Posted on 10/20/09 07:32 PM
There's a one inside of us.
Max (Max Records) imagines running away from his mom and sailing to a far-off land where large talking beasts -- Ira, Carol, Douglas, the Bull, Judith and Alexander -- crown him as their king, play rumpus, build forts and discover secret hideaways. Voices by Chris Cooper, James Gandolfini, Catherine O'Hara, and many others.
Once in a lifetime a very noble director will get a hold of a wonderful children book and really turn it into something magical, this is close to what I thought I was going to have.
I had a really hard time with this film overall. I was expecting a beautiful, exciting adventure from the out-of-this world mind from Spike Jonze. However, all the hype that the film was getting it quite didn't live up to what I was expecting. Well, I guess adapting a movie from a 10 page book, isn't the easiest thing to do.
The emotional depth this film goes into is perfect and really handled well in this film. There are just some really profoundly beautiful scenes that really do shine with emotion and old natural beauty. Jonze connects the character of Max to all the other Wild Things, and shows how both of their lives are both equal in every single way, and how they can both learn from one another. Jonze even goes as far as to sort of get adults thinking about these messages about childhood, and how they felt at their age as well.
The only problem I had with this film is that it just wasn't as powerful as it could've been. There were so many scenes that could've been handled better if the right attitude was given towards it. In most of these scenes I almost thought that Jonze was going to pull off the scene and really make it memorable. However, Jonze takes another road that doesn't seem like the best solution for it.
Another problem I had with this film was that although there is a lot of kid-friendly elements to this film, I don't think that kids will quite have a ball with this film. This movie is more about the message of Max, and most kids won't look at this. They'll look at the Wild Things and how scary they look, and the little fun montages, not necessarily the message that Jonze was really going for here.
The little things of this film we're really good add-ons however. I liked the soundtrack with Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and I thought all of those songs really did connect to the mood of each scene. The visuals that combine the elements of people in costumes, CGI, and animations. They look real and actually could get a nomination cause of how spectacular they look.
Max Records, who plays little Max does a good job at showing some future star quality. Though he can be a little annoying at some points, I really did feel like he was one of the more realistic protagonists in a film in a long time. The voices in this film are good as well, but the best has got to be James Gandolfini as Carol. He really does give the emotion that is needed to play this character and overall has a more effective job than any other of the Wild Things.
The ending that most of you all know from the book, is not as emotionally-charged as you would think. I left the film with a very bad taste cause of the ending, because overall it was just a lame ending for a very powerful movie.
Consensus: Spike Jonze, doesn't deliver on every spectrum, but does create a very true, emotionally-powerful fable about what it's really like as a child and the kind's of turmoil they face at such a young age.
Posted on 10/19/09 09:15 AM
Guy Ritchie doing what he does best.
Thandie Newton and Gerard Butler co-star in director Guy Ritchie's crime thriller about crooks from London's underworld who set out to nab millions of dollars left for the taking when a Russian mobster's real estate scam falls apart. Tom Wilkinson plays a powerful crime boss, with Jeremy Piven and rapper Ludacris appearing as record producers who get strong-armed into looking for a drug-addicted rock star.
It's good to see Guy Ritchie get back on the horse with this smoothly crafted tale of greed and deceit among thieves. Seeing the cast selection made me feel like Ritchie was a magical pizza-maker who somehow knew my favorite toppings without having to even take my order. Each ingredient combined for a perfect medley to my movie taste buds.
Now for me I loved Guy Ritchie's previous gangster-comedy films, Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch, are my two favorites of all-time. Now RocknRolla, is like those two but with a little less flair and charm that his last two have held up so well.
The film's jokes aren't as funny until you actually think about them and then you finally get them. This is a lot of different humor from Guy Ritchie, as the jokes are far more blatant and obvious, at some points. I never thought thought that Ritchie would go for the gay jokes, but in this film I guess he does, and there actually pretty funny.
The best thing about all of Ricthie's stories is that no matter how confusing they can get, they seem to all come together by the end. At times watching RocknRolla, I was wondering if or even how this was all going to come all together. It does and I was really shocked and overall I thought it was a good turn out.
