Posted on 12/07/12 09:19 PM
(Spoilers Contained Within)
It would take a very long time to go into detail about all the different plot elements in this genre defying masterpiece - so I think that I will cut to the chase: You don't have to be particularly observant or intelligent or have your wits about you to understand anything that is going on in this movie. I think the only requirements are that you have a pulse and that you have some feeling. There are parallels drawn between the different threads spanning centuries and entertaining elements throughout each - it is enough to just pay attention to what is going on and not try to do a top down analysis that requires a PhD and 20 years of movie critiquing experience.
Cloud Atlas has segments of comedy. I have never laughed so hard in all my life and huge kudos go out to Jim Broadbent for his performance as Timothy Cavendish. I never thought a nursing home could be so hilarious! Cloud Atlas works as a compelling science fiction film with a very moving segment set in Neo Seoul Korea in the year 2144. The sets are immaculate and the visual effects are grand and jaw dropping. Cloud Atlas also has segments of thoughtful drama and tense nail biting action. The magical part is that all of these stories are connected - and one of the ways that this is illustrated is by the use and reuse of actors throughout the movie. Souls of individuals are transforming as time wears on and each scene in the movie offers insight into the moral standing of each of the characters involved. The characters themselves (and it would seem their souls) are also doing a bit of introspection and making evaluations of their own as the dynamics of each story thread unfold.
Doona Bae turns in an admirable performance as a slave worker who is a clone (named Somni 451) that is used to serve guests at a café in the Neo Seoul segment. Tom Hanks delivers an awesome performance with his Doctor in the 1849 segment - twisted and evil and poisoning a man to steal his gold. Jim Broadbent delivers an outstanding performance as Timothy Cavendish as I mentioned earlier. Halle Barry is also a gem in the roles she plays - the best of which I think is Luisa Rey - someone who is finding out about corruption at a nuclear power plant and is avoiding death and working to expose some dirty secrets.
I cannot say enough about this movie. If I were voting for academy awards I am pretty sure I would give a good number of them to this film. Best Picture. Best Actor: Hanks. Best Supporting Actress: Doona Bae. Best Supporting Actor: Jim Broadbent. Best Director: The Wachowskis and Tom Tykwer. Best Makeup. Best Visual Effects. Best Editing. Best Costume Design. I say this a lot, and I might have some bias since I love sci-fi and I hope that one day sci-fi will get the recognition it deserves. After viewing this movie the first time and walking out of the theater I was certain this would be a contender and a new benchmark in the film industry.
But I have had the idea in my head that this movie has received mixed reviews from critics because it was privately funded. It has also received mixed reviews because I think there was some thought that you had to connect dots and get some crazy message from the film. More negativity came when the news articles came around discussing Larry Wachowski had become transgendered and renamed herself Lana Wachowski. I suppose that there are so many crazy variables coming together on this that there was a certain degree of failure to it. But what is good art and who makes good art? And is everyone in the world without some kind of adversity? Isn't imperfection inherent to the human condition? Are we free to make choices and do what we want with our lives and our bodies?
Had the world been open minded like I am I suppose we would be standing in line at the theater time and time again to see this awesome film - it is unfortunate that it has had to deal with the issues mentioned above. If you want my honest opinion, I STRONGLY URGE you to see this film. It is a beautiful work and may perhaps be the 2001: A Space Odyssey of the present day ---- or so we will realize after the dust settles (exactly like 2001).
Posted on 11/12/12 01:27 AM
Very well done, very scary, falls short because it is not about much other than a UFO abduction, but the vision is good and works well to frighten the audience.
Posted on 11/11/12 10:54 PM
(Spoilers contained within)
Kick-Ass is fantastic fable that aims to please and gives the watcher piece of mind on how the world works. Of the reviews I have read for this movie - many of them will say that it is half good and the half they point to as being good is Kick-Ass's reckless exploration of the "Superhero" occupation and what risk was involved with being a Superhero.
These people are idiots. I give this film 90% because I did not like Kick-Ass (played by Aaron Johnson) very much. He seemed to not have depth or wit - the kind that it would take to be a superhero. People that have superhero qualities strike me as the right types of people that would try to be superheroes.
