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Rating History

Hamlet (2009)
5 years ago via Rotten Tomatoes

(I submitted this as an English essay)

Gregory Doran‚(TM)s adaptation of Shakespeare‚(TM)s Hamlet was very well done. I enjoyed both Kenneth Branagh‚(TM)s adaptation and Gregory Doran‚(TM)s adaptation equally. However, I felt like this adaptation did the better job of staying true to the play. While it does put a big modern spin on the play, it maintained the story‚(TM)s original dark and grim atmosphere.

This movie was much better casted than the other adaptation. Having a younger actor (David Tennant) play Hamlet seemed to better fit the character‚(TM)s childish mannerisms. He acted with a great range of emotions. While Kenneth Branagh acted the part psychotically most of the time, David Tennant‚(TM)s acting ranged from psychotic to tranquil, from joyful to depressed, from hateful to loving. This great range of emotions portrayed in a very off-putting way helped show the character‚(TM)s emotionally-contradictive personality, which is what Shakespeare likely intended.

The minor characters were also very well casted. Gertrude was portrayed as emotionally troubled as opposed to old and bitter, which I felt added more dynamic to the film. Claudius seemed more intimidating and antagonistic in his polite manners, in a ‚devil in disguise‚? sort of way. The Ghost of Hamlet was acted antagonistically as well. While reading the play, most often the reader‚(TM)s first impression of the ghost wouldn‚(TM)t be that of an antagonist. But the way the part was acted was very tour de force, and aggressive in a kind of ‚Raging Bull‚? demeanor. The portrayal of the Ghost reflects Hamlet‚(TM)s fluctuating emotions, but also foils his lack of anger and confidence. Also, it was very smart to portray King Hamlet as more directly antagonistic than King Claudius, because it helps the audience focus more on Hamlet‚(TM)s inner conflict and less on his family affairs. I also thought it was very clever to make Patrick Stewart play both Claudius and the Ghost of Hamlet, because they were physically the same person, but almost polar opposites in their demeanor.

This movie had less production value than Kenneth Branagh‚(TM)s version. However, I liked the lesser production value of this version. It creates a whole different atmosphere. Kenneth Branagh‚(TM)s adaptation had Victorian, well lit settings that seemed almost too lively and grand. The setting of this version is much ‚colder‚?. The rooms are smaller and the halls are narrower, giving the movie more tension. It also makes less use of lighting, for a dark and gloomy feel. It also gives the movie more ambiguity and suspense, while only focusing on what‚(TM)s important (example: the ‚ghost‚? scenes at night sometimes kept the actors in the dark while lighting the ghost when it makes its appearance, then uses lighting to capture the actor‚(TM)s reactions). All of this helps to capture the play‚(TM)s true heart of darkness, which I really appreciated.

There was a difference in this version‚(TM)s sequence of the play‚(TM)s scenes. Kenneth Branagh‚(TM)s adaptation was very ‚paint-by-numbers‚?, in that it reflected the original text in its entirety. But this adaptation‚(TM)s removal and rearrangement of scenes made it seem more ‚movie-like‚?, so that the plot is more easily comprehensible and entertaining.

What I appreciated the most of this movie is its well thought out use of different types of shots, which all had different purposes. The type of shot that I considered most cleverly executed was the found-footage shot. In this movie, it is in the form of security camera footage. I felt that the use of this type of shot helped to increase feelings of paranoia. My favorite example of this is during Hamlet‚(TM)s ‚to be or not to be‚? monologue, where Polonius and Claudius watch him via the security cameras. This scene also made a good use of long shots (shots that last longer than a minute without cuts) and close-ups, which help the audience appreciate the acting more as well as create more intensity. A lot of long shots were used during monologues. The long close-ups in the ‚to be or not to be‚? scene, matched with the found footage shots, created a really intense and paranoid tone that I really enjoyed and did not expect.

