Thursday, May 31, 2012

Rango (Gore Verbinski, 2011) Review

We got an Oscar winner here, folks! Rango won itself the Academy Award for Best Animated Film. That's a good sign. It's been a while since Nickelodeon has made a good film so, with the director of Pirates of the Carribean taking the role of director, let's take a look at the animated western, Rango.

Rango (Johnny Depp) is a pet chameleon who has no experience of the outside world. After his tank is thrown from the back of his owner's car, Rango is left out in the middle of nowhere to fend for himself. He meets an Armadillo, Roadkill (Alfred Molina) who tells Rango about a town. He finds the town of Dirt, run by the Mayor Tortoise John (Ned Beaty). Dirt is in fear of a hawk that attacks the town regularly. After an attack with Rango around, Rango accidentally kills the hawk and wins the respect of Dirt. There are other characters along the way such as Beans (Isla Fisher) and Rattlesnake Jake (Bill Nighy)

It's safe to say the biggest appeal of Rango is the art style. Normally films about anthropomorphic animals have some kind of cartooney style. Rango ignores this and goes straight for a realistic style. All the animals shown are real animals (specific animals too) that rendered realistically. Sure it's weird at first and you may find yourself asking "What the hell is that thing?" but all in all, it looks good and it's a nice change of pace that differentiates itself from other animated films.

One of the winning aspects (yes, winning) is how it is clearly trying to bring back the western genre. The only film i've seen recently that is also trying to bring back westerns is the remake of True Grit. There are lots of Western tropes and conventions shown throughout including a shootout and a duel. By the end of the film it feels like a proper Western and that is what it is trying to be.

Rango just misses out on a perfect score because there are problems. What film doesn't? Rango's problems lie in some...unnessesary scenes. There are a lot of moments and scenes that just feel off and weren't particularly needed in the film.

Rango is a great animated film that actually deserved the Acadamy Award (although Puss In Boots and Kung Fu Panda 2 were excellent). It is by no means a kids film. Really. It isn't. That is one of the high points, how non-politically correct it is.

A well crafted animated film that really isn't for kids. That's a plus!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Brick (Rian Johnson, 2005) Review

Oh hey! An independent film! Didn't expect that did you? You probably haven't even heard of this film. If I'm not mistaken, Rian Johnson is set to do a new film which also stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt, the star of Brick, which is actually soundng good. Anyway, without further ado (or adieu...I hate grammar sometimes) let's take a look at Brick.

Brendan (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is a high school student whose presumed girlfriend Emily (Emilie de Ravin) is killed due to her involvement with a drug ring. In order to find out specifically what happened, Brendan, with the help of his only friend The Brain (Matt O'Leary) seeks out the drug ring leader The Pin (Lukas Haas) and his right hand man Tugger (Noah Fleiss). While working for The Pin, Brendan meets Laura (Nora Zehetner), not just the main love interest of the film but also the femme fatale.

I mentioned that Brendan is a high school student. This is only relevant as it could be used to identify the genre that this film is in. I would consider it a teen high-school neo-noire detective film. That's a mouthful, I know. Yes, a majority of it takes place in a high school but Brendan and The Brain are the only students that have a primary role. In addition to this, there is only one adult that actually does something and that's Assistant Vice Principal Truman who uses students to reveal information about each other (suddenly the name Truman doesn't seem so appropriate). The neo-noire side of the film is because Brendan is acting as a detective character in order to gather information about Emily.

Brick is not a film for everyone. I may have said it for other films but I really men it here. It's for a select audience really. Maybe this is the reason that it's an independent film rather than mainstream (other than the fact it isn't financed by a major corporation). It's full of violence, suspense, sexual references and it really isn't a comedy (I don't really know why you would expect it to be anyway. Look at the picture at the top. Does that look funny to you?!).

Joseph Gordon-Levitt does an excellent job playing Brendan. He definitely is not a hero. Not even close. He is portrayed as neutral or an anti-hero. He only does what he needs to do in order to get the information. He doesn't take sides, he only helps to be helped in return and doesn't plan on saving anyone. He only looks out for himself. Gordon-Levitt really captures this look of all the ideas I just listened. He comes off as a tortured soul.

Brick is an unconventional film that definitely is not for everyone's taste. While it has some excellent acting and a decent story, there are too many problems for a full recommendation such as how many enigma codes there are. I'm fine with some unanswered questions but here, there are just way too many. It hinders the film but it's by no means a terrible film.

It's interesting, sure, but that doesn't mean it's for everyone.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Sherlock Holmes: A Game Of Shadows (Guy Ritchie, 2011) Review

Wow. I honestly thought that the first Sherlock Holmes film was great. I didn't think it was possible to top it, after all, sequels are generally not as good as the firsts (Men In Black II is a good example of this) but here we are, a sequel better than the first! It took the first film and expanded on it, the writing is wittier and it has some great and memorable scenes.

