Thursday, 26 June 2014

The Thin White Dude's Reviews - X-Men: Days Of Future Past

Directed by: Bryan Singer

Produced by: Lauren Shuler Donner
Bryan Singer
Simon Kinberg
Hutch Parker

Screenplay by: Simon Kinberg

Story by: Jane Goldman
Simon Kinberg
Matthew Vaughan

Based on: Days Of Future Past by Chris Claremont and John Byrne

Starring: Hugh Jackman
James McAvoy
Michael Fassbender
Jennifer Lawrence
Halle Berry
Anna Paquin
Ellen Page
Peter Dinklage
Ian McKellen
Patrick Stewart

Music by: John Ottman

Cinematography by: Newton Thomas Sigel

Editing by: John Ottman

Studio(s): 20th Century Fox
Marvel Entertainment
Bad Hat Harry Productions
The Donners' Company
TSG Entertainment

Distributed by: 20th Century Fox

Release date(s): May 22, 2014 (United Kingdom)
May 23, 2014 (United States)

Running time: 131 minutes

Country(s): United Kingdom
United States

Language: English

Production budget: $200 million

Box-office revenue (as of publication): $696, 479, 891

Aloha folks, me again! I've a couple of days off after a long, hard five days worth at Download Festival over at Donington Park. It was a wild, crazy ride, between the twelve hours travel each way, lack of sleep due to sleeping in a tent during the day, what with this fantastic weather we've been having reducing my temporary abode into an atmospherically humid and sweaty mess, lack of nutrition (being vegetarian, I was told in a polite manner that I was on my own where food was concerned. Incidentally, ShowSec, if your briefing documents say, in print, that I'm entitled to two hot meals a day, don't give me five food vouchers for the week because we night-shift staff don't require the same standards as those on days, or so you think!), etc etc. However, me and my good colleagues made the most of it, got on with our jobs and did it rather well, if I do say so myself. Compliments were abound from our supers and I was quite happy knowing that in my work I didn't just confirm people's prejudices regarding security staff just being burly assholes who like to get heavy-handed and, in my own small way, added to the general atmosphere of joviality and celebration. Now that I'm back, as I said, I've a couple of days off before I head to Body And Soul Festival, so I think a review is in due order. So, for all the latest and greatest regarding the movies, and for the occasional update vis a vis the highs and lows of working as a zero hours contractor in private security, keep your eyes posted!

Today's film up for review is X-Men: Days Of Future Past, the seventh instalment in the X-Men film series. I was eight or nine when the first X-Men film came out, and while I have seen it since and would argue that although it ain't chopped liver, it's still pretty good, and as a kid I was completely taken away by it. To me then and now, it captured in many senses the essence of what a good comic book movie is meant to be. The series reached it's high point with the sequel X2, a marvellously handled work of watertight characterisation with a cast delivering all-round quality performances and paying off on the great spectacle that was teased in the first. Brett Ratner's X-Men: The Last Stand was resplendent with action, but aside from the Jean Grey/Dark Phoenix angle lacked the key link to the character's we had from the first two. After that we had the first Wolverine spinoff, which was decent and had a strong foil in Liev Schreiber's Victor Creed, but was otherwise underwhelming, and when Matthew Vaughan picked up the helm with First Class, that's when things started getting interesting again. An energetic feast of pulpish vivacity, First Class is for my money the most immediately entertaining origin story that we've had over the past five or six years. Another Wolverine movie later (which I confess I haven't seen) and we've come now to Days Of Future Past. This movie got a lot of hype, with a huge marketing campaign focused on the fact that it follows loosely the eponymous X-Men storyline involving time travel between a dystopian future and the 1970s, meaning that the casts of both the original films and the newer 'First Class' guard will share screen time, but also that the director of the first two instalments Bryan Singer is making his directorial return to the franchise. So, story goes that in the future, robots known as Sentinels hunt and exterminate mutants and humans that possess the genes which potential mutant offspring, a sort-of retroactive abortion (wink wink!). A band of mutants evade the Sentinels, and Kitty Pryde (Ellen Page) has developed the ability to project a person's consciousness back in time. As such, with the help of Professor Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart) and Magneto (Ian McKellen), a plan is hatched to send Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) back to the year 1973 to bring together the younger Xavier (James McAvoy) and Magneto (Michael Fassbender) so as to prevent Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) from assassinating Bolivar Trask (Peter Dinklage), for this event leads to her capture and thus her DNA is used to give the Sentinels their near-invincibility in adapting to any mutant power and is thus responsible for their reign of terror down the line. Got it? Good!

