Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Review - Punisher War Zone (2008)

“If I see you anywhere near Hell, I'll kick your ass out.”

Director: Lexi Alexander
Starring: Ray Stevenson, Dominic West, Doug Hutchinson
Writers: Nick Santora, Art Marcum

A while back in the past I made mention of the three Punisher films and trying to keep the plot of movies simple. Having not seen this particular one at the time, I made a note that introducing one of Franks comic villains may not have been the best thing, if they haven’t made a good Punisher movie so far. Today having watched the movie I can say my comments were warranted.

Normally when I do a review I try and weigh up both negative and positive points, and try and find said points no matter how I overall feel about the movie. With this one it’s very hard to find positive points because at the end of the day this movie is ridiculously stupid. I thought the action was okay then something would happen that would just blow any credibility.

Let’s start with the acting and Ray Stevenson as Frank Castle aka The Punisher. Well he looked the part, yet all he had to do was look mean. However throughout the movie I was just never on his side. Not that I was barracking for the villains it was that I just didn’t care. Honestly to me it was as if this was a Shade of Frank Castle and had non of the complexities of the character. The being said the acting was better than the two main villains. Doug Hutchinson as Looney Bin Jim is a lesson in over acting. At first I was interested in the character but was quickly bored. When you always play it at eleven people will tire. Finally there was Dominic West as Jigsaw. Before the transformation into a villain he wasn’t too bad but then when he became Jigsaw it was a one way ticket to ham city. Also dear reader I bet you didn’t know this but having your face torn off grants you super strength.

Story wise I think they really missed the trick. This was supposed to be a reboot from the Thomas Jane movie so I think they truly should have started from scratch. Have Frank hunting down the mafia that killed his family. That’s it end of story. I don’t know why both the Jane and Stevenson movies have to have someone coming after Frank. It’s ass backwards. Sure have them mount a defence but why can’t they just tell this ready made simple story? Having Jigsaw in the picture really does confuse the issue and I didn’t care for his story. Dropping Micro into the plot (character from the comics) also just muddied the water. It’s simple. First movie should be all the set up (and we are talking set up as it’s obvious the people behind this want a franchise), have him kill the mafia families responsible, let the audience get to know the character of Frank Castle, then in the second movie introduce the new elements.

Visually I will say it didn’t look to bad, the use of the neon lights and the dark city did create a world that was grimy. It would be a place that Frank existed in. Even some of the action set pieces were pretty good and weren’t edited to a fraction of their lives. However there were just some things that were over the top and pulled me out of the movie or just screamed stupid. At one point we have Frank walking the streets of the city, silent, wounded, and returning from a successful mission. Oh yeah he was also walking through inhabited streets with guns fully out in the open. Sorry no matter how bad the city is someone would have called the cops. There is a bazooka scene that comes from no where and is just over the top. Finally spoilers but at one point Frank literally puts his fist through a guys face. Just tonal wise the gore was at war with camp acting which in turn was at war with some gritty scenes. Nothing gels and it’s all a mess.

I’m glad I’ve seen this movie because now I can positively say that the Thomas Jane Punisher is the best so far. Take that Stevenson and Lundgren. Now I could recommend this movie to people who like the so bad it’s good stuff but all the same you should probably just avoid. I only got to see this because my dad had it, and he only had it because it was a two pack with the Thomas Jane movie. If you want to see a good Punisher movie then go watch Death Wish. Bronson is the man.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Review - Megamind (2010)

“Is there some kind of nerdy supervillain website where you get Tesla coils and blinky dials?”

Director: Tom McGrath
Starring: Will Ferrell, Tina Fey, Jonah Hill, David Cross and Brad Pitt
Writers: Alan J Schoolcraft, Brent Simons

Well I had no expectations going into this one, was just looking for a fun movie to pass away the time. Low and behold what I got was a film that had me laughing from beginning to end and really managed to surprise me with how much I dug it. Seriously getting this close to the end of the year I didn’t expect such a pleasant surprise but there you have it. So let’s get a little bit in depth and see why I dug it so.

If anything this is just one of those animated films that get the voices so right for their characters. In the beginning I was thinking oh look, its Will Ferrell doing a voice, after about ten minutes all I was hearing was the voice of Megamind. That’s how you really know you’ve hit the jackpot. When character over rules the star you are doing something right. In fact everyone is just so perfect I wasn’t thinking of the human counterparts once. Tina Fey is just awesome as Roxanne Ritchie and really made the most of this interesting character. Maybe the weakest link is Brad Pitt but I don’t think this is too much a major thing. He does the hero thing pretty well and if I had to imagine a celebrity as a superhero I think Brad Pitt would be on the top end of the list. David Cross as Minion does manage to steal the show many times and seemed to have a really chemistry with Ferrell and make me wonder if they recorded their scenes together.

A complaint I’ve read from other reviewers is that it isn’t very original in the story department. Honestly I think this is a false argument as the stories comedy comes from slightly twisting what we’ve seen before hand in other movies. Saying it’s not original is kind of missing the point of what the movie is trying to do. This makes me come to a weakness in the movie; if you are not familiar with some of the comic book villain and hero beats then you won’t get as much from the movie. In the audience I may have been laughing more than the kids present because I was seeing things that were subtle jabs at the hero and villain dynamic present in many comics. I also thought the message of the movie was nice and simple and didn’t seem to be crammed down the audiences throat like some company’s tend to do. (I love you Pixar but I’m mainly looking at you)

One of my biggest pet peeves with animated features is also the constant pop culture references that are often replacing proper jokes. I’m glad to say while this movie does have its references they are normally in the background and the comedy is mostly derived from the story. This combined with the great voice acting allows for a movie that stands out from the rest of the pack that is getting very crowded at the moment.

Visually I loved the look of Megamind and I thought that it was very pretty. Now I managed to go and see the 2D version of this movie so I’m not sure what the 3D is like. But I must say the 2D version in my mind is a good call for not having movies always in 3D. I’m not sure what the added dimension would have added to the movie honestly. Also just a weird aside but I couldn’t help but notice the eyes of the all the characters. They seemed to express so much emotion yet I know it’s all digital trickery. Technology is really taking a leap forward.

At the end of the day I should probably stress that the reason i'm so high on this movie is that it beat the expectations I had for it. It doesn’t have the emotional heft like some of the more recent animated features but I was laughing pretty consistently so that in my mind is a great recommendation. If you’re after a decent animated feature that has some great voice acting and some laughs then go see Megamind.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Review - Once Upon a Time in the West (1968)

“Your friends have a high mortality rate Frank. First three, then two.”