After the events of the first film, Irene Adler (Rachel McAdams) goes to meet her master, Professor James Moriarty (Jared Harris) in order to provide more information about Sherlock Holmes (Robert Downey Jr.).  Dr. John Watson (Jude Law) goes to visit Holmes after Adler is 'let go' by Moriarty. Holmes as deciphered that Moriarty is the criminal mind behind all the recent crimes in London. The second half of the narrative is that Holmes and Watson are assisting Simza Heron (Noomi Rapace), a gypsy fortune teller, to find her brother Renee who is believed to have some connection to Moriarty's crimes. Holmes and Watson are also assisted by Holmes' brother Mycroft (Stephen Fry) and his connections.

If you recall my review of the first film, you would know that I praised Mark Strong for his role as Lord Blackwood but he is not featured in this film (for obvious reasons). In his place is Jared Harris in his role as Professor James Moriarty. Blackwood had the idea of obvious evil. One look and you can tell he is the villain. With Moriarty though, there is an unassuming look about him. The first scene that Holmes meets with Moriarty, he looks like a nice guy whose just doing his job (he's a lecturer by the way) and Jared Harris does a great job of creating this vision of Moriarty. Sherlock had Andrew Scott's completely insane, off the wall version of Moriarty which certainly was a surprise to see. It shows that Moriarty can have different interpretations and Harris definitely doesn't seem like a villain, and that's what makes him a great villain.

There is clearly chemistry between Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law which is shown through Holmes and Watson. I neglect to mention in my last review about the partnership between the two characters and how it's expressed. Similar to that of Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith in Men In Black, Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law work off each other exceedingly well, even more so in this sequel. The relationship between Holmes and Watson was the original bromance! Oh, and on the topic of Watson, seeing him drunk is hilarious. Okay random point over...

Actually, no, the random point is not over. I have to talk about the humour of this film. Sure, the first one was funny but this one is down right hilarious. The writing is much wittier and there are some great visual gags too. Whether it be a drunk Watson, Holmes' horse or "WHOSE BEEN DANCING ON MY CHEST?!". That was only scrapping the surface of the humour in this film. It is a funny film but it's full of juxtapositions. What do I mean? Well there are lots of tense or dark moments that have at least one line of dialogue or something else that actually makes you laugh and you're not so sure if you should be laughing or not. The perfect example is the scene where Moriarty is singing in German. I don't want to go too deep into it but his singing softens what is actually happening.

Sherlock Holmes:\A Game of Shadows is a perfect sequel to the excellent first instalment. The only problem I find is that it's only for those who have watched the first film. While there is little reference to the continuity, the reveal of Moriarty is excellent and considering how he was shown in the last film, it's great to see him properly and also the characters of Irene Adler and Lestrade (Eddie Marsan). I have almost nothing but praise for this. The acting is great, the casting is well done, the action is epic and is full of suspense that leads to hands down my favourite ending to a film ever.

It's bigger, funnier and better than the first. A tremendous film that could qualify for best adaptation of all time.

Also I didn't need to see Stephen Fry naked, thank you very much...

Monday, May 28, 2012

Sherlock Holmes (Guy Ritchie, 2009) Review

If ever there was an adaptation of a book I would consider the best, it would be this. You can keep your Harry Potter, I would go for Sherlock Holmes any day...everything to do with Holmes. The books, the films and the TV series. This film is no different. It is one of the best and most accurate adaptations of the franchise yet (tied with BBC's Sherlock in terms of accuracy) and it really shows that they did their research of the books. 

The narrative for this adaptation is that Lord Blackwood (Mark Strong) is arrested by Sherlock Holmes (Robert Downey Jr.) and his sidekick Dr. John Watson (Jude Law). Blackwood is sentenced to death for messing with the dark arts and hanged after a threat to Holmes. Days later, Holmes and Watson are informed that Blackwood is back from the dead and continuing with his dark arts and more. While on the case, Holmes almost meets his match against Irene Adler (Rachel McAdams). Adler is trying to seduce Holmes in order to get information about him for her master.

Like I said before, accuracy is the key to this film. In early television adaptations, Holmes is always portrayed as a gentleman, smoking on his pipe while wearing his deerstalker hat. If one were familiar with the books you would know that Holmes is actually a drug addicted, brawling sociopath (I believe Sherlock put it best: "I'm not a psychopath, I'm a high-functioning sociopath. Do your research"). Robert Downey Jr's Holmes perfectly portrays this idea and even goes above and beyond to bring out an accurate interpretation. Same goes for Jude Law's Watson which is also accurate.
Mark Strong is excellent as Lord Blackwood (who is made up by the way. Blackwood wasn't in any of the stories). He creates a really dark atmosphere wherever he is and the fact his emotion rarely changes really makes for a creepy villain. It's just a shame he was pushed aside by the villain in the sequel, but his replacement was still great (notice I didn't say his name? HA! Suspense). One could argue that he's too fictional to be a real person, but I say that it makes him an even better villain. I love villains that use brain over brawn. They are more interesting and three dimensional.
Sherlock Holmes is one of the most accurate adaptations I have even seen in a film. While the plot is made up and not derived from any stories (except a bit from Scandal in Bohemia), the characters used and how they are portrayed complete the idea of what a true Holmes adaptation should be. While people may be turned off by the dark atmosphere, I would recommend the watch the series Sherlock first as it can ease the audience into the accurate portrayal by Benedict Cumberbatch and then Robert Downey Jr.