I just felt like this film could've been a lot more dynamic and different from Ritchie's others. Still, it isn't better than them two and it really isn't that different. I'm glad that Ritchie went back to his London-based roots cause obviously he's amazing at them, but I just wanted something new and a little bit more than what I got.
I liked the cast a lot. Gerard Butler does a great job here, and he and Idris Elba, actually do have great chemistry as two crooks. Thandie Newtown's character wasn't that interesting and I thought she could've been a better character. But the one that really shines here is Tom Wilkinson, who really does make a great villain, that we all want to see dead but also we kind of like because of his smart way of business making. Never would I have thought a film with Ludacris and Tom Wilkinson together actually be good.
Consensus: RockNRolla goes back to Ricthie's roots, and is a credible caper gangster comedy. It just doesn't feature anything new and seems like overall this genre may be soon to die out.
Posted on 10/18/09 09:42 PM
The 21st century Fight Club, without the brain-busting plot.
When Sean Arthur (Channing Tatum),an unmotivated young man who hustles counterfeit merchandise in New York City, meets seasoned street-fighting coach Harvey Boarden (Terrence Howard) by chance, his whole life changes. Sean's fights are dangerous, but he sets out to win the prize money at stake and the respect of those around him.
When I first saw this film I was saying "Oh god they decided to rip off The Karate Kid and put it along with Never Back Down", but when I actually watched the film I was a little surprised.
The fights of this movie are mainly the strong point of the film. The scenes are heavily stylized and aren't as great until you realize they have a certain life or death consequence to actually winning them, is when you start to get into them. They are filmed very realistically of how you would feel in a fight and you can just feel the excitement with these numerous fight scenes.
The fights also feel genuine, cause it shows that in the middle of a fight when you do get hit, it actually does hurt and it's not something you just shrug off and get right back up of. There is a sense of realism within these fights and it makes the movie a whole lot of a better ride.
The only problem that when these fight scenes aren't occurring, there isn't much really going on. The plot starts to meander and go between two stories of Tatum and his love for a waitress, his personal struggles with his father, and his relationship with Terence Howard. I felt like there were way too many scenes of this and it just became way too boring.
Surprisingly the strong point of this film lies within it's charming performance from Channing tatum. He show's that he actually can act and carry a movie with the type of star-quality that many actors do have in big-time Hollywood. Terence Howard also turns in a very different performance, that was good but i couldn't really tell what his intentions were at times throughout the movie, and he didn't seem all that too interesting as he could've been.
Consensus: Fighting has a very charming performance from Tatum, and features some stylized excited fight sequences. But the film starts to become a little too boring when it's plot starts to unravel.
Posted on 10/18/09 04:32 PM
I actually like Shakespeare now because of this film.
What if a penniless William Shakespeare (Joseph Fiennes) fell in love with a noblewoman (Oscar-winner Gwyneth Paltrow) while struggling to write a comedy with the unlikely title "Romeo and Ethel the Sea Pirate's Daughter?" Might the emotional turmoil inspire him to recraft the play into a tragedy with a more familiar-sounding name?
I mostly heard of this film before, because at the 1998 Oscars it beat out one of my favorite movies of all-time, Saving Private Ryan, for a the Best Picture Oscar. I was ready to see this film and tear it apart because I thought it was bogus that this ended up winning. But now that I've seen this I don't know who deserved to win.
This is a wonderful film in all ways possible. Director John Madden really does create this vibrant fun new world filled with love literature, and most of all Shakespeare. Most of the characters and the events that happen are mostly fictional, but Madden does such a great job at showing how it all comes together at the end, and you have a great blend of mixing fiction with reality.
The most props of this film have to go to the screenplay. Throughout the whole film, I was so taken away by the wit of all these jokes and I liked how the olde english language was there but still made for the "modern" ear to understand. Though there is a lot of seriousness I felt there was also a lot of wonderful comedy that really did brighten up the tone and make this film a lot more enjoyable.
The most beautiful thing about this film really does come from the romance between Viola and Shakespeare which is really what the film is centered on. It feels and looks real, as you can see what really happens to a person when they fall in love and where the inspiration of it lies within Shakespeare's work.