(Preemptory apologies as well if I sound like I lack my usual aplomb and enthusiasm. It seems like Blogger went as done it again, deleting about four or five hundred words of my material. As such, this review from here will be a slightly condensed version of what you would normally expect from yours truly.)

Starting off with the good about X-Men: Days Of Future Past, I have to compliment the ensemble cast, but single out specifically four performances which I have deemed noteworthy. Hugh Jackman is always a pleasure as Wolverine, and even though there isn't much meaty character things for him to explore this time, he acts as a solid cypher and marker-point for the audience to follow. Also strong is Peter Dinklage in the part of Bolivar Trask. He brings a gravitas to the part and also makes it clear that even though he is the film's closest thing to an antagonist, Trask isn't to be simply defined as a villain, but rather blinded by his self-righteousness. Also, since First Class the character of Mystique has been allocated an interesting story arc, and Jennifer Lawrence is more than worthy of being at the fore, carrying much of the dramatic tension of the film with Raven's moral quandaries while being capable of cold-hearted venom and violence. The foremost performance in the film, though, and the central driving force of Days Of Future Past is the terrific lead performance by James McAvoy. His Charles Xavier here is a soul haunted by his own doubts, insecurities and inability to live up to his own expectations. McAvoy makes you believe in Xavier's existential crisis of identity, and to see it unfold over the course of this picture is at times genuinely harrowing. The much publicised dialogue between McAvoy and Patrick Stewart's older Xavier is a moment of real transcendence. I've been a fan of James McAvoy since 2006's The Last King Of Scotland, a film for which Forest Whitaker got much of the critical attention for his portrayal of Idi Amin, but I think McAvoy deserved as many plaudits. However, it does seem in the past year, what with Filth (for which he, along with Chiwetel Ejiofor, won Best Male Actor in a Leading Role from yours truly), Trance, this and the upcoming The Disappearance Of Eleanor Rigby, it seems that McAvoy has truly come of age. One of things of the other aspects that is praiseworthy about Days Of Future Past, at risk sounding like I am blanketing many departments under one net, but the overall standard of quality control on the production is great. The visual effects are highly imaginative, and it is also nice to see effects that are specifically science-fiction and have no qualms about whether or not it fits into 'the real world,' something which a lot of films are preoccupied with these days. Also, the mise-en-scene, from the standpoints of production design and costumes, is an example not only of money well spent that is up there on the screen, but also that quality prevails where there is good hard grafting, that time and effort are ultimately what wins out. Also, Days Of Future Past is a technically astute film. Not to dismiss the work done by cinematographer Newton Thomas Sigel's team on the Arri Alexa cameras, which looks terrific, but I do have to make particular note of the editing by John Ottman. There is an immaculate sense of timing in the way that Ottman manages keep the audience (well, me anyway!) fully up to speed with two alternating storylines going on at once. Not only that though, it's the seamlessness with which it interacts both with the visual effects and the spirit of the story. The visual effects thanks to Ottman never look out of place and exist as part of the fabric of the film's diegesis. Also, it's little things that add up here. There's a scene in which Wolverine suffers the equivalent of temporal turbulence during a fight scene and jolts momentarily out of the 1970s and back into the future. It's a jarring but highly effective piece of work that lasts all of maybe thirty seconds (probably shorter because of my own sense of urgency), but the two jumps, from past to future and future to past back again are examples of fine montage. Also, although he has always been involved in the franchise even in the smallest shape or form, the return of Bryan Singer to the directorial helm is more than welcome. Out of all the people who have worked on this film franchise in it's fifteen-year existence, it is he who has that key understanding and empathy towards the subject matter, the thematic content, and how best to translate the comics to the big screen. He is a filmmaker of real tact too when it comes to the all the tangible elements, and for the most part, he is able to keep everything in control, delivering a highly satisfying piece of blockbuster entertainment.

