Posted on 11/29/12 08:49 AM
Harry Potter. Where do I start? It's my favorite book series of all time, it's become an obsession of mine, it's the only book series that I've have read more than once, and it's the only series of movies that I've attended at midnight on a school night....Let's face it, Harry Potter has become an obsession for me. And after recently attending the theme park, I was pretty hyped for this one.
When I first heard that this would be split into two parts, I was at first a little excited because it would mean that the final book and its content would be put to justice. But then I was a little skeptical that they would be released six months apart and I began to question the first part and how anti-climatic it might be. Regardless, after watching the film in a wonderful atmosphere with other Harry Potter-nerds, I enjoyed it.
Harry is not returning to his home at Hogwarts in his seventh year. In fact, he's searching and destroying Horcruxes, the first magical step in killing Voldemort. Of course the trio helping, but the only problem is that Harry has no idea where to find these Horcruxes, nor any idea how to destroy them. While he is looking for these pesky items, Voldemort is finding all means nessecary to kill Harry once in for all, setting up a climatic conclusion.
Throughout my years of watching Harry Potter films, I've never had a problem with any of them. The directors and producers have always done a fine job with these adaptations. But see the problem with HP is that they have never had a film that stands out between the rest, not that that's necessarily a bad thing. Most people might point at the third or fourth, but not me. In every HP film there's always that one scene that bothers me in particular. Like in the third one for example, in one of the worst scenes in HP, when Harry has the most obvious-fake cry while yelling "HE WAS THEIR FRIEND!" Not feeling the emotion Warner Brothers. Was there scenes in this one that bothered me? Why yes, there were.
To my dismay, there were scenes in the book that were left out of the movie that made me a little upset. I'm not going to name them, for spoiler reasons, but they really bothered me. Nevertheless, the movie was fantastic. It was filled with some nice action scenes, which is one of the main reasons I was looking forward to this one in particular. Besides, I've always liked the action-side of HP anyway. The film retains some of the brilliant visuals found in the previous film, which is always nice to see. And unsuprisingly, the trio showed up in this one. They all did fantastic jobs acting, Ms. Watson in particular, and it's so nice to see how these three have matured over the series. The film also packs some emotional scenes, which was expected, since this is the last in the series. The story was faithful to the book despite some tiny scenes missing, and overall, the film was beautifully shot.
After hyping this movie for over a year now, I walked out of the theater satisfied. It served it's purpose, to supply enough story-telling to stand as a film on its own, and to hype the HUGE fanbase of HP for the grand finale.
Posted on 10/16/11 09:18 PM
When I had first heard of a project in the works which would cover the founding of Facebook, I was both slightly amused and annoyed. How could Hollywood allow such a movie to be made that tells such an uninteresting story about one of the biggest social networking sites of this decade? However, after seeing Fincher, director of a number of great movies including Fight Club and Seven, being named as it's director and Aaron Sorkin, writer of the West Wing, is assigned to write a screenplay based off the book The Accidental Billionaires, I was somewhat intrigued due to my respect of both of those individuals. And even after seeing the spectacular and alluring trailer which featured a beautiful rendition of the Radiohead's song Creep, this film was suddenly on my fall must-sees. After my first viewing, I was calling this the film of the year, and after more viewings, this film has become one of my personal favorites.
I believe that you can capture a film's mood and essence just in the first scene. So I'll start my review there. We are thrown into a conversation between two college students: Erica Albright and our supposed protagonist Mark Zuckerberg. Just by this conversation, I am presented with everything that is going to occur later on in the film: Acapella groups, rowing crew, a break-up, and a condescending, asshole genius that is set on joining a Final club just for achieving notoriety. Just by this convervation, I am introduced to the quick and insightful dialogue that will follow throughout he rest of the film, along with the breakout performances from both Jesse Eisenberg and even Rooney Mara (who steals the only three scenes she's in). With this scene, I realize that this film is not about Facebook at all, but a film about how people in the modern world communicate and how money and greed can lead to betrayal and the spoiling of a friendship or business partnership.