Another type of shot that the director implemented that I really enjoyed was jump-edited shots. This is when two sequential shots don‚(TM)t differ in camera angle, and the subject remains on camera but in a slightly different position. Jump-edited shots were cleverly used during Hamlet‚(TM)s soliloquies to show sudden shifts of emotions. In one shot he‚(TM)d be maniacal in his expressions, and it will cut immediately to a shot of him in a sad and melancholy trance. This makes it seem like these two emotionally-polar sides of him coexist, and the intention of this was likely to mess with the viewer psychologically, which I really enjoyed.

I also really enjoyed the varied use of static shots and moving shots. In Kenneth Branagh‚(TM)s adaptation, most shots were moving, making the movie seem much livelier. However, this adaptation consisted of mostly static shots to create a better gloomy atmosphere. The moving shots are only used when something is going wrong. This helps guides the viewer‚(TM)s emotions.

Overall, I really enjoyed this film. The varied acting, the gloomier production atmosphere, the clever execution of different shots, and the more coherent plot sequence all helped to create a wonderful adaptation that is unique in that it stays true to the play not literally, but through artistic elements. This is a wonderful adaptation that deserves more recognition than Kenneth Branagh‚(TM)s, so that moviegoers can be exposed to the play‚(TM)s true raw heart of darkness, rather than given blockbuster eye-candy that only captures Hamlet‚(TM)s words and not its spirit.

The Cabin in the Woods
5 years ago via Rotten Tomatoes

I loved this so much. It had the genre-deconstructing mind games of Scream, the paranoia of The Truman Show, the satirical film commentary of Adaptation, the twisted black humor of Funny Games, and the self-aware humor of 21 Jump Street.
The way it was written should be how every horror movie is written, in that it made you become torn between wanting the characters to live but still lusting for some gory pay-off. Most horror movies only make you go with the latter, and then don't even deliver it.
I don't really consider it to be scary but I was in awe of how gruesome it was. I loved how a lot of the screwed-up stuff was actually obscured by other things, as opposed to most horror movies that throw the repulsiveness right in your face. This method actually made it bearable AND grimly humorous.
And I loved the subtle metafictional pop culture references. They were subtle and sparing enough to let me analyze the movie without having to stop and take breaths.

The only huge problem I had with it was the climax. I feel like it was very formulaic, and it defeated the whole purpose of the movie which was to go against the norm. It used a plot device that I'm not particularly fond of, as it's usually used by screenwriters as a way to "cheat" their way through the climax. If they had made some sort of clever commentary about it prior to it happening, that would have made the ending a whole lot better. But. Oh well.

Friday the 13th Part VII - The New Blood
5 years ago via Rotten Tomatoes

Bringing supernatural elements into a slasher film could prove to be innovative someday, but this just doesn't cut it. You can't be unique by taking two different genres and awkwardly mashing them together. The main character was just a more attractive version of Carrie that runs and cries a lot.

Elephant (2003)
5 years ago via Rotten Tomatoes

It's really unconventionally filmed, but I've always been a sucker for ridiculously long tracking shots for some reason. That's the only thing that drew me in. Other than that didn't deserve the Palme D'or, there wasn't much artistic value to it. But I guess Cannes tends to lean towards the more "different" contestants rather than the better ones.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower
5 years ago via Rotten Tomatoes

The parts that were meant to be heartwarming were pretty stale. But the parts that were meant to be saddening gave me serious chills. I loved the bittersweetness that came towards the second half.

A lot of the dialogue was cliche and cheesy, as if it came from a teenage girl's blog. But it's kind of expected of any coming-of-age high school dramedy. And the narrative was kind of off beat. It starts off very formulaic, then spins in dizzying circles, then immediately stops and becomes formulaic again, and so on and so forth. But at least it kept me interested from beginning to end.

Overall it seemed like a season of a really really great show on MTV that was cut down to 90 minutes. It was missing a lot, but at the same time it felt like enough.

And Ezra Miller stole the spotlight in the same way Judd Nelson did in The Breakfast Club. Seriously. My god.