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Posted on 8/28/11 01:50 PM
Before this film came out I developed an extremely well thought out and detailed formula as to how good it would be. It is as follows: Scorsese=amazing director, DiCaprio=amazing actor, therefore by the transitive property of films Scorsese+DiCaprio=amazing movie. So, did my formula hold true?
Well, the short answer is yes. Shutter Island was amazing and seeing it at midnight with a packed theater was quite a fun experience. Having said that, don't go into this expecting something on the caliber of Taxi Driver or The Departed, because that's not what you'll get.
What you will get is an extremely well shot, well written, well acted, tribute to classic horror films. Another name for this movie might have been, "Scorsese does The Shining." The sense of dramaticism is well maintained throughout the entire picture and the simple but menacing score creates a notable tension in the air. There is a constant sense of grayness that is clear right from the beginning, and the opening shot sequence leading into the main grounds of Shutter Island was nothing short of brilliant. Scorsese no doubt drew inspiration from legends like Stanley Kubrick and Alfred Hitchcock.
Shutter Island tells the story of two Federal Marshals, Teddy Daniels (Leonardo DiCaprio) and Chuck Aule (Mark Ruffalo). The two are sent to a remote island off the coast of Massachusetts that houses some of the most dangerous clinically insane patients in the country. They are there investigating the disappearance of a deeply disturbed woman who murdered her three children.
DiCaprio, as usual, was phenomenal. Being with him as his character slowly uncovers more and more about the mysteries of Shutter Island, and the mental breakdown it causes him, is truly the most intriguing apsect of the film. Your state of mind is right there with DiCaprio as he begins to question the sanity of not just the people that surround him, but himself.
A large portion of the film is dedicated to very eloquent yet disturbing flashbacks of Teddy's life; visions of frozen corpses in the street, his deceased wife dissolving into ash in his arms, horrific consequences of war, and a strange little girl beckoning the question, "Why didn't you save me?" These scenes are where Shutter Island shines the brightest, a strange paradox, I know.
My one minor gripe with the film is that it sometimes seems that Scorsese lacked a bit of focus. The film flows extremely well, but I thought a better job could have been done on the psychological aspects. The images that Teddy sees are truly disturbing but the climatic reveal at the end of the film wasn't really as mind-blowing as I would have hoped. As I said, this is only a minor gripe and in no way did it ruin my experience. I just thought that there was a little more that could have been done to place it on the caliber of Scorsese's past masterpieces.
One aspect that I was truly blown away by was the music, or in some cases lack of it. So many garbage horror movies out there rely on cheap "horror gags" as they've been called; creepy music letting you know something scary is about to happen then SCREECH! Man, wasn't that scary? Something jumped out at you at there was a stupidly loud noise. There is none of that here. The music is so simple yet so sinister and foreboding that you can't help but feel uneasy. A few dark chords from an orchestra are all it takes. Some people I think wouldn't even call it music, just a series of notes played by strings, but it works so well here. If not for the music I think I would have marked this down another 10%.
Shutter Island is easily the first must see movie of 2010. While not on the caliber of some of Scorsese's past work, it's clear that a real professional has put this great piece of art together. Scorsese really showed some range here and while it's clear that his comfortable niche lies in the city and crime life, it was really cool to see him venture into new territory. As a side note, thank you so much to the Emerson College community for making the theater experience that much better. Roaring applause during the previews and opening credits really helped me get that much more excited. I think anyone that is in to films should see a midnight release with Emerson College at least once in their life.
Posted on 8/28/11 01:50 PM
Well, it's finally here. The 300 million dollar alien-western space epic Avatar finally hit theaters last night. The verdict? SEE THIS MOVIE!
I was definitely excited going in. I had read some early reviews and liked what I heard. The most notable quote that I read was "this generation's Star Wars." That is absolutely 100% true. As soon as I saw the shot where the ship initially lands on Pandora I knew that I was in for something unreal. While some may say that the beginning of the movie is relatively slow, as soon as Jake enters the Avatar for the first time, which is about 20 minutes in, the movie picks you up and brings you on an incredible journey that even your imagination never thought was possible.
