Oh yes, an 80's classic that still is the talk of the town whenever words like best blockbuster flicks of all time are thrown into a conversation. Quite honestly, I remember seeing snippets of "Back to the Future" when I was younger, but never did I sit through from the opening scene to the ending credits. Finally in the year 2013, after 28 memorable years of movies, I can proudly say that I have finally seen one of the greatest blockbusters of all time.
28 years... it's really been that long? Undoubtedly, "Back to the Future" shows some age: Michael J. Fox is extremely young, the special effects look dated, and the camerawork isn't on the same caliber as today's standards. But those are only just minor complaints for an otherwise impeccably well-made film. What holds it up after the test of time? It's the interesting premise involving the paradox of time travel that still continues to be mimicked by multiple other Sci-fi flicks. Premise alone is nothing, but with effective drama, real tension, and entertaining narrative dips and dives, "Back to the Future" manages to be a well-rounded blockbuster movie. "Back to the Future" was and still is a one-of-a-kind.
With a new generation of film lovers coming our way, I'm afraid that "Back to the Future"'s gonna be forgotten in a pile of other movies that were directly influenced by "Back to the Future" itself. Don't let its age scare you. It is worth your time and is one of those few rare flicks that is rewatchable time and time again.
Ahh yes, time for Hollywood to once again churn out yet another rendition to an old fairy-tale and give it that desperately needed "Hollywood flavor". ...Kidding. The victim to Hollywood's incessant attempt to destroy yet another classic tale: Jack and the Beanstalk. It's everything that I was coming to expect: gratuitous on CGI, poor screenplay, and a trade-off of stellar storytelling for heavy action. "Jack the Giant Slayer" looks like one of those movies that, sure, has Hollywood's backing, but neither would be a good movie or a box-office powerhouse. Especially after seeing the ratings hitting just near-shy of fresh, this live action rendition of a classic folk tale never caught my attention, but to my surprise, "Jack the Giant Slayer" is 2013's guilty pleasure.
Unfortunately, that's where all the surprises come to a screeching halt. You can't get a much more Hollywood movie than "Jack the Giant Slayer", and you know what? That's perfectly fine. Don't expect Oscar-worthy performances even when we got the likes of acting veterans Ewan McGregor and Stanley Tucci. But what truly makes "Jack the Giant Slayer" shine is that though the film is hefty on CGI, the story itself has just enough action injected into the source material's narrative that brings a quality of an entertaining adventure movie into life. It's not too much and not too little. And because the original source material remains a classic fairy tale because of its compelling storytelling nature, "Jack the Giant Slayer" seemingly manages to stand on its own two feet when the action dies down.
I'm not saying that you should go out and watch it immediately. "Jack the Giant Slayer" is a passable cable movie viewing because of its entertaining nature -- just don't come with high expectations. I could shred this movie to pieces of all the things it doesn't do right, but what it does do right is entertain audiences, whether through the cathartic action or when it unravels the universe of the fairy tale. Perhaps that's all the average joe may be looking for at the movies.
Text slowly fades in and out on a blank, dark screen, revealing the cold harsh rules of space. A gradual crescendo of ringing resonates throughout the theater as we're again met with a blank screen. The ringing escalates more and more. By now, it's unbearable. The title of the film fades in: "Gravity". Suddenly, everything cuts. Silence. You could hear the projector rolling in the back. Canvased on screen is a drop-dead gorgeous shot of Earth out in expansive blackness of space. That's when I knew, I was in for a treat.
Alfonso Cuaron, the director of "Children of Men", crafts a film 4 years in the making, and boy do you see it. "Gravity" has some of the most stunning visuals America has seen since "2001: A Space Odyssey" with a narrative that's brimming with unequivocally palpable tension that hasn't been witnessed since "No Country for Old Men". "Gravity" is the definition of masterful directing.
First off, it doesn't get much deeper than what the title of the film presupposes. It's about astronauts caught in a "Cast Away"-like scenario except in space. So for the short running time of an hour and 30 minutes, you're expecting a narrative that's not much deeper than "nature vs. man". But Alfonso goes further, bringing just enough depth to the central protagonist, Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) via imagery and symbolism that is subtle and unobtrusive. But that's not what the heart of "Gravity"'s at, right? "Gravity" is a survival movie. Well, from left to right, Alfonso delivers haymaker after haymaker with armrest-gripping tension that separates "Gravity" from 95% of other thrillers. With such high praises, "Gravity" already stands alone with the few other great movies out there, but what escalates "Gravity" to masterful levels is the superb use of sound, immaculate cinematography, and jaw-droppingly impeccable camerawork.
Still to this day, "Children of Men" is regarded as a movie with the 2nd best cinematography of all time by AFI, just nearly being outdone by the visually impeccable, "Amelie". Personally, "Children of Men" still makes my jaw drop especially during those breathtaking one-take shots. "Gravity" arguably hits new levels. The cinematography is absolutely stunning -- I'm talking masterpiece level. And just like Alfonso's previous movie, there are some one-take shots in "Gravity" that led me to stand up and applaud (I'm sure many were just as impressed as I was, but there I was alone, clapping away like an idiot). Even in moments of seemingly-eerie peace, "Gravity" hits levels of some of the best cinematography cinema has ever graced. What a monumental achievement to have such superb cinematography even when CGI comprises most of the film.
"Gravity" may not have a groundbreaking or an innovative narrative, but man, Alfonso sure takes the material he has to eye-widening limits. "Gravity" is nothing short of a masterpiece, a monumental stepping stone that brings Alfonso that much closer to being regarded as one of Hollywood's greats. This is, by a long run, the best movie of 2013 so far.
"All aboard the Gordon-Levitt train!" they said. I said, "No."
Just look at this with a sober mind: Joseph Gordon-Levitt's undoubtedly a solid and consistent actor, but don't you think he's being praised too highly? C'mon now -- some are praising him as the actor of our age. A bit too excessive, don't you think? If you're talking that talk, then let's recall back to his previous outings: "50/50", "500 Days of Summer", "The Outlook", "Looper". He certainly had shining moments of glory, but for the most part, he plays his roles adequately, not superbly. Well here we are with his directorial debut, "Don Jon". Just like his acting career, he does a fine job -- nothing more, nothing less.
I'll give it this: "Don Jon" has a unique style straight from the mind of Gordon-Levitt. With quick cuts, Italian shlock-like dialogue, and snappy camerawork, "Don Jon" is slick around the edges. On a technical level, "Don Jon" is a solid flick. You can't help but to see because of the amount of experience Gordon-Levitt's been under, it's really propelled "Don Jon" to be not only an entertaining flick, but a technical achievement as well, especially for his first outing as writer and director. So what's the problem? It just about dabbles into several genres without mastering one. It's a comedy/romance/drama but none of these genres within the narrative is compelling enough. More so than the other genres, "Don Jon" is more of a comedy, especially when coupled with the dialogue and editing style, but never do you laugh out loud. More so, the romance and the drama are merely scratched. So by the end of the film, though you were entertained, none of it resonates with you.
Undeniably, this is a strong outing for first-time director, Joseph Gordon-Levitt. It's confident, snappy, and filled with energy; just don't expect to be wowed, praising the movie to be one of the best films of the year. It'll be a fun time (maybe uncomfortable especially for a first-time date) at the movies, but that's all "Don Jon" extends to.