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La piel que habito (2011)
not a Halloween costume
The Skin I Live In is one of the oddest films I've ever seen. This is definitely suited more towards those who love Art House Cinema and could care less for big explosions and car chases. This is not a fun movie to watch, however it is very intriguing and has one of the more original stories I've seen in a movie. The cast is splendid and nobody overshadows anyone. The script isn't anything special but the director and cinematographer get top marks for this gorgeous looking film. It will disturb you, it'll make you wince and it'll most likely get under your skin as the music doesn't help much with calming your nerves. If you've got guts and want to be shocked by an incredible piece of art, then see it. I'll probably never watch this again but it is worth seeing once.
50/50 chance of being nominated for best picture
This movie has received raves from every critic that I've heard from so going in I had very high expectations. Thankfully they were met. 50/50 is a superb film that tells the story of a man diagnosed with Cancer at an early age and finds out his odds are 50/50. First thing first, Joseph Gordon-Levitt is one of my favorite actors and this is such a tremendous performance. One scene towards the end of the movie brought me to tears because he was so good. Seth Rogen plays the same basic role, however he isn't annoying in this movie. He does go a little over the top at times but it isn't anything overly dramatic. The script written by Seth Rogen's best friend Will Reiser is based on his story of going through the process of learning that he had Cancer and how he dealt with it (Reiser not Rogen just to be clear). This is well directed and extraordinarily paced. The thing that impresses me most about this film besides Joseph is the fact that I never once asked myself how much longer the film was while watching. I was so engaged and into the story that I was just watching the movie and not thinking about anything else. That RARELY happens with me. It will be a crime if this film isn't nominated for Best picture, screenplay, actor, and supporting cast members (not all). I can understand if people are hesitant on seeing this movie for fear of it being too depressing given the subject matter but I assure you that it is a joy to watch. It has great comedy in it and while emotional it's just too good to miss. Please do not deny yourself the pleasure of watching this amazing film. It is worth it.
Drive is style over substance
Drive back in 2011 was hyped up beyond the conventional blockbuster. It came from a relatively unknown director but had Ryan Gosling in the leading role. Women everywhere had a substitute for their vibrators the day they saw this. This film unsettles me in a few ways, but first i will give credit where it is due. Winding Refn frames almost every shot with perfection, the cinematography is gorgeous to say the least and the film overall is edited to precision. Now that being said, I'll pour some hot water onto the ice cream cone character Gosling plays. And by ice cream, I mean stiff, and in the need of some licking. Being an aspiring filmmaker, I completely understand the concept of "show, don't tell." Now that being said, there are for sure some areas of this film where I was begging for him to say something. I recommend for anyone who saw this and enjoyed it, to watch Broken Flowers. In that film, Bill Murray plays a character that isn't totally different than this one. Except I liked Bill Murray a lot more. I have nothing against Gosling. He's a great actor, no question; but dude, would it kill you not to look constipated for one scene? Additionally, it would have helped to know what the f**k Cranston's disability was so that when he died, I actually cared. Instead it was more like "yep, saw that one coming." Carey Mulligan is a beautiful woman with a lot of talent, and she and Gosling made a nice couple. But if I was her, I would have steered clear of the guy because he came off as the quiet creepy type that ends up being a sociopath with no life. Gosling is given no backstory so we have absolutely no freaking idea why he does what he does and what motivates him. This doesn't help me when I'm supposed to care about him possibly dying. His character develops in a generic fashion in a generic "it all went wrong" film. I wanted to see him do more stunt car driving for the movies since that was technically his day job. Just one example doesn't cut it. This movie is style over substance as much as Sucker Punch was except there are no special effects in this film. I watched this a second time because I wanted to revisit the film after all the hype had died away and the Oscars were through. I found myself enjoying bits and pieces more than I had the first time, but my overall experience was the same. It is an OK film. And usually in my book, a 2.5/5 means it's forgettable. Well, it's kinda hard to forget a film when everyone's gushing over it like it's a low budget version of "The Dark Knight" (a film I adore). I'm not saying it's bad to like this film since I'm one of the few who enjoyed Transformers 2. I don't now and never will understand what people love so much about this movie. Everyone says "it's different" when it really isn't. It's a generic movie with Refn's touch. A love story in a nutshell. A really creepy love story. Thank you for reading and have a nice day. I'm gonna take a Drive.