Director: Sergio Leone
Starring: Charles Bronson, Jason Robards, Henry Fonda, Claudia Carindale
Writers: Dario Argento, Bernado Bertolucci

Tough, silent hero gets on his horse and starts riding into the sunset, he is leaving people that care for him behind but he has no business staying in town. This is the final image I always have of a western. It’s an image that is deeply embedded in my head. There is just something about the western that gets me every time. It could be the scenery, the acting, the music but there is always something that manages to hit the right chord with me. So why the long introduction? Well Once Upon a Time in the West has to be one of the best westerns I’ve seen in a while and makes me just wish I was a cowboy. Well a ghostbusting cowboy but that’s an entirely different story.

So where to begin with this classic, well I reckon the man, the legend Segio Leone. The man knows what he’s doing and this is just a master class for any directing. Tight close ups to amp up the emotional tension of scenes, or the wide scenic shots that just let the landscape engulf the viewer in all its beauty, the Leone has tight control on what he wants to show people. Not only is his eye a wonder but also his use of the actors always plays to their strengths. Charles Bronson isn’t the greatest actor in the world but under the guidance of Leone you can’t help but be pulled into the performance. I think a lot of directors now a day tend to let actors run wild a little more which is fine for likes Daniel Day Lewis but when it comes to those mid level actors a steady hand like that Leone offered is called for.

Acting wise everyone is excelling, as stated before Bronson isn’t the greatest but thanks to playing to his strengths as Harmonica (or at least that what I call him) not only can you feel the rage and lust for vengeance exude from him but this deeply calculating tact on how to get to his goal. Jason Robards as Cheyenne brings a wonderful charisma to the desperado that joins forces with Harmonica. He’s tough yet you see that out of the three male leads he is the most compassionate. Finally Henry Fonda as Frank rounds out the three with a steely eyed performance as the movies chief villain. He’s a bastard through and through and with just a glance of his eyes he can make men back down. Then there is Claudia Carindale as Jill McBain the woman who is caught between all three men. Jill is a tough lady who forges on despite tough times. Claudia manages to bring across maybe a slight sense of being out of her depth yet never at the expense of seeming vulnerable. It’s a hard line to walk yet she does it perfectly.

The story itself is a simple tale of revenge and greed and yet the story is well paced and never seems to lag which is saying something as this is a long movie. In the beginning we have three men waiting at a train station for Bronsons character. It’s a pretty long scene but in the hands of Leone it is just ratcheting up the tension as there seems to be a certain sense of doom coming. It does remind me somewhat of Tarantino’s Inglorious Basterds another long movie that doesn’t seem it as every scene is an excuse to play around with the tensions of the audience. Having a simple story allows for the audience to not be caught up with too many details and instead feel the full emotional heft each scene offers.

Over all I adored this film. The only negative or warning to possible viewers I would say is that if you don’t like westerns then move along. This movie is steeped in what people now come to recognise as the western and why not this is one of the best back in the era where westerns were king. But if you’re after a great western or just a great film in general then give this movie a shot. I’m sure you won’t be disappointed.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Those 80's Movies

2010. Woo. What a year it has been. Like many soon I will be unleashing my Top Movies List on the general populace but before that I thought I would look back at a more innocent time in movies. Back to the 80’s, back to when I was born. I went to Flickchart which I use for my entire movie list making needs and looked back at the top 10 movies that I dug from the 80’s. By the way I know Tron isn’t on this list. Shut up.

10: Batman (1989) – I love me some Batman when I was just a little kid. Come to think of it I still love me some Batman. As a little kid this was one of those cinema going moments that made me fall in love with movies in general.

09: Return of the Jedi (1983) – Okay sure this movie had the Ewoks. Sure it had Boba Fett screaming like a little girl as he died. But for me there is one scene that gives me goose bumps every time and that’s when Vader mentions Luke’s sister, cue Luke going berserk, almost falling to the dark side; all because he wants to protect the one he loves.

08: Robocop (1987) – Future of law enforcement. I’ll buy that for a dollar. I want a recount. Dick you’re fired. I love this guy. I could go on but I’ll save you from the horror. This movie has engrained itself on to my brain.

07: The ‘Burbs (1989) – I think I’ve watched this movie more than any other. I’m not sure what that says about me as a person. Love it so much I would want to have its babies. Every time I watch it I thank that Joe Dante exists.

06: Aliens (1986) – Back in the day when I respected James Cameron. This movie proved that sequels could be good. He also created a movie where the marine archetypes he had are being replicated over and over again; or at least in my opinion.

05: Phantasm 2 (1988) – The Tall Man is my favourite villain character from this period. Sorry Freddy, Jason and Michael. Just the way he can be intimidating with just the way he walks and looks without resorting to costume and make up gets the big thumbs up from me.

04: Beetlejuice (1988) – I think what makes this movie so special isn’t Tim Burton but that helps. It’s the cast they have. Everyone just works so well and get the humor. As much as at one point I though Keaton was the best Batman (that honor now belongs to Christian Bale), to me Beetlejuice will be how I always remember him.

03: Blade Runner (1982) – Some may say that I’ve seen too many version of this movie but there can never be too much Blade Runner. Everything about this movie just screams attention to detail and taking a look at the 3 hour long making of you can see how insane it all was.

02: Escape from New York (1981) & The Thing (1982) – Okay it might be cheating a little but I love these movies equally. Both have Kurt Russell in the lead and both are directed by John Carpenter. On a side note to The Thing, that beard Kurt Russell is sporting is everything that is man.

01: Ghostbusters (1984) – And the number one 80’s movie is a movie that probably appears on many many peoples lists. What can I say that hasn’t been said before? A gentleman I listen to on the Sarcastic Voyage podcast (shameless plug) said that when he was a kid he wanted to be a Ghostbuster. It was the same for me.

So there you have it. The 80’s wrapped up in a nice bow tie. I’ll leave you with an appropriate picture.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Review - Jonah Hex (2010)

“Jonah Bloody Hex! I’d know that Half-Baked piehole anywhere!”