As you can perhaps gather, I rather liked Days Of Future Past and had a lot of time for it. However, even though admittedly I went into it excited as the big summer movie I was most looking forward to seeing, even though it's a great movie, by no means is it perfect. Everyone who reads this blog must be sick and tired of me writing the same schtick every time, but to me it still rings true, all faults that emerge from a film come from it's very foundations and that foundation is in the script. Jane Goldman, Simon Kinberg and Matthew Vaughan came up with the story on this one, but the screenplay itself was a solo venture for Kinberg, and frankly their presence or that of another screenwriter shows that in this department the film is lacking. It isn't a bad screenplay, it's just that there are two problems emerging from it that could've easily been plugged: the first of these is that with so many characters, some taking centre stage, other just part of the wallpaper, it lacks the balance another screenwriter might have brought to the table; secondly, it lacks the energy, wit and vivacity that Goldman and Vaughan brought to First Class, the denser exploration of thematic content brought when Singer was a writer for the franchise or even the structural strength of David Hayter's work. That would have been okay if there was something unique, something different, something distinguishing Days Of Future Past from the rest of the franchise apart from time travel as a plot point, but there isn't anything new or distinctive. As I said, it's not bad work, but Kinberg's screenplay is a significant dent the overall tapestry.

So, while I have numerous reservations regarding the film's screenplay by Simon Kinberg, my overall experience and critique of X-Men: Days Of Future Past is largely positive. I thought that the cast, particularly Hugh Jackman, Peter Dinklage, Jennifer Lawrence and (most especially) James McAvoy were on fine form, the overall level of quality control on the production in most regards was of a very high standard. Also, it was a technically astute film, particularly with regards to the editing from John Ottman, and Bryan Singer's return to the directorial helm is more than welcome. Overall, a very enjoyable action-packed experience.

The Thin White Dude's Prognosis - 8.0/10

The Thin White Dude's Self-Diagnosis - Pickled (so not only do I have Sea Sessions tomorrow, but also Wireless Festival and T In The Park in the next couple of weeks. Mad busy Summer I tell yis!)

P.S. I would also like to take the time to make my colleague Shawn, who just lost his grandmother, the dedicatee for this review. As someone who is extremely close to my extended family, but especially my own grandmother, I can only imagine the grief and sorrow that comes with such a loss. If there's anyone among my audience who would like to leave a comment giving Shawn well-wishes in this time of emotional trial, please by all means feel free. This one's for you, big man.

Friday, 6 June 2014

The Thin White Dude's Reviews - Blended

Directed by: Frank Coraci

Produced by: Adam Sandler
Jack Giarraputo
Mike Karz

Screenplay by: Clare Sera
Ivan Menchell

Starring: Adam Sandler
Drew Barrymore

Music by: Rupert Gregson-Williams

Cinematography by: Julio Macat

Editing by: Tom Costain

Studio(s): Happy Madison 
Gulfstream Pictures
Karz Entertainment

Distributed by: Warner Bros. Pictures

Release date(s): May 23, 2014 (United States and United Kingdom)