These Amazing Shadows (2011)
A movie made by people who love movies for people who love movies
Despite not having enough of Christopher Nolan and Tim Roth interview to show and the movie feeling longer than it was this is a pure gem for movie lovers like myself. This docu tells the interesting story of the national film registry and how films are picked as well as showing a variety of clips from those movies that have been picked and have made an impact on other people in the business. We get plenty of great interviews from people in the business such as famous director John Singleton and John Lasseter, as well as studio executives, and people who are part of the committee that votes on the films to be put into the registry. We get insight into the job of someone who works hours on end to help preserve films that are extremely old and were not designed to stand the test of time. Knowing that certain films dating back before the 1950s were neglected due to the studios having no use for them once they did their job in making money is quite disturbing and makes me appreciate those films from a long time ago that are available for our viewing pleasures. If you are someone who is addicted to watching movies and remembers when watching movies didn't mean picking out the good from the bad and just being awed by whatever lay on screen or are interesting in going into the business, this is worth watching and is a sure contender for best documentary if the Academy allows it.
The Beaver (2011)
A fine film that speaks the truth on depression
Released in May of this year, the Beaver tells the heart breaking story of Walter Black (played brilliantly by Mel Gibson). Walter is severely depressed and sees no reason to continue living. His wife has lost patience with him, his eldest son loathes him and wants to be the complete opposite of his father, and his youngest is just an innocent boy in the middle of it all. When this film was released there was a ton of controversy around it because of Gibson and his history that people won't seem to forget and let him be. Gibson may have had some hiccups in his time and not made the best reputation for himself, but nobody can deny him recognition for an outstanding performance in one of the years best films. Jodie Foster who directs and stars as Walters wife brings this fantastic script to the screen and unleashes a story that is very odd and unique but speaks the truth when it comes to depression. Some people go to drastic measures in order to be happy. Walter attempts to off himself early on in the film and fails miserably. He is saved by a stuffed beaver puppet that he found in a dumpster outside of a liquor store. The beaver has a British accent and talks like a brit. Whether this is a statement towards the British or just smart writing, it works and is extremely effective even in the most dire of situations. Having an actor talk through a puppet can seem comic at first, but throughout the entire film, you never doubt Mel's ability to act once he starts communicating through the beaver. The stuffed puppet essentially is designed for Walter to be able to reject the negative side of himself and see the good that can come out of life. His youngest immediately digs it and loves spending time with the beaver. His wife is resistant at first, but allows him to talk through the beaver as it seems to work and is having a positive effect on her youngest. His eldest played by Anton Yelchin of Fright Night still hates his father and considers him a nut-job for talking through a hand puppet. While Walter happily communicates through his new best mate, we follow the eldest son and what he is going through at school. He is payed by kids to write papers because he is apparently very good at writing them. He encounters Jennifer Lawrence who is a gorgeous cheerleader and valedictorian who is required to write and present a graduation speech at the ceremony. She requests that he write it paying him a handsome amount to do so. The son likes her a lot and gets to know her quite a bit. We get a little side story here that is mentioned only a few times in reference to her dead brother who OD'd and is dead. she likes painting graffiti but has stopped ever since she was caught way back when by the police. As Anton spends time with her he slowly realizes that despite his not liking it, he is becoming more and more like his depressed father, which really bugs him and causes him to continually bash his head into a hidden hole in his room that has gotten deeper over time. By the close, the beaver has essentially taken over Walters life and it becomes more of a threat than a guide to redemption. He then proceeds to completely cut off the section of his arm attached to the beaver and put him to rest in a coffin he made out of wood at home. He survives barely, ending up in a hospital with a prosthetic hand and arm slowly recovering from his injury. By this time, the son has accepted his father, and forgiven him. The end shot is very good and clearly shows a changed man minus the beaver. I wasn't exactly sure what to expect with this movie. When I saw the trailer for the very first time I wasn't very interested in seeing it. The movie did not get a wide release, made very little cash and ended up on video rental shelves faster than most films like it. The beaver is a very good movie that hopefully will surprise most people in how good it is. A lot of people will shy away thinking that it'll be very depressing. Thankfully, there are some funny moments in the movie. This is after all a black comedy. I wouldn't be ashamed to buy this on blu-ray, though I would not pay full price. Say what you like about Mel Gibson and all of his problems pertaining to religion and his personal life. All I ask of you is to watch this movie bearing in mind that not every actor can make a convincing depressed individual who turned to a beaver puppet for answers. Mel did and he was outstanding.
a generic revenge movie with a beautiful girl
This film plays out like if the Jason Bourne trilogy married any of the three Hit-man games. That is pretty much one sentence that perfectly describes this movie. The cast is fine, not impressive and the action is fun but poorly shot and brutally edited to the point that you are confused as to what is going on and you feel very disoriented after a while wondering why they don't slow down and show you each shot instead of cutting every second. A lot of the scenes didn't make sense, there were numerous plot holes that were never explained and things in general that just didn't add up. Script was weak and this movie has one of the most awkward sexual scenes I've seen in a movie. dissatisfying and not worth seeing unless your desperate to see Zoe naked from behind and dressed in skimpy outfits.