Gwyneth Paltrow turns in a magnificent Oscar-winning performance as Viola, as she shows a lot of depth of what seemed like a one-note character, and really does stay on top with the rest of these characters on screen. The whole cast does a great job but I feel like the one that really does the best job and doesn't get any credit for it is Joseph Fiennes. If there is anyone in the world I wanted to meet it was Shakespeare, and Fiennes plays this person we already know and allow him to have more excitement and boldness added to his character, so that we cheer and love him even more.
The only problem I had with this film was very minor and that it didn't feature much of the play itself and focused more on the romance. I wanted to know more of what happened behind the scenes of one of the most famous plays of all-time, and I didn't get that much of it.
Consensus: One of the most delightfully charming romantic comedies of all time. With a clever script, wonderful acting, and perfect direction, Shakespeare In Love hits the spot on every level.
Posted on 10/18/09 09:16 AM
An old geezer takes flight.
After a lifetime of dreaming of traveling the world, 78-year-old homebody Carl (voiced by Ed Asner) is lured into an unbelievable adventure, thanks in part to the persistence of Russell, an 8-year-old Wilderness Explorer (Jordan Nagai). Together, the unlikely pair embarks on a thrilling odyssey full of jungle beasts and rough terrain.
This is Pixar's first hit at a 3-D film and might as well be their best work to date. With Up they dive into a world vivid and alive, rich in detail, and somehow despite the obvious lack of realism, completley authentic.
Pixar one's great thing about their films is that they can create this mashing of heart and humor in one film to make it work, but I think this is one of their best work combining the two. In the beginning of the film we get a montage of Carl and his wife together throughout the years of their marriage, is some of the best animation in a film to date. It's gut-wrenching, and true showing all the high's and the low's of marriage.
Up is actually one of those really special films that when it comes out you must see. It's a very timeless film tat doesn't act like many other Pixar films. It doesn't have those jokes that are more for the adults and go right over the children head, there all for everyone in the crowd to understand.
Never in my life have I come closer to crying at a Pixar film in my life. Up really deals with some tough and heart-wrenching themes, such as love, death, and most all life in general. There are some scenes that just bring out a huge batch of emotion from inside of you out into this movie, and it was all worth it, cause it really does mean something when you cry watching this film.
Ed Asner voices Carl, and if there is anybody that can do the voice of an old grumpy man it's him, because he does an amazing job right here. Also the voice of the little kid was also very good, along with the talking doug ,Dug, who every time talked made me laugh every time. Christopher Plummer also comes out of nowhere and does a great voice over playing the villain.
Though Up was sad and serious it still has some comedy that stays with you throughout the film and is well-worth it. Also, there is a message that really means something that is saying that you did accomplish something in life and life is an adventure.
Consensus: Up is exciting, heart-felt, and also hilarious. This is one of more Pixar's most serious work to date, but has a great message and brings out the best within you.
Posted on 10/17/09 11:28 AM
Finally these two all-stars meet up but in a jail.
It's 1932; Ray (Eddie Murphy) is a small-time hustler, and Claude Banks (Martin Lawrence) is a bank teller with a taste for gambling. When Ray picks Claude's pocket to pay off a debt, the two men are framed and land in the same jail for 60 years; trouble is, they can't stand each other! Stuck in a work camp, they hope to be proved innocent someday -- if they don't kill each other in the meantime.
I first heard about this film and was interested in seeing it cause it had my two favorite African-American comedians finally together in a movie. I was just expecting on-going laughs from these great actors, and although I got that the story of this film was a lot more than I was even thinking about.
However, this movie has an inherent sadness to it. These two men have their dreams crushed and are trapped in prison their entire lives. And yet they always remain hopeful about getting out and starting their lives. It creates a weird balance in the movie between the comic and the tragic.
Life started to lose me cause I think the way the whole film acted around it's setting didn't seem like the place for comedic effect. The Louisiana prison they are sentenced to, the future there isn't so brigfht and many moments are very serious but aren't taken very seriously, and that's what kind of threw me off this film. I think this story could've really worked if it was used in a 1999 prison instead a 1930's one.
I liked the comedy though even without the serious parts. I felt like the comedy does get a little over-the-top, but overall succeeds in making you laugh. I enjoyed how the jokes weren't really centered towards racism and crime jokes and they stood up between mature and sometimes immature.