Hit-Girl was, in a word, AMAZING. We will likely see Chloe Moretz in future roles in much the same way we will see Sharlto Copley in future roles. Hit-Girl was a dangerous and ferocious kid that would fire bullets through people's heads and stab them to pieces! I thought I was watching Kill Bill all over again! Hit-Girl was as good as "the Bride" and she even drops f-bombs and c-bombs to boot.
The critics that think Chloe did a bad job or those that think that the moral implications of making this actor play this role was abomination from hell should get hit by a meteorite and struck by lightning. Her job was to be the "CRAZYWOMAN" girl that deals with life adversity by battling her opponent. The culture that she is exposed to teaches her to drop f-bombs and steals her innocence. These things are perfectly plausible in today's world. Much (again) like the Monkeys and Typewriter in the infinite monkey theorem we could definitely have a viable existing human candidate for each of the characters that exist in this film. That being said, why limit a film to show us and employ actors to show us only what we all agree is morally and ethically ok? That is a DUMB idea!
Finally, let me point out that Christopher Mintz Plasse did a fabulous job with Red Mist. It was easy to see that he was on the fence with the morality and direction of his father's enterprise and he was debating whether or not Kick-Ass could be his friend - something that it was made VERY VERY clear he needed. He wanted to show defiance but was afraid of the serious nature of his father. In the end it is the antagonist of this movie, Frank D'Amico (played WELL by Mark Strong) that tells his son (Red Mist) to defend him from Hit-Girl. Hit-Girl had just (conveniently) killed all of his other bodyguards in a bloody and violent and terrifying way. Red Mist had protection until the end and then his father tried to feed him to Hit-Girl.
All I can say is, WOW! HELL YES!! When I grow up I want to be like Hit Girl. See this on the big screen before it is too late. Bring a date. Bring your wife/husband and hire a sitter. It's definitely worth it.
*** out of ****
Posted on 11/11/12 10:50 PM
I am fairly sure tha this movie was judged a bit harshly because its predacessor from Paul Verhoeven was so highly acclaimed. Here Len Wiseman dared to remake this great film (or should I say short story "We Can Remember it for you Wholesale" by Philip K Dick) and Len elected to of course add some sci-fi bling bling to it that was fairly well done.
To be fair, I don't think it is fair to compare this work to that of Paul Verhoeven - who now in light of this and the coming Robocop will look prodigious compared to the people reimagining the works of Philip Dick. But, in hindsight, I would say that this film was remarkable in the special effects department and it was remarkable in the action department.
What is lacking? Story elements is my first answer. How did Melina quickly find Quaid on the highway after "looking everywhere" for him? How were the antagonists able to maintain pursuit after it seemed like Quaid had lost them?
And what was it again that Quaid remembered in the end that was a startling revelation that brought resolution to this picture about rememberance?
It would have been nice also to have seen a bit more intellectual material instead of wall to wall action....
I still give this a passing grade because in my perspective, had I seen this and it was not a remake I would not have judged it so harshly or had expectations.
Posted on 11/11/12 10:33 PM
I went in to Skyfall expecting to be wowed and amazed by violence and action and chase scenes and women. In a large way this movie succeeds and surpasses many of the previous Bond installments that I have seen.
I was slightly let down by 007s quartermaster Q - Ben Whishaw who was brilliant in his role - was limited to giving bond only 2 gadgets. I thought that it would have been a bit more awesome to see a few more awesome gizmos coming from Q.
Also I thought that the baton passing at the end was a bit sad (but definitely not something that detracts from the film - just be ready for a twist for future installments)
If you like good action flicks or if you are someone who enjoys 007 - this movie would be a good one to see!
Posted on 11/11/12 10:20 PM
Sophies Tea - I think Grandma might have had a few too many and being a veteran video game tester I appreciate the plot more and the characters and their situations more.
This film is - in my opinion - underrated. It is fun and will offer lots of laughs.
Posted on 11/11/12 10:20 PM
Posted on 9/05/12 07:21 PM
(Spoilers contained within this review)
(Spoilers contained within this review)
Prometheus is a film about life and death. It is about harmonious coequals. Think about Yin and Yang. Think about positive and negative. Think about entropy and enthalpy. And here we get the full presentation - in the beginning we witness the formation of life. It starts when an alien (called an "Engineer") drinks from a vial of something that is essentially analogous to death. The engineer and potion of death mix (the engineer becomes very ill) and the result breaks apart the Engineer - splicing apart the smallest divisible pieces of him and then new systems of life flourish and evolve in his wake.
