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Posted on 12/01/11 01:52 PM
Hugo - 2011's overrated Picture
And before you ask, no I have not read the book. So no, I am not grading it because "the book was better."
Now, before you go ahead and give me a thumbs down simply for the fact that I called the film overrated and didn't give it 100% automatically, I suggest you actually read the review. The point of a thumbs down is to bring down dumb reviews. If you think this is, then by all means give it a thumbs down, but I believe I have a point here.
Hugo. That is the name of the film. It's also the name of the main character. Is not, however, the name of a character I give any care for. More on this in a bit.
Let's start with the visuals. Ahhh, the wonderful visuals, or, shall I say, the distracting visuals. A children's film Scorsese? The only thing that will interest children are the visuals and flying 3-D: ask my two younger cousins and my younger sister who I saw this with. They cared nothing for the film at all, only for what the film looked like. Hugo distracts with multiple 3-D shots through gears and people that are highly unnecessary. Why is it for many films, shots like these are panned by critics, but when put in the hands of an accomplished director, it is praised? The 3-D itself is fine, and I the only thing I like about it is the tie to the train. The first film ever, in which a train goes towards an unsuspecting audience as they cower in fear. The same deal here, only in actual 3-D. How times have changed...
Now, let's get into the secondary characters: the flower girl, the inspector, the cafe owner, the newspaper man, etc etc.
I UNDERSTAND their purpose. Scorsese makes them, like many other parts of the film, a part of a working machine. Some, like the Inspector, are broken and need fixing. Together, the normal people, run and operate everyday life like a machine.
Now, that's simply wonderful and all, but why is it necessary? I feel no connection whatsoever to these characters and all they do is take away from Hugo. Yes, the titular character, Hugo.
What's the first scene we see of Hugo? Him and his father? No. Him and his awful life with his uncle? No. Him perhaps stuck in the clocks while watching other people live happily? No. It's him stealing. A hard way to make us care for him early on. How about is annoying attitude: "I need it. I just need it. Give it back." I heard that one too many times.
Now, why is that a problem? He grew up with no mother and only slightly with his father, then had a drunken uncle.
Ohhhhhhhh, right. We saw little to nothing of that.
Why show characters we don't care about or chase scenes that have no imagination to them when you could EXPAND the relationship with Hugo and his father. How about instead of TELLING us about Hugo and his father and the time they spent watching films, you start SHOWING US them at the cinema. Why not a look of wonder in Hugo's eyes with his father looking at him. Why not a scene with his father with very similar looks to Hugo that has the same expression when watching the movie with the Moon hit in the eye. Show, don't tell. One of the most important rules of film making I didn't see used to its advantage. Why not show Hugo's horrid life with his uncle? Why not show dirt and grime on his face? Why not show him miserably look at kids running freely with a mother and father? Why did you not make me care for this character AT ALL?!
And again, I don't see the grand adventure. Where's that great climax? Where's the mystery? Your climax is a chase on same stairs with some cringe-worthy comedy. The mystery? The mystery dies quick into the film.
I think the most troublesome of it all is that everything comes together by accident. Sheer accident. Not to mention useless scenes?
What was the point of the Inspector taking him up at the end, chasing him down, and then giving him back? Why didn't Hugo just cry the first the time, have the Inspector look into the eyes of the flower girl, and let him go? Why was that extra minute or two needed? There are moments like this littered throughout the film.
What's good? The score and the visuals. The visuals annoy me a bit here and there, but they're good.
What's bad? The characters that I don't care about. How about springing up a little romance between the two leads instead of leaving them as JUST friends. With an extra 5-10 minutes of needed scenes replacing 5 minutes of unnecessary scenes, my view of Hugo would increase a bit. It's unfortunate that was not meant to be.
Now, I would love some REAL debating and not just random "this has a 96% so you are wrong" sort of thing. If I get stuff like that, I know you have no real arguments back, so please, leave a comment on why you disagree or possibly agree.
Posted on 7/20/11 10:15 AM
Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, directed by Rob Marshall, follows Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) as he searches for the Fountain of Youth, accompanied by the love interest, Angelica (Penelope Cruz), her father and antagonist, Blackbeard (Ian McShane), and Barbossa (Geoffery Rush). This movie becomes exactly what you expect from a Pirates film: a simple plot taken and distorted as much as damn possible to make 'more interesting.'
