Showing 1 - 6 of 6 Reviews
Posted on 4/07/11 02:20 PM
I'll admit it - I really wanted to not like this movie. I will say this - if the film was trying to present an accurate portrayal of "life in New York", it didn't accomplish that mission. The New York in this film is too bright, too violent, at times too large and at times too small. The sheer number of times, early in the film, that the characters "bump into" one another is just silly. Channing's character just happening to bump into his small town rival in a city as titanic as New York is just as unbelievable as the rivalry that drives them.
Channing Tatum turns in a pretty entertaining performance as a small-town nobody, with little education, trying to make his way in the "big city". Despite itself, this movie actually ends up a pretty good watch, if you turn off logic for a while and just enjoy the ride. Where does it fall flat? Almost every plot element feels contrived and forced. Channing's character meeting his "rival", almost by serendipity, early in the film left me completely cold. I didn't care about the back story between them because I got the sense it was silly - and it was.
Where the movie really shines, however, is in the interactions between Channing and Terrance Howard, and Channing and Zulay Henao feel very authentic, unscripted, and almost voyeristic. Peeping into the budding relationship between Shawn and Zulay was actually far more interesting than the rest of the film. Further, Terrence Howard really takes over the film as a self proclaimed "2-bit hustler" that is torn between wanting to see his protege succeed and wanting to "get that money". It's fascinating, and it's a tragedy that so much time was invested in the fights that there wasn't more time spent exploring these relationships. When the movie ends, you almost wish the movie had really started about a half hour ago and you could immerse yourself in the rest of the story. Unfortunately that portion goes unseen and we're left to wonder what kind of movie "Fighting" could have been with someone else at the helm.
Posted on 4/07/11 02:15 PM
This film is just more proof that professional critics live in a bubble and don't "get it". The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou is smart, subtle comedy that takes a few viewings to truly appreciate.
I loved Bill Murray as Steve Zissou. I love the growth that his character undergoes through the film. Near the end, he says to Jane "I said those things. I did those things." Which to me represents the ultimate moment of self-awareness for the vain but subdued narcissist Steve is portrayed to be.
Bill clearly "got" the character of Steve in the same critics don't "get" Wes Anderson's work. Also, I loved the silly, over-the-top, slightly fantastic element that ran as an undercurrent through the film. The tour of the Belafonte, the wildly colorful and impossible sea life (culminating in the elusive Jaguar Shark), and the non-sequitor twists of fate that befall the crew all turn the film into a work of art. I think the denoument at the end, in the submarine, is one of the most emotionally charged moments in cinema that I've ever seen.
All in all, I think there's a clear distinction between those that really feel what Wes Anderson is trying to say, or those that don't. Somewhat like Terry Gilliam, there's some etherial quality to his films that you either vibe with or you don't.
Posted on 7/15/10 04:42 PM
The Dark Knight falls very short of being the "great" movie that I hoped it would be. It successfully paints Batman as an anti-hero, but it takes so long and does it in such pompous style that by the end of the film I had lost interest.
Heath Ledger - as you may well have heard - carries this film. While Christian Bale's Batman is busy being over the top, and Two-Face is busy being useless to the film's plot, Heath's Joker is one of the best interpretations of the character I've seen in a long time - either film or print. The film doesn't spend a lot of time on a contrived "origin story", letting Heath craft the character as the movie progresses. We learn about him by his actions, not by some long montage sequence that explains in painstaking detail exactly why he does what does. THAT part of the film, at least, is great. That part of the film transcends.
The rest of the film, however, simply serves as a vehicle for Heath's brilliant execution. Maggie Gyllenhal is the only other person that manages to light up the screen and hold her own with Heath's Joker.
Lastly, the movie runs a bit long and suffers from Spider-Man 3 syndrome - introduce a seemingly major character and relegate him to minor status as part of a useless subplot. The Two-Face character could have been spun into a second movie worthy of his status as one of Batman's direst and most emotionally charged foes. In comics, Harvey Dent and Bruce Wayne have a deep friendship, making Batman's attempts to "save" Two-Face all the more poignent. In the movie, however, we lose a lot of that emotional punch, and the film writes off Two-Face completely in a very unsatisfying way. Even taken on it's own, Two-Face's treatment is baffling at best.