An excellent adaptation that while it may not be for everyone, is a must see for Sherlock Holmes fans.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

The A-Team (Joe Carnahan, 2010) Review

Now, it's common for a TV series to wind up getting it's own movie several years after (20 years in this case) but are these movies better than the series they originate from? No. No they are not. To it's credit, The A-Team is a hard series to base one film on. Every episode there would be a different story. There was little to no continuity so the choice of narrative for this film was a good one. How does it hold up compared to the series? To an extent...

John 'Hannibal' Smith (Liam Neeson), Templeton 'Face' Peck (Bradley Cooper), H.M. 'Howling Mad' Murdock (Sharlto Copley) and B.A. 'Bad Attitude' Baracus (Quinton 'Rampage' Jackson) make up the A-Team, a team of mercenaries for hire and soldiers of fortune. The film begins with the origin of the team and how they all met (mostly with hilarious aftermaths) until jumping several years later to which we find that The A-Team are at the top in their military group (there's probably supposed to be some army jargon in there). After another successful mission they went on despite the advice given by their commanding officers, General Morrison (Gerald McRaney) is blown up in his Jeep. They are framed for the murder and arrested. Now their main objective is to break out, catch those who framed and clear their names.

One of the most significant changes in franchise is how different the characters are in the film in comparison to the TV series. Hannibal has gone from an elite strategist on the fly who was always smiling to a strategist with plans before they go in who rarely cracks a smile. Face is pretty much the same, except a bit less reserved. B.A. is identical, near enough. The biggest change in character is Murdock. Don't get me wrong, Sharlto Copley is great as Murdock but honestly, Dwight Schultz pulled him off better in the series (one could argue the entire original cast is better). He is simply crazy in this film. In the series he was completely insane, making use of inanimate objects (only done once in the film). These changes make the characters seem unlikable at times, well okay that was a bit harsh. What I meant to say was that they just aren't as good as they were in the series. Badass: yes. Likeable: not as much.

It's not all negative. There are good points. The high point being the solving of many enigma codes left from the series. Sure, there were hints to how the team met but there was no actual showing of the event...until now. We also get to see where Lynch (Patrick Wilson) came from and why he is after the team in the series. Again, there were hints but nothing else. The greatest enigma code solved is B.A's fearing of flying which is shown at the very start of the film due to a newly introduced Murdock and his way of flying (which includes barrel rolling a helicopter!).

The A-Team can only be summed up by saying that, if you are unfamiliar with the series then you may love this film but those who are fans of the series can enjoy it (like I did) but there is plenty to nitpick. Okay? Good but not great. It tries to pander to the nostalgia fans but deep down it's just another action comedy film (yeah, comedy. It's hilarious).

A fun, yet far-fetched movie that has a little too many problems to be a great film. Good but nothing special.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Men In Black III (Barry Sonnenfeld, 2012) Review

Well here it is, the third instalment of the MIB film franchise and what's the verdict? Men In Black III, congratulations! You are the best MIB film to date! Like many people, I was sceptical as the narrative seem to take away Tommy Lee Jones and many other great aspects of the MIB series (considering that it's set in 1969, this was to be expected) but it manages to pull through and deliver a great film.

The narrative for this one is that an alien criminal mastermind named Boris (Jermaine Clement) who breaks out of his prison on the moon after being locked up for 40 years. Upon escape, he swears revenge on the agent that put him in the prison, K. Meanwhile on Earth, J and K are going about their usual business while J tries to uncover why K is so stern (one of his best traits, sure, but there has to be a reason, right?). One night, K disappears and J enters the MIB building to find he has a new partner, no-one knows K and his new boss O (Emma Thompson) reveals K has been dead for 40 years. J realises that Boris went back in time in order to kill K before he can be arrested by K. Now J has to travel back in time to 1969 to stop Boris from killing K.

I can't continue this review until I address the highest point of this film, Josh Brolin as a young K. Man oh man did Brolin do a great job. He looks the part and manages to mimic Tommy Lee Jones' voice perfectly. I mentioned in the previous film reviews that the best parts were the interaction between Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith but considering Older K has a much smaller role, this is less common here but that isn't a problem as Brolin and Smith's interaction is still entertaining. Heck, even Will Smith and Bill Hader's interactions are hilarious.

One of the most surprising characters was the antagonist Boris. I had no prior knowledge of this character (I didn't even know what he looked like!) so he was great fun to watch. Much better than a giant cockroach or a bunch of plants. He actual was imposing and actual does make mental and physical impacts on J and K. If the Men In Black franchised finished with this film, it would be great to finish with Boris as the villain. Jermaine Clement is a natural born villain actor (he was great in Rio as the antagonist Nigel). Too bad he sounded like an evil Nigel Thornburry (surprised Tim Curry wasn't picked)

One of the most surprising aspects on Men In Black III was actually how emotional and heartwarming it was. There are lots of moments that capture some real emotion and it makes a real difference to the last film which was clearly in it just for the gags. This alone is one reason I love this film.  I am not swayed by big effects (even though the climax looked great!) but the actual heart that Men In Black III had is definitely a plus.