Don't Be Afraid of the Dark (2010)
Great look, cliché story
Based on my rating you probably think I didn't like this movie. In all honesty I did like it but there were enough problems to bump my rating down if that makes sense. The positives of this movie were Troy Nixey's directing. He used a lot of moving camera shots to tell the story which were effective and helpful. The cinematography was outstanding as were the sets and the art direction. The creatures were very cool to look at and their design was rather unique. Bailee Madison was the best character in the movie even though at times I found her dis-interesting. Now those compliments normally compile for at least and 8 of a rating. The problems that pulled it back from being an 8 was that Guillermo del Toro and Nixey did nothing original with the story. It's the typical horror movie scenario where there is this big mansion that just spells out trouble, the girl realizes that something is wrong, parents don't believe her, yada yada yada. Neither Guy Pierce nor Katie Holmes really checked in good performances till the last 30 min. There was no character development at all, and the first 40 min. of introduction to the main characters and the house was long and dull. This movie opened itself wide open to the average clichés of pretty much every horror film like this movie. This movie was predictable and the whole architectural story never had any real relevance to the story at all and just gave both Pierce and Holmes something to do besides deny that their little girl is insane. Holmes by the way is the step mom and the script blatantly makes it clear that Madison wants nothing to do with her until of course the creatures end up gobbling her up and she disappears with them at the end of the movie. The end of this movie really pi**ed me off because it suggests a sequel but you know damn good and well that we won't get a sequel. The story around the creatures is never completely clear and questions arise from the first scene of the movie that never get answered. Fine for a Halloween rental.
Eyes Wide Shut (1999)
A mystery worth solving
This is the only Kubrick film that I've watched so far that I can say I really enjoyed watching. This movie is unlike any you will ever watch. The thing that I found most interesting is that this movie is very long, feels long and yet I never wanted it to end. This movie is one where you watch it and you never know what is coming next. Predictability goes out the window in this movie. Tom Cruise gives one of his best performances in this movie and I loved watching his character on screen figuring things out as we the audience figure it out. Complaints come down to the score and there are a few scenes where there is a lot of dialogue being swapped between characters and the pace slows. This is a solid film overall and one that I highly recommend for those who are a fan of Kubrick and or Cruise.
Artificial Intelligence: AI (2001)
A bump in Steven's career
When this movie was first released, I had a very high interest in watching it. Seeing the trailer made me wonder what the hell this movie was about. I was not allowed to view it, and now I think I know why. I am a much older and more mature person and an experienced movie critic; hence why I am writing this review. The history or origin of this movie goes back quite a bit. Stanley Kubrick was working on this idea for decades and collaborated with Steven Spielberg to try and get the storyline straight. He worked tirelessly to develop the ultimate screenplay. Unfortunately, he passed on before he was able to bring his vision to the screen. Steven then decided to take Kubrick's script and completely disregard it. He re-wrote it his way and made this his movie. Apparently the content of Kubrick's script was too vulgar and pretentious. The result was this movie. I have several problems with this movie. For me there were very few redeeming qualities, and I can say now that I have actually seen it, that I would like to see the version Kubrick would have made. Kubrick and Spielberg are vastly different filmmakers so I'm sure the significance would have been impeccable. The movie has an extremely slow pace that drags the movie out to the point that you swear the film is at least another hour in length and that you've been tricked into seeing a longer movie. The story was also taken into the wrong direction in my opinion. A story like this can be told in many different ways, and this was not a very appealing movie to watch. The acting was not good and I felt little sympathy for anyone. The only scene that worked for me was the last scene. The only character I really liked believe it or not was the teddy bear. The movie went from one extreme to the next and the alternate universes that Steven explored made no real logical sense to me. I found several places where this film could have ended. Either way, none of my questions were answered and several characters were more or less left in the dark and never seen or heard from again even though their part could have been extended. I do not plan on ever seeing this movie again simply because I found it a chore to watch the first time around. Steven Spielberg has made a number of films in his career, and sadly this one is not the one he will be remembered for. I do not recommend this movie to anyone, however, if you do find yourself with 2hrs and 30min to spare then by all means watch something, just not this.
