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A Look Back: 2012 in Film (Part II)

Ruby Sparks

There’s an odd connection between actual aspiring writers and movies centered on writers that’s tough to pinpoint.  Ruby Sparks is like a vision coming into physical reality for writers, with a character transforming into something anyone else can see, touch and feel.  The initial promise of such a premise is taken in the directions you’d expect, before taking some surprisingly dark turns.  But fellow fictional writers will know that sometimes to truly understand your characters, you’ll have to put them through the worst possible hell.  It is, to borrow from another certain 2012 release, “a necessary evil.”  Ruby Sparks is, at the very least, compelling and leaves a relatively strong impression.  Things do end up a little to conveniently resolved, but given the road taken, such an ending can feel all the more rewarding.

The Expendables 2

Times at the cinema would be so much better if films like The Expendables 2 were easier to pick out.  Like its predecessor, this is a perfect break and escape from reality.  No, the film isn’t fantastical, but it’s a hell of a great time, suspending you amidst ridiculous action and one-linters.  While other cheap, campy B-grade action movies do little but bore, The Expendables 2 entertains and entertains and entertains.  There’s little serious merit here, but the fact you have so fun watching it the first time around makes everything else irrelevant.

Lawless

Lawless didn’t fear showing a generally grisly side to Prohibition-era America, which is showcased in a scene that makes me queasy upon the slightest recollection.  There are a number of ways to generically label Lawless, ranging from Tom Hardy’s Post-Bane Role to Wait, Shia LaBeouf Has Acting Capabilities?  Being one of the few non-haters of the latter actor, even I think he’s outclassed and generally unfit for such a role.  Thankfully, he’s not misplaced to the point of say, Josh Hutcherson in The Hunger Games, while every other performance from Tom Hardy to Jessica Chastain and Guy Pearce is spot-on.  It’s just a shame we only get two scenes with Gary Oldman, who completely owns both and shows us a side to Jim Gordon we might’ve forgotten after The Dark Knight Rises.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower

It’s not every day–or even every year–I can call a film truly resonant with how I generally feel, but The Perks of Being a Wallflower managed to be such a film.  Shame it was a bit of a sleeper, though.  This is a film equally earnest and honest, working better than it probably should thanks to how relatable and irresistible the characters are.  Even Paul Rudd, amounting to a simply sympathetic teacher, manages to bring us into the film more because his scenes with Logan Lerman work so well.  Sometimes comedic, other times seriously dramatic, but always enthralling, The Perks of Being a Wallflower more than earns a personal favorite mark from yours truly.

Looper

Looper was definitely one of the more highly touted films of 2012.  Many people seemed to think it would be the next “it” thing for science fiction action thrillers, with big comparisons being made to Inception.  The film met with almost universal acclaim but seems to have become little more than a dud on the windshield.  While this is a bit of a shame, the film does have, at its core, some very potential shortcomings.  To be fair, like Philip K. Dick’s works, most of these issues stem from the film’s deliberate approach to pose ideas without completely fleshing them out.  It becomes a bit of a backdrop to the story, rather than a consistently integral part.  Some say this works to the film’s strength, I say this is a story that belongs in novel form rather than on the big screen.  Don’t get me wrong, Looper is a very solid film in its own regards, it’s just many of the paths taken are unexpected in a way that necessarily fit.  For much of the second half I forgot we were in the future, or even an alternate reality.  This isn’t a movie you watch for spectacle or visions of another world, it’s a movie you watch for its surprisingly down-to-earth story with alternating thrills and drama.

Argo

In my original review of Argo, I mentioned that while a good piece of filmmaking, it’s not one I’d have honored with several Oscar nominations.  It seems the Academy felt surprisingly similar notions, except they got a couple things mixed up.  Give Ben Affleck the Best Director nom and possibly retract its Best Picture nomination, along with Alan Arkin, despite being one of the best parts of the film.  But I digress.  Argo had a lot to live up to in my books since I’m a huge fan of The Town.  Ben Affleck has a thing about surprising many of us, which is very welcoming.  For a film with so many characters and a rather forgiving runtime, Argo feels surprisingly whole and complete.  Outside of Victor Garber, I think everyone was sufficiently developed.  The plot is expansive in some ways, but the actual story at-hand is very focused.  Not to mention we get possibly the more intense final act of any film from 2012 in Argo, which isn’t in, how do you say, a bang-bang boom-boom kind of way.  Far from my top pick of the year, but definitely one of the most well made releases.