Running time: 117 minutes

Country: United States

Language: English

Production budget: $40 million

Box-office revenue (as of publication): $33, 840, 706

I've got myself slightly ahead for a change vis a vis the moviegoing side of things and not only do I have this up for review, but there will be one for X-Men: Days Of Future Past up in the next few days. I plan on seeing at least one more before I go over to work at Download Festival on Wednesday, but I'm not making any guarantees as I only yesterday got booked in for twelve-hour shift on Saturday (the joys of zero-hours contracting and the short notice that comes with it!), which also means I can't go to tomorrow's Anti-Racisim rally at Belfast City Hall, which I'd urge anyone in the Belfast area to attend. Anywho, for all the latest and greatest regarding the movies, along with the occasional gripe about work, politics and what have you, keep your eyes posted!

And now, today's movie up for review is Blended, the latest movie from Adam Sandler's production company Happy Madison, starring himself and Drew Barrymore in their third collaborative effort together in rom-coms after The Wedding Singer and 50 First Dates. For those of you who don't follow this blog regularly, I'll fill you in on a bit of context between me and Monsieur Sandler. While I was a fan of his work in the nineties like Billy Madison, Happy Gilmore and Big Daddy, he done a load of rubbish and then came to Funny People, Judd Apatow's two-and-a-half hour comedic drama in which Sandler seemed to be riffing himself, saying "screw that, I'm done with all the nonsense." After that film, which don't forget is now five years ago, in numerous capacities he has been a part of some of the worst movies of the past half-decade. Indeed, he is credited as writer, producer and lead actor on Jack & Jill and Grown Ups 2, both of which have led to his not insignificant involvement in the dubiously honoured Ed Wood Worst Film Of The Year award for the past two successive years (2012 and 2013) from yours truly. With Blended coming out and having read some of the reviews in the press for this film, I was bracing myself for more of the same negativity, to the point where I was putting my foot down and saying "if Adam Sandler stinks up again, he's going in the Hall of Shame." Over seven years, only three inductees have made it there (Michael Bay and Jason Friedberg & Aaron Seltzer), but it has gotten to the point with Sandler where I am fed up of seeing this guy who is and can be funny choose to put out such baloney. Right well, there's the context. A bit long-winded, yes, but that's how strongly I feel about this. Plot synopsis; single parents Jim Friedman (Adam Sandler) and Lauren Reynolds (Drew Barrymore) have a terrible blind date. Jim's boss Dick (Dan Patrick), who is dating Lauren's work colleague Jen (Wendi McClendon-Covey), are planning a trip to Africa, but she has anxieties about going on holiday with his children, so, with their trip cancelled, Jim and Lauren, unbeknownst of the other's activities, wrangle their way into heading to Africa in the place of their respective contacts, so the two families (Jim's three girls and Lauren's two boys) are thrown together, hilarity ensues and maybe there is a mutual attraction growing between the parents. Shall we see?

As I mentioned in the context, this has a lot riding on it given my chequered history with Adam Sandler productions, but I have to say in all fairness this was not by any means the absolute stinker I was expected. In fact, I think I'd have to go so for as to say it was a decent film, and I'll explain to you why I think it was. The first thing that is worthy to note about the film is the chemistry between Sandler and Drew Barrymore. They are exactly the right age to play their parts, and seem to use their own experience as parents to bring some sense of legitimacy to the part. Not only is there a sense of sincerity to the characters that you don't often find in Sandler's films, but they also do a fine job of engaging in dialogues over the humorous trials and tribulations that come with parenting. While I wouldn't say this is by any means an outrageously funny film, I did find myself chuckling on a number of occasions and genuinely charmed by the earnestness of the story. There is none of the mean-spirited nonsense that we're so used to that usually ends up going back on itself into hypocritically saying "there's more to life than fat jokes." It's a sweetly-toned movie that actually seems to try and tell a story about people of a certain age, parents and the things that happen over the course of a lifetime (the characters actually have a good level of density in terms of their backgrounds). As is to be expected with a film shot in Africa, it is a movie that looks the part. Some of that is down to the cinematographer by Julio Macat no doubt, but I think also the scenery and flora and fauna of the location in Sun City has a lot to with that. It's a welcome change to have a Sandler movie displaced into another country, as opposed to the 'misfits of suburbia' that is normally employed. The location shooting looks goods, but we also get the sense that they're going to some degree to make an effort to structure these comic set-pieces, and to be frank they are way more entertaining than you might expect them to be. Conclusively, it's the second-best Adam Sandler movie of the past five years (falling short of the grossly overlooked That's My Boy), but I suppose that isn't saying much.