Director: Jimmy Hayward
Starring: Josh Brolin, Megan Fox, John Malkovich
Writers: Mark Neveldine, Brian Taylor

When I heard that Jonah Hex was being turned into a movie I was kind of buzzed. I have a weak spot for Westerns and with Jonah Hex I saw a great potential for a solid Horror Western film. Then the casting was announced and we had Josh Brolin and John Malkovich I was even more excited. Josh Brolin in my mind was a great choice for Hex and Malkovich is a good bet when it comes to villains (we don’t mention Eragon). Then word got leaked out that a lot of the film was being reshot due to ‘problems.’ I’m not sure what these problems were; I didn’t want to delve into it. Trailers were released and it looked okay, but my faith was wavering. Then negative reviews hit and I don’t think it was ever released in Australia. Sound the death bell. Well I’ve finally caught up with Hex and I’m ready to deal out some rough justice.

Ouch man. That’s all I got to really say about this movie. It’s sad as there was so much potential but instead of sticking to one idea and running with it they tried to please way too many people. Also watching the movie I couldn’t help but feel how incomplete it felt. The origin of Jonah Hex is done in a cartoon that just doesn’t gel with the rest of the movie. I guess that’s the major complaint of this movie, nothing gels together; it’s a patchwork of a movie and instead of something good the film makers have created a Frankenstein’s monster of a movie that will surely throw many children into various water sources.

Acting wise Josh Brolin is actually pretty good if maybe over doing the growling at times. He does seem to be acting a little more serious than the film demands and as such when you have cartoony characters rocking up into scene it just doesn’t work. John Malkovich just seems bored, or at least I was bored with his performance. I didn’t care about the villains motivations and only wanted him dead as it meant the movie wouldn’t be far from ending. Megan Fox as Lilah the tough prostitute with a heart of gold is yet another nail in her careers coffin. Yet if anything this time it isn’t her fault as she is given absolutely nothing to work with, her character is so underdeveloped I feel sorry for her. Finally I will give a shout out to Michael Fassbender as the character Burke. As John Malkovich’s right hand flunky his character at least interested me and I was more excited to see him and Hex throw down than any other clash.

Story wise we have a plot that has both Steampunk elements and Supernatural elements and it doesn’t seem to know what to do with both of them. In fact the entire story just seems overly complex for something that should have been a straight revenge story with maybe a tinge of the supernatural. Why add the Steampunk elements if you are not going to use them? Why over complicate a simple story with weird deviations? (Weird deviations like snake men. Yeah I don’t get it either) One of the writers (Mark Neveldine) was the man behind Crank, Crank 2 and Gamer. Love these movies or hate them but they had a simple story that drove the plot forward at a rapid pace, oh and they also dealt with revenge elements.

Finally the entire look of the movie is pretty decent, but as with most of the movie it gets hurt thanks to the inconsistent tone. Some scenes can be playing up the goofiness yet then we cut to a cemetery where it’s obviously trying to play up the serious tone. I’m not sure who is really to blame for it all. But there is a sense that something’s were added just to make the scene seem cool rather than add anything to the story.

Okay I’m done with talking about Jonah Hex or that Western Mess. What could have been a very cool movie; something a little different; instead turned out to be a lame knock off of Wild Wild West. Please note what I just said, let those words sink into every cell of your being. I don’t recommend anyone watch this. People looking for the horror or steampunk elements aren’t going to get enough, those after the revenge story are probably going to be bored and those who love westerns are just going to want to watch some Sergio Leone movies to scrub their brains clean. I judge you Jonah Hex and I find you lacking.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Review - Tron: Legacy (2010)

“Change the scheme! Alter the mood! Electrify the boys and girls if you'd be so kind.”

Director: Joseph Kosinski
Starring: Jeff Bridges, Olivia Wilde, Garrett Hedlund,
Screenplay: Edward Kitsis, Adam Horowitz

So I guess most people have the same question. Was the movie worth the mammoth amount of hype that was generated? The answer is obviously no. I doubt any movie could really live up to the hype that was generated with Tron Legacy. Second question, is it a good movie? The answer in my opinion is yes but as much as I want to gush about the film it does have its flaws. I think this review is going to hurt me more than you readers.

Visually this film is spectacular and the look of the world inside the computer is just beautiful. While the colour pallet is limited it does bring to mind the original and that this grid is just the upgrade. If it wasn’t for Tron Legacy probably Jackass 3D would be the only movie this year that used 3D to its fullest potential. Joseph Kosinski also really has an eye for what to show and how to show it. You can see what is happening in the action scenes and the city shots really let the audience immerse themselves. It’s easy to get lost in the beauty of the movie, so much so that you might bypass all the flaws the movie has.

Acting we aren’t really at the decline but some flaws start sneaking in. Both Garrett Hedlun and Olivia Wilde are a little bland in their respective roles, they aren’t exactly bad but they don’t really do anything to stand out. Olivia actually is the more memorable of the two, she does a few subtle things that do build on the character, the little giggle when she pilots, the embarrassed looks when she screws up understanding Users, she makes the most of a paper thin character. However the big draw in acting is Jeff Bridges who reprises the role of both Clu and Flynn. Some have said that with Kevin Flynn he’s channelling The Dude in his performance, but having the benefit of seeing the original before hand this performance is just pure Kevin Flynn. All the mannerisms are there, the language, it’s brilliant to see how easily he can slip into the Flynn character and add in the depth of being slightly beaten down from being trapped in The Grid for so long. As Clu he makes a credible villain, his motivation is interesting, his anger palatable. Another performance worth mentioning is Martin Sheen as the program Castor. As the owner of the End of the Line nightclub he goes about chewing on as much of the scenery around him as possible and thankfully comes off very entertaining.

Now speaking of the actors and more importantly Jeff Bridges much was made about the special effects in regards to Clu being Jeff Bridge yet made youthful. In a fair few scenes it seems to work but in the more intense stuff things did come apart slightly. It’s a huge step forward in regards to this kind of technology but there are still a few kinks to work out to stop the weird computer look.

The story in Tron Legacy is where things really collapse. Now there are interesting ideas, themes of the links between parent and child, religious themes of creator vs creation, even some debate about the need to keep some computer systems private over allowing free access. But these are all dealt with lightly and the story really does lose a lot of steam from the get go. Events happen but there just doesn’t seem to be much forward momentum. Or maybe that is the wrong way of putting it, sure there were scenes that I really dug, I mean I have watched the movie twice already but for the average movie goer who isn’t a huge fan of the original I don’t see them really caring about what is happening on the screen. Honestly I don’t think the script works hard enough for the emotional pay offs that occur and there are some plot elements that just seem under developed. At the end of the day this means you’ve got a pretty picture with no substance what so ever unless you’ve watched a movie from 1982. It’s a shame as I said there were some interesting ideas.