Lawrence and Murphy really do shine in this film however. I hear that they didn't really like their Director Ted Demme, but he must have done something to them cause they give out great little performances here. This is very different from a lot of their other work, because it has more of a serious side to it, but they do take the ball and run with this film every scene they get. There are also little supporting characters in this film that are good that feature Bernie Mac (R.I.P), Anthony Anderson, and if you don't blink you can catch Ned Beatty.
Consensus: Life is set-up in a very strange way, but features great performances from Lawrence and Murphy, and a great life lesson on love and friendship.
Posted on 10/16/09 09:00 PM
All in the title.
Desperate to save their marriage, one couple convinces three other couples to go in on a group rate price for an island retreat designed for troubled unions. But the "mandatory therapy" brews up nothing but trouble for everyone. Vince Vaughn, Jon Favreau, Jason Bateman, Kristen Bell, Kristin Davis and Faizon Love star in this comedy penned by Favreau.
The movie tries to work really hard as being a date movie like Forgetting Sarah Marshall or Sleepless in Seattle, but it doesn't give any answers to how these couples can react to their problems they face as a couple.
The script is written by Swingers stars Faverau and Vaughn, and you can actually see some really good interplay between them two really does shine through on this script. This movie has it's moments, and some parts that don't seem funny actually end up being funnier than you expected.
Though the script was good it did feel a little lazy and the jokes really got repetitive and annoying. There were countless amounts of dirty sex jokes that we're not only meaningless to the plot at hand but overall just not funny and stupid. The jokes also really do start out as really funny, but then they really over due and just have the jokes go on and on, till where it just becomes tiring and you want a new scene. The perverted muscle dude scene got out of hand and although I laughed for awhile I felt like they were just finding any sex position to role play with.
I liked the good cast with some great stars, but most of them didn't create laughs for me like I thought they would. It was funny seeing Vince Vaughn as being the responsible father figure, but he does actually give some really comedy even though he doesn't play himself. Along with Faverau who once again is acting like a fool. Though I was confused of why Jason Bateman was used so wrong. He's one of the more funnier men in Hollywood, but he just doesn't have any funny material to work with here and comes off as very misused.
Consensus: Though with it's moments, Couple Retreat seems very lazy, and not very funny nor very providing on relationships and couples.
Posted on 10/14/09 04:21 PM
Sean Connery trying to be a Russian, nothing else is better than that.
When a Soviet nuclear sub headed toward American waters drops off U.S.scanners, the Yanks scramble to take defensive steps. But CIA analyst Jack Ryan (Alec Baldwin) convinces the brass that the sub's commander (Sean Connery) has something other than a first strike in mind.
Now getting ready to watch this movie I was all hyped up. I love Sean Connery in any movie, and it actually looked like a reasonably slick thriller with little tweaks of action. Too bad that wasn't what happened at all.
The film I guess you could call it a thriller, that's if what your definition of thriller is. If your definition is a movie that has little or no action in the middle and suddenly picks up speed bu the end, with the other 95% of the film all just useless talking, then yeah this is a thriller.
Other than the talking about God knows what with these characters nothing really happens. I felt myself zoning out plenty of times and just bored all together. I mean I know sound pretty stingy but this film just didn't hold my attention. They play this score music that tries to get you all in suspense when really there was no suspense to begin with, and its just put at random times of the movie.
The acting in this movie is actually the one thing that makes it watchable. Sean Connery as usual does a greta job in this film and it seems like he really does try his hardest with this film and actually make a run with it. Alec Baldwin does a good job to and has more effective scenes than Connery which kind of threw me off, but they were still good nonetheless.
By the end of the film there is some CGI that comes into play and I could not help but just laugh at how pitiful it really looked. I thought I was playing a video game or something when that crap came up.
Consensus: Though it has good performances, The Hunt For Red October doesn't really have much going on and tries to act like a suspenseful thriller when it's neither.
Posted on 10/14/09 10:25 AM
Don't go to sleep!
The movie centers on a young couple, Katie and Micah, who are haunted by a supernatural presence in their home. The movie is presented through the camera set up by the couple to capture the paranormal activity.