Later in the movie we see the engineers and the death fluid again. The starship that the engineers are on contains tons of the death fluid. We also witness how the death fluid affects humans - effectively it kills them and potentially spawns killing machine like monsters. The Engineers are a "Superior Race," per David the androids assessment and I speculate that perhaps they come from some infinite future or at least a longer timeline of natural progression than the Humans living on Earth.
After watching all this I realized that life cannot exist without death. These engineers must have perfected some forumla of death that when combined with themselves creates the perfect balance between life and death and thus allows the evolution of and creation of new life forms. Engineers = Yin and potion of death = Yang.
Evolution is a big theme here: cells are shown and they begin to divide and multiply. There are single celled organisms and then multi-cellular organisms. This is not to say that we are without divine intervention (as pointed out so eloquently by Shaw (who made the makers?)) Also there is a striking resemblance that the Engineers have with the humans. Many thematic elements were brought into contention regarding worldview. I, as the reviewer, think my role is to make sure I can stay objective in writing and not let my accepted belief of how the universe works change my perspective on the film. But, because this is a controversial topic it might be important to note that I am basically agnostic. And in my opinion, the ideas on the creation of humanity as presented here are perfectly plausible.
Seamlessly mixed in to all the speculation and debate is engrossing entertainment and I salivated through every minute of it. I loved how two-faced Charlize Theron and Michael Fassbender's characters were. Of course these characters have their own agenda and rest assured there is more going on than what you can see from the get-go. Fassbender takes this film to the next level and delivers what I believe is an Oscar-worthy performance. He is very interested in perseverance - in keeping everyone alive and in staying interested in how everyone is doing. But he is also taking orders from Weyland himself and this eventually interferes with the care and attention he gives to everyone else. The audience is conflicted with the morality of David's actions when he infects Charlie Holloway with the fluid. We are again conflicted with the morality of his actions when he realizes Shaw has an alien embryo growing inside her but will not perform the surgery to remove it. He is following orders and had to put on hold his ethical subroutines. And he is programmed to follow orders. I liked David very much - even when he was being bad. He was a model of efficiency. There were other machines with what seemed to be moral and ethical (and possibly Weyland Company implemented) boundaries. When Shaw asks the medical pod to give her a cesarean it tells her no. When Shaw asks the medical pod for removal of a foreign object (I believe she said debris) her request is of course granted. We are told early on that the pod is calibrated for men and this also might be why Shaw's cesarean request is denied but I do, however, find it hard to believe that the pod would be completely oblivious to human female anatomy since it seems to know all that there is to know about male human anatomy.
I read many reviews from critics that were having a hard time with the content in this movie - saying that a lot of things go unexplained and a lot of things are left "open ended." In my opinion, if all things were completely provable and explicable - things like religion would lose their value and meaning not to mention the universe would be without its mysticism and its "greater unknown." Such questions parallel asking a religious person, "How does God work in terms of miracles he performs and when he elects to perform them?" In parallel to other films, "Why is the Rain Main a high functioning autistic savant?" "Why does Hal from 2001 feel threatened by being deactivated? Is he indeed sentient?" The greater unknown is what makes sci-fi as well as other genres great; it is what makes exploration an adventure and it is what encourages us to excel at finding truth in a universe full of the unknown.
I read several reviews that were baffled that Millburn and Fifield got lost when trying to go back to the ship. My wife was even upset with that (in our first screening together) and thought that no geologist could ever get lost. But I have several things to say in response to this. First, they were afraid. I do think that there was a certain degree of fear that these characters were feeling and it even seemed that there was a greater degree of fear with Fifield than with Millburn. I think that this may have caused some issues with their ability to make judgments. It was also an expedition that occured right after they had landed and I think these guys were lacking a certain degree of preparation. I think these two reasons alone could easily explain how they got lost, and while knowing nothing about how their computers or equipment works I have come to the conclusion that it might require some work on their part in order to find the correct way to go. The other thing I read too is that aparrently the people in this movie all make glaring mistakes and this is somehow part of the plot - so Fifield and Millburn getting lost, Weyland wanting to meet his maker and getting murdered in the process and even the crew - not paying attention to the situation at all times (thinking of the Captain Janek/Vickers interaction here) led to disasterous consequences. The Engineers never seem to make any mistakes and the lone survivor of the mission never seemed to make any mistakes either...