As I said before, there is a break-up. Erica Albright (Rooney Mara), once realizing that her boyfriend, the computer genius Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg), is a jerk, dumps him in a hazy bar, leaving
him mortified. So Mark gets revenge in the only way America knows how to do now: by trashing her on the Internet! After this, Mark, with help from his fellow programmers, decides to create a site that compares girls at Harvard based on their hotness. This causes Harvard's server to crash in a night, attracting the attention of two future Olympians, Tyler and Cameron (both played by Armie Hammer) and their friend Divya Narendra (Max Minghella). Hence, they present Mark with an idea of a dating site in which girls are able to interact with Harvard guys, hoping that he will code it. Instead he takes this idea and comes up with a better one: a social networking site among college students that closely resembles Final clubs due to their exclusivity. After leading Nerendra and the Winklevoss twins on while he launches his site, he goes to his best friend, Eduardo Saverin, for some start up money in exchange for a guaranteed business partnership. But the story is told in nonlinear fashion, jumping between the Winklevoss law suit AND the law suit from Mark's former best friend Eduardo to Mark's rise to power through the creation of Facebook through a series of flashbacks and flashforwards. We are then left to wonder the origins of such law suits through what we are presented.
As mentioned before, the dialogue and screenplay is perfect, award-winning stuff. Each scene carries some sort of significance, while each line serves some sort of purpose and insight. Sorkin really did a great job by tackling a somewhat questionable subject matter and turning it into a profound sense of writing. My hat first goes off to him. Secondly, I have to recognize the brilliance displayed by Fincher here for his use of camerawork. First and foremost, the lighting is a visual treat for me, perfectly capturing the cold darkness of a chilly October or the haziness of a college bar in the opening scene. Also, I have to mention the editing, which keeps the interest on screen with numerous shots, some even adding a sense of humor to the film which was unexpected for me, with the canoe race being a notable scene. But Fincher also played a hand in the acting, since this film is filled with young stars. Eisenberg has shifted from the whole Michael Cera-like comic nerd persona evident in Zombieland to a serious dramatic actor. Justin Timberlake, who portrays Napster founder Sean Parker, may be an even bigger surprise with his indulgent, but paranoid playboy. Andrew Garfield is also strong, along with other supporting acts like the amusing Armie Hammer and the scene-stealing Rooney Mara, which I now see why Fincher cast her for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Also, the score, by Nine Inch Nails Trent Reznor and AtticusRoss, is perfect for this film. Dark and eerie, and memorable during the opening credits with it's screeching violins and soft piano keys.
For me, this film is about how pursuit for power can lead to a lonely life, since Mark betrayed Eduardo due to personal jealousy. To Mark, it was not about money, but a pursuit for alife of accomplishment, kind of contrasting our modern world of greed. But I have become interested in the way this film is
structured. In the first half, the film embodies modern society: people communicating through partying and social networking, and litigation to solve disputes. But in the second half we have what Sorkin refers to as elements from a Greek drama: greed, betrayal, power, and so on. Comparisons to Citizen Kane can be made: Erica is Mark's "Rosebud" and the idea of Mark losing more the more money and power he gains and be corrupt and lonely as a result. With all these thoughts in mind, I think that this film is a destined classic because it functions on all these levels so well. After multiple viewings, this film has become one of my favorites and will hopefully endure the difficult test of time.
Posted on 8/09/11 09:33 PM
Ah, Toy Story is back yet again. After being hyped for nearly a year preceding the release of this film, I left the theatre feeling depressed and relieved at the same time. Depressed, because of the very emotional ending and the fact that I may have to wait ten years before another Toy Story movie is released. Relieved, because this movie was everything I wanted it to be, one of the best films of the year and making the Toy Story trilogy of the greatest of all time.
The toys are back and Andy is all grown up and prepared to go to college. Feeling that he has outgrown his toys, he decides to take Woody with him to college and packs the rest of his toys to be put up in the attic. But they mistakenly end up near the curb for the garbage truck. Believing that Andy no longer cares for them, the remaining toys end up in a donation box for Sunnyside Daycare. Woody witnesses this, and goes to try to convince the toys that Andy still wants them. But the toys are excited about the new Daycare and the thought of being played with again, along with the warm welcome from the toys there, like Lots-O'-Huggin'-Bear(Lotso). But come to find out, the Daycare isn't what it seems to be. As the story progresses, the toys must come to terms with their place at this Daycare and their future with Andy.