Now, I did find a number of things to enjoy about Blended, most of all being perhaps that there were things at all to enjoy in an Adam Sandler movie of late. However, there are a number of things which deny Blended from being up there as a great or even a good movie. For starters, while I think that the script here is a lot better in terms of it's respect for characters and people as a whole, the plot still moves in ways which are wholly predictable and to be expected. There isn't really altogether much of a sense of dramatic tension, even if we care for the characters. Recently, I've been watching through Krzysztof Kieslowski's Dekalog, and for every episode, the key to the dramatic tension seems to be that Kieslowski and co-writer Krzysztof Piesiewicz withdraw part of the plot from the audience, so that there is a sense of a mystery to be uncovered and that we have a lack of knowledge of the bigger picture, getting it piece by piece as it goes along. Blended, as with most films, seem to make their audiences know too much, merely confirming their expectations. Incidentally, lots of people are getting cross about the depiction of Africans, but I think to get angry about something like this is to give it more credit than it deserves. It's not actively xenophobic or racist (unlike a certain Pastor and First Minster here in Northern Ireland!), but rather just a stupid inclusion. Terry Crews can do as many pec dances and pelvic thrusts as he pleases, it's still hard to get out of my head the moronic qualities of a hotel manager who in the course of dangerous driving on a quad bike causes an elderly woman to crash into a tree, dismissing it with a shrug of his shoulders going "my bad," and believe me, I make that sound funnier than it is! Also, what Adam Sandler movie couldn't be without the Aural-Nauseator General himself, Rupert Gregson-Williams. I founded the EHO Award for Worst Film Score/Soundtrack two years ago, and he has won it both successive years for the previously mentioned Jack & Jill and Grown Ups 2. Even he gets off easy here, but his work's still bland as all hell.

I'm sure that this review and it's relative degree of positivity comes as a surprise to some of you. Indeed, the movie came as something of a surprise to me. The last film I reviewed was A Million Ways To Die In The West, and while I would say that that movie tried to do something different, Blended was more consistently entertaining and therefore deserves a better rating. Don't get me wrong, it ain't chopped liver, as they say (I say as they say because for someone who doesn't eat meat it'd be rich to use the analogy as though I know what I'm talking about). It's highly predictable and murder-by-numbers, with plenty of stupid jokes and a bland score from Rupert-Gregson Williams. However, there is strong chemistry between Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore (who I really wish was in more movies these days), who do a fine job at playing their characters, who on the written page are also more than just cyphers, exploring the trials and tribulations that come with parenting. Also, the displacement to Africa from the suburbia we're used to with these films is a welcome change. In conclusion, Blended is by no means the greatest thing since sliced bread, but it's a decent enough, sincere comedy that's worth taking a chance on.

The Thin White Dude's Prognosis - 5.7/10

The Thin White Dude's Self-Diagnosis - Hungry (for food)

P.S. My respect goes out to the memory of the courage of those who seventy years ago today on June 6th, 1944 were involved in the Normandy landings. Your sacrifice is duly noted.

P.P.S. How did Blended cost $40 million and Grown Ups 2 cost $80 million? Much of this is set in a fancy resort/hotel in South Africa and Grown Ups seems to be mostly shot in Adam Sandler's house!