Skyfall

I can already hear the boos coming on this one: I’m not a James Bond fan.  The whole spy movie genre is a bit elusive to me, but I can set things aside to enjoy them if I so desire.  Daniel Craig’s first outing as 007 in Casino Royale does hold up as what you could call a good movie that just happened to be associated with James Bond.  Quantum of Solace, on the other hand, was about as solid as the T-1000 at the end of Terminator 2.  Thankfully, Skyfall brought integrity back and offered a few eye-catching surprises along the way.  This is still very much a Bond film with some hard-boiled action/thriller elements pushing their way in for the final act.  Skyfall doesn’t transcend or turn its back on its faith, which means fans of the series will still get the most out of it.

Flight

I’m trying to remember if Denzel Washington has ever given a subpar performance, much less been in a bad film.  He’s able to easily outclass the best actors Hollywood has to offer and, go figure, his only Academy Award isn’t for one of his top-notch performances.  We can now add Flight to his almost intimidating resume, in which his character goes through so much in its accurate portrayal that it could be labeled synonymous with gripping tragedy.  Without giving anything away, the ending is a bit of a buzzkill and makes what comes off as a long, hard journey abruptly hit some sort of a roundabout.  Still, even for such a good year, you’re not going find many films with a lead performances that commands and demands as much Denzel does here.

Wreck-It Ralph

I can remember seeing the trailers for Wreck-It Ralph and thinking “whatever, just get Pixar out of their slump already!”  Then the film’s style brought comparisons to Scott Pilgrim vs. the World and I suddenly grew intrigued.  Said film is among my favorites and one that I enjoy even more with subsequent viewings.  I can’t see Wreck-It Ralph achieving the same effect, but it was surprisingly fun, enjoyable and one I’d be all for seeing again and again.

Lincoln

We had quite a few Oscar bait films this year and Lincoln shamelessly abides the criteria.  If there’s any surprise we’re thrown it’s the amount of comedy, usually courtesy of Tommy Lee Jones.  Obviously an actor like Daniel Day Lewis brings the iconic personality we think of when we imagine Lincoln, though it can definitely become overbearing.  I must reiterate that this performance is literally 50% elaborate storytelling.  No, this is hardly a deal-breaker and, in the hands of Steven Spielberg, we have a nicely handled and borderline immaculate film.  The only downside is it isn’t the year’s most compelling release since it takes about as much chances as I do with the ladies.

Silving Linings Playbook

This is the movie that actually drove me to travel nearly an hour away just to see what the hype was about.  I’m a bit of a sucker for rom-com/dramedies since, when handled well, they strike me like few others.  Two hours of watching and cumulative driving later and I can easily say that it was a wait and trip well spent.  Silver Linings Playbook hits the dysfunctional character note like so few movies and the results are pure bliss.  Comedy and drama run equally high and effectively with no weak links.  Silver Linings Playbook is tough to describe and justify, but if I had to sum it up, I’d say go see the movie and experience it yourself.  Even if it doesn’t crack your top movies of the year, it’s guaranteed to be among the most entertaining and rewarding.

Life of Pi

A scene from Life of Pi showed before a screening of Prometheus and my reaction was, to quote my friend, “so confused.”  That scene was literally all I caught of the film before deciding to eventually see a 3D screening.  I always feel uneasy when thinking Ang Lee since I just can’t separate that name from 2003’s Hulk, a film that continues to leave a repugnant taste in my mouth.  But rest assured, Life of Pi is no Hulk.  Life of Pi is one of the most beautiful, fascinating, well directed and edited films of 2012, bringing an odd story to light that keeps us riveted, regardless of whatever crazy direction it might take.  One pleasant surprise is the ending, which avoids the happy Hollywood archetype but doesn’t take the slummy road either.  Simply put, Life of Pi is a wondrous piece of work and a movie I can’t wait to experience again from the moment it comes out on Blu-ray.