The plot, or what should have been the plot, is that there is a race to the fountain of youth. The Royal Navy wants it, Blackbeard wants it, the Spanish want to destroy it, and Sparrow finds himself entangled with all 3 (not as much with the Spaniards though). Unfortunately, the film finds its way to lose itself even with the shorter 2 hours and 17 minutes runtime.
The entire story with the missionary and the mermaid is where I began lost with the movie. No, it was not confusing, but it took away from the main plot of the film. The entire addition of the Spanish was also a waste of time and plot.
Next, we have Jack. I always thought Jack is better not being the lead, and my point was proven. He serves the film better by being a drunken, mysterious damsel in distress. Except, you know, not a young woman.
Despite my complaints, the film was very enjoyable. The VFX were top notch, the soundtrack was astounding, and every technical aspect of the film was as good as can be. The story, with its flaws I mentioned, was still fine. The entire swashbuckling adventure is still there, and that's what I went to the theater to see. Perhaps in Pirates 5, we can get more of that and less side plots.
Final Consensus: Despite the shortened running time, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides fails, while entertaining and fun, fails to keep to the swashbuckling adventurous plot I had hoped to see - 4.3/10
Posted on 7/19/11 05:06 PM
X-Men first class, directed by Matthew Vaugn, follows the story of Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) and Erik Lensherr (Michael Fassbender) in the creating of the mutant alliance called X-Men. We see their original relationship as friends and their turn to become enemies.
The strength of the film lies in the leads and the connections to the Cold War. McAvoy and Frassbender play their roles very convincingly and strong chemistry. Any time either of them are on the screen, they own it. Taking place during the Cold War, specifically the Cuban Missile Crisis, makes the movie feel real. The absurdities of mutants and their powers are masked out by the relationships of the characters.
A lot happens in the movie in an awfully short time, yet it all works thanks to some very good editing. We first learn the origins of all the characters, bring a team together, train them, and take them into combat. There was a lot introduced, someone origin stories tend to do, but it was done in good health.
The main problem I had were the enemies: Sebastian Shaw and Emma Frost. They never felt like real threats throughout the entire film. Bacon seemed smug, so to speak, and his place as a villain wasn't very convincing. Jones as Frost was emotionless. She had the faces and reactions of Bella Swan, which is to say, no faces or reactions. Perhaps it was in character, perhaps not, but it didn't work for me.
Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence, who is set to play Katniss in 'The Hunger Games') is an intriguing character through the film, who has an interesting love triangle so to speak. It's not exactly love, but an idea, as in who's ideology is the one she will follow. There is Charles who has provided for her and treated as a sister, and Erik, who tells her to accept who she truly is. Her emotions were very realistic and it was an interesting side plot.
Another problem for the film were the effects. Anything involving Magneto I though worked very well, but moments such as Mystique's transformation, Beast's looks, etc did not look very good. It's not very distracting, but it's noticeable.
Final Consensus: X-Men: First Class improves upon all the other X-Men with interesting leads and a plot worthy of the characters - 8.8/10
Posted on 7/17/11 07:26 PM
All good things must come to an end.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, directed by David Yates, ends the 8 film saga following Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe), Hermione Granger (Emma Watson), and Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint) as they seek out Lord Voldemort's (Ralph Finnes) remaining horcruxes and attempt to destroy them and finally, him.
The film starts with a quick flashback to Voldemort stealing the Elder Wand, a hint that Warner Bros. is going to milk our money by releasing a dvd/blu ray of Part 1 and Part 2 combined. We then see Severus Snape (Alan Rickman) watch over a Death Eater controlled Hogwarts. Alan needs a best Supporting Actor nom, but more on that later.
We see the trio at Shell Cottage where they prepare to make their next move after the terrible loss of Dobby in Part 1. Griphook (Warrick Davis) agrees to help the trio into Gringotts and steal from Bellatrix Lestrange's (Helena Bonham Carter) vault, where Harry believes lies a horcrux. This entire sequence is fast and a roller coaster, literally. When the trio manage to steal the horcrux, they escape on the dragon in a beautiful sequence. Eduardo Serra really makes his mark on cinematography here, as throughout the entire film he makes his mark. We also get some lovely music by Alexandre Desplat, and many cues from previous films can be heard in a throwback to them.
