who goes on tour with a band on the verge of making it and falls for a girl who serves as a muse and a guide to growing up.  Given Crowe’s feelings on the subject matter, you feel a heart and a life to this movie that hasn’t existed in his other movies, even Jerry Maguire.  Watching it, you are William and you feel his pain.  Of course, the music is outstanding and the visuals are good.  Kate Hudson was nominated for the Best Supporting Actress Oscar with her role as Penny Lane in this movie, which could easily have been about her versus William.

The Bootleg DVD set contains an extended cut of the movie which adds more background – I liked the inclusion of the scenes.  All of Crowe’s Rolling Stone articles can be found here, as well as many deleted scenes and concert footage.  Much like the original movie, this set was a labor of love.

My advice:  This is almost a must-have in any DVD collection – a fine movie and a fine DVD set release…

The Godfather Trilogy

I know – it seems a bit foolish to write a review about this set of films, so this entry will be brief.

While people love the first two movies, most were disappointed with the third one.  While I agree that it is the weakest of the three movies, it is still a powerful entry in this saga.  The weakest part of the movie is Sofia Coppola’s attempt to play the part of Michael Corleone’s daughter.  While not the worst performance, it was noticeably bad with all of the acting firepower on-screen.

The set I have on DVD was a 5-disc set that had Coppola’s heart and soul poured into it.  The movies looked beautiful and sounded great in 5.1.  The 5th disc had the stitch scenes used to recut the first two movies into the chronological-order miniseries aired on ABC in 1978.  The family tree showing how all of the characters relate is a cool graphic.

My advice: Is this really an offer you can refuse? Because once the Don has been refused one request, he doesn’t make a second one…

Lego Batman

On the Lego Indiana Jones game, there was a trailer for the next Lego game, Lego Batman.  Just like the trailer promised, Gotham falls to pieces in this fun-filled romp through Gotham and Batman’s Rogues Gallery.  By now, game controls are very fluid and the humor is still there.  As with the other games, there are three main story arcs, with two villains as the main ones.  The first thing I noticed was the music.  Tt uses the scores developed by Danny Elfman for Batman (1989) and Batman Returns (1992).  The second thing was the use of secondary characters – sure, Joker, Penguin and Riddler were there; but to include Killer Moth, Clayface, and Man-Bat?  Genius.

The sneaky thing that Tt did with the story arcs is that they are all adapted from the four movies released between 1989 and 1997.  The cool thing about this is that it is not a rehash of the movies, which most would like to forget.  Rather, the elements help create a backdrop to paint a new story on and influence certain character abilities or puzzles.  I also liked the ability to use Batman, Robin, Nightwing, and Batgirl – that enhances the replayability of the game.  Tt was also smart to create a cross-promotion with McDonald’s where the toys had codes to unlock certain characters in the game.

The one feature that blew me away was the ability to switch between being the good guys and the bad guys.  Here, the creators had the bad guy levels intertwine with the good guy levels creating a 12-level arc instead of the 6-level we had been accustomed to.

This was released for PS2, PS3, Xbox 360, and PC – I played it on the PS2.

My advice:  This is the strongest of the four games with its fleshed-out world and ability to be good or bad.  You can not go wrong playing this game.

Lego Indiana Jones

Proving that lightning can strike the same place multiple times as you have a good product, Tt Games treated us to a new entry in its Lego games with the release of Lego Indiana Jones (timed to come out with the movie).  The game only covers the original three Indy adventures – none of the fourth movie appears in this game.  Game controls were continued to be refined by the programmer while not sacrificing the humor that we love.  In all of the entries, the humor is done in the style of old cartoons – all physical and no dialog.  The bonus levels include the opening scene of Last Crusade with Young Indy, and a room where you collect one million pieces within the shortest time possible.  The create-a-character feature is there, as well as all of the other features.   Look for 6 Star Wars scenes scattered throughout the game – if you find them, you unlock Han Solo as a character to use in this game.

This game was released on PS2, PS3, Xbox 360, and PC – I played the PS2 version.

My advice:  Really? You know I loved it and you will too – watch out for snakes…