The Dark Knight was a loud, expensive visual treat, with a powerful storyline. It made a ton of money. It's the "go-to" film for any comic fan wanting to ease a non-fan into the genre. However, I don't think, in ten years time, we'll be talking about The Dark Knight with the same emphasis that we are today. Legacy aside, however, it was enjoyable to watch once. Isn't that all that matters?
Posted on 7/15/10 04:11 PM
This film is a perfect example of what Anime (and animation as a whole) can really accomplish. Much of the complaint on this film stems from it being "too long", but I must be one of the rare few that thinks it was the perfect length to accomplish what it set out to do.
The story was engrossing and timely. The plot reveals itself like a flower opening up - just when you find yourself asking "what's going on? what's the mystery?" the film answers your question and leads you a little further down the path - right into the next mystery. It's brilliant storytelling, something the Cowboy Bebop series excels at in general.
Spike is as good a protaganist as they come, and the rest of the cast is engaging in their own way. The characters are presented as real people who make mistakes, capitalize on lucky opportunities, and are neither super-heroic nor overly inferior. They are true characters without becoming flat caricatures. Even Faye, painted broadly as a vamp with an attitude, is shown to be a "real" person through the course of the film, revealing a few of her insecurities in the process. It's masterful storytelling, and it's a treat to watch.
All told, Knocking on Heaven's Door is a great entry into a tradition of film-style anime movies such as Akira, Ghost in the Shell, or Spirited Away. While the film never quite seems to reach the epic, iconic reach of those films, it packs just as much emotional punch.
Posted on 7/15/10 03:28 PM
There are very few films that I wish were longer. Ponyo is one of those films.
I enjoyed the world that Miyazaki created around his characters almost as much as the film and the characters themelves. Miyazaki - and by extension, his studio - are the absolute masters of both the small, fine details and the broader strokes that define a world. The world that surrounds Ponyo is rich and wonderful and alive, as the environments in every Studio Ghibli film are.
All in all, this is a great movie for kids and adults alike. I know that phrase has become a cliche, but this is one of those movies that transcends the animated format and becomes a simple classic in the way the old Disney films are simple classics.
Posted on 7/15/10 03:13 PM
This is probably the epitome of a "love it or hate it" video-game movie. As with all things Square-Enix, this film starts small but shoots for epic heights by the end. The band of heroes from Final Fantasy VII reunite to do nothing less than save the entire world, yet again.
Objectively, I liked the film. Taken strictly as a film, it stands up to the best of both live-action and animated features as powerful, both emotionally and visually. The characters ring very true to their pixellated counterparts from almost a decade earlier (Final Fantasy VII was released in 1997) - Cloud is sufficiently moody and confused, Tifa displays her bubbly charm, and the rest of the cast act just how you imagined they would be from playing the game and reading their dialogue.
Where the film tends to fall flat is when it tries to hard to link itself back to Final Fantasy VII but gets things wrong. Minor details may not make the film a "bust" for the non-fan, but little things (like a summon being performed with non-red materia) will stick out to the major series fans that spent hundreds of hours junctioning their materia in the original game.
Where the film shines, however, is in the subtleties of it's animation. The film is a sheer visual delight. Just watching Cloud himself is awe-inspiring - and today, to think that this film was started in early 2001 and has this level of detail is quite impressive. Cloud seems believeable enough without falling into the "uncanny valley" that plauges most photo-realistic CGI films. Gestures like a half-shrug, a furrowed brow, a sly smile, all of these are captured marvelously.
However, a pretty face does not make a "great" film. Advent Children is an entertaining watch, but nothing about the film compelled me to re-visit it over and over in the vein of Cowboy Bebop: Knocking on Heaven's Door or Akira, two films with the same sort of epic scope that Advent Children has. I would highly recommend watching it, however, if you're a die-hard fan of the series, you may want to prepare yourself for a few inaccuracies, and just take the movie on it's own merits.
All in all, a worthwhile experience.