I saw this movie with my 4 year-old brother and it's funny, I can't figure out who enjoyed it more. He recognized the old characters, screamed when Andy began to put his toys in the trash bag, and laughed at Buzz Lightyear. I guess this shows how good Pixar really is, appealing to an 18 year-old and a 4 year-old.
As expected, the visuals are a treat to my eyes. My favorite toys that I loved during my childhood are back again, and better than ever. Tom Hanks returns as Woody, Tim Allen as Buzz, Joan Cusack as Jessie, Don Rickles as Mr. Potato Head, Blake Clark as Slinky, Wallace Shawn as Rex, and John Ratzenberger as Hamm. But of coure, there were new characters added to the already enetertaining cast. Such as Ned Beatty as the villanous Lotso, and Michael Keaton as the hilarious Ken. There was good consistent humor and a strong storyline. But what seperated this movie from the preceding two was the emotional power that this movie carried. My heart was aching throughout and I even shed a tear at the conclusion.
The first was innovative, the second was entertaining, and the third is emotional. In my opinion, this Toy Story isn't the best story of all, but damn, it was one hell of a movie. This is among my year's best, and deserves to be mentioned along the preceding two, as three of the greatest animated movies ever made.
Posted on 8/06/11 05:02 PM
I've never read the book, but I think I will after watching this movie. I was interested in seeing this after seeing that Leonardo Dicaprio was starring and Martin Scorcese was directing. After seeing this, I was not dissapointed at all. I mean come on! Martin Scorcese directed this! How bad could it be?
In 1954, U.S. Marshal Edward "Teddy" Daniels (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his partner, Chuck Aule (Mark Ruffalo), go to the Ashecliff Hospital for the criminally insane on Shutter Island. They are investigating the disappearance of Rachel Solando, a patient said to have vanished from a locked room. As the movie progresses, Daniels becomes suspicious of the island's secrets and the viewer becomes more aware of Daniels' troubled past.
This movie is simply amazing, it blew me away completely. The atmosphere on the island is simply terrifying with epic music added on. I've heard from other reviews that the ending was predictable. I, however, never saw it coming. The plot is carefully constructed, with twists coming just at the right time. The acting is stellar, Dicaprio is, of course, completely convincing. Ben Kingsley is mysterious and just plain creepy, and Ruffalo adds on with a strong performance as well. Scorcese handles the simple theme with flair, he still remains as my favorite director. I think that Shutter Island may not be able to be placed next to Scorcese's other masterpieces i.e. The Departed, Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, Goodfellas, but it's an excellent film to say the least.
Posted on 8/06/11 05:00 PM
Ah, the story of Robin Hood. Stealing from the rich, donating to the poor.....Hey! Wait a minute! This isn't what this movie is about!
It is late 12th century England and Robin Longstride (Russell Crowe) is a common archer in the Third Crusade. Following the death of Richard the Lionheart in battle, Robin and three other common soldiers, Alan A'Dale, Will Scarlett, and Little John, attempt to return to their homeland, having spent ten years fighting abroad. Along the way they come across an ambush of the Royal guard by Sir Godfrey (Mark Strong), an English knight with French lineage and allegiance. The King of France had ordered Sir Godfrey to assassinate Richard. Having discovered the King is already slain, Sir Godfrey is chased off by the arrival of Robin and his companions. Before stealing the armor and heading to the coast, Robin promises a dying Knight, Robert Loxley, to return a sword to the man's father in Nottingham. Upon arriving in England, Robin (who has assumed the identity of Loxley) is chosen to inform the Royal family of the King's death and witnesses the coronation of King John, who is the younger brother of the recently-deceased Richard. The arrogant King John shows no remorse to his poor Kingdom and demands harsh taxes to be collected, sending Sir Godfrey off to the North with the task of raising revenue. Unbeknownst to King John, Sir Godfrey is an agent of the French King and uses this Royal Decree to stir up enough unrest, using French Troops, to cause Civil War in England. what follows is war between the two powers, with Robin Hood involved.