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

The Thin White Dude's Reviews - A Million Ways To Die In The West

Directed by: Seth MacFarlane

Produced by: Seth MacFarlane
Scott Stuber
Jason Clark

Screenplay by: Seth MacFarlane
Alec Sulkin
Wellesley Wild

Starring: Seth MacFarlane
Charlize Theron
Amanda Seyfried
Neil Patrick Harris
Giovanni Ribisi 
Sarah Silverman
Liam Neeson

Narrated by: Rex Linn

Music by: Joel McNeely

Cinematography by: Michael Barrett

Editing by: Jeff Freeman

Studio(s): Media Rights Capital
Fuzzy Door Productions
Bluegrass Films

Distributed by: Universal Pictures

Release date: May 30, 2014 (United States and United Kingdom)

Running time: 116 minutes

Country: United States

Language: English

Production budget: $40 million

Box-office revenue (as of publication): $30, 589, 875

Aloha there, still haven't gotten to see X-Men: Days Of Future Past (typical of me, eh?), but with most of the week off work, I imagine I shall be getting to see it at some point. Also, there's a glut of new releases in the past week or so, such as Maleficent, Edge Of Tomorrow and Blended, so keep an eye out for more reviews to be posted. On another topic, I would like to make mention that I just finished the video game L.A. Noire, a game whose development has been followed by the taint of a development cycle not dissimilar to that of Francis Ford Coppola's Apocalypse Now, only this project took longer, but with the collective efforts of Brendan McNamara's Team Bondi and Rockstar produced a work of a quality akin to Coppola's 1979 masterwork. So, for all the latest and greatest in the movies (and more), keep your eyes posted!

Today's film up for review is A Million Ways To Die In The West, the second live-action film "from the guy who brought you Ted," Seth MacFarlane. Incidentally, that's something I've disliked for a long time in the marketing of contemporary comedies, "from the guy" or "guys," as though to say "hey, they're bros, they're lads, they're a bunch of innocuous dudes who like to talk about boobs just like a rest of us (you're not fooling me!)." Anyway, I'm fond Seth MacFarlane, who after Family Guy and American Dad, made a successful transition into the film world with said Ted, a raucous hoot of a comedy. The basis for this film emerged from a joke between MacFarlane and writers Alec Sulkin and Wellesley Wild, "riffing on the idea of how dull, depressing and dangerous it must have been to live in the Wild West." Okay, so, synopsis time: it's 1882, Arizona, and Albert Stark (Seth MacFarlane), a sheep farmer who turns down any confrontation that comes his way, is down on his luck when his girlfriend Louise (Amanda Seyfried) leaves him for a wealthy businessman by the name of Foy (Neil Patrick Harris), who earns his bread running a 'moustachery.' Enter the notorious outlaw Clinch Leatherwood (Liam Neeson), whose band of outlaws split into two camps on his orders, with his wife Anna Barnes (Charlize Theron) heading to the town of Old Stump in which the film is set. In the wake of his breakup with Louise, Albert becomes good friends with Anna, who sets to restoring his confidence before a prospective duel with Foy. Got it? Good!

Starting off with what's done right here, I have to compliment MacFarlane to some extent. He is quite clearly a man of ideas trying to something original while also making a sort-of throwback/homage to the western genre. It's full of genuinely interesting references beyond name-recognition value of the Friedberg and Seltzer variety, and is obviously a well-researched movie done by someone who clearly has a passion for what he is doing. Speaking of ideas, from a conceptual standpoint it works well, given that most westerns made in the past ten-fifteen years are uber-serious or at the very least steeped in melancholia. The fact that someone has tried take this from a comedic standpoint is initially refreshing. Also, the knack for dialogue that MacFarlane and co-writers Alec Sulkin and Wellesley Wild bring to the table does lead for a couple of gags. MacFarlane must be well-liked within the acting community, because he has managed to bring together a cast that on names alone ring credibility. You've got the likes of Charlize Theron and Liam Neeson pulling together decent performances, and comedic stalwarts Neil Patrick Harris, Sarah Silverman and Giovanni Ribisi do their best to sink their teeth into their characters. The final thing I'd like to say that's good about it that it is well shot by cinematographer Michael Barrett, who has given the picture a nice crisp sheen that is easy on the eyes.