Now with any mockumentary horror film, right from the get go you know there's going to be contrasts to The Blair Witch Project, and I can ultimately see why. The atmosphere is creepy, no script with very unknown actors, films the same way, and no soundtrack what so ever. However, I found this even freakier than Blair Witch, which really is one of my favorite horror films of all-time.
The film starts out really all nice and happy, and although there's little thumps here and there it's really nothing serious. But then when things start to pick up, it starts getting shit crazyyy!!!
First of all, the real reason why Paranormal works is because the special effects look so real. I have no clue how they did some of these scenes but almost every scene feels and just looks so legit, that it actually feels like your watching a documentary happen, right in front of your eyes.
Secondly, the acting in this film is top-notched probably cause all the film is just ad-libbing but the two stars Micah and Katie are actually a very believable couple, and when they are freaked they look and sound freaked out it's not this usual scream fest to get a cheap scare.Also believe it or not in this hugely suspenseful scary movie, there is some comedy from Micah and his little one-liners that are more clever than most think.
Lastly, the real reason to see this film would definably have to be is seeing it in the theaters. This is what real cinema is all about. I was packed with my sister in a sold-out crowd in an IMAX theater, and as soon as the lights went out you know it was going down. I was really freaked out but the whole crowd was even more freaked out with me so I didn't really feel alone. But if you do go and see this film, hurry up and look for it to the closest theater near you cause I can assure you it's the full crowd experience which is just amazing.
Though I really did like this film it did have it's problems. I really liked Micah in this film but I though the decisions in this film were so dumb that it really just made me yell "THIE HOUSE IS CRAZYYYY GETT OUTTT!!!". He starts insulting and leading on the demon throughout the whole film and while your sitting there watching your wondering if this guy want's to die. Also, there are many points in this film where I would just be out of that house right away no matter what.
I think the other thing that Blair Witch really had going for itself that we all kind of thought that the whole film was actually real. When I went into this film I know it wasn't real so that kind of brought down the realistic factor for me, but ultimately that's probably not even much of a bad thing.
The whole film basically just leads up all the way to the end of the film, and when the ending happens your flipping out the whole time. I flipped, my sister flipped, every one in that theater must have flipped, cause when the ending is all said and done with you will be so effected by this movie.
Consensus: With a low-budget look and realistic effects, Paranormal Activity is one of those mockumentaries that will make you feel like everything you are seeing is real, and all the scares you get are absolutely worth it.
Posted on 10/11/09 06:13 PM
Turks are so evil.
A young American Billy Hayes (Brad Davis) is arrested in Turkey for smuggling hashish and then is sentenced to unreasonable time in a hellish Turkish prison, where he begins to self-destruct, until he musters the courage to plan his escape.
This film was based on the book from the real Billy Hayes, and it shows just how crazy you can really get in jail, and how much you really hate those damn security officers.
When I saw this film I wasn't expecting anything great or remarkably, but that is totally a different response than what I was going into. The film is really brutal for all those squeamish people out there. Some will say it was too outlandish or brutal, I say the more violence the better. This got me to really understand how vicious it really was in the Turkish jail.
I was kind of on the fence with one factor however. I liked how the film made the Turks the ultiamte bad guys that you just want to kill yourselves, but I fell like they were stereotypically horribly portrayed here. They seem so evil, so arrogant, and so very cartoon in the way they act that's it's very hard to believe that they are actually real.
In the middle of the film there turns out to be a little romance between Hayes and another prisoner, and although I'm not homophobic, I just didn't feel like it mattered at all. It happens for a scene or two and then it's gone, and Hayes soon becomes straight once again.
This screenplay was written by one of my favorites Oliver Stone and it really does feel like what you see and hear is the harsh reality of prison. The way the violence was depicted and the way these inmates interacted with one another it all felt real, and made me cheer for these prisoners as the stroy went on.
Brad Davis really does a great job here as basically throughout the whole film it all relies on him to carry this film, and he does and gives one of the most powerful performances in a prison film to date. John Hurt is also in this and does very well with the short amount of time he has on screen. The only problem I had with these characters was there wasn't much of character building on these prisoners. I didn't feel like I knew them quite well, and I felt like they didn't know each other well as well.
Consensus: Midnight Express gives a very brutal but powerful look at a Turkish prison, but falls a little too overboard when it shows the Turks as just simply evil people.