I read more reviews that seemed to indicate that there was an issue with the people that were brought on this journey. I guess something to keep in mind is that the scientists that were brought are traditionally terraforming planets and not doing explorative research like they potentially could have been doing here. But I don't think that the intention of the mission was to do much in the way of research anyway since Weyland is paying for it and his goal is to meet the maker of mankind - something that he knew was possible after getting Shaw and Charlies take on why they should come out to this place to begin with. The other thing too - I think several of the crew members had hidden agendas that we really don't find out about until Weyland is brought out of his stasis much later in the film. I think the usefulness quotient of the crew members can be measured by their level of utility to the guy that brought them there in the first place - Weyland himself.
I read somewhere that the scientific method was not properly employed in anything that any of the scientists had done. First of all let me tell you all what the scientific method is: It is a process by which you ask and answer scientific questions by making observations and doing experiments. More specifically:
Ask a Question
Do Background Research
Construct a Hypothesis
Test Your Hypothesis by Doing an Experiment
Analyze Your Data and Draw a Conclusion
Communicate Your Results
And nowhere in this movie did I see a scientist that was out of line in doing any of this. Why was Millburn being so playful with the alien snake that stuck its head out of the organic fluid? Because he was conducting a test! Does this life form react to physical stimulus? Let's test. His arm got broken and he was killed but in that process he did not violate the scientific method. Some of the best scientists in the world are willing to do the craziest things in order to progress their theories. This could have been an example of that. Also, unlike us (the audience) perhaps he was not very afraid as he thought his suit would protect him from a seemingly gentle creature (or so he may have thought in his head)
People had a problem with the notion of "Let's take our helmets off." I know that on the outside it seemed stupid but the air had been examined by Ford and she found that there were no contaminants (which she verbally said to EVERYONE) and further David said it was ok (atmospherically). The movie still acknowledges that this is a dumb idea (which I agree that it is) and Shaw clearly objects to it. But Charlie Holloway, being the cavalier ass that he is, insists on trying it and we find that it is indeed breathable. He had a hunch. So now we have to examine the character Charlie Holloway and determine why he has these random hunches and why he has to be a bit of a wild individual. Not enough information is provided to do such analysis, but I know for sure that there are scientists out there today that are absolutely insane and also extremely brilliant.
Also I think something should be said to the effect that the economics of the future could be somewhat different. It is clear that economics play a role for each of these characters and add to this the fact that these people work for a company that sends them out on terraforming assignments but does not tell them where they are going before-hand or why. When we hear Fifield say that he is there to get a paycheck I think it is safe to assume that he has a financial reason for doing what he is doing - and his abilities as a geologist might be better suited for terraforming projects. Also Weyland who owns this gigantic company that financed this mission should naturally be the man in charge of all the machines (David included) and they should all serve his interests and no one else's.
This movie does not try to be a crowd pleaser. Instead it engages your mind and makes you think - much in the same way 2001 presented various scenes and ideas that were not understood right away. The same can be said for Blade Runner. People needed to collaborate and share ideas in order to understand Prometheus - and in understanding many films (such as 2001) the understanding is more theoretical in nature. In my opinion this is a huge plus for the film.
I suppose this can also be a con, there is a lot to think about and mull over in your head. Some might be bored... The subject matter is complicated and for most of the questions raised - while not always answered (and for VERY good reason) - they are a means to a greater end story-wise.
Prometheus is an absolutely BRILLIANT motion picture, and while I have not put enough thought on where it goes in my all time favorites list I can definitely say that it will be on there after a bit more time goes by (and I can see this a few more times) I do think for sure this movie is better than 1979's Alien - for me there is no doubt on that.
This review has been based on four Prometheus 2D screenings and multiple views of all of the viral and trailer campaign materials.
**** out of ****
Posted on 6/02/12 12:42 AM
(Spoilers contained within)
I think very highly of Robocop. The only drawback to this film is that it is a little gory but the story it tells is compelling and the characters all do excellent jobs in their roles. Like many other good science fiction films Robocop asks some important questions about the meaning of life, what it means to be human and how much of you can be replaced by machinery before you stop being human. There isn't a clear answer to this question though the remaining flesh that hangs from the bowels of Robocop's robotic construct seems to keep human sensibility and psychological wherewithal intact.