With the awesome soundtrack of Daft Punk accompanying this movie, everything seems little more than the music video. I loved this movie but to be fair I also love Tron. For someone coming in cold I can’t help but think that while they will visually be pleased, most likely they will forget the viewing experience pretty quickly. However if you like Tron then by all means get out there and watch this movie, you won’t be disappointed.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Disgruntled Monkey's Top 6 Movie Soundtracks

Greetings on this holiday season. Oh what am I doing you ask? Why listening to the Tron Legacy soundtrack by Daft Punk. I tell you what those French Robots sure know how to put together some groovy tunes. I can’t wait to see the movie. But this does make me think about all the soundtracks I’ve listened to and enjoyed over the years. They truly can make or break a film.

So to celebrate the awesomeness that is the soundtrack I’ve decided to do a Top 6 List of my favourite soundtracks. Afterwards I’ll also put a list out there of soundtracks other people like. I’ve done this through the most stringent of surveys, i.e. I just asked people on Twitter what were some of their favourite soundtracks.

Before I get on with the list I will mention I’ve deliberately left off Inception and Tron: Legacy soundtracks as they are pretty recent but they would be heavy contenders for this list. Anyway on with the show.

6: Plunkett & Macleane – Craig Armstrong

I find this soundtrack just really fun and different. It blends the classic score with some techno themes. This really allows the score to amplify the movie which also took a period piece idea and tried to infuse it with a modern sensibility. Off the top of my head my favourite songs from the soundtrack are Hanging, Escape, Ball and Childhood

5: Ink – Jamin Winan

Yes I know I just reviewed this movie but I’ve been listening to the soundtrack since last year. Ink’s soundtrack is just a beautiful piece of work that truly shows how story can be improved thanks to its soundtrack. As a separate entity the music is haunting, chilling and at times beautiful and aptly reflects the dream world it is trying to enhance. Who You Were would have to be my favourite track of the lot.

4: The Fountain – Clint Mansell

Okay I’m going to level with you all; at the end of The Fountain I was wrecked and crying. Much of this was due to the emotional impact delivered thanks to the music. While I love the movie I can’t help but feel that this score is the true hero of what captured me long ago. For my money the track Death is the Road to Awe is basically everything this soundtrack is working up to.

3: Blade Runner – Vangelis

I can remember looking out of my unit at a dark grey day, the rain creating a haze where you could barely see the neon lights of the city, and there I was sitting back drinking coffee and listening to this soundtrack. Perfect is the word that comes to mind. Blade Runner was the first soundtrack I purchased and will always have a place in my heart. Magical, beautiful, melancholy. Memories of Green would be my pick of the bunch though it’s hard to do

2: Southland Tales – Moby

Yes there is more than just Moby doing songs on this soundtrack but Moby does give us the brunt with many songs. When it comes to Soundtrack Moby knows what he’s doing and this is not different. While you can argue over the merits of the movie I’m just transfixed by the score every time. It’s not overpowering, it just sits in the background adding to the oddity of what the movie is about. Best track for me is Memory Gospel which is laid back yet also a sad piece.

1: 28 Days Later – John Murphy

This is my favourite soundtrack because like most of my choices on my top 6 there is a sad quality to it but there is something slightly different at least in my mind. Without a doubt what I’ve imprinted on is the reprieve from the despair in the soundtrack. Key songs throughout the soundtrack bring warmth and hope that most of the soundtrack/movie is lacking. Looking over most my choices I can see similar themes but at the end of the day two songs trump all the other players on this list; Franks Death and In the House – In a Heartbeat. I think I’ve written more work or created more story ideas to those two pieces of work than any other song.

Before We Call This:

I would just like to speak a little on a man called Hans Zimmer. Now while none of his albums hit my top 6 he has to be my favourite composer at the moment. I’m pretty sure given time you’ll see Inception rock up the charts. But looking through my iTunes collection I can see I have 6 of his albums which is more than any other soundtrack composer and I do listen to them on a fairly regular basis.

So on the note of Hans Zimmer I end this blog entry. Please find below the many other recommendations from myself and the people of the Twitterverse. If people have suggestions of their own that don’t show up please feel free to write down in the comments. I’m always looking for more movie soundtracks to listen to.

Other Soundtrack Recommendations:

Highlander, Pulp Fiction, Top Gun, Joe vs the Volcano, The Crow, Gladiator, Blues Brothers, The Big Chill, The Last Samurai, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, 300, Sweeney Todd, Spawn, The Fountain, Resident Evil, Lord of the Rings, Batman Begins, Dark Knight, Scott Pilgrim vs the World, Unbreakable, Inception, Tron: Legacy, The Thin Red Line, Sunshine, The Book of Eli, The Social Network, Donnie Darko, Fight Club, Requiem for a Dream, Road to Perdition, Trainspotting, Moulin Rouge, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Review - Ink (2009)

“A man has a weakness, he's flawed. That flaw leads him to guilt. The guilt leads him to shame. The shame he compensates with pride and vanity. And when pride fails, despair takes over and they all lead to his destruction.”

Jamin Winans
Starring: Christopher Soren Kelly, Quinn Humovnchar, Jeremy Make
Screenplay: Jamin Winans

Plot: When the world falls asleep agents of Dream and Nightmare walk the night, Dream trying to infuse hope in people, Nightmare despair. One particular night a young girl called Emma (Quinn Hunchar) is kidnapped by a monster and dragged into the world of a dream. Her only hope could centre on her father John (Christopher Soren Kelly). Thus begins a battle between the beings of Dream and Nightmare as Father and Daughter have their very souls at stake.

Every now and then a movie comes along that just makes me want to sing its praises and get more people to watch it. I had seen the trailer for Ink a while back and I really liked the look of it. Unfortunately it was an independent production and I never got to see it at the cinemas, it took me a while but finally I got to see it. With nearly a year of anticipation for the film I braced myself for it not living up to the hype that had built in my mind.

I was completely blown away by the story, some of the acting, the look of the film, music. Everything just comes together so right this has become one of my top ten films of all time. The fact that this movie was made for $250 000 just shows that millions don’t need to be spent to craft a movie that is entertaining and able to wow people with its visual style.