Men In Black III took a great franchise and fixed all the mistakes of the previous iterations. While lots of characters a pushed to the side (No Frank, two lines from the Worm Guys and no Zed (although that is justified)), new characters such as Andy Warhol (Bill Hader) are introduced but never seen again and there are still a few questions left unanswered, not just from this film but from the first two as well, it still holds up and presents the best of what the franchise has to offer.

What it lacks in Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith interaction it makes up with heartwarming moments and suspense.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Men In Black II (Barry Sonnenfeld, 2002) Review

It's true what they say, sequels just aren't as good. Sure, Men In Black II is more epic than the first but epic does not automatically mean that it's better, it just means it's grander. More aliens, more gadgets, more characters and more jokes.

The plot this time is that a villainous known as Serleena (Lara Flynn Boyle) who, with the assistance of her two-headed henchman Scrad (Johnny Knoxville), plots to steal the fabled Light of Zartha for...some generic villain excuse that I don't recall being mentioned. With Serleena's return, Zed of the MIB sends J out to find K and restore him back to the MIB (What? He was neuralised at the end of the first one. What do you mean spoiler? It's a sequel. Why are you reading a review to a sequel if you haven't seen the first one?!). This covers the first half of the film. The second half is trying to protect a witness of an alien crime, Laura (Rosario Dawson), yeah Laura and the first female lead was Laurel, very imaginative with their names aren't they, as well as rescuing the rest of MIB from Serleena's wrath.

One of the biggest changes is the ascended roles of certain characters. Frank the dog from the first film was originally a one scene wonder but is now one of the main characters, acting as K's temporary (and I mean temporary) replacement. Other ascended roles include the worm guys who help out K and J in the third act of the film. Some people may be turned off of this film due to the increase screen time of these characters as I can see them annoying certain audiences.

The biggest problem this film has for me is how sudden some of the plot points are. K's memory restoration in the first half has so sudden that people who weren't paying attention would be lost instantly. Luckily I re-watched this film recently and heard some dialogue which hints towards this but casual film viewers may be lost. There is a twist in the climax that is also revealed suddenly so, like K's restoration, casual viewers may miss the clues and therefore get lost in the narrative.

I said it in my review for Men In Black that the best part of the film was the interaction between Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith. The relationship between K and J is back and it is better than ever. It is definitely the highest point of the film franchise and it is at it's best in Men In Black II. By the looks of things, it will be absent in Men In Black III so I hope there will be other redeeming factors such as the humour. Speaking of which, Men In Black II is much funnier than the first which can be a good and a bad thing. The first film was taking things seriously with a few comedic twists but now it's turned into a parody of sorts. It's still funny though.

Men In Black II improves on a few thing from the first but there are more problems that it almost isn't worth it. One step forward, two steps back, that kind of thing. It can be compared to Ghostbusters 2 which, like this film, is inferior to the first but is still watchable.

While it's not as good as the first, it is funnier and there is some charm to it.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Men In Black (Barry Sonnenfeld, 1997) Review

With Men In Black III being released tomorrow, I think it was only appropriate to review the first two films of the franchise (Men In Black II will be reviewed tomorrow). For those not familiar with MIB, it is based on a Marvel Comics series and the films focus on two agents, Agent J (Will Smith) and Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones) who work for the Men In Black, an organisation with their mind set on extraterrestrial activity on Planet Earth.

This particular film begins with the introduction of Agent K and his MIB partner Agent D. After a run in with an illegal alien (the extraterrestrial kind, know what, forget it.), D decides to retire, leaving K without a partner. Enter James Edwards, an NYPD cop who, while trying to chase down a criminal, discovers an alien and delivers a warning to him about the end of the world. After his run in with the alien, he is contacted by the MIB and is hired by them to become Agent J, K's new partner. Meanwhile, an unnamed alien crash lands on Earth and, after taking over a human body (Vincent D'Onofrio), plots to take back "the galaxy on Orion's Belt" and leave Earth to be destroyed.

The high point for Men In Black is definitely the relationship between Agent J and Agent K. Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith bounce off each other surprisingly well and there is clearly excellent chemistry between them and their characters. Heck, even the other characters are great fun to watch such as the head of the MIB, Agent Zed (Rip Torn and yes it is pronounced Zed, not Zee. I have no idea why. DON'T ASK QUESTIONS) and also J's love interest Laurel (Linda Fiorentino). In fact even the antagonist Edger (y'know, that alien I mentioned earlier) is pretty entertaining.

One of the more interesting aspects of Men In Black is the design of most of the aliens and props. The different style of aliens and all the equipment and weapons that are available to the MIB all are inventive and look great. Of course, everyone remembers the mind eraser and everyone wants one but there is other equipment at the MIB's disposal including all the guns that they use, such as J's tiny yet powerful gun or even the huge bazooka's used in the climax (look up slightly, the picture tells all).