Hogwarts now becomes a battleground in which everyone comes back for one final stand, brief or long. The acting is superb and not one person falls short. Daniel, Emma, and Rupert have grown before our very eyes and leave us with everything they can muster. The adult actors, aka Britain's finest, all have something to say in the matter as well. Maggie Smith (Professer McGonagall) does wonderful in the time that she is given. The standouts of the adult actors though are Finnes and Rickman. With Finnes, he shows Voldemort's strength and weaknesses, and as this is the final film, he really has no leash. There's a scene where he kills all in sight and moments later, we see him walking in a pool of blood. It's quite haunting.
The battle itself is a bit shorter than I expected, but that's because the focus was on the trio and their journey. The parts where we did see battle? Outstanding. VFX was top notch, and unlike some movies where the film is based around VFX and battles without a plot (cough transformers cough), this one all has merit to it.
Alan Rickman now gives Snape's defining moment, and perhaps Rickman's career performance. *Spoilers*
His death scene is one marked with heavy emotion. When Harry enters his memories and sees his true colours, it's one of great sorrow. This 7 minute sequence was, in my opinion, the best part of the movie in all aspects: visually, acting, soundtrack, you name it.
The final battle between Harry and Voldemort is extended from the book, and rightfully so. We see the two go at it, and Voldemort at a struggle to do anything and heavily weakened by his lost horcruxes, resorts to physically punching and kicking Harry. Finally, in the courtyard when the two blast their final spells and Nagini (his snake) is killed by Neville Longbottom (Matt Lewis), Voldemort meets his end by turning to ash to a beautiful sunrise over Hogwarts.
The epilogue, set place 19 years later, brings the story full circle has Harry takes his children aboard the Hogwart's express. I could not avoid tears, when the final shot of the trio with the final notes of the iconic theme blasted.
Perhaps, like Dumbledore (Michael Gambon) said in this final entry, words are our most inexhaustible source of magic. In this case, allow me to amend my original statement. All good things must come to an end, yes. But this is not the end. It is the beginning. The beginning of a Legend.
***On a side note, the Academy better swallow their pride and do it now. This is a serious contender for best pic, name me the last Oscar winner with 100% top critics and at least 8.8 average?
Posted on 7/08/11 03:44 PM
I suppose this movie did exactly what it was set out to do: entertain with the special effects and Ryan Reynolds. It's quite unfortunate that I wasn't all too entertained by the effort director Martin Campbell gave.
Second tier comic book adaptations have fell through as of late, non being able to reach the heights of popularity such as a Spiderman or Batman, yet many (such as X-Men First Class) are just as good. Green Lantern though fails in every spot I was expecting it to do well in and excelled where I expected failure.
I have no background in comic book heroes other than what I see in films, so it is quite an intriguing part of an origin story when a new superhero is introduced. With 'Thor' and the amount of time it spent on the mythology, I was expecting something along the same lines for Green Lantern. I was proven wrong, as the in this film it was absolute shit. All the overdosed CGI, the thousands of Green Lanterns I didn't give a damn about, and the pathetic villain that made me yawn upon sight really axed the film for me.
Where I expected the movie to fail was with the leads, Reynolds and Lively. Yet both surpassed my expectations and became the only characters that actually were worth anything. It's a shame this wasn't elaborated on further, perhaps with a back story into earlier parts of Hal Jordan's life or anything that kept story on Earth and away from the terrible storytelling going on in Space. You see Jordan calm his nephew, perhaps opening an interesting relationship there with him and the rest of Hal's family, but all of that is long forgotten and untouched later on. What makes superheros are their human sides: this is why the fan favorite superhero amongst majority I know is Spiderman, simply because the character can hit home.
The acting is iffy, Mark Strong plays his character well. It's too bad the character was a complete pain and useless to the story. For all Paralax is feared, he's defeated by a rookie Green Lantern? Really? Many things throughout the film had me hanging my head (most to do with Dr. Hector Hammond) and Hal and Carol's relationship could not make up for it.
Green Lantern is heavy on the CGI and thin writing without the mythology or characters to back it up.
Posted on 7/02/11 05:26 PM
Better than Transformers 2, but this was still shit. I mean, piles and piles of pure shit filmed and put into cinemas. I'm having a really hard time giving this a 20, I want to drop it but I'm feeling kind despite how terrible it was.