Killing Them Softly

I had my eye on Killing Them Softly for a few months, though shortly after I saw the summertime trailer it drifted off and became but a distant memory.  It’s fitting then, that the film itself will likely suffer the same fate as its previews.  Killing Them Softly certainly isn’t a bad film, it’s just a bit of a drag and feels too incomplete for its own good.  This is really a film that I thought was good for killing time, it’s just I wish it had been done with a better, more investible and worthwhile piece.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

The whole idea of splitting film adaptations into multiple releases is just weird.  Monetary reasons aside, it kind of defeats the point of having an adaptation in the first place.  Typically a film adaptation is used to give us the short, sweet and entertaining version of a story.  If we’re lucky, we’ll occasionally get some good twists, but it’s often just the motion picture equivalent to spark notes.  So the fact we’re getting nearly 10 hours for a book that’s less than 400 pages is really just overkill.  Now, taken in its own regards, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is a conflicted and inconsistent film.  It’s tough for me to tell whether the film wants to be a comedy or fantasy drama.  Even during its most serious moments, I kept thinking “is anyone on our side going do die?”  Granted, that’s probably the way the book is, but it cut back on the sense of urgency that The Lord of the Rings had.  That, I think, is a key reason this semi-adaptation of The Hobbit falters, in spite of retaining some laughs, entertainment and occasional majesty.

Django Unchained

Tarantino is a very inconsistent director with me.  I liked but didn’t care much for Reservoir Dogs; Pulp Fiction is, as we all know, a classic; Inglourious Basterds did what I thought no Tarantino movie would do in boring me; and Kill Bill just never appealed to me, hence why I haven’t bothered with them.  While I figured I’d enjoy Django Unchained based on the trailers, I was completely unprepared for the unrivaled level of entertainment I got out of it.  If Django Unchained is simply entertaining, then Silver Linings Playbook is a snorefest.  Now, if we break the film apart there are points that can be criticized, but there’s so much fun and enjoyment to be had that any shortcomings quickly become irrelevant.  A true crowd pleaser, Django Unchained can definitely earn more than a couple wholesome theatrical viewings.

Les Miserables

And finally we have 2012’s last impression according to release date (and alphabetical order): Les Miserables.  I’ve gone on to call Les Miserables the most frustrating film of 2012 because of how much I wanted to enjoy and be soaked into its story, only to be let down at almost every corner.  Detachment, spontaneity and weariness are how I’d describe the adaptation we’re afforded, which only accomplishes the visual class of Hooper’s previous effort, The King’s Speech.  I’d want to give the film another chance down the line, but one sitting was laborious enough.

 
 

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Flickchart Match-Ups: Star Trek (2009) vs. Zombieland (2009)

Sorry readers, there will be no Stumblings this week.  However, rather than leave the Monday slot completely blank, I’ll be providing the first in the latest series of posts.  I’m also hoping for these to provide a better chance for discussions to finally ensue.  That’s why today I’m introducing Flickchart Match-Ups, taken directly from the website Flickchart.  For the uninitiated, Flickchart is a site that organizes how you rank films against each other based on 1v1 match-ups.  These are either randomly generated or have you rank a film up (or down) your personal chart.  If you’re like me and have seen a fair share of movies (600+), then it’s going to take a long time to get an accurate chart.  But it adds all the more reason to return, and when you get some difficult match-ups, you’re really left re-evaluating what you like (and dislike) in certain movies.  These are the ones I’ll be posting, one match-up per post.
Today’s match-up comes between two personal favorites.  Both are recently released (in 2009), have a fair share of action and comedic moments along with memorable characters and pure fun-filled entertainment.  From the final frontier we have…

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/2/29/Startrekposter.jpg

And from the closer-to-home fantasy many of us is…

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/a/a3/Zombieland-poster.jpg

What do you think?  Does a witty reboot trump what’s become a cult favorite?  Or is a brief-yet-blissful taste of the zombie apocalypse leave Trekkies in a trail of blood and guts?