First of all, this movie is pretty boring. It is missing the most important thing with Robin Hood, the ability to entertain. It focused on a lot of characters and history that I didn't care about. I mean, when I see Robin Hood I want to see him and his friends running through Sherwood Forest causing mischief and rebelling the English empire, the thrill of adventure. This movie is one of the very few movies to almost cause me to go to sleep about midway (and that's hard for me to do). But it did have it's strengths. The action sequences were nice, with the final battle scene probrably being the best part of the whole movie. Crowe was decent acting-wise (not his best though). But Blanchett was much better, definitely the performance of the movie. Directed and produced by Ridley Scott, who's filmography includes Alien, Blade Runner, Gladiator, Black Hawk Down, Hannibal, Kingdom of Heaven, American Gangster, and Body of Lies. Quite a history, but this is definitely not one of his greater films.
Personally, I think Scott should of focused more on the Robin Hood we are familiar with rather than the origin of this historic character. Maybe that would have made it a better film for me, but for now, I would not recommend this film.
Posted on 8/06/11 04:56 PM
I don't see why this movie is getting all the attention it is getting. I'll admit, visually, it soars. This movie arguably has some of the greatest special effects ever made. But everything else makes it fall flat.
First of all, this movie was way longer than it needed to be and dragged on and on. By the time fighting scenes in the end were just starting, I was exhausted. Also, by the time the fighting scenes were just starting, the visuals were beginning to lose their effects. I saw this movie in 3-D and was taken away by the amazing effects and the world of Pandora. But, like I said before, they eventually lost their effect. The love story was cheesy and I coundn't connect with the characters(I wasn't upset that about half of them died at the end.) The humor was a little flat, with Cameron just throwing in a cuss word to every line to make it appeal to most. But what hurt this movie the most was the repetitive and thoroughly predictable storyline. Yes, I'm sure all you fans have heard of this before. However, maybe it's just me, but when it comes to movies, story comes first. I mean, come on! Guy works to win trust of a group of people that don't like him at first, eventually does, falling in love with someone significant in the group, ends up pissing them all off including the girl, wins back their trust, fights with them against his original group, eventually wins the battle against all odds, almost dying in the process and joining the group permanently in the end. The story was also predictable throughout, me guessing all that I mentioned before.
Personally, if for some unknown reason that you haven't seen it yet, I suggest you go see it. It's a totally new experience visually, but everything else in the movie has been seen already.
Posted on 11/20/10 08:39 PM
I remember when I first read The Scarlet Letter. I was basically the only kid in my AP class who enjoyed it. That was almost a year ago, but it feels like yesterday. So when I heard about this film starring Emma Stone that draws some parallels on that classic by Hawthorne, I was intrigued.
Olive Penderghast (Stone) is a clean-cut high schooler. But after telling a little fib about losing her virginity, she gets viewed as a slut by her schoolmates. Guys soon come to her to lie for them about sleeping with her to help their reputation while damaging hers even more. Pretty soon, guys begin to pay her for lying about a "good time." But after continuous rumors, she decides to take action and wear "The Scarlet Letter" let Hester Prynne herself. But this move comes with some consequences.
Sadly, I've never really been into teen movies. Which doesn't really make sense to me because these movies should be the films that I should connect with. But I did enjoy this film however.
Some actors/actresses have that one film that boosts them into stardom. This might be the case for Stone, who made appearences in Superbad and The House Bunny. She attracts the spotlight in this one, building a likeable with her witty dialogue, becoming both irrisistable and charming. She provides most of the humor in the film, with the rest coming from some Scarlet Letter references. Yes, there are some of them, and it made the film even more enjoyable.
Overall, this film was entertaining despite some problems. But the main focus should be on Ms. Stone. She pratically made this movie, stealing all the scenes. Let's just hope that she stays around for many years to come and have many successes and not end up like some of the preceeding rising teen stars.