Sherlock Holmes (2009)
Sherlock Holmes is the ideal problem solver. We have been brought many different versions of Holmes over the decades and he has been reinvented in television and film over and over again to the point of exhaustion. Like many great detectives, he has a keen way of doing things and how he does things are rash at times but always gets the job done. When it was first announced that Robert Downey Jr. would be playing the iconic sly detective, my response was instinctively excited, because we all had out doubts about Tony Stark and look how that turned out. Robert has a certain gift for acting that allows him to read a script and know whether he can make good use of the material and bring out the best of whoever is co- starring with him on the silver screen. Guy Ritchie who's career has had its bumps on the road gives us a stylistic, funny and adventurous Sherlock Holmes in this new adaption of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's original sketch of the man with unparalleled technique. Among all of the actors who have portrayed Holmes in the last few decades, Robert Downey Jr. is the first to really bring new light to the character and give us a side of Holmes that is true to who he is in the eyes of everyday Americans. Holmes will encounter a crime scene riddled with unseen clues to the audience's eye, but to Holmes, an entire symphony is playing in is brain as ideas and conclusions slowly twirl around his ego. While the audience is in the dark until the last scene in which all is spilt o the floor like a jug of tipped water, it's still fun to watch Robert in these scenes basking in the glory of his written genius and exposes the evil that cascades over the industrialized city. Jude Law steps into the shoes of Watson, one of the most memorable sidekicks in all of literature. Law brings spunk and truth to the character and shows the audience that despite the character not liking Holmes very much, he is still his best friend and would never leave his side even in the face of death. The friendship that builds on screen no doubt never left the set as the chemistry between the two is spot on and you never doubt these two for a second. The plot of this movie isn't the best nor the worst. The plans for world domination fall into the hands of Mark Strong and a machine that isn't foreign to us in our day and age of technology, but still manages to keep us on the track to a sequel that will more or less be better and upscale the first one. Amy Adams plays a dangerous/mysterious love interest to Holmes who knows him quite well and has no problem in outsmarting him in the simplest of ways yet still slinking to the role of damsel in distress in the last half hour. We also get some pretty brutish fist scenes that incorporate a bit of pre planning with the wit of Holmes and some slow motion that without Snyder's hand at directing feels a bit unneeded, yet satisfyingly shows off Sherlocks hand to hand skills in an over dramatized manner. I own this on blu-ray and yet I can't say that everyone will like this or accept this I guess as a true Sherlock Holmes adaption true to the original scripture translated to script. But I can say, that for those who do like the detective and want to see Sherlock in a new light, that this is definitely worth checking out.
The Devil's Double (2011)
I went into this movie in the same manner as one might walk into a movie like Eli Roth's Hostel. I could guess that it would be a s*it film, but curiosity brought me to the theater where i watched it. The only positives I can say are the production design and sets along with the performance of Cooper as two separate parties altogether which in general is no easy task also given who he is playing. This movie has a confusing plot, or it did for me at least simply because I don't concern myself with info coming in and out of Baghdad. The movie is slow and dull most of the time. The script was poor and didn't have Cooper saying anything intelligent or notably interesting for either character as when he is playing Uday he just goes around saying the "c" word a lot and trying to bang everything in his sights along with relentless and unneeded murder. As the double, he just looks around at everything with a blank look on his face and cannot accept his fate as being Uday's b**ch. There are several disturbing scenes in this film that would make the average guy myself included wince and I cannot imagine how someone can consider this entertainment when this movie is based on a true story. I highly suggest everyone steers clear of this movie and avoid it because you won't be walking out of the theatre waiting in anticipation for a blu ray release but instead may end up in therapy trying to wash all the images of brutality out of your head. One of the worst films of the year and one of the worst films I've ever voluntarily sat through. I'm not sure how Lee Tamahori went from directing the James Bond film Die Another Day which in my view wasn't as bad as everyone else thought it was to directing a biographical film like this, but I can only hope his next project is more uplifting in every sense of the word .
Rise to the top of the movies
I will start out with a very bold statement in saying that in my opinion this is the best movie of 2011 thus far. The cast is amazing including an incredibly talented Andy Serkis who gives Caesar more emotion than most human actors in films today. The script is riddled with great dialogue and although there are a few cliché's it doesn't hinder the film. All the apes look realistic and extremely lifelike to the the point that you'd swear they were all real and the trainer was just off camera. The last half hour is devoted to an action sequence involving the apes and the Golden Gate bridge. There are a number of truly brilliant shots that follow the apes as they move around the environment, and several tracking shots that blew my mind at how well executed they were. This is one of very few times, where I have walked out of a theatre wanting a sequel. Forgive me if I am gushing but I loved this film and cannot help laugh in a way because it's a movie about Apes and the humans are secondary characters. Another unexpected fascination was that the Ape learned sign language and used that to communicate with his owner (franco) and other Apes. They never speak, but the way they act and their facial expressions say it all. Everyone should watch this, especially those familiar with the original film.