So let’s start with who I feel is this movies biggest star. Jamin Winans has shot this film with such a wonderful style it invokes a dream like aesthetic, with some simple editing techniques he amps up both the nightmare and dream worlds. Also because he wrote the screenplay he truly creates poetic flow from scene to scene. This is his story and he knows exactly what he wants to show the audience. It’s this sure hand that allows for the emotional impact of the ending.

If writing and directing weren’t enough he was also editor, co-producer and most importantly composer of the soundtrack. My goodness is the soundtrack just a wonder. Yet again thanks to him being a unified force on the film the soundtrack just blends into the movie and allows for this perfect poetic flow that I’ve mentioned previously. Emotional highs and lows are just given that much more credence thanks to the music.

Back to the visual look of this movie; it’s amazing. For the small amount of money the world that is created is simple yet breathtaking. Filters, lighting, easy special effects and an eye for detail are just used effectively time after time. Watching this I just keep thinking of the old idea that if you have limited resources it forces you to be more creative.

Acting wise we run the gamut from excellent to bad. Thankfully the main characters work really well with Christopher Soren Kelly as John being such a sad figure. His journey throughout the movie tore at me and much of the emotional heavy lifting is on his shoulder. Jeremy Make as the blind character Jacob is interesting and at first his acting choice was a little weird but I got used to his and while hammy in the end really liked his character. Some of the minor characters do seem a little lacklustre or trying to hard but it’s a very minor niggle in an otherwise superb film.

I don’t normally say that everyone should give a movie a try, mainly because I do understand that people don’t like the same things. But honestly a year on I still want to beat the drum and get as many people as possible to watch this movie. It’s beautiful, emotional and a true triumph on what can be achieved when you have a vision. Please people find this movie and watch it.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Review - The Monster Squad (1987)

“Wolfman's got nards!”

Director: Fred Dekkara
Starring: Tom Noonan, Andre Gower, Duncan Regehr,
Screenplay: Fred Dekkar, Shane Black

When I was just a young boy I can remember finding The Monster Squad in the video store and I was intrigued by the cover. Wolfman, Dracula, Frankenstein’s Monster, The Mummy and The Creature from the Black Lagoon? Get out of here a movie could not be that awesome to house these dynamos of horror. Then I saw not only was the movie graced with the heavy gang of monsterdom but kids would be leading the charge against the unholy terrors. Book me a ticket I’m sold.

Travelling the well worn path of nostalgia, I was expecting to be a tad disappointed watching the movie now. So does it hold up? Well no, it is a little goofy and the tonal shifts from family movie to horror movie elements can be jarring and make it not suitable for some children but, and this is a big but, I had still had fun. In a time where movies are taking themselves too seriously or action movies going to long because they thing they need to be an epic, it was refreshing to sit down and just enjoy the movie.

Now while the directing is pretty decent I wouldn’t call it spectacular and the acting is nothing to write home about. It gets the job done but I certainly won’t be remembering Duncan Regehr’s turn as Dracula as one of the greats, mind you he’s way better than one Richard Roxburgh. If I can digress for a little, when you’re scarier playing the Duke in Moulin Rouge than you are playing Dracula there is a problem. Okay back to The Monster Squad and back to finding out why I enjoyed this movie. It’s one name. Shane Black.

Shane Black has been the writer for The Last Boy Scout, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, Lethal Weapon and the Long Kiss Goodnight. I can hear you already, “really Daniel you’re excited over the guy who wrote these movies?” Well yes I am because while they aren’t drama soaked pieces that make us question life, death and everything in-between, they are action movies that have great momentum and some really fun dialogue that dares to be nothing more than fun. Just like those movies The Monster Squad is the same. Yes the Wolfman has nards and to this very day I remember that fact.

I will also give big props to the look of the movie. Sure it’s seems like a typical product of the 80’s but when if comes to monster design, Stan Winston Studio’s have done a pretty good job in making the monsters look different, yet still retain the links to their Universal Monster roots. It’s this look that leads to one of my favourite scenes where the monsters are all gathered together for the first time, lightning in the sky, monsters crying into the night. That alone made this DVD worthwhile. When it comes to monsters I’m sentimental so sue me.

Overall I liked this movie but can see how badly the movie has aged and for most people there won’t be enough for them to really ever rate it too high in their collection. But with it being brisk and fun I would tell most people to give it a try and see what they think. If you are however a fan of the Universal Monsters and have yet to see this movie then what are you doing reading this review? Get out there now and watch this.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Review - Resident Evil: Afterlife (2010)

"Well isn't this one big family reunion? Chris and Claire Redfield, you've really become quite an inconvenience for me."

Director: Paul WS Anderson
Starring: Milla Jovovich, Ali Larter, Shawn Roberts, Wentworth Miller

When I first saw the trailers for this movie I was amped to see it, but then I started thinking about it. Sure I do like the Resident Evil movies but am I willing to pay $20 to see it in 3D, it’s filmed with the same tech Cameron used for Avatar yet it is just a cheesy movie. Obviously you can tell where the decision fell otherwise this would be a very shot review. At the end of the day I am glad I went to see it but not because I think this is a good movie. Confused yet? Good. Buckle up because this may be a bumpy ride.

Story wise it picks up where the third one left off, Alice (Jovovich) using her army of clones attacks the main Umbrella Compound in Tokyo. There she wrecks havoc with Chairman Wesker (Roberts) just managing to get away. With a final confrontation Alice is made human and her clones are wiped out. Yep that’s right folks three movies worth of character development thrown out in 5-10 minutes. I know that having Alice as this super being makes it hard to create a threat that the audience will believe in, but surely there was some other way of doing things. Anyway 6 months later Alice is looking for her friends, instead she stumbles upon more Umbrella shenanigans, more survivors, and of course more zombies/monsters to kill. While I just complained a little about the story I guess it’s not what we are really here for, but it must be said there are plenty of plot holes and large coincidences that in the end reek of lazy scriptwriting. Sure this movie is not supposed to be a brilliant piece of art but come on just a little effort. Then again Anderson knows what the people want; we want Milla Jovovich kicking the butts of many many police recruits, sorry zombies.

So you like action huh? Well I will admit this movie does deliver and when the action hit I was glued to the screen. While short I loved the Wesker fight, I also dug Claire (Larter) going toe to toe with big axe hammer giant man (at least that’s my name for him). There is also plenty of slomo gun play that I just felt the urge to get home and watch me some John Woo. Hmm maybe a little too much slomo gunplay actually, it does head into the almost fetishistic overload. But still the action looks good, unlike most action movies these days I actually could tell what was going on and most importantly I had a good time watching the action and never felt like the scenes were over staying their welcome.