I love how much I hate Boddicker after watching his gruesome murder of Officer Alex Murphy. The scene is effective in establishing the meaning of the film and why we hate the bad guy and also why the bad guy is bad. This has never been more clearly established in any film ever. The bad guys in this movie do a very good job in general I think - they seem driven to destroy society and instantiate lawlessness so that they can do the things that they want to do.
Watching Robocop repair himself, seeing his face as he chases down the bad guys, realizing that he was once a little more human AND watching him fight crime while encountering distorted memories from the person he once was --- all of this brings good character development to the table and strong resolve. There are several scenes where we see a flash from the past - the scene where officer Murphy dies or scenes where he is with his wife and child. For Robocop, realizing that he was once human and encountering these distorted memories of his past are not as much for him as they are for the audience itself. It is moving and emotionally complex. Robocop expresses anger and hatred and disgust. Seeing the abilities that Robocop has - his indestructible nature -- gives the audience a huge boost - we realize that Robocop means business. This is absolutely THRILLING!!!!
Robocop knows right from wrong and good from bad and he displays attributes that make us think of him as wholly human. Toward the end of the movie Robocop tells Officer Anne Lewis (regarding his family) "I can feel them but I don't remember them," and this is one of my favorite lines in all of cinema -- it is thought provoking to interpret this lines meaning. It seems that his human emotions are intact and yet he is missing information about what his former life was like - he still feels emotion about certain things but does not remember the things he feels the emotions about OR vice-versa.
I guess the bottom line is that kudos are in order for Peter Weller and also Paul Verhoeven. Kudos to Robocop! This is a fantastic film with a broad appeal and definitely has made a place for itself in the sci-fi genre. If Terminator put James Cameron on the map, Robocop definitely put Paul Verhoeven on the map. When watching this movie, please take a step back and think about how real everything feels. Much like Terminator, there was no holding back in this film and we saw everything in brutal detail.
**** out of ****
Posted on 6/01/12 10:30 AM
Last night I saw Gattaca again and I have to say - what an eye opening experience.
I am tempted very very much to give this film a 4 star rating just based on the fact that Uma Thurman is in it and I think she is my new Rotten Tomatoes Squeeze (aka Celebrity Crush).
In this movie we have a world where the perfection of the human genome has gotten to such a degree that genetic diseases and human biological imperfections have been eradicated. People that are born via the old fashion way (sex) are inferior to the "engineered" humans. Children born the "natural" way have a predetermined status that inevitably leads them to clean toilets and/or serve in simple service capacity. A lower class has been created by virtue of greater technological advancement in genetics.
This is an awesome and crazy IDEA~!
In this film the "perfected genome" is pitted against the "earth child" in a swimming contest several times. It is captivating and thought provoking. The competitors are brothers and one is played by Ethan Hawk (Vincent) and the other by Loren Dean (Anton).
Whether or not Vincent or Anton wins the swim contest seems irrelevant in face of the fact that both brothers would come to rescue one another or see one another in a way that is contrary to the views of society. Anton has a more personal relationship with Vincent and this causes him to be introspective and light hearted with his brother - contrary to the opinions of authority and society. He must square him up first and understand his character and the driving forces behind his actions.
Jude Law plays "Jerome Eugene Morrow," a man that is crippled and elects to sell his identity to Vincent so that Vincent can get into Gattaca and chase his dreams while Jerome can enjoy the benefits of Vincent's paycheck. He does an excellent job and surprisingly - as a paraplegic - he has some good scenes of action that are fun to watch! (SPOILER: Including the ENDING)
As much as this film is sci-fi this film is also feels like a drama. The drama is about what you need to do to survive in the world if you are someone who lives with an entirely different person's identity. Vincent has to constantly scrub his body down and brush his hair and clip his nails and then he has to meticulously plant traces of the real Jerome in the place that he would have left his own trace materials.
If you have not seen this movie you should probably see it - it is a fascinating tale that has a huge payoff in terms of story, dialog, directing, acting, screenplay and writing.
The other big PLUS is that (again) Uma Thurman is awesome. And now she is my new "Celebrity Crush" !!!!!!!