All in all, The first Men In Black film is a very entertaining film that suffers some bad points as some parts haven't completely aged well but despite it's downfalls (which are minimal anyway), it's still a great film that is a must see for any sci-fi fans.

A true classic that is still inventive with it's memorable characters and gadgets.

Wait a second. A must see for sci-fi fans? Why haven't all sci-fi fans seen this already. Err err *puts on sunglasses* just look into here...this review was just a figment of your imagination *FLASH*

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy (Adam McKay, 2004) Review

I figured a review for this film only seemed appropriate since the teaser trailer for the sequel was released a few days ago. With this in mind, let's dive into Anchorman. While it's obvious that Will Ferrell is a comedy actor so you can already guess what to expect with this film. Despite that, there is actual a serious message that this film is trying to promote and honestly, it holds up!

Set in San Diego during the 1970s, Anchorman focuses on a broadcasting station with Ron Burgundy (Will Ferrell) as the lead anchorman. He is accompanied by his entourage of Brian Fantana (Paul Rudd), the on-location reporter, Champ Kind (David Koechner), the sports guy and Brick Tamland (Steve Carell), the weather reporter. They are the biggest thing in San Diego but that all changes when their boss Ed Harkin (Fred Willard) introduces a female reporter, Veronica Corningstone (Christina Applegate), into the company. Burgundy's career is in jeopardy as the audience prefers Veronica over him. So basically he has to win back his audience from Veronica with the help of his entourage.

Seeing as this is a Will Ferrell film, I might as well talk about the comedy. At first it seems like the humour is going to be the typical "Ferrell comedy" in the sense that it's going to be overblown and over the top, even nonsensical at times.'s not. At all. There's actually some well written comedy here that all the protagonists have. Especially Brick considering he is arguably the most popular character as a result of his stupidity. There are very memorable lines and scenes. Probably the most memorable scene is the epic fight between all the different news anchor teams.

Anchorman has a moral message that is surprisingly well done. The main theme of this film is the idea of women in the workplace. A female anchorman was almost unheard of in the 1970s. With Veronica's introduction, it's painstakingly obvious that Burgundy and his crew are less that welcoming. Veronica's appeal towards the diegetic audience is the result of her gender which Burgundy can't accept. It's a clear message about sexism in the workplace and therefore it can have a sense of reference despite being set in the 1970s.

All in all, Anchorman is a hilarious film that still manages to present a very clear message. There are some very memorable moments/scenes/lines that really make this film stand out. I am glad I got this one out of the way considering that the sequel is on the way, yes I am going to review that as soon as possible...which is a while. 2013 I believe. Well that's the review done. Starting tomorrow I will be reviewing the two Men In Black film in order to prepare for the third instalment. See you then.

You stay classy San Diego.

One of Will Ferrell's funniest films that has a surprising moral message

I love lamp!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

9 (Shane Acker, 2009) Review

So 9 was released in America on the 9/9/09? I see what you did there...yes they really did that just because the film was called 9. I bet the only reason they made this film was just so that they could have something to release on that date. If that was the reason then DAMN was it a good idea! It's good to see animated films that aren't made by Disney or Dreamworks that can match or even surpass the level of greatness that a Disney or Dreamworks film would have reached.

9 is set in a post-apocalyptic world that was ruined by a war between man and machine. A scientist used a device that allowed him to separate his soul and transport nine parts of his soul into nine different dolls known as Stitchpunks. We are introduced to 9 (Elijah Wood), the last of the Stitchpunks made before the scientist died. Over the course of the first act we are introduced to the other Stitchpunks. 1 (Christopher Plummer), the leader, 2 (Martin Landau), the oldest, 3 and 4 (they can't speak), 5 (John C. Reilly), the mechanic, 6 (Crispin Glover), the artist, 7 (Jennifer  Connelly), the fighter and 8 (Fred Tatasciore), the muscle of the group. 9 unleashes a mechanical monster (it's merciless enough to be considered a monster, right?) that has only one aim, to suck the soul out of all the Stitchpunks. Did I not mention the Stitchpunks are the only living things left? Kind of a big deal really. In order to save themselves, the Stitchpunks have to destroy the machine and will be left at humanity's last hope of salvation. 

9's biggest aspect (and arguably the best) is the characters themselves. They are all three dimensional and it's clear that there is chemistry between them. You can sense the relationships between certain characters whether or not it is a good relationship (such as 1's authority over 8 or 5's friendship with 2). They are all well written, even those that can't talk! 

It's pretty obvious that the end of the world theme has been done to death but for some reason it's a lot more interesting here than it is in other films. Similar to Wall-e, 9 creates a feel that humanity is completely wipe out (In Wall-e they had just moved makes sense in context) considering that the only human that plays a big part in the plot is the scientist who created the Stitchpunks...and he dies in the first 5 minutes...humanity is doomed!

9 has clearly had help from Tim Burton since it has the creepy style only he can manage just like Coraline. There is a sense that all of our heroes might not even make it to the end of the film and WOW are some of the contraptions the Machine makes creepy. That weird baby faced snake thingy that he makes just screams Tim Burton. Don't get me wrong, he may not have done all but it certainly seems like he has. Wait, what's that on the poster? "From Producers: Tim Burton". Okay I'm half right. Still a creepy film.