Or course I’ve saved the best till last and that’s the 3D of the movie. After watching the dreadful conversion of Alice in Wonderland and not being overly impressed with the 3d of Toy Story 3 (sure it looked pretty but it would have looked just as good without 3D), I must say this movie proved to me that Avatar wasn’t just a fluke. Especially in the opener to the movie which focuses on a crowd in Tokyo walking through the rain, such a simple shot yet it looks fantastic. There are times when the 3D just seems pointless but it was a good movie to look at. What this movie really did for me is make me appreciate 3D in film and hopefully soon a 3D movie will come along and combine this gorgeous look with an awesome plot. Some effects were dodgy but they were few and far between.

Just quickly you may wonder why I haven’t touched on the acting. Well that’s because there isn’t much to touch (okay that sounded wrong). Basically people rock up and do a fine enough job, Milla as always is great as Alice but I wish she would branch out to some genre other than action. Wentworth Miller and Shawn Roberts were terribly underused and in Miller’s case it seems that he was just thrown in there for fan service. Which brings me to the last gripe so to speak. I understand nerds/geeks/klingons can be an unforgiving bunch, always prone to complain about stupid things (rant: For the love of god who cares if Emma Stone is playing Gwen Stacey, there is this thing called hair dye which can fix your stupid problem fan boys. Oh and in this case she’s a natural blonde anyway so shut the hell up. /rant), but maybe instead of trying to appease the fans of the game by throwing in random references that don’t really help the story you should concentrate on the story first. At the end of the day people will enjoy a well made movie rather than a movie full of game references.

I must say this review has gone on longer than I thought so it’s time to wrap it all up. If you’re a fan of the other three Resident Evil movies then you should like this, just sit down and turn your brain off. I also think that people who are after a fun 3D action movie could do a lot worse the only problem comes down to price. If this was a standard ticket price then I would say go for it, but 3D prices really start to stretch the worth. Still I now know that 3D is more than just a once off thing, it can be used effectively to create some stunning visuals you wouldn’t normally be able to get. So come on Tron Legacy.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Independant Australia

Well it's official my other blog has just had it's first post. Independant Australia is where I look at short and feature length films made in Australia for anyone who cares to watch them. Link is below so if anyone is interested please click and show some love.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Oh My God an Update

Well it's been a while true believers but i'm coming back to reviewing. It's been a rough few months with various things just taking the wind out of my sails but it's time to step back out. Yet not only will I begin updating this blog with reviews soon such as The Monster Squad and The Social Network. But I plan on getting back to the topic based entries I did earlier. If that wasn't enough I will be getting a second blog up and running which will deal with Independant films in Australia. This will be less genre based and encoporate a lot of varied stuff.

Anyway that is all. You may now go about your lives.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Review - Predators (2010)

“This planet is a game reserve. And we're the game.”

Director: Nimrod Antal
Starring: Adrien Brody, Alice Braga, Topher Grace, Oleg Taktarov, Laurence Fishburne, Walter Goggins
Screenplay: Alex Litvak, Michael Finch

Plot: Eight people wake up falling into an alien jungle. With no idea where they are they must band together to defend themselves against the Predators that now hunt them for sport.

So Predators huh? I must say this was a movie very much on my radar. The first two movies have been watched numerous times in my household, I’ve read some of the books and love when comics and books do the crossover with Aliens. However upon watching this movie I couldn’t help but leave disappointed. I will preface this review by saying take what I say with a grain of salt as expectations could have been a little high.

First off I’ll start with the positives. It should be stressed that this is a very well put together movie and really does show film companies what can be done with pre-existing properties. You don’t need to remake or reboot you can create a sequel that moves the story along and introduces new elements. There are nods to the older movies but for me this really allowed the new movie to be embraced into the series.

Technically Nimrod Antal has a great eye and was able to really create this tension. Action scenes could be seen and the movie just had a gorgeous look to it. Some of the set pieces are so well put together it really makes me want to watch them over and over again. There was one particular scene that I would even call beautiful, I won’t go into details but it involved Hanzo and a lot of tall grass blowing in the wind.

Special effects were a blend of CGI and practical which I personally like. It was nice to see a variety of Predators as well as the classic. Each design was created with a careful eye on how to make their role in the hunting pack stand out. The Jungle setting is very effective with it seeming similar to what we know yet dotted through out are things that just place it off centre.

Now we get on to the negatives. The primary one has to be the script. You want clichés well this movie is packed full of them and while I understand that this movie isn’t trying to be high art it’s disappointing when you are not really surprised. So much dead weight could have been cut out and used to concentrate on the other problem. Characterization.

Characters in this movie are better than normal, there is an attempt to really separate who is who and make them more than cardboard cut outs. Yet most of the screen time is given to Brody and Braga with the others getting quick scraps. Runner up would have to be Topher Graces’s character but he’s only given more time because the story says he has to, rather than a natural progression. Walter Goggins does his normal redneck criminal, I wish he would do more but he’s good at it. But in this mix I remembered why I liked the first two movies. They had good people in a bad situation. I wanted Arnold and his crew to live and I wanted Danny Glover and his cops to survive as well. This motley crew is mostly made up of characters of dubious nature which took away any emotional connection I had. Only one had me caring for his fate and that was Nikolai (Oleg Taktarov), in the limited time he had he came off as a good man and I was with him. If I can mention the scene with Hanzo one more time, it was beautiful and yet would have been so much more powerful emotionally if I was given a little more of the character and his motivation behind his actions.

It may seem that I hated this movie but I really didn’t. I will watch it again as there are some awesome set pieces and it looks great. It feels like it belongs in the series and I would recommend people watch it. However I just thought that it was emotionally not there. I want to care about the people being hunted and I didn’t, and while people can point out it’s just a popcorn film, I’ll point to the last two films as they managed to get characters I cared about.

Friday, July 2, 2010

The Half Way Point

So i'm looking back at what 2010 has had to offer so far, and boy howdy has it been lean. Thanks to Flickchart i'm going to list what my top ten looks like at the moment.
  1. Shutter Island
  2. Iron Man 2
  3. The Book of Eli
  4. The A-Team
  5. Kick-Ass
  6. Daybreakers
  7. Green Zone
  8. The Losers
  9. The Wolfman
  10. Cop Out
Honestly this is a pretty pathetic list. 7 and below shouldn't be anywhere on my list yet I haven't been interested in that many movies. I'm sure when I see Toy Story 3 and Inception those two will at least change the look but man am I being let down this year.