The Matrix (1999)
Every generation has "that movie"
Growing up, this was one of those movies that people said I had to see if I loved movies. I waited a long to watch this because it was rated R and I was only 7 when this was released. So after waiting long enough and convincing my parents to let me, I finally watched it. This is one of those cases where the movie is so hyped up that when you watch it, it's good but nothing special. I was impressed by the movie, and they seemed to be throwing all these new ideas at you about the world and how it works. I've always wondered after watching this, if there are people that actually believe what the movie is telling them. The scene people constantly refer to when talking about this movie is the bullet time scene. It's over in a matter of seconds, and my response was "what, that's it?" I did like this movie, I just didn't think it was a profound masterpiece or anything. It seems to me that people only recommend watching this movie because of that one scene that is now cemented into movie history. The Wachowski brothers wrote a very intriguing piece of work, and I admire their exploration outside the norm of reality. The cast is good and Lawrence Fishbourne is great as ever. The guy who stole the show for me was Smith who is played by Hugo Weaving. This is an action packed science fiction movie that I think most can enjoy, though some may not want to invest their time into.
Mr. & Mrs. Smith (2005)
Espionage for two
Doug Liman, the director of Swingers and The Bourne Identity to name a few brings us a pitch perfect action, romantic comedy about lies and deception in a marriage based around two spies working for different agencies that send them to kill one another. The idea while simple is executed brilliantly and this movie is fun from start to finish. The movie is like a cat and mouse game between Jolie and Pitt as they both discover slowly throughout the course of the first half of the movie who the other one is.The script is extremely hilarious and brings out the best and worst in any marriage. The chemistry is striking between the two actors who are as convincing as any couple who are faking their marriage one day at a time. While not every married couple can relate to the whole spy and espionage business, one cannot deny how dead on the two act as a married couple and the things they argue and agree on. Bringing Hollywood's best and brightest might have been a stretch for another film trying to get people to see a movie that 95% of all major studios said no to, but the brilliance behind this movie is how well the two work together and the dynamic scenes they create with energy and enthusiasm of that of professional actors. I have see a lot of movies with both of these actors and I honestly think that this film is the best movie either one has been in simply because it is a simple role but still requires skill to pull off which these two certainly do. There are some great action set pieces that will shock and awe as well as a heart pounding car cash that's better than most in film like this. Never dull with strong writing and one amazing scene after another Mr. and Mrs. Smith is one movie that all can enjoy and a majority of people (married) can relate to (in some respects).
2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
Monoliths in space
This movie is on my top ten least favorite movies of all time and I will gladly explain why. Before people start judging me as a critic and as a movie lover, I just want to point out that I think Stanley Kubrick is a great director. One of my favorite movies is Eyes Wide Shut. He has made many good movies, but this one for me was just a bore to watch. This is one of the movies that as a kid growing up, you hear people say it's one of the classics and that you have to see it to see the sheer brilliance portrayed on screen. I rented this and watched it with my parents who hadn't seen it either and had also heard things about it. We then proceeded to watch the agonizingly long movie that didn't have any dialogue in it until about an hour into it. I have heard many opinions of this movie, and one that I have recently watched had a guy say that this was not in fact a movie, but was just a bunch of random images put together on screen in order to get the audience to think for themselves. He commented that there is no story or screenplay and that there are no characters in this movie. That is a a basic summary of one man's opinion, and although I think he over-exaggerated, I do think he made some valid points. The only time I even came remotely to the point of being entertained was when HAL the computer showed up and started causing havoc. Another critic has proclaimed that the last bit of this film is considered be in the horror genre. This film is many things but it most certainly is not a horror movie. The monolith is the star (for lack of a better word) of this movie and plays the key role of confusing the audience and making us question human life and time itself. The last scene in this movie is very unique but the relevancy to anything in this movie is beyond me. I consider this film to be one huge question mark that Kubrick has given audiences. He hasn't written a finite story, he has simply given us the tools to create our own thoughts and opinions as to what is going on. Nothing in this movie is ever explained so don't expect any dialogue driven information for the simple fact that there is no dialogue at all minus maybe a page at the most. Kubrick is well known for being excellent at photographing movies and it shows here as the imagery is spectacular, yet has nothing to do with plot, characters or anything at all relevant to the film in general. Some consider this movie, Kubrick's masterpiece while others consider this the best movie ever made, while others consider it the worst movie ever made, while others consider it one of the worst movies ever made. In all of film history this is probably one of the top three if not THE most controversial film in motion picture history for the simple fact that there is no definite definition for anything here. If it sounds like I'm beating around the bush, it's because there is really no story to talk about and/or discuss here. If anything was to be described, astronauts are instructed to fly a few light-years to find this thing (the monolith) and find out what it is and what it does. Considering how the movie explains nothing and all the astronauts ever do is just stare at the damn thing, this a waste of time. For those that actually sat through this and wanted an explanation, there is a movie called 2010: The Year We Make Contact which has a plot and characters contributing to everything that happened in this movie. This movie (2001) is on the list of the movies you should see before you die, but honestly I don't see why because all that will happen most likely is that you'll watch it, wonder what the f**k just happened, then depending on your mood, you'll rent the sequel (if that's what you want to call it), and watch it. After that, you feel like you just spent five hours trying to figure out the meaning of life and the relativity of time through two different filmmakers' eyes. I never regret watching a movie, I just sometimes wonder what drives someone to recommend a film like this one in which nothing happens for the duration of 2 hours and 30 min. besides a few astronauts traveling in space to find a a big black block staring at them, while a psychopathic computer slowly kills off an entire crew of astronauts. I don't hate this movie just because I can and I can belong to a certain crowd of critics. I hate this movie because it wastes your time showing you images that are never explained which is essentially like Christopher Nolan giving us Inception minus all the dialogue that explained what was going on. Can you imagine watching Inception without any dialogue minus a page at the least? The mere thought frightens me. Once again, I say to you that Stanley Kubrick was not a bad filmmaker, he just made a film that has no relevancy or point which to some extend explains to some what the meaning of life is. Through this movie you learn that the simple answer is that there is no meaning. We are put in random situations for no reason and it all amounts to nothing. Thanks Kubrick.