I hope that doesn't sound like I was just writing filler, trying to find things that I liked about the film. It's just that while I would say that there are things I admired about, for the most part I found it a problematic and dull experience as a film. As mentioned, I like Seth MacFarlane, but A Million Ways To Die In The West is a misfire on several fronts. Firstly, the film doesn't seem to extend beyond the parameters of it's base concept. I can deal with loose and simplistic narratives, but here there isn't much in the way of development whatsoever. We've seen these characters many's a time before, and the story itself doesn't move in any direction that would lead me to stay overly engaged. Even with the dialogue, the film's 'strongpoint,' it gets incredibly repetitious, with all oddities and eccentricities being explained off with lame recycled statements along the lines of "oh well, it's the West, this is how things happen." Secondly, MacFarlane's live-action debut as an actor failed to convince me. From a visual standpoint he doesn't fit into the film, in that it's like someone has photoshopped him into a photograph of 1880's Arizona. Also, his onscreen persona comes across as something between a Jimmy Stewart everyman and the awkward, mildly eccentric berk with a couple of neuroses that Woody Allen successfully portrayed for years, but MacFarlane doesn't do either right. His Average Joe comes across as forced and wooden, and the Funny Guy stuff, mixed the dialogue on the page, comes across too much as just a couple of musings and observations. This might have worked for a stand-up gig, but there is no additional clarity to tie this into film's story in any way. Incidentally, Amanda Seyfried is wasted in a part that could have just been written in for any pretty face and not an actor as talented as she is. Another thing that I didn't like about the film was the music. Yes, this is the first appearance of the Emotional Heartstrings Orchestra in 2014, but I think the use of the term is rather fitting in this case. Composer Joel McNeely has worked on MacFarlane's American Dad! and a glut of Disney direct-to-DVD productions, but has also conducted re-recordings of the works of Bernard Herrmann, Franz Waxman and John Barry, so he's a composer in the same vein as MacFarlane is as a director, someone who respects the achievements of those before him. However, McNeely's throwback score is not so much a parody in that it ends becoming a parody of itself, with the histrionics that the film is full of sounding wholly ridiculous and over the top at various points. Then it has the gall to underscore the histrionics with the most saccharine and artificial "feel music," conveying rather bluntly to the audience the message that "this is where you're supposed to feel for the characters" and I'm going "nope!" 

Don't get me wrong, I don't think that A Million Ways To Die In The West is all bad. Indeed, I don't even think it can be called a 'bad movie.' I do think that there are things to admire in the movie, such as the fact that Seth MacFarlane and co do at least have a couple of bright ideas and are trying to something different than much of the contemporary generic dribble we get subjected to under the name of 'comedy.' It also features a game cast delivering (for the most part) decent performances which, though hardly a notch on their belts, aren't something to be embarrassed with, and it is a well-shot movie by Michael Barrett. A Million Ways To Die In The West is however a misfire on the part of Seth MacFarlane. He fails to light the screen on fire with a second-rate Average Joe/Jimmy Stewart by way of Neurotic Jabbering Baboon/Woody Allen act, and the script by he, Sulkin and Wild, though conceptually strong, has does not follow through on the base ideas, only for a couple of stand-up gags or faint amusement while draped over a barstool on a pint or few. Amanda Seyfried is wasted and Joel McNeely's score, instead of elevating the film, ends up undercutting and becoming a self-parody of the whole thing. Not a bad movie, but a poor misfire.

The Thin White Dude's Prognosis - 4.4/10

The Thin White Dude's Self-Diagnosis - Sweet