With remakes, pointless 3D and ticket prices going up, i'm just getting sick and tired of what is being offered my way. Do we really need a 4th Shrek movie? Or even a remake of a Nightmare on Elm Street? I'm not saying these movies are bad but there does seem to be a real brain drain happening this year.

If I was to be really honest there is only one movie on the top 10 that blew me away. This would be my number 1 Shutter Island. I hope the next half of this year offers me some more interesting movies cause i'm getting tired of not being excited to go to the cinema. But then again I can't complain too much because there are still plenty classics out there I still haven't watched.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Quick Movie Reviews: Vol 1

Sometimes I don't feel like doing full blown reviews, of course this means that my reviews can be few and far between so to alleviate that i'm now introducing Quick Reviews. TADA. So if I can get you (yes you) to calm down for a minute i'll get into the very first volume. I know i'm excited too.

Robin Hood (2010)
"In the name of King John, pay or burn."

I was excited but now i'm dead bored. Honestly I watched this and was just astounded at how important it tried to make itself and yet at the same time so boring. You can be a dead serious epic movie if you want but for the love of all that is Cthulu please have something happen. Also am I the only one who is sick and tired of Russell Crowe playing Russell Crowe.

House on Haunted Hill (1959)
"Don't stay up thinking of ways to get rid of me, it makes wrinkles."

This is cheese central and I think has only really become a classic thanks to Vincent Price. That said I love this movie. I'm hooked on every word Mr Price says and from the riduclous floating head intro to Watson Pritchards final warning to both characters and viewers it's fun times. Make sure to have many friends with for maximum effectiveness.

Suspiria (1977)
"Bad luck isn't brought by broken mirrors, but by broken minds."

WTF? That's pretty much the response of myself and those around me. I was really looking forward to seeing this movie as I heard a lot of positive feed back. Yet I couldn't help feel dissapointed as the closing credits started. Now seperating the scenes out there are some really interesting choices in lighting and camera angles. Some scenes are creepy as hell, but it's as if the parts are better than the whole. Still I can see why people like the movie just not my thing.

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)
"You could have dinner with us... my brother makes good head cheese! You like head cheese?"

Loved this film.

What you need more?

I saw the sequel before this and really appreciated this more because of it. It's rough around the edges but there is a charm to this movie and that's what has kept it a classic.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Review - Prince of Persia (2010)

“My friend, has anyone ever told you that you talk too much?”

Director: Mike Newell
Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Gemma Arterton, Ben Kingsley, Alfred Molina
Screenplay: Boaz Yakin, Doug Miro

Plot: Adopted from the streets of Nasaf by King Sharaman of Persia, young Dastan grows up amongst royalty and quickly earns his place as a mighty warrior and prince. However when Dastan is accused of the murder of King Sharaman, he flees with a princess on a harrowing mission to not only clear his name, but stop an evil mastermind's plot for ultimate power with a mystical weapon that can control the very fabric of time.

Plan 9 From Outer Space is a bad movie, the catalogue of Uwe Boll is just a lesson in what not to do in movies, I could go on and on but I’ll say this. Behind these movies there is some passion, Ed Wood thought he was making the next big thing, and while some may say Uwe Boll is just in it for the money he makes enough movies for me to believe he loves what he does. That brings me to Prince of Persia which is not as bad as what was mentioned before but it’s so mediocre I find it worse in some respects as it has no real heart.

Let’s start as always with the acting. Just across the board people came in got their pay checks and left. I’ve read some reviews complain about Gyllenhaal’s accent in the movie, honestly it was fine I just didn’t give a damn about the character which is a huge problem seeming he’s the leading man. Gemma Arterton was a pretty cliché princess. She hates the main character, she falls for him, cut to kissing scene, end movie. Yet again another character that I didn’t care about. Out of Dastan’s family the only real actor is Ben Kingsley and while he’s good he isn’t exactly memorable. Now Alfred Molina on the other hand as Sheik Amar was memorable and I enjoyed every moment he was one screen, he seemed to be really enjoying himself. If it wasn’t for him I would have probably fallen asleep.

This being an action fantasy movie, it is probably not a surprise that there is action. For the most part it does a good job in seeming like a Prince of Persia movie, plenty of nods to the game. It does have a little bit of the jump editing that is so in this decade but for the most part you can see the action on the screen. CGI looked okay and overall the movie is well polished but it just seems to be going by the numbers. Action scene here, chase over there, fight, but through and through I just didn’t care. Not only do you need characters to care about in action scenes but you need a good story to drive the action and it’s a pretty standard story. Nothing special. It’s almost like a check list of clichés and damn it the writers are going to tick everyone.

I can’t say I was disappointed by this movie because I wasn’t really looking forward to it but yet it still managed to astound me at how dull it was. Clichés out of the butt and two lead characters I couldn’t give a flying dagger about. Honestly people if I had to show you this or an Uwe Boll movie I would suggest you go watch Mr Boll at work because at least he’s trying to be original.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Review - The Losers (2010)

“That's right bitches; I got a crossbow!”

Director: Sylvian White
Starring: Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Zoe Saldana, Chris Evans, Jason Patric
Screenplay: Peter Berg, James Vanderbilt

Plot: After being betrayed and left for dead, members of a CIA black ops team join forces with a girl out for revenge in a desperate bid to gain their lives back and make the mysterious Max pay for his crimes.

The trailer got me pretty excited and from what I read of the comic books I like the story. But having watched the movie I can’t help but be a little disappointed. It’s not that it’s bad it’s just that the elements seemed to be there but not a lot was made of it. Still there are some positives and it won’t be a complete waste of time for people.

Acting wise it’s all pretty standard with only a few notable exceptions. Chris Evan no stranger to comic book movies plays Jensen, who is basically the films comic relief. Out of the motley group that is The Losers he is the bright spot and was the only character that stood out for me. It was nice to see Jeffrey Dean Morgan in the movie after his terrific turn as The Comedian from Watchmen but there was something lacking from him as Clay in this movie. Zoe Saldana as Aisha also proves a problem for me. Not that she’s a bad actress but that I didn’t buy that she was this lean mean mercenary. But I can’t move on from the acting without mentioning Jason Patric who plays the villain Max. He chews every scene he is in and it’s a pleasure to watch.