A creepy yet heart-warming film that, while good, isn't so amazing that it deserves a nine...heh. It's easy to make jokes with a name like that. 


Monday, May 21, 2012

Ferris Bueller's Day Off (John Hughes, 1986) Review

Now it's no secret that the late John Hughes was one of the greatest writers/directors of the eighties. I would have said all time but he certainly slipped in quality much later on. His later works include Flubber and Home Alone 3 so there is a clear indication of his quality. Crap in other words. If we were to forget about those times then we can rest assured that, yes, his films were great and Ferris Bueller's Day Off is definitely one of his best.

Ferris Bueller's Day Off follows the eponymous protagonist, Ferris Bueller (Matthew Broderick), who manages to fake illness in order to get a day off high school (again, John Hughes). He manages to bust his girlfriend Sloane (Mia Sara) out and also meets up with his friend Cameron (Alan Ruck) who was also off school but, unlike Ferris, was actually ill. Their principal Ed Rooney (Jeffrey Jones) suspects foul play and seeks after them. There is also a sub-plot featured which shows what Ferris' sister Jeanie (Jennifer Grey) is doing while Ferris and his friends have their day off.

There is one very interesting technique that is used in the film on numerous occasions which is how Ferris 'breaks the fourth wall'. Not familiar breaking the fourth wall? It is simply when a character on a screen interacts with the audience. Ferris does this at numerous points in the film in order to give the audience background to the characters and places for example Cameron and his dad's car.

One of my biggest complaints is more of a nitpick if anything. After the end of the film, there are way too many enigma codes (unanswered questions) left. I for one would have loved to know what happened to the other characters after the credits rolled. We only learn about what happens to Ferris, Jeanie and Rooney. Cameron was left in a REALLY bad predicament that was left unseen. I guess it can be left to the imagination but you can only rely on that technique oh so many times.

While this may not be John Hughes' best work (that will be left for another time...just you wait), it is certainly Matthew Broderick at his best. He also wasn't at his best during the nineties when he starred in such "hits" as Godzilla (That's a lot of fish!) and Inspector Gadget. Okay, so The Lion King was good but that doesn't count since that was voice acting...same goes for The Thief and the Cobbler (which ever version he was in...I just have no idea what happened with that film). Yeah, Matthew Broderick got his own paragraph. That's because he is probably one of the reasons this film is so great! Ben Stein, Jeffrey Jones and Alan Ruck are also great.

Ferris Bueller's Day Off clearly stands as one of the best teen films from the eighties and is also one of John Hughes' best (not THE best but it's close). It's a fun films that anyone can enjoy and also offers some very memorable scenes and moments that I assure you will stay in your head for a long time to come.

A fun teen film that, while a little far-fetched, is still a treat to watch over and over again.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Yes Man (Peyton Reed, 2008) Review

Ah, Jim Carrey. One of my personal favourite actors of all time. While I won't go too deep into why I like Jim Carrey so much until I get onto my favourite Jim Carrey (you'll have to wait for that), I will praise how he still holds up even in recent years (after all he has been doing kids films recently). Yes Man is one of those comedy films that has a heart and really brings forward a clever narrative that is tied together well. I guess the question is, do I like this film? The answer: Yes. Heh. Did you see what I did there...I...I made a joke...good for me.

The film focuses on Carl Allen (Jim Carrey), a pessimistic single man who has reached a point in his life wear he realises that he is leaving everyone out of his life. After work, he bumps into an old friend who takes into a seminar that suggests the idea of saying "yes" to every opportunity given to them. Carl agrees to a 'covenant' with the head of the 'yes' seminar Terrence Bundley (Terrence Stamp). Now Carl has to say 'yes' at every opportunity. He learns Korean, learns to play the guitar and takes part in other activities and learns more skills. The second half of the narrative (the first being the whole 'yes' thing) is the introduction of the main love interest Allison (Zooey Deschanel).

As you might expect from a Jim Carrey film, it's a comedy film. It's that weird kind of comedy that Jim Carrey is accustomed too. The usual silly mannerisms, voices and faces that he does are still here yet it's at a limit now since they clearly wanted to make a more serious Jim Carrey comedy film. Don't get me wrong, it's still pretty funny but the much funnier parts are the more subtle uses of comedy including scenes with Carl's boss Norman (Rhys Darby). Norman is a funny character anyway so that would make sense, I guess.

The best part of the film is the whole concept. It's pretty unique to come up with the idea of having our protagonist who just can't say "no". It's interesting and fun to see what decisions will be presented to Carl and how they will be brought back later in the film. 

This is going to be a brief point but man do I love the soundtrack to this film. Two songs of interest are Journey's Separate Way and Jim Carrey's cover of Third Eye Blind's song Jumper. The use of those songs are very memorable and song of the best moments of the films.

Yes Man, like Limitless (both featuring Bradley Cooper), brings an interesting narrative with a unique concept. It shows that Jim Carrey's style of comedy still works even now. I would love to see more films like this in the future and hope that more unique ideas are brought into the comedy genre.