Posted on 8/21/10 01:55 PM
Year after year, terrible rom-coms are released. It's arguably the most tired-out genre out there, but there are some exceptions, like the most recent (500) Days of Summer. The problem with rom-coms nowadays is that they have become so formulaic. Yes, some do pair two together with great chemistry but ultimately, it falls on itself with flat humor or just being formulaic (like I said before.) But this movie is that rare treasure. Not only is it clever and original, but it is very romantic and at the same time, heart-wrenching. It's believable story and honest emotion make it a rare find, and a truly memorable experience.
On January 8, Tom Hansen (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) meets Summer Finn (Zooey Deschanel), the new assistant to his boss (Clark Gregg). Tom trained as an architect but works as a writer at a Los Angeles greeting card company. Following a karaoke night, his friend McKenzie (Geoffrey Arend) admits while drunk that Tom is attracted to Summer. Summer and Tom begin to date, but she tells him that she does not believe in true love, and does not want a boyfriend. However, after a romantic scene in a printing room, the two begin to experience a relationship that's odd for "friends." As the two grow closer, Tom begins to question their relationship and his true opinion of love.
The film jumps to various days within the 500 day relationship between Tom and Summer, therefore, it keeps the viewer guessing where this relationship is going to end up. Near the beginning of the film, it is revealed that Summer ends the "relationship" on day 290, leaving their fate up to question.
Let me start by saying that I too, probrably fell in love with Summer while Tom did. Zooey Deschanel is simply adorable, and I would really like it a girl like her really existed! Now that I got that out of the way, let me say that this movie is pretty funny. There was not one corny line of dialogue that I usually find in rom-coms, and it was also ocassionally witty. But it's also a little heart-wrenching and depressing at the same time. Some of the scenes are depressing, especially the Expectations-Reality scene, which almost made me cry. And when Tom went through his post-break-up stage, I could really feel the emotion coming from his character. Also, Joseph and Zooey dish out very convincing performances. They also have amazing chemistry, appearing as an actual couple, and a joy when together onscreen. Also, let me add by saying that the score is also excellent, and it reminded me of Juno's score (and I don't know why.) And the ending, without me mentioning any spoilers, is kind of hopeful after all the depressing scenes preceding. But what amazes me about this film is how cliched the story is, but how orginal and interesting it really is. They meet, they fall for each other, they have problems, we've all seen this before. But the way the story is told, is what makes it completely original and innovative.
Posted on 8/21/10 12:21 PM
Without a doubt, on my top five favorite movies list, The Departed is a truly entertaining movie. I mean, if this didn't win Best Picture at the Academy Awards in 2008, I would have been in uproar. Luckily it did, bringing Martin Scorsese's first Best Picture award home, and a well deserved at that, considering his career preceding. Neverthless, The Departed has a brilliant plot, memorable dialogue, and terrific acting that make it one of the best films of the year.
At a young age, Colin Sullivan (Matt Damon) is introduced to organized crime through Irish mobster Frank Costello (Jack Nicholson) in the Irish neighborhood of Southie in Boston. Costello trains him to become his mole inside the Massachusetts State Police. Sullivan is accepted into the Special Investigations Unit (SIU), which focuses on organized crime. Before he graduates from the police academy, Billy Costigan (Leonardo DiCaprio) is asked by Captain Queenan (Martin Sheen) and Staff Sergeant Dignam (Mark Wahlberg) to become an undercover agent, as his childhood and family ties to organized crime make him a perfect infiltrator. He drops out of the academy and does time in prison on a fake assault charge to increase his credibility. As both sides become more involved in their investigations, each man attempts to discover the other's true identity before being found out.
The film is directed by Martin Scorsese, and is a remake of the 2002 Hong Kong film Infernal Affairs. It was released to universal acclaim, and it won four Academy Awards at the 79th Academy Awards, including Best Picture, and an Academy Award for Best Director win for Scorsese.