As I'm sure you've heard, it tells the story of Jake, a marine who's confined to a wheelchair. Jake's brother is some super intelligent scientist who pilots a mentally controlled body called an Avatar. The Avatar's are made from human DNA, and DNA of the native people, The Na'vi, 12-foot-tall blue humanoids with tails. It is the job of the Avatar pilots to interact with the Natives and get them to move from their home so the United States can farm an element hidden within their planets crust, which is worth big bucks. Unfortunately Jake's brother dies and he is asked to pilot his brother's Avatar. From there the plot develops into what many think is a boring cliché. Yes, this movie is Pocahontas with aliens. This factor alone merited many reviewers to mark it down in score. I however, am a firm believer that the story is perfect for what Cameroun wanted to accomplish. Complain about the liberal biases all you want, the plot is a basic but beautiful tale about love and nature. In choosing a basic plot, Cameron wasn't trying to throw too much at you at once. The idea was to immerse you in this majestic and imaginative world. Could this be done with a more complex and original plot? Maybe, but I think that by using an easy plot, Cameron was able to envelop the viewers without them having to think too hard about what was going on. To put it bluntly, he knew most Americans would be too stupid to understand the incredible visuals mixed with a complex plot, *crosses fingers for a perfect Avatar 2.*
One the most interesting aspects of Avatar is the 3-D. I have seen 3-D done well in one other movie, and that was Coraline. Having said that, I can say that Avatar has perfected the use of 3-D in feature films. From the very first shot of the movie when I saw water droplets (or something similar) floating in zero-gravity, I was convinced that this was the way this movie was meant to be seen. The particle effects: leaves, bugs, splinters, just look so incredibly beautiful, I can't elaborate much more than that, you'll just have to see for yourself. While there are definitely shots that you can tell were meant to show off the 3-D, in no way were you ever pulled out of the experience.
The scenes where Jake and the native he falls in love with, Neytiri, travel through the lush jungles and floating mountains of Pandora are some of the most beautiful sights I have ever seen in a movie. I am 100% serious when I say this, I was almost brought to tears with the spectacle of some of this scenery; it's that damn good. The Na'vi's view on nature is so beautiful and enticing that you literally feel connected to every living thing on Pandora. I won't give away too much, but the saddest part of the movie involves the death of a something that you probably wouldn't give much thought to normally.
Avatar is a spectacle. While it is not perfect, Cameron definitely kept his promise, this movie has single-handedly changed the film industry. I don't think I can ever watch another movie with computer animated effects. This makes Transformers look like a visual joke, which it was. I was completely pulled into this imaginative world from start to finish. To explain just what exactly I was feeling as I sat in the crowded theater would be impossible. I know this isn't really something that should be said in a review, but you really just have to experience this movie to understand what my mind and soul was going through. My friend said "it's not really CG, it's like James Cameroun went to Pandora and filmed a movie." Couldn't have said it any better myself. If you see one movie this year, see Avatar, it will be all you can think about until the sequel is released.
Posted on 8/22/11 04:21 PM
The "B" movie can sometimes be a tricky genre. How are you supposed to make a modern film that feels like it was made 30 years ago, yet still appeals to an audience in this present day? You make a movie called Hobo With A Shotgun, that's how.
The title alone gives you a pretty solid idea of what you're in for. If you were a fan of Grindhouse, Machete, and any other movies of that ilk, you will have a "B" movie orgasm for the entire 86 minutes of this film.
The movie is about a hobo, who as you might have guessed, comes to possess a shotgun. The place where this hobo calls home is Scumtown, formally called Hopetown before a courageous citizen decided to give it a more proper name; there is no hope in this place. Every where you look someone is being beaten, robbed, raped, or killed. It would appear that the idea of law enforcement was deemed ineffective at some point in this miserable town's history. Controlling this cesspool is The Drake, and his two sons, Ivan and Slick. These three are the perfect villains for this type of film. I loved how there wasn't even an attempt to give these characters some sort of dark motivation or occurrence as to why they want to cause everyone so much pain. These guys are straight fucking evil. No back story, no subtle hints as to why, they just want to control the town and anyone that gets in their way, they kill. In their first screen appearance, the hobo witnesses them decapitating The Drake's brother in a manner extremely fitting for the film.
