Tom Basham

Archive for May, 2015|Monthly archive page

Aloha

In This Just OUT on May 30, 2015 at 1:35 pm

Aloha-POSTER“Aloha” means hello and goodbye, and that it’s time to see the new Cameron Crowe (“We Bought a Zoo”) movie. I love this guy, but his movies lately are like a box of chocolates – you never know what you are going to get.

Brian Gilcrest (Bradley Cooper from “American Sniper“) is heading back to Hawaii. He was a big man before he left 12 years ago and then flamed out in the Air Force. He now works for a private firm that is putting a rocket into space. Gilcrest has plenty of old friends in Hawaii, including his ex-girlfriend Tracy (Rachel McAdams from “About Time”), who is married with two kids now.

The Air Force assigns Captain Allison Ng (Emma Stone from “Magic in the Moonlight”) to be his liaison and make sure he doesn’t get into trouble. She is such a cute captain, and you can see the triangle forming. In fact, you can see all kinds of plot lines forming as Crowe works a little too hard to set up the angles and the angst of every character.

The Gilcrest character is a familiar Crowe prototype. A former golden boy with battle scars in search of redemption. Cooper fills these shoes well as he battles the loyalty between his women and his obligations to his company and his country. While Emma Stone plays the Renee Zellweger (“Jerry McGuire”) part well, she’s more misty-eyed than militarized.

The plot of the movie comes off like a James Bond spoof and provides more of a distraction than interesting action. This is all pumped up by some great character actor cameos, but this is not Crowe’s strength. That he thinks he needs these kinds of over the top elements in his movies, like the shoe thing in “Elizabethtown,” makes me worry about his confidence or willingness to bend to studio influence. His earlier movies were just about people, or a guy who wanted to spend the summer with a girl. These small movies were about big things, and the fate of the world was not at stake.

I liked this movie, and I cared about the leads and their story at the core of this film. I just wish he had more faith in that story and spent less time on quirky character types and colossal catastrophes. I still like seeing an adult drama without superheroes that gives me a warm feeling in the end. For that I will give this movie 3 1/2 stars out of 5. There’s always a chance the next time there will be something more to Crowe about.

Tom Basham is an indie filmmaker. Here is a link to his movie review site:
 https://bashmovies.wordpress.com

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Tomorrowland

In This Just OUT on May 24, 2015 at 8:49 pm

tomorrowland_poster“Tomorrowland” is here – today, in theaters and at a Disney theme park near some of you. Just take a hard left at the next inter-dimensional portal.

Casey Newton (Britt Robertson from “The Longest Ride”) is a bright young girl whose father is a NASA scientist. She is trying to save the world, and she feels like she is all alone, until she gets this little pin. When she touches it she is transported to another place where anything is possible. It seems really cool until the thing runs out of batteries. When she tries to fix it, Athena (Raffey Cassidy from “Snow White and the Huntsman”) shows up to help. Athena gave her the pin, hoping she was the one who could save the world. She takes Casey to Frank (George Clooney from “Gravity“), the last person she thought could save the world.

It’s been decades since Frank was exiled from Tomorrowland, and it takes some convincing for him to believe again that anything is possible and that anyone can make a difference.

Damon Lindelof’s (“World War Z”) script is a little derivative, but he is mining magical movie lore of the past to assemble this futuristic ride. There were times when I felt like I was back in the ‘70s eating my bowl of ice cream and listening to Walt tell us about what we were going to see. But the future is not what it was, and therein lies the challenge for Casey.

This is a good family film with plenty of action and excitement. The theme is as simple and sweet as my childhood, especially when compared to the harsh reality of our evolutionary tendencies.

I was bothered by the first 20 minutes of backstory, which I realize now was not for me, but for the ones now eating their bowl of ice cream, looking wide-eyed at the screen and trying to figure out what it all means. They get to find out, just like I did, that one blonde girl with gumption can change everything. Trust me, if you put your faith in her, your future is going to be amazing.

I can’t recall the last PG movie I saw that was not animated, though with Brad Bird (“Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol”) in the driver’s seat, I was happy when the ride finally arrived at Tomorrowland. For that I will give this movie 4 stars out of 5. You had better get to tomorrow today, while it is still here.

Tom Basham is an indie filmmaker. Here is a link to his movie review site:
 https://bashmovies.wordpress.com

Ex Machina

In This Just OUT on May 3, 2015 at 7:46 pm

ExMachina-PosterI have just seen “Ex Machina” and now I am scared to death of my microwave. Look, she started it, with all her custom popcorn settings and automatically changing the clock for daylight savings time.

Caleb (Domhnall Gleeson from “About Time”) is a delightful young man who wins the ultimate prize: a week with the eccentric owner of Blueprint, the top search engine in the world. When he finally gets to the remote subterranean compound and meets Nathan (Oscar Isaac from “Inside Llewyn Davis“), he is a little freaked out. Instead of a week of geek talk and just hanging out, Nathan wants him to conduct the Turing Test on his new Artificial Intelligent robot. This is where Caleb gets to ask it lots of questions and see if he can tell if it’s a machine or just like the girls he meets on Long Island.

Caleb is a brilliant programmer himself, and when he first meets Ava (Alicia Vikander from “Son of a Gun”) he tries to break down her response algorithms. This is something I usually try on the third date. Caleb is a nerd with just the right mix of boyish charm and computer aptitude to match wits with both Nathan and Ava, but soon he has to decide which one to trust. And he must figure out who and what is really being tested.

I was impressed by writer/director Alex Garland (“Sunshine”) and how he elevated this classic sci-fi setup while keeping some of the familiar touchstones. The connection to “Blade Runner” is obvious and perfectly updated, as Caleb knows Ava is a machine from the beginning. This reminded me most of the old Star Trek episode “Mudd’s Women,” which first appeared in 1966. While keeping the sex appeal of that episode, Garland has chosen to humanize the robot experience in a very simple and unique way. In then end, we are amazed and horrified at the same time – the way I used to be around the fourth date.

I found the movie to be quite intriguing and enjoyable. While there were some cool special effects, they only served the character and servo-driven drama. What some movies try to do with hundreds of people and robots on a massive scale, this movie did with just a few “people” in a few rooms. For that, I must give this movie 4 stars out of 5. Now I want to dig out my old Erector set and get to work.

Tom Basham is an indie filmmaker. Here is a link to his movie review site:
 https://bashmovies.wordpress.com