X: First Class (2011)
Calling all Mutants
This is by no comparison the best X-Men movie to date in my opinion. Director Matthew Vaughn previously known for his shocker film Kick-Ass brings the story of how the friendship of Magneto and Professor X became a rivalry. The movie is set during the events of the Cuban Missile crisis which is a nice tie in and introduces several characters from the comic books to us. We get a stellar cast led by Wanted star James McAvoy and rising star Michael Fassbender. Kevin Bacon stars as the main villain behind all the treachery and a person foe to Magneto's character. The film is well paced, and although we don't go too in depth with each of the individual mutant characters, it's enough to make you care fro the ones on screen. There is great dialogue written into the script which never enters the cheese factor and keeps it pretty straight forward. There are great action set pieces along with amazing FX and steady camera work that doesn't shake up the action to the point of it being blurred. This is a fun, energetic and relentlessly entertaining movie from start to finish. Even though he is not behind the directors chair, Bryan Singer was part of the experience of making this movie and it shows through subtle nuances. We also get some great cameos, one in particular which brought the house down with laughter when I was in the theater. I cannot wait for the sequel and hopefully this movie starts a new franchise that will far exceed its predecessor franchise that has been left in the dust.
The Tree of Life (2011)
A visual spectacular
I hadn't originally planned on seeing this movie for the simple fact that the trailer did not entice me and make want to rush out to go see it. However, when the reviews came in from the critics, they were all positive, though there were the haters who could not understand what the movie was about and trying to portray. Fascinated by the amount of different views on the movie, I went in with an open mind ready to be amazed and or confused. Terrence Malick is not known for making very many films in his lifetime, but the films he has made are ingrained in film history and are known by all or at least all of his fans. He is known for making visually striking movies that make the viewer think and his films have several themes spread throughout that depending on the person, one can relate to. This is a very long movie clocking in at nearly 2hr 30 min. For an action movie, a run time like this can pass relatively quick; but for a movie that has no action and is very story and character driven it does feel long and at time drags to the point where you are fidgeting in your seat wondering when something is actually going to happen. The movie has three separate things going on and 2 main story line's. The film inter-cuts throughout from a family in the Texas suburb, random shots of nature and the big bang, and finally we spend time with Sean Penn's character who is an architect who now middle-aged cannot stop thinking about his brothers death which happened as a child. For the most part, I understood what was going on and I could relate to what was happening in the family what with the kids growing up and learning lessons. Brad Pitt's character is portrayed as the force of nature that wants his boys to succeed and not daydream about things that are not reality. The mother played brilliantly by Jessica Chastain is more in the form of grace and teaches the kids about god and all he does. This movie is not for everyone, and it has a fare chance at being nominated for best picture of the year, and Malick for best director. I didn't understand certain parts toward the end and certain ideals portrayed I did not believe in. Overall though, if you have patience and enjoy thought provoking films, this is one worth checking out.
The Guard (2011)
A small movie with a small audience
This movie has a pretty standard and predictable plot and has a great opening. The movie is slow paced, has great performances, and there is good chemistry between Don Cheadle and Brendan Gleeson's characters. The plot was confusing mainly due to the fact that the dialogue was hard to understand because of the thick accents which made the bits where dialogue pertaining to the story didn't really get across to me. There is plenty of foul language and humor in the movie as well as a side story involving the guard's mother that didn't seem to fit at all into the mix. Overall, it is worth checking out as a rental because it isn't playing in a lot of theaters and the audience for this movie isn't the same as for say, a blockbuster movie.