 
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Posted by on December 3, 2012 in Blog, Film, Movies

 

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Looper Review

If you’re looking for convention and routine, Looper isn’t going to be your most fulfilling catch.  Here we have a film that incorporates time travel but doesn’t go balls out with showing off technology or advances.  Normally the two go hand-in-hand, but we’re shown stuff that’s as subtle as it is familiar, aesthetically.  The focus instead rests on the story and characters, one of which is normally compromised for the other in other sci-fi films.  But since we have less blunt distractions in our way, the focus remains where many will argue it should be.

Speaking of the story, quite a bit goes on here and, without spoiling anything, let’s just say that ties and lines are twisted and strained.  We’re given a modest future, to say the least, where people from even later on are sent back to be killed and literally eliminated–no traces or fingerprints to find.  It’s a premise that will either fascinate or frustrate you (or both) the more you dig into it, which you can argue as being part of the fun here.

Actually, that might be the only fun you’ll get, as the film doesn’t tread lightly.  Save two or three chuckles, you’re really left with a serious face during the film’s runtime.  Thankfully, this is an engaging watch with hardly a slow or dragging moment.  That said, there were points I was saying to myself “man, I wish this movie was a lot longer so we could get and see more.”  On one hand it’s great that I’m being sucked in, but on the other I feel like since more sci-fi films stretch well past the 2 hour mark, why not Looper?

This is also to say that you shouldn’t expect a building climax that builds to epic proportions.  Looper is, at its core, a fairly personal story that brings several characters into play, but doesn’t show or build things to a grand, awe-inspiring scale.  Think of it like The Terminator with less indication of the war in the future.

Shape and spectacle are not what you should look for in Looper; but instead thought and personal investment.  The idea and premise is less original and more innovative, but it’s nice to get a little something different.  And with a year already full of solid films, it should have no problem fitting comfortably on most viewer’s top releases of the year.

 
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Posted by on September 28, 2012 in Blog, Film, Film Review, Movie Review, Movies, Review

 

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Sci-Fi Reboots: Dredd vs. Total Recall

This is Law-Kall!

If there’s any reboot that people are bound to flock to this year, it’s The Amazing Spider-Man.  Marc Webb’s take on the comic book hero is pulling an Incredible Hulk on us by coming just five years after its spiritual predecessor.  Early reviews have been positive enough to guarantee that, unless it happens to bomb worse than Raimi’s castration of Venom, we’ll see at least one sequel.

But while Spider-Man joins Batman and the Avengers for the summertime superhero infestation, two films set for a later release have caught my eyes.

First we have the remake of Total Recall, this time seeing Colin Farrell follow up Arnie’s role from the 1990 version.  Like most of the reboots and updates we’ve seen, Len Wiseman’s Total Recall looks darkly dystopian.  So no, it hardly looks any different from all the other films that have ripped off Blade Runner for the past 30 years.  But if we were sick of the same things, film and sports would be as dead as knock knock jokes.  And let’s be honest, good as the original Total Recall was, it hasn’t exactly aged well; not to mention the fact it’s an above average mill of one-liners.  Though I’m not anticipating this to be to Philip K. Dick’s story as The Dark Knight is to Batman, a modernization doesn’t seem as pointless as many other recent sequels, remakes and spin-offs.  The remake looks more level-headed to say the least, and though Farrell wouldn’t be my first choice, he can do well with the right material and director.  Although I don’t think anything he does in the future will top Phone Booth.

Based on the trailer, the Rekall place Farrell visits might not be directly in-line with the people hunting him down.  This could make for a small scene versus business dynamic, but knowing the source material it’ll probably wind up being one of those double agent (or double company?) scenarios.  Either way, I hope we get some creative divergences from the original.  In particular, I’d like to see a twist to the original ending.