The first 30 minutes or so, whatever the length until the autobots were forced to evacuate with Sentinel Prime's betrayal were horrid. It was film making at it's worst. The comedy was terrible and completely unfunny. The only times I laughed were with my friend, mocking the film. None of the jokes even had me cracking a smile. Not Ken Jeong, not Malkovich, not Sam's parents, not the little robots, not any of that. If just all those scenes were omitted, the film could have been better. Simply omitting the scenes that were unnecessary, aka, anything with Malkovich, any comedy in general which Bay is terrible at.
Now, the characters. Or perhaps the lack of character is what we should talk about. There is no feeling for anyone. I really didn't care at all if Optimus was split in two, I wouldn't care if Carly just decide to blow up (given Bay, that was a possibility throughout the entire movie), I didn't care. The characters are worthless and trash with no emotion behind any of them. The most emotion you'll see is out Bumblebee's face and his radio-talking voice. Honestly, thank goodness Deathly Hallows Part 2 comes out in 2 weeks so I can some genuine characters that I can care about.
The acting? WHAT?!?! THERE WAS ACTING IN THIS MOVIE? I sure as hell didn't notice any. All I saw was screaming and random comedy, with a bit of screaming.
The special effects? Very nice. Do I care? No. Does it make the movie better? No, not at all. Especially with all the mindless action that occurred.
The Chicago battle was also very sloppy. At least the camera was held at times and I could understand what was happening, it was just trying not to laugh at was happening! I have some questions for you:
Why go to Chicago when you already have your army in DC?
Why do robots bleed? I mean, I'd understand oil, but red?
Since when could they have children?
How were they created? THEY'RE MACHINES FOR CRYING OUT LOUD!
Yes, why do the decepticons get all the good shit?
Why is it Optimus could not beat Sentinel, yet a broken down Megatron basically 1 hit ko'd him?
What happened to 'only a prime could defeat a prime?'
What is with all these stupid mythological pieces of metal? The offspark, the matrix, the pillars, what's next?!?!
Why do the robots have such terrible aim? I mean, they have open shots on these people countless times but ALWAYS MISS!
Why is there so much unneeded comedy?
What point does Malkovich's character have?
Why are Carly's white clothes not covered in dirt?
Why are all the autobots sparkling clean when they are cars and covered in grim and dirt when they aren't?
How many times did person next to me say McDormand's character needed to get back to the kitchen? Well, that one I can answer for you, he said it 7 times.
Why doesn't Michael Bay learn from mistakes?
Where all the Star Trek references necessary?
Why did the asian hesitate before shooting and say the horrid and unfunny line - 'You messed with the wrong Wang?' or something like that.
Answer all of these, and maybe I'll boost this up to a 30. Maybe...
So, all in all, here's a short summary of the movie:
Bad job at changing history, explosion, bad comedy, changing history, bad comedy, bad comedy, bad comedy, explosion, explosion, shouting, bad comedy, explosion, explosion, explosion, explosion, screaming, explosion, screaming, explosion, shreiking, collapsing, explosion, metal blood, explosion, metal blood, explosion, bad comedy, credits.
Ugh, Deathly Hallows Part 2 can not get here quick enough...and Michael Bay's retirement can't either.
Posted on 6/22/11 09:15 AM
*First Review since my return :D
I think the point to Super 8 has been lost by many people. Yes, it is not as original as many were hoping for and expecting out of Abrams, but that was exactly what he was aiming for: a homage to 70's/80's films. That's exactly what I got.
What I loved the best about the film was how Abrams handles early adolescence. We see the main protagonist, Joseph, struggle with the death of his mother, the difficult relationship with his struggling father, and encountering the first taste of teenage romance. All of it is handled in a tender and believable way, unlike the recent Karate Kid in my opinion.
Abrams is going to be the next great director (if he isn't already). He has such an eye for storytelling that each scene intrigues me slightly more than the previous one, until at which point my mouth is ajar, eyes are wide, and I'm dying to see what comes next. I can't explain this in text, as it's more of a feeling, but I get a certain sense of awe with this and with his Star Trek.
The one advantage of having kids or young teens as the stars is that unless they absolutely suck, you can't really grade their acting. They're essentially playing themselves as this would be how many people react to the situation (except for the whole risking being eaten whole by some space monster). I think they all did a respectable job reacting to tanks, gunfire, and an impending doom. The few adult actors play their roles well and play them believable.
All in all, I found the film to be an enjoyable summer blockbuster. Is it my favorite of the year? No, I wouldn't say that, but it's still one of the must see films of the year.