A hilarious Jim Carrey romp that has heart and really is clever and gripping.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Avatar (James Cameron, 2009) Review

I can think of a lot of words to sum up this film... overrated seems to be the first one that comes to mind! Yeah! I I said it! I did not like this film. There we go. Don't get me wrong, I agree with the whole "ZOMG IT LOOKS AMAZING LOLOL DEM GRAPHICS!!!" in the sense that it looks fantastic. That's it. There is nothing else great about this film. Actually I take that back, It's the only ORIGINAL thing from this film.

The first aspect to how unoriginal this film is to take a look at the narrative. No i'm not going to be specific with the narrative, you'll see why. So there are two cultures, natives and colonists. The colonists send in a spy to try and convince the natives to move from their land but the spy falls for one of the native women and decides to help them by turning on the colonists. Yeah...that's it. Now why is that uninspired? Pocahontas and Dances With Wolves say hello. They use pretty much the exact same plot. I will give Avatar the benefit of the doubt by saying that the idea of Pocahontas in space is...certainly interesting.

When talking about Avatar there is one thing that comes immediately to mind is the visuals. It's the whole reason for the epic hype. It looks phenomenal and I can see how people can call in a reinvention of how a film can look (ironic considering the following years biggest film was the silent black and white The Artist). Normally someone reviewing this film would probably talk about the 3D used...not the best route for someone who can't see 3D...good marketing technique.

As you can probably guess, I was glad when Avatar did NOT win the Academy Award for Best Film. I wouldn't have minded if James Cameron won best director. Just because it's a bad movie doesn't mean James Cameron did bad directing. I don't know though...I feel like James Cameron has a habit of making incredibly popular films that really...I do not like (I'M LOOKING AT YOU TITANIC!).

Normally I talk about the cast of the film. Well let's see there's Sigourney Weaver Saldana? Yeah we'll go with those two. Well, Sam Worthington is becoming more popular recently who stars as the protagonist of this film, Jake Sully. Jake is the aforementioned spy who is placed into the community of the Navi, a native alien race on the planet Pandora. You know what, I should have mentioned this stuff when talking about the narrative.

Avatar 'borrows' heavily from the narrative of other films so considering how unoriginal it is (blue aliens is the best they could come up with) but I just can't deny how great it looks.

An overrated, unoriginal film. The only thing going for it is great visuals...and awesome robot suits...

Friday, May 18, 2012

Puss In Boots (Chris Miller, 2011) Review

Sometimes a franchise just goes too far. Indiana Jones, Star Wars and soon to be Toy Story (yes a fourth one...I'm have no high hopes for it. The ending of the third one was perfect...but that's another story) but one would think that having another Shrek film would be a bad thing. The first two were great, the third one was bad and the fourth was sub-par so with a spin-off released you can guess how I feel about Puss In Boots...It's brilliant.

As you would expect, Antonio Banderas reprises his role as Puss In Boots from the previous Shrek films now accompanied by new characters that are specific to this spin-of: Kitty Softpaws (Salma Hayek), Humpty Dumpty (Zach  Galifianakis ) and Jack & Jill (Billy Bob Thornton and Amy Sedaris respectively). These new characters fit in well into the Shrek universe that takes classic fairy tale characters and giving them new characteristics (who would have envisioned Jack & Jill as a couple of outlaws?) and are great and very likeable.

The plot for this film is actually well written. Taking place before Puss' d├ębut in Shrek 2, Puss is an outlaw from a village called San Ricardo who is out to obtain the magic beans of Jack and the Beanstalk legend which is currently in the possession of the notorious bandit couple, Jack & Jill. On one raid he runs into Kitty Softpaws, another feline thief, who takes him to see Humpty Dumpty, his best friend from the orphanage in San Richardo. They form a pact to get the beans and raise the beanstalk.

Puss In Boots has one major plus going for it. Despite being part of the Shrek franchise, it stands well on its own and it isn't necessary to watch all the other Shrek films (Which is good considering the last two don't hold up). There is no references to the previous films or no cameo from any other Shrek characters so I guess if you never heard of Shrek...if anyone hasn't...then you can still watch this film and get the most out of it.

The humour of this film is mostly for a select audience - Cat owners. Good for me seeing as I am one. Despite the fact that Puss and other characters are anthropomorphic, there are a lot of moments that poke fun at the mannerisms of cats. Trust me, it's accurate. Batting things, distracted by moving small lights (such as a laser pointer) and also some of the dance moves in Glitter Box club (yes that is actually what it's called).

Puss In Boots is a great film that holds up on it's own. The humour is well written by people that clearly own cats and even answers a few enigma codes from previous films (such as why Puss is first introduced in Shrek 2 in the bad guy's bar).

One of the best films in the Shrek series that actual manages to separate itself from the rest of the franchise and stand on it's own.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Limitless (Neil Burger, 2011) Review

Look back to 2011: Harry Potter had come to an end, silent movies made a return in the form of The Artist and Dreamworks finally beat Pixar at their own game. However, one of the more unique films and definitely one of the most interesting was pushed aside by all the other big films at the time and that film is Limitless just in case you didn't bother to read the title of this review. There is a reason I use images!