Then we have the remake of 1995’s infamous Judge Dredd adaptation.  The remake’s clever, shortened name?  Dredd.  Does this mean the film itself will be half as long?  Now if one of these sci-fi films will truly benefit from a newer, darker look, it’s definitely Judge Dredd.  There were two things Total Recall definitely had over Judge Dredd: the story actually required paying a bit of attention and it managed to be good in spite of the one-liners.  Even with the slated September release date, we hardly got a poster of Dredd until recently.  Now that we (finally) have a full-fledged trailer, we can see just how different and similar the film is simultaneously.  On one hand, we should be getting a more investible environment and story here.  And on the other it looks just like–you guessed it: any other Blade Runner inspired film.  One of the many things comic book fans weren’t so fond of in Judge Dredd was the fact Stallone took off the mask/helmet (we’ll call it a masket).  This time, however, Karl Urban of Star Trek, Doom and The Lord of the Rings will play judge, jury and executioner with the word being his masket never comes off.

One potential qualm I already have with the film is that I’ll always be able to tell Urban is acting, since he’s clearly trying to gruff up his voice.  But hey, it’s a step up from Stallone’s “law” and “I knew you’d say that” deliveries.  Beyond that, we have the usual mix of incredible technology but slum-ridden cities for the setting.  The drug used in the film (literally called “SLO-MO”) will probably appeal to some of the more…laid back audience members.  What I’m most curious about, as one who never read the comics, is how identifying with the characters will play out.  Just from the costume design, the judges scream symbolism of the law’s power, which not everyone is always so fond of.  And yet the people they’re against are being played up as the antagonists, so it might make for an interesting anti-hero scenario.

I doubt either film will leave a particularly big splash at the box office, especially since, after The Dark Knight Rises, our wallets will likely be gasping.  But in a summer littered with comic book superheroes and stale comedies, I’m up for a bit of standard, decent sci-fi flair.

Which do you think will stand above the other?

 
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Posted by on June 26, 2012 in Film, Movies

 

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Theater Feature: Prometheus (2012)

For many people a film like Prometheus has been a long time coming.  Claims about whether it was indeed an Alien prequel bounced around more than a hard-hit drunkard.  Ultimately, Scott and company commented that Prometheus would be a standalone film.  Of course, given we’re in the blossoming online age, refutations to this claim came aplenty.  Now we can finally find out the truth among the summer’s biggest films.

The common, spoiler-free consensus is that Prometheus is set in the same universe as Alien, but isn’t a direct prequel.  This is about all the blind, incoming viewer needs to know beforehand.

Now that we have that cleared up, what about the film itself?  To put it simply, this is a real sparker for discussions.  Some will find this to be a surprising thought-provoker while others will at least see it as something worth pondering.  And this is a key part of the film’s theme.  We’re often searching for what we don’t know (everything) about.  Even when answers are provided, more questions can (and usually do) stem from those.  This is a key reason the film has drawn such divided and passionate discussions; it’s all the more why this is such fascinating watch.

In fact, more than anything, this theme is the driving force behind story and plot.  Beyond a group of people exploring a distant planet for answers we’ve long wondered, it’s tough to detail the film without spoilers.  When our character’s discoveries aren’t pushing things forward, their more than occasionally questionable actions are.  Development isn’t in the highest supply, but again, that’s part of the film’s style.  The story and circumstances are, to some extent, beyond them.  For what our key players provide, however, it’s mostly serviceable.  Granted, some might wonder whether Rapace or Fassbender deserve to be called the film’s key (human) character.  At least both of them provide note-worth performances, especially the latter (as always).

Beyond this, people should actually know what to expect.  Ridley Scott is doing science fiction, which he always has an eye for.  The shots are entrancing, heightened sequences are generally gripping and the art style is intriguing to say the least.  Factor these in simultaneously for some parts and we have a film that refuses to let you divert your eyes.  Ultimately, keeping your interest is what Prometheus does best, and it shouldn’t be any other way.