A visual masterpiece
Every one in Hollywood considered the graphic novel Watchmen unfilmable. Zach Snyder who is well known for his visually impressive film 300 too the novel and made an impressive adaptation that far exceeded my expectations. Before seeing this movie, I had not read the graphic novel. After viewing, I bought it and compared. I was surprised at how thorough he had been. Watchmen is visually immersive, story and character driven with an amazing amount of SFX and VFX. The cast all around is fantabulous and no one does poorly. This movie also got the careers of a few actors going which doesn't surprise me. For anyone who is hesitant at watching this epic movie, just go in for Rorschach because man oh man is Jackie Earl Haley a great actor. He was my favorite character and I loved the way he moved and talked. The movie is set in an alternate world where certain things differ from ours and the city looks very dark and gritty. This is a very long film, however, it is required in order to do justice to the lengthy novel and all the characters inhabiting this world. The story is complex to the extent that you'll need to watch it a few times but that isn't a bad thing because it is a fun movie to watch in general.Snyder also uses plenty of slow motion in order to enhance the breath taking action and fighting scenes which are choreographed brilliantly. I really have no negatives for this movie because every time I watch it I get sucked into this fictionalized world and really invest in these very flawed but awesome characters.
Spiderman get off on the wrong web
This could have been a lot better. I felt like the costumes were too Hollywood looking and didn't look like a student made it. The Green Goblin costume also had this effect. The sets looked like sets and CGI was really apparent. The final fight with Spiderman and the Green Goblin couldn't have looked more staged and the set totally looked like a sound stage. Luckily, we have learned since then. Tobey Maguire was fine as the lead, although they could have picked better. I didn't think that Willem Dafoe was cast right. He didn't embody the goblin like I thought he should have. There wasn't enough spiderman action. I did love the last shot of the movie though, classic. Mary Jane played by Kirsten Dunst did a fare job but once again casting could have been better. I don't think that Sam Raimi was the best choice for directing this. I am by no means saying he is a bad director because he isn't. It's just that he is more known for horror films and that style of filmmaking is vastly different from a super hero movie. So overall, an OK film but nothing to get excited over. The lighting was terrible during the night shoots and you could hardly see spiderman. The camera was also whack during the first web slinging bit. This isn't a good movie, but it isn't terrible.
Casino Royale (2006)
Daniel Craig's career got a jump start due to this movie and it is no wonder why. Craig who is the latest Bond in the enormous franchise since the great Pierce Brosnan dons the name and kicks into action in this superb adaptation of Ian Fleming's first James Bond novel. Martin Campbell who previously worked on Goldeneye gives us the fans one of the best Bond movies ever produced. Craig brings to the screen a dark, gritty and more violent Bond than we have seen before. Despite all the skeptics, Craig is in my opinion of one the best Bonds in the franchise. He is third best next to the second best Pierce Brosnan and the best of all Sean Connery. The script proves ruthless in dynamic dialogue and never enters the cheese zone. There is a great action along with plenty of beautiful woman and a twist that may or may not come as a shock. Casino Royale reinvents Bond the way that Batman Begins reinvented Batman. New faces, same story different eye behind the camera. Though the film is lengthy, the movie uses the time to truly delve deep into the characters of James and his partner Vesper. The chemistry between them is one of the best ever captured on camera and the time they spend together through thick and thin doesn't make you question their next moves. From the opening scene that tells us how James Bond became a 00, to the last scene where Daniel Craig speaks the ever famous line setting up the first ever Bond sequel, the movie remains a fast paced fast talking suave, witty and overall outstanding addition to the already successful franchise that doesn't intend to die anytime soon.
Cowboys & Aliens (2011)
Cowboys, Aliens and Indians
After the Iron Man movies, Jon Favreau is now something of a fan favorite. Taking from the graphic novel of the same name, Steven Spielberg along with several other have produced one of the best movies of this year. This is solid story telling in a different kind of movie one doesn't see that often. Harrison Ford reenters the action genre as the Colonel of a scared town that gets invaded by Aliens in which several family members are whisked away via cables from the mini space crafts. Jon Favreau perfectly blends the Western and Sci-Fi genre's to the point that one never overshadows the other, but are merged well. The acting is excellent including a very cool headed, yet violent Craig who has amnesia and can't remember much. Olivia Wilde's character has a confusing background and the script never delves into it, so you sort of have to make do. The aliens are another interesting aspect. In today's Hollywood, aliens and or predators are not the most original designed beings in movies. Movies also have the tendency to wait till the end of a movie to show the audience what the creatures look like and normally not in the best of lighting. Here, we are introduced to one quite early and we see them very clearly throughout. I thought they had a cool design and were fun to watch as they battled both cowboys and Indians. The SFX and VFX were also very cool and fun to watch while not overshadowing the real elements of this story. This movies packs quite a punch and should not be missed.