Limitless is a film that features a pretty unique narrative. Eddie Morra (Bradley Cooper) is a failed writer who discovers a special drug known as NZT that allows him to use the full capability of his brain. Using this drug, Eddie goes on to succeed in the stock market and earn a job with huge business owner Carl Van Loon (Robert DeNiro) while trying to keep himself and his girlfriend Lindy (Abbie Cornish) out of the path of people trying to track down and use NZT. The most interesting part of the narrative is how the film makers managed to not only balance out the two different narratives (The drug and Eddie's business career) but they also manage to keep them fresh every time there is a switch from one narrative to the other. It's very well put together. The execution of this narrative is probably the main reason that the film was overlooked as it isn't perfect. While the introduction of NZT is very early on, the rest of the plot points such as the introduction of Carl (who was all over the promotional items such as posters and the DVD cover) takes a while so the audience may lose interest before the film REALLY gets good.

One of the high points of Limitless is the different visual codes and effects. Now, despite the first film I reviewed being Avengers Assemble, I am not one for the summer action blockbuster nor am I swayed by how good a film looks but here it looks great. There is little use of visual effects but where there is, it really looks good. The best example being when Eddie takes the NZT drug at one point which causes the camera to do a psychedelic zoom in that really messes with my eyes...awesome yet mind boggling...

Limitless is by no means perfect. I already went into a few of the low points such as the slow narrative but what's a film with out a few more negative points. Even Avengers Assemble had low points and I gave that a perfect score! Limitless really is not for everyone. If you don't like psychological thrillers then this may not be the film for you. Also it gets pretty violent at times but, hey, I've seen much worse. There isn't anything bad...just blood. Lots and lots of blood.

To sum up, Limitless is a unique film that offers a lot of good ideas that also brings its own ideas of the thriller genre. While it isn't for everyone's taste and takes a while to really get good, it still holds up and is very enjoyable.

A unique film that, despite not being for everyone, still holds up and manages to provide a decent narrative.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Avengers Assemble (Joss Whedon, 2012) Review

Maybe this was not the best film to start a reviewing blog with since I don't know what HASN'T been said about this film but I'll try to do my best. It's star studded, action packed, well written and just an enjoyable film. Joss Whedon has really outdone himself with his one. For those not familiar with Mr. Whedon, his most famous works include the television shows Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Firefly, and the short online 3 part film Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog.

Let me just say that in order to fully enjoy Avengers Assemble, you have to watch five films prior to the viewing of this film. These films are The Incredible Hulk (Louis Leterrier, 2008), Iron Man (Jon Favreau, 2008), Iron Man 2 (Again, Jon Favreau, 2010), Thor (Kenneth Branagh, 2011) and Captain America: The First Avenger (Joe Johnston, 2011). Why do you have to watch these? Franchise foreknowledge. It's not secret that the villain in Avengers Assemble is Loki, last seen in the post credits sequence of Thor so in order to understand the villain more, there is a need to watch Thor. I guess the primary reason to watch those films is to get a much better bearing on the protagonists such as Tony Stark/Iron Man, Steve Rogers/Captain America and Thor. Avengers Assemble is a blend of all the best aspects of the previous films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (the films previously listed). The humour of Iron Man and its sequel, the action of Captain America, the character development of Thor and the well written character relationships from The Incredible Hulk. This mix of features is what really makes the film shine.

In terms of the narrative, it's nothing new. Bad guy wants to take over world, hero (or in this case heroes) has to go on a quest to take down the villain. It's nothing special but I guess this wasn't the direction the film makers were going with. They clearly wanted to make the audience invested in the characters which was very easy due to the well constructed character development. This is a very dialogue driven film but considering how well written it is, that is nowhere near a problem. The plot is that Loki (Tom Hiddleston), the brother of Thor (Chris Hemsworth), is wanting to use the Tesseract, the cube featured in Captain America, in order to bring in his army and dominate the Earth. Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) has to bring together his own army in order to fight the oncoming menace. The Avengers is made up of Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Steve Rogers/Captain America (Chris Evans), Thor, Hulk/Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo), Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and Clint Barton/Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner).

The humour of the film is probably the most memorable aspect of the film and is the main reason for such a great film. I have never laughed so hard in the cinema and neither has the audience. Surprisingly Robert Downey Jr's portrayal of Tony Stark is not the funniest character. Really, that is saying alot considering how hysterical Tony is! While I won't be specific so that I don't ruin it for anyone that hasn't seen this film (all 5 of you) but the funniest character by far is the Hulk due to his character and how well written and designed he is. That, and how he does what he wants, when he wants. The humour is incredibly well written and the actors do a great job of delivering the dialogue.

Well with The Avengers out of the way, now Batman, the Men in Black and Spider-man have to step up to the plate. Bring on The Dark Knight Rises, Men In Black 3 and The Amazing Spider-Man.

A cinematic treat that captures the essence what it means to be a comic book movie.