Action wise this movie hopes to be a sugar rush. Just cram the movie full of action and enjoy the ride, however here is where the movie really starts to fall apart at least in my opinion. The action scenes that I saw didn’t make me give a damn. I was hoping to get to an acting scene that had Jensen or Max and to me that’s quite a failing of the director. The story itself is pretty decent, but there doesn’t seem to be much behind it all. Mind you one thing I’ll give the movie at least I could see the action occurring.

Story wise it’s all very basic but it gets the job done. We have a classic team set up for a fall after they try and do the right thing. It seems to follow the comics relatively closely and there is a set up sequels. I think the movie could have done with some more character development. Get us to care about the characters more and we’ll give a damn about the action situations they get put in. It’s pretty simple.

I’ll probably get this movie on DVD as even though it seems I’ve given it a fairly negative review I did leave the movie happy. It does things okay but I think the most annoying thing for me is that there was potential here and it wasn’t used to the fullest. If you’re after an action movie that doesn’t ask for much and one that you’ll forget after a while you could do no worse than The Losers.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Review - Moon (2009)

"Sam, get some sleep. You're very tired."

Director: Duncan Jones
Starring: Sam Rockwell, Kevin Spacey
Screenplay: Nathan Parker

Plot: Sam Bell (Sam Rockwell) is a miner on the moon on a three year contract. Except for a robot named GERTY he is all alone. Closing in on the end of his contract an accident occurs that will throw everything Sam understands up in the air.

Last year I really wanted to catch this movie at the cinemas, from the buzz it was being made out to be a thoughtful science fiction movie that worked around it's minimal budget. However alas the Australian release schedule is fickle and we never got it around where I live. Finally thanks to Blu Ray release I've managed to watch the movie. Now to talk to much about this movie would be to give it away, it's not that it revolves around on a twist but it's much better to discover what it is about than to have everything told. So the review might be a little short but I really do have to talk about this movie as much as I can.

Well first of all a huge round of applause must go to Sam Rockwell who is the whole damn show, well you can count Kevin Spacey as the voice of GERTY who turns out to be more emotional than I thought, but in the end it's Sam Rockwell who owns this movie. I've been a fan of his for sometime in fact I gave him some thumbs up just recently in my Iron Man 2 review, he can play the weasel, the idiot and a good man and is very diverse with his talent. Being the only real character in this movie it's all on his shoulders and Rockwell turns in a performance that truly shows what a great actor he is. I hate using the cliche but the turn is Oscar worthy.

Visually the movie is stunning and considering that the budget for this movie was $5 million my jaw hit the floor. A lot of films could take a lesson from this movie in regards to how to make the most of the money. Truly some of the shots real captured the loneliness of the situation, and the set real does look futuristic yet at the same time small touches make it human. Duncan Jones has captured my attention and I'm looking out for any more of his work.

It was great to watch a science fiction film that tried to impress with its central theme and not trying to blow the audience away with meaningless special effects. If people are into science fiction I would highly recommend seeing this movie. Moon is just a brilliant movie that deserves all the attention it gets.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Disgruntled Monkey's Top 30 Songs

A long time ago in a country far away three people came together to do a podcast on their top ten songs. Excited by the idea I sent my top ten in. The podcast episode turned out to be awesome and lit a fire under my butt. So before I begin I would like to thank Bill, Chris and Mel for getting me to do this post. Your work on OTC always brightens my day and in this case inspired me to write.

Now the warm fuzzies are over onto the harsh horrid reality of the world. Well not really but time to get to the list. I've expanded the list from the show and made it my top 30, not only that I've made sure I've written a bit on the top ten and ordered them. So without further ado here is the list.

30 - Escape, Craig Armstrong, Plunkett & Macleane Soundtrack
29 - Ashes to Ashes, Faith No More, Album of the Year
28 - Together, Samael, Eternal
27 - Hey Man Nice Shot, Filter, Short Bus
26 - Almost Again, Strapping Young Lad, The New Black
25 - Come to Daddy (Pappy Mix), Aphex Twin, Come to Daddy
24 - Halcyon, Orbital, Halcyon
23 - Burn the Witch, Queens of the Stone Age, Lullabies to Paralyze
22 - Journey to the Line, Hans Zimmer, The Thin Red Line Soundtrack
21 - The Surface of the Sun, John Murphy, Sunshine Soundtrack
20 - 3 Steps, Moby, Southland Tales Soundtrack
19 - Mad World, Roland Orzabal, Donnie Darko Soundtrack
18 - Who You Were, Jamin Winans, Ink Soundtrack
17 - Teardrop, Massive Attack, Mezzanine
16 - Wicked Games, Chris Isaak, Heart Shaped World
15 - Aeons, The Presets, Apocalypso
14 - Do the Evolution, Pearl Jam, Yield
13 - Push It, Static X, Wisconsin Death Trip
12 - Knights of Cydonia, Muse, Black Holes & Revelations
11 - Empty Walls, Serj Tankian, Elect the Dead

10 - Half Light, Low, The Mothman Prophecies Soundtrack

Well it's a depressing song which I do like but it's also rather catchy which is weird. I first heard the song on the Mothman DVD where they had the film clip as an extra. It took me 4 years to actually get the song but I would put the disc in just to listen to the song.

09 - In the House - In a Heartbeat, John Murphy, 28 Days Later OST

This movie is a pretty haunting and tense piece of work, and like the movie the soundtrack mirrors both. We have lonely dreamscapes followed by nerve racking crescendos. This song however stands out for me. It has a slow build that highlights the tension of the scene it's from and yet there is an underlining beat that is the culmination of a relationship from the movie. I always find it smart when the story is told through the music.

08 - Hotta, Sky, Sky Anthology

Sky was a British instrumental group that specialised in fusing a variety of musical styles including light rock, progressive rock, classical and jazz. This song in particular has a lot of sentimental attachment. I can remember drives with my parents especially my mother and always asking if we can put Sky on. Every member has perfected their instrument individually and has come together to be able to play around with the music they love. Personally I think Hotta is their best song and truly emphasises what the band is all about.

07 - Hurt, Johnny Cash, The Man Comes Around

Johnny Cash is just awesome. I have nothing but time for his work but this cover just moves me to tears. In his hands the songs takes on a different meaning and a very sad one at that.

06 - Silent Hill, Akira Yamaoka, Silent Hill OST