 
 

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Parallels in Time: Terminator 2 to The Terminator

Most people re-watch the films they like, often on several occasions.  For many people, including myself, the first two Terminator films are probably among the most frequently watched films of all time.  And like a book that only gets better with each subsequent reading, viewers are bound to notice things they didn’t pick up on before.  Sometimes these can even be parallels from film to film.  Combine several viewings with one’s OCD tendencies and even the most arbitrary things will match up.  And because these are films that we’ll probably never get sick of talking about, here are some parallels I’ve noticed between James Cameron’s sci-fi companions, The Terminator and Terminator 2: Judgment Day.

Parallels are not a part of my mission.

Both films open with a scene from the future.

Kyle and Sarah make their getaway in a “late model gray Ford” (the film was released in ’84); the car which the T-800, Sarah and John escape with in Terminator 2 is a similarly styled sedan.

Both Sarah (in The Terminator) and John (in Terminator 2) are attacked by the Terminator sent to kill them through the windshield of a car; the main difference being Sarah was attacked from the front of a car and John from the back.

The way the T-800 in Terminator 2 is thrown through the glass in the mall parallels the way the T-800 in The Terminator was shot through the glass by Kyle at Tech Noir.

Sarah (in The Terminator) and John both initially drive cheap, low-end motorbikes.  John’s was a dirt bike while Sarah’s was a moped.

Both films end with a shot on the road.

Much of the key stretches in both movies take place at night.

In both films, Arnold attacks three individuals at the beginning; the three punks in The Terminator and three at the bar in Terminator 2 (the man he takes clothes from, the man who attacks him with a pool stick and the man who stabs him).

How dare you pick apart our redundancies.

Both films have three chase sequences, at least one of which (in each film) involves a large truck.

In the middle of both final chase scenes, (one of) the vehicles our heroes use to flee from the Terminator/T-1000 are toppled over.

During these same chase scenes, the person attempting to ward of the Terminator (Kyle in The Terminator, Sarah in Terminator 2) is injured by a gunshot.

During the last act of both films, each Terminator sent to kill chases our heroes with a motorcycle (if briefly).

The primary gun of choice used by the protectors sent back through time (Kyle in The Terminator, the T-800 in Terminator 2) in the first half of each film is a shotgun.

In both movies, Arnold attacks several cops.  In The Terminator he kills 17 of them; in Terminator 2 he does it to scare them off without actually killing any.

Both films take place over the course of roughly 1-2 days.

Seriously, how many more can you pick out?

Both films have us watch a (pre-recorded) video of a person who tells of their “visions of the future,” if you will.  In The Terminator, it’s Kyle, who’s actually experienced the war of the future.  In Terminator 2, it’s Sarah during one of her evaluations in which she sees/imagines the nuclear fire of Judgment Day.

Both films have a brief “FPS shot.”  In The Terminator, it’s right before Arnold bursts into the motel room Sarah and Kyle shared.  In Terminator 2, it’s in the steel mill when Arnold faces the T-1000 (who attacks right after the said shot).

The first words each protector from the future says to Sarah are “come with me if you want to live.”

Arnold briefly uses a younger male’s voice to disguise himself in both films.  In The Terminator, it’s of a cop (1L19); in Terminator 2, it’s of John.

In both films, Arnold loses his sunglasses by actions of a female character (Sarah running him off his motorcycle in The Terminator and a female cop hitting him in the face in Terminator 2).  This would be repeated two more times in Terminator 3, both involving confrontations with the T-X.

When Arnold says “I’ll be back,” in both films he returns by crashing a vehicle into a building.

Sarah has at least one nightmare/vision of the future in both films (she has two in the extended cut of Terminator 2).

You think you’re clever…

Both Terminators sent to assassinate send at least one person through a wall.

Both Terminators sent to assassinate also find out where the person they’re hunting is from a phone/transmitted message.  In The Terminator, it’s Ginger’s answering machine; in Terminator 2, it’s a cop radio at Miles Dyson’s house.

