Posted on 12/05/10 02:09 PM
With the newest entry on the Twilight saga, I have to say, they really need someone else to write the dialog. It feels a bit like it was written by a very intelligent 12 year old girl. This has potential but is in dire need of some experts to give it clout and credibility. However, the storyline/plot has become much more intriguing this time around. I enjoyed the concept of the werewolves and vampires having to work together or team up to protect Bella. Very engaging. Both Jacob and Edward were more likable in this. I especially enjoyed the scene in the tent. And the scene where the wolves show up on Bella detail. It has to be said somewhere, but Michael Sheen desperately needs to be in the next one. The soundtracks on the previous editions to the saga was something I quite enjoyed;-- with exception to the end song, they needed to pay attention to the affect a good score makes on adding drama to a moment. That's not to say I was disappointed (or that I'm suggesting they go overboard on the next edition), but something I noticed immediately and appreciated on the other films. It's something that followed you after the film was over. Regarding the new director, David Slade: This newest Twilight had a much less ominous presence or dark aura(?) to it than the previous; but it was also much less like a teen soap opera, skipping to the point where it needed to.
In summation, it was worth the price of the rental to see Eclipse, but this is probably not for a film connoisseur. We'll see on the next one. It is improving a bit.
Posted on 12/05/10 01:34 PM
Three friends spend vacation time in Malaysia- two go home, but one, Lewis McBride (Joaquin Phoenix) stays with the dream of working with apes for his research. Two years later a lawyer, Beth Eastern (Anne Heche), locates the friends. It turns out that shortly after they had left Lewis, police raided their camp and found large quantities of hash inside. Lewis was the only one residing there, so he took the full blame and is being sentenced to execution unless his two friends can come forward and take their share of the responsibility, whereby reducing the sentence for him, but at the same time putting themselves into the depths of hell.
The story begins with questions of morality but quickly devolves into absurdities; however, it is the literally CHILLING, emotionally wrought and powerful performance given by Joaquin Phoenix that *really* lends this movie its legs. (Review edited to add that credit aught to be given to Anne Heche's equally brilliant performance.) Set design was well constructed, giving the feeling of third-world, unsanitary conditions, and the feeling of total isolation from the pretty things we're all use to...
Overall worth it for the performances and a long after-movie discussion. 7.8/10.
Posted on 12/05/10 01:32 PM
''The prequel story traces the origins of the centuries-old blood feud between the aristocratic vampires and their onetime slaves, the Lycans. In the Dark Ages, a young Lycan named Lucian (Michael Sheen) emerges as a powerful leader who rallies the werewolves to rise up against Viktor (Bill Nighy), the cruel vampire king who has enslaved them. Lucian is joined by his secret lover, Sonja (Rhona Mitra), in his battle against the Vampire army and his struggle for Lycan freedom.''
Underworld: Rise of the Lycans is another foolishly disregarded gem that is all the makings of the fantastic. As a prequel and a changing in cast, it seems to have upset its fans. Or perhaps this is due to the retelling of a story quickly mentioned in previous Underworld stories. Point taken, now here is mine. . .
Director Patrick Tatopoulos brings forth skill, talent and the know-how in creating worlds and epic stories. The film opens to a narration, a Lord of the Rings-esk voice quickly setting up the back-story of the myth; flying above castle walls down to the army of lycans storming full speed ahead; tilted angles; a warrior standing on a hill to address the masses; march of the elders before the final draw; a lycan's gruesome tearing of vampire flesh; concise cuts of sword play, arrows and physical combat; and a burning Viktor, threatened by the light of day, slowly and vengefully fades into the recesses of darkness --- all of which builds underlying tension.
The score sometimes ethereal; gothic/industrial; ominous; howling instruments; deep chorus moaning; the pounding of adrenalin-injected impending doom; slow building up and the impeccable and perfectly executed full stop... my goodness, I MUST find out how they create these sounds!
A cast of characters consisting of Viktor (Bill Nighy), with his cold indifference, fierce malevolence, a sly snake-in-the-ground, moving in for the kill; Lucian (Michael Sheen) and the moments where you could see in his eyes the knowledge of his shackles, his place with the vampires, how destitute his situation is, the inevitability of further torment and eventually the absolutely gut wrenching anguish of his screams; Sonja (Rhona Mitra), with her subtle curve of the eyebrows to suggest secrecy, restrained shaking, artificial strength in the position of danger, defiant eyes, false innocence and looks of suppressed horror and when being sentenced to death; and all the rest - a cast jam-packed full of professional actors leagues ahead of your *ahem* average lot.