What follows is a heart-pounding, adrenaline pumping, testosterone fueled gore fest. The hobo, sick of all the evil and selfishness that has taken over the town, decides to take matters into his own hands. After attempting to save a beautiful prostitute named Abby from Slick, the hobo is sliced up in extremely gruesome and violent fashion and is left to die. Abby finds him and nurses him back to health. The hobo then does whatever he can to make 50 dollars so that he may buy a lawnmower (only he could tell you why). On the day of his potential purpose the store is held up by a group of thugs. The hobo stares at the lawnmower and then at a shotgun on the wall, both conveniently priced at $49.99. You can see the pain in his eyes as he quickly abandons the lawnmower and grabs the shotgun. Needless to say it doesn't end well for our thugs.
You can probably guess the rest of the plot of the movie right now, but it doesn't even matter. When you make a conscious decision to watch a movie called Hobo With A Shotgun, plot probably isn't one of your big concerns. Having said that, the other elements of the film are actually very impressive for the very obvious low budget. The acting is over the top and pure awesome. Brian Downey is wicked as The Drake. He captures the essence of a "B" movie villain PERFECTLY. There are several moments in the film where the idea of being a hobo is explored and it's truly moving to see these portrayals.
The last 20 minutes is nothing short of insanity, filled with guns, knives, a shield with a lawnmower blade attached to it, and crazy demons with black medieval armor (no I'm not shitting you.) Grab your substance of choice, a few friends (guys preferably) and literally feel the hair grow on balls as you experience the beauty that is, Hobo With A Shotgun.
Posted on 12/21/09 11:29 AM
When I first saw the amount of money this film made I was pretty disgusted. It was just further evidence of how it doesn't matter how good a movie is, as long as you have a trailer with explosions and intense looking special effects, people (idiots as far as I'm concerned) will see it. However, as I am writing this review I have seen the movie and thus I am a part of the idiots.
I went into this movie with a pretty good idea of what I was about to see: a lame plot, hilariously awful writing, crappy acting, bad cinematography, and cool special effects. What I didn't expect was to see everyone of these aspects but to be taken to the absolute extreme...the verdict, and I hate to say this, I actually was able to somewhat enjoy this movie.
I am one of those people that is extremely interested in the 2012 doomsday prophecy. I watch every documentary on the History Channel that I can, read as many articles, and watch a lot of youtube videos. Having said that, you can see why I am pretty pissed that this move came out. I personally believe in the doomsday prophecy but after reading into it A LOT, I can say that I don't think this is how it's all going to end. I could go into more, but it's not needed for the sake of this review.
2012 is, as I'm sure you've heard, nothing more than a collection of the most frequent action movie stereotypes existing in the film industry today. The IGN review on here lists most of them in detail and I can vouch for them, they are 100% dead on. In doing this they have unintentionally created an extremely humorous movie. The cliché exists that a movie can be so bad that it's good, while I wouldn't say that this movie is good by any means, it's honestly worth watching to see what a mockery the film industry has turned into. The producers of this movie were well aware that it didn't matter that the plot made no sense, it didn't matter that the characters were so clichéd and corny that it was laughable, and it sure as hell didn't matter that you felt completely void and separated from the film from start to finish.
What does 2012 have going for it? Special effects, duh. Some of the visuals in this movie really are quite creative and impressive. The plane escape scene where skyscrapers are crumbling all around them, their glass reflecting many different surfaces, is actually pretty cool to look at. A giant wave that moves the clouds also look pretty sweet. But that's it. After seeing Avatar, I don't even think I could watch this movie and be impressed again.
The writing is...let's just say, strange to say this least. You'll be in the middle of a really intense moment, like the entire world crumbling in front of your eyes, then one of the characters will be like, "Oh you've got to be kidding me." It was the equivalent of watching Jack fall to the ocean floor and right as Rose is about to say her famous, "Jack, come back!" line, someone rips an incredibly loud and hilarious fart. Yeah, just like that.
Is 2012 good? No. Should it have made the amount of money that it did? Hell no. Is it worth seeing? Kind of. Definitely rent this one or trick your friend into buying it when it comes out on DVD. Go in expecting one of the worst movies you have ever seen and you'll have a good time, even if that's not how the producers intended this movie to be seen. The movie is somewhat worth it because it exists as an unintentional satire on everything that is wrong with the film industry today. After seeing this movie, I now realize that there are only two types of movie made. Movies that are made because some truly brilliant minds got together and wanted to create a great film: The Hurt Locker, A Serious Man, Avatar, Up In The Air, Precious, then there are movies that are made just to make money: Twilight, 2012, Transformers, G.I. Joe, huge piles of absolute suck.