Including the extended cut of Terminator 2, each film has a scene where we literally get under the skin of Arnold as a Terminator.  In the first film, Arnold cuts one of his eyes off himself.  In Terminator 2’s extended cut, Sarah and John peel off part of Arnold’s head and drill into his head to access the CPU.

And just for kicks, the black guy in both films isn’t the first one to die!

Know of any parallels between the films I missed?  Let me (and others) know below in the comment section!

 
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Posted by on April 29, 2012 in Film, Movies

 

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Quote Review: Blade Runner (1982)

“If they’re a benefit, it’s not my problem.”

For all of Blade Runner’s wonderful shots, which go about as far as a film (especially for its time) could capture thematically, there are questions and plot points disregarded, oftentimes completely. Most of the plot pieces are in place, but never truly set in motion. There’s a sense of detachment to the characters as well, which might be fitting for the dark overtones, but it leaves everything feeling incredibly thin. As a result, the film is only carried so far by its strengths. It’s certainly worth watching, but Blade Runner is a jack of few trades and a master of even less.

 
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Posted by on April 11, 2012 in Film Review, Movie Review

 

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Theater Feature: The Hunger Games (2012)

“This is the time to show them everything. Make sure they remember you.”

It’s been a strong, steady build up to the theatrical release of The Hunger Games, drawing comparisons everywhere between it, Twilight and even Harry Potter.  At this point, if you’re not already on board the bandwagon, there’s bound to be little which will persuade you otherwise.  But viewers on the fence or skeptical as to whether the film itself holds up need only know that it delivers.

Most of the story falls on the shoulders of its characters, who are well developed where it counts.  Jennifer Lawrence has already made quite a name for herself at such a young age, and she’s well up to the occasion as the strong yet wary Katniss Everdeen.  Elizabeth Banks and Woody Harrelson also get sufficient screen time, offering a fun contrast of comedic touches which are practically extinguished after the first hour or so.  Josh Hutcherson also gets his share of time, often (luckily) alongside Lawrence, fitting the flawed by likable persona of his character.

If there’s one thing The Hunger Games does best, however, it’s keeping the viewer guessing as to just what will happen and how.  The Hunger Games event itself is built up in a way that there’s a constant sense of foreboding, which should keep anyone even slightly invested gripping their seat until the end.  Give credit to the marketing and publicity behind the film too, for keeping most of the second half under wraps while touting exactly what happens was a wise choice; the payoff wouldn’t have been nearly as great if this were handled another way.

While the film does touch on themes of social commentary, the focus is kept where it should be: the experience and nature of survival.  It definitely gets you thinking, but the action, suspense and character interactions all make sure your interest and enjoyment are never diminished.  Even with many smaller supporting characters who matter to the leads and story being glossed over, it’s tough to not get invested with everything that’s going on.

 
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Posted by on March 23, 2012 in Film Review, Movie Review

 

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Quote Review: 12 Monkeys (1995)

“There’s no right, there’s no wrong, there’s only popular opinion.”

12 Monkeys isn’t a journey one will want to take while expecting the usual sci-fi romp. The film feels as ambitious as its plotline is linear. Portions of the film are laid on a bit too thick and while a considerable amount of the thinking it evokes comes from how convoluted some of its branching arcs and themes are, there’s enough substance and merit here to keep the viewer engaged from start to finish.

 
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Posted by on March 12, 2012 in Film Review, Movie Review

 

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Quote Review: Minority Report (2002)

“If there’s a flaw, it’s human. It always is.”

Minority Report’s themes and premise are really the extent of its potential. Though it’s science fiction, the movie still feels alien amongst Spielberg’s other works. And while the ending might seem a little too convenient, it at least manages to avoid being predictable. The rest of the runtime doesn’t fare so well, however, as it feels like a drag through events that offer little true suspense for the viewer with pacing that takes its toll well before the second act is finished. It doesn’t disqualify the movie from being a potential, worthwhile viewing, but its interest value is disappointingly weak.

 
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Posted by on March 4, 2012 in Film Review, Movie Review

 

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