This is not just some vampire vs. werewolf movie for the kiddies; it is an epic battle between the oppressed and their masters; an amalgam of fighting for the right to basic freedoms -- to love and live freely; a totalitarian reign bent on ruling over the lives of others; an emotional and intense fight; and the downfall of that evil regime delivered on a grand, epic scale.
By bar the best of the three, and very recommended. 8.2/10
Posted on 12/05/10 01:27 PM
Very melodramatic, but consistently so. After having watched other actors take those roles and other Shakespeare films, I can see why this would get panned and any Shakespearian actor would probably look at it as a mockery; however, this does have its merits-- it's given the play a modern spin, something which a younger audience can understand and identify with. There is indeed something wonderful about hearing those lines spoken with grace, but you'd have a difficult time filling seats or entertaining the majority of people, a modern audience, perhaps, and this was an interesting middle ground.
I like it. The more impressive of moments for me was Romeo being greeted by Tybalt and their exchange, as well as Mercutio cursing the families, among a few others. A little rocky in the beginning, but it definitely had its moments.
In summation: Very nearly the right tune, but with the volume turned way up. Take it how you want, I think this is well worth the watching. ~ 7.2/10
Posted on 1/20/10 01:08 AM
James, I eat my words!
After weeks of release and reading reviews of fans and the discontented alike, I?ve taken it upon myself to re-write my review for a more encompassing look into 2009?s mega hit Avatar. *spoilers ahead*
What first comes to everyone?s mind of this picture is the CGI and 3D, mixing seamlessly photo-realistic, stereoscopic 3D, using motion-capture, performance capture, and live-action imagery. What this means to the director is that it allows him to hold or position a camera, point it at the actors and see them as their CG selves. What this translates to on film for viewers is the most realistic environment to date. You can see individual pores on their skin, real scars on the actors? faces retained, a foot coloring when it presses to the ground; but one cannot quite describe the extreme detail of a multi-layered world where it is all done by computers and you feel as though you?re looking at painted actors, with plants and animals that just haven?t been caught on Animal Planet yet.
I?ve heard a few naysayers comment on the story not being original or complex. This film has a familiar plot device that has been re-invented and is relatable to many. The movies they have compared Avatar to are not new themselves and weren?t new ideas when they were released. I think frustrations stem because many people had high hopes that Cameron ?- the man who somehow managed to lend credibility to cyborgs and created some of the most treasured hits of the recent past ?- had a new project and we were all expecting it to be unusual and different. Well those comparisons weren?t completely original, nor were the concepts Cameron gave us previously. Those referenced are generally regarded as acclaimed movies because of the way in which they told their stories, which made them stand alone and made them memorable. Avatar did the same ? giving a unique spin on a familiar set piece and making it a stand out film, telling its story in a unique way.
That brings us to the actual story - the intrusions of a foreign force on a native populace. But little do they comprehend: a war is brewing between the relentless corporation and their hired mercenaries, and the peaceful natives, when it becomes realized that neither will back down-- the walls (or trees) come crashing down, and an epic battle for survival and to retain all that there is of their world ?- their soul, their home ?- gets taken away in some of the most emotionally crippling moments that leave even full grown adults teary eyed.
But my heart goes out to the most basic aspect of the film from which other elements stem - a man awakes and becomes alive inside, who comes to Pandora and sees a lush world, full of beauty and amazement he?s only heard about, where he meets the stark contrast and passionate native with whom he develops a deep bond. Her personality rubs off on him and his on her, and he begins to understand with his whole heart. Included are themes of learning of native cultures, respect and understanding of nature and what it means to be a working part of it, birth and rebirth, love and devotion, and much more -- all which has danced across the hearts of wide-eye viewers who feel as if it?s a story told for them, or speaks specifically to them, and it?s a testament to how universal it is and how it works for so many.
I think Cameron?s choice of telling the story in the perspective of an alien world was a brilliant one because you can change the names and faces, and the story could be done literally and figuratively, philosophically and allegorically. In Pandora, everything is interconnected. Nothing really dies, but transforms, recycles or is reborn. This element is hammered into viewers when Jake Sully states in the beginning ?one life ends and another begins,? and he went from being a marine, to paraplegic, to hired by the company for the Avatar program, to being an Omaticaya, to stating again ?one life ends and another begins,? and he becomes a flesh and blood Na?vi. We also have Eywa with a multifunctional use as mother earth, a neural network, and as God or entity. On earth, you kill and tree and it rots or you pray and might not get an answer, so you don?t truly see much impact or if there?s an effect; but on Pandora, you hear their ancestors, everything speaks to each other, and you see their world fighting back. There?s just so much to analyze and interpret that I wouldn?t have time or room to add it all, but it works on many levels, and is sheer entertainment. If anything at all, the film works just watching the sheer chemistry of the characters, watching them develop into their own, flirt and fall in love. If you're not into that, you have science, war, and lots more.