On a more positive note...
I am one of maybe a handful of people that didn't hate this movie. The complaints pertaining to this movie are endless to say the least, but I am here to give my 2 cents.
First: The Parents Many have said that they were unfunny and shouldn't have been in the movie. The parents had 3 scenes if I counted right. The first was when Sam is preparing to go off to college, but his mom is reminiscing about him as a baby. All moms do this, and yet suddenly in a movie it's unheard of. The father is putting the moves on the mom before leaving the house. They're married, get over it. At the college, the mom gets high and goes A-wall. This was stupid, but lasted a minute, get over it. It's called a mid-life crisis. Last scene is in the desert with Sam. Once again this is very brief, the mom is very calm, the father is scared for his son. Very natural given where they are and what they are doing.
Twin Robots Who can forget the "racist" robots that talked liked Gangsters and were poorly animated. These guys were in for a while but they weren't given that much dialogue and they did end of helping in the end with the monster in the desert.
The length Michael Bay wouldn't give us a half ass 1hr 30 min version. The final battle is drawn out in length, but that was the best part. Intense action scenes don't blow over in 10 min.
I am not trying to defend this movie, I am just saying my thoughts. People blow this out of proportion as to how bad it is. The script needed work, yes and the Spanish kid was f**king annoying, and Megan Fox was no use at all, but that aside I had a really fun time with this movie. I also, don't get why everyone bashes John Turturro's character. He brings so much energy and life to the scenes that you never start to doze off and yet people say he is rambunctious and annoying.
Whether you love it or hate it, this is not a bad movie, it's just a fun action movie that doesn't succeed in any other areas.
A grown man in a kids world
Michael Bay is one of the few Hollywood directors out there who isn't ashamed to put on his bad boy hat and shove aside story and characters to give us intense unrelenting action scenes. As a major action buff, I live for these types of movies where Robots are fighting in our world and we clash as one. While pretty much everyone in human existent absolutely loathed the second transformers movie, I walked out having had a fun time and was able to be entertained for the 2hr 30 min run time. Keeping some entertained for over 2 hours is no easy task, but with Michael Bay's hand at the director realm, we got great action and fast paced witty dialogue. I am not trying to defend the second film, all I'm saying is that I liked it. There are a lot of Michael Bay haters out there and it really disgusts me that people go to see these movies, only to return home just to b**ch and nag on the internet about them later on. Shia LaBeouf has majorly improved as an actor over the years with this franchise and has worked under the intense eye of Bay who can be known for being a bit of a douche on the set. Newcomer Rosie Huntington-Whiteley replaces Megan Fox as Sam's girlfriend and despite this being her first acting experience, she does a good job and also looks quite good in tight dresses in the process. The SFX and VFX are amazing and never cease to amaze me as Bay pushes the envelope as to what is going on on screen. It is required that people suspend their disbelief for a movie like this but given what it is about shouldn't make that too difficult. The story is a bit confusing, with one too many twists near the end and the script needed work as is the case with most of these types of movies. This is one of those movies where you can go in and turn your brain off and just enjoy yourself. Nothing wrong with that. The opening sequence is spliced a bit odd and may confuse you but the 3D actually worked in this movie which surprised me but also delighted me. It was shot in 3D so that helped. This is really only meant for action buffs who could care less about plot and characters; and while those elements are important, I certainly don't look for them in a Michael Bay film.
The Last Airbender (2010)
The elements are dead now
One of the worst movies I've ever seen. I had never seen an M. Night film before viewing this so I wasn't in touch with his style. I also failed to watch the animated television show this is based on before seeing it. The trailer did a good job of sucking you in and making you want to see it. The movie is another story entirely. The casting director needs to fired here for an atrocious choice at all the major and supporting characters. The story as I've heard it is that Shyamalan's daughter came to him with the idea because she liked the show. He then wrote the screenplay, decided to produce it and direct it. I don't know if the studio hired him to direct or what but either way, bad move. I can't believe somebody didn't read the script and ask for a rewrite or hire somebody else. Honestly, the dialogue was abominable. The bending of the elements itself was a joke as well considering there hardly was any and the CG elements were so poorly executed that it wasn't even worth it. The 3D is too terrible to even fully get into. The actress playing the role of the sister was so annoying I wanted to go into the movie and strangle her. One of the actors from Twilight is in this and the main character from Slumdog Millionaire is in this. Save your time and money and avoid this. Watch the animation instead.