I've never seen Infernal Affairs, but regardless, I still think that The Departed is some kind of remake, being such an amazing film itself. Anyway, I can't remember the time I came across a plot that interested me like this one did. It's about many things: it's an epic crime drama dealing with undercover cops, rats in a police department, mobsters, and FBI informants. But it's also about trust, love, betrayal, pride, parenthood, and identity. It does have the typical Scorsese length, but it is a ride throughout. The premise is intriguing, and the story plays out well. It's nicely paced, with well-timed twists throughout the film, making it all the more interesting as the film goes on.
I just can't stress how great a director Scorsese is. Most directors spend the whole careers trying to come up with that one classic, but Scorsese has had one each decade (Taxi Driver-70's, Raging Bull-80's, Goodfellas-90's, and now The Departed.) And he does do a fantastic job in this film. I also like how the film is shot, capturing both the urban and rural areas of Boston. The acting is fantastic, with strong performances from experienced actors abroad. DiCaprio is well...Dicaprio: a purely convincing performance. Matt Damon is a pleasant suprise, he's really matured as an actor. Jack Nicholson is no suprise, he basically steals the show every time he appears on screen. Mark Walhberg has some of the most memorable lines in the film, and dishes out of his greatest perfomances in this film. There are also some solid showings from the remaining supporting cast, like Martin Sheen, Ray Winstone, Vera Farmiga, and Alec Baldwin. The film also has some memorable one-liners, like "I'm the guy that does his job, you must be the other guy" or "Maybe, maybe not, maybe f*** yourself." Overall, the dialogue is excellent, almost every line meaning something in the plot developement, with nothing left wasted.
Posted on 8/19/10 03:11 PM
Beginning in the 1960's, America experienced an urban boom, to where Americans began to move from cities to little areas called suburbs. Many critics began to call this era an "Era of Conformity." Families live in new houses, parents working white-collar jobs to come home to watch television, making up the middle class of America. American Beauty deals with this type of lifestyle, set in the modern era. It is also an excellent movie that is very entertaining with many deep meanings beneath the surface.
Lester Burnham (Kevin Spacey) is a married, office worker suffering from a midlife crisis. His wife, Carolyn (Annette Bening) is a real-estate broker who feels unsuccessful and is living her life as a lie to seem "normal." They both have one daughter named Jane (Thora Birch) who is very different and has low self-esteem. When Lester and Carolyn attend a basketball game to watch their daughter at a half-time dance, Lester becomes infatuated with his daughter's friend Angela Hayes (Mena Suvari), whom he begins to have erotic fantasies over. As the film goes on, Lester becomes more rebellious towards his "normal" life. He quits his job to work at a fast food joint, gets a nice car, and even begins to smoke pot. His wife begins to have an affair with a rival realtor (Peter Gallagher) in the process. Then his daughter becomes romantically involved with her neighbor Ricky (Wes Bentley), while we learn about his homophobic father (Chris Cooper.) As the film goes on, the Burnham family become incapable of masking their "normal" life, they become involved in a danger that they never saw coming.
In the first scene, we learn that Lester will die in about a year. So as the film begins to develop, the suspense builds due to the anticipation at how Lester will die and who will be the one to have blood on their hands. Because of this, witnessing Lester's final hours of just trying to live a happy life is sort of a beautiful tragedy.
The movie moves along at a nice pace, and the plot is very intriguing. The acting is extraordinary, with everyone pratically walking right into their roles. Kevin Spacey is definitely the best of them all, both witty and completely convincing. Annette Bening is also fantastic, playing her unique role to perfection. Chris Cooper, Wes Bentley, Thora Birch, and Mena Suvari all pitch in strong perfomances as well. The movie is also suprisingly funny throughout, with witty dialogue benefited from the strong performnaces. The film is also filled with deep meanings, with inner beauty, imprisonment, conformity, materialism, and rebellion.
Overall, this is one of the best movies of the 90's. It daringly attacks themes that only a few other movies would touch. It deserved the Best Picture win for the year. It's wit and intelligent storytelling, along with some of the best acting at the time, make it one of the best movies of the decade and a spot on my top five favorite movies list.