Excellent story and character development that was neither too long or too short, very engaging, great pacing, excellent cast with emotional performances, beautiful score, wonderful direction... In summation, a sci-fi epic adventure with lots of heart that resonates with some and captivates others. Very recommended - 9.2/10
Posted on 1/02/10 12:29 PM
Vhats up beaches!
I really have no idea what to rate this or how to take it. And I can't imagine who this movie *cannot* offend. Some of the scenes include watching supposedly his penis flopping around in circles in front of a panel of TV people, telling an al qaeda member his boss looks like a homeless Santa Clause, riding on a roller coaster strapped in while holding a baby in the air unstrapped, using people as seats, telling a straight male camper that his tent burnt down and the only thing that survived was a box of condoms, dressing just wrong and getting chased by Orthodox Jews, swapping an iPod for a baby/laptop, giving an imaginary blow job to Milli Vanilli via psychic, dry humping and making out with a guy at a wrestling show, and trapping former Republican runner Ron Paul in a bedroom and trying to seduce him by dancing and stripping. The list goes on so much so that I don't know how -- providing this was real and totally not staged -- he didn't get shot! The list goes on and on and on. And I really question if Sacha is actually straight...
But it did have acting, and the acting was done well. It follows a linear story line -- documentary style of an Austrian guy trying to regain his fame all the wrong ways. I defy anyone to watch this without covering your eyes at some point, it's ridiculous, it's offensive, it's at times embarrassing, it's over-the-top, I don't know if I'd watch this again without being seriously drunk, and I wouldn't recommend to anyone under the age of.... 18? But it is entertainment. Kind of takes me back to the Jerky Boys and Tom Green, in a way, but going way beyond that, to extremism. The movie is also packed full of A-lister celebrities and a happy ending, with a slightly screwy "love who you are" and "when one door closes, another one opens" theme injected into the story.
You can really take it any which way. I give it a just pass because Sacha survived, and because he's got a lot of balls (figuratively and literally) for doing this. And it/he really tries to push everyone's buttons (figuratively and literally). Rental? Might be fun. Own? I can't imagine - I'll leave it up to you.
Posted on 12/23/09 11:27 AM
Interesting plot made all the more interesting by the cast, the lighting, the direction and the pace. Character development picks up fast-- within just minutes you understand the characters and their motivations. From there we have intrigue and a story that should keep you very entertained, from start to finish, with a very good performance by Bogart and a nice twist ending.
Highly recommended evening flick - 7.8/10
Posted on 12/23/09 10:02 AM
The disease basically makes them disobedient and homicidal but goes into the bizarre. It takes about an hour to set up the story, for it to develop, and get interesting. Plenty of vomiting, screaming, blue lighting, and snow. The last half hour much more interesting, but still lots of logic lacking and more screaming. Moderate acting (could have benefitted with more work in spots) and the music is redundant but good-- tubular bells, I believe. Good ending with a nice eery vibe and leaving it up to the audiences' imagination.
Overall, I wouldn't recommend paying for a rental or buying on DVD or you might end up disappointed and irritated, but this might work if you're very bored and catch it on TV. - 3.8/10
Posted on 12/18/09 09:06 AM
I adored Anthony Hopkins' performance in this. But Brad Pitt and Claire Forlani, I dunno. Brad had some good moments-- "death and taxes" comes to mind; but there were a few too many moment of looking pretty at the screen or cast member/character. He can do better and so could she. Not bad, but not good. Marcia Gay Harden (as Allison), stood out pretty well, excellent performance. Jake Weber (as Drew), was pretty effective. Also Jeffrey Tambor (as Quince), was a nice addition, good performance.
Overall an interesting concept, but a slightly dodgy execution. I'd wait to catch it on TV to get the most out of it. - 5.4/10
Posted on 12/18/09 08:24 AM
This is probably one of the most depressing movies I've ever seen. That's not to be taken as an insult to the movie-- but whenever you get down and think you've got it bad, you need only pop in this video and appreciate what you do have. I don't care what critics have to throw at this, it still gets you.
Not for everyone, but worth a look if you've got a box of Kleenex handy and don't have anything important to do the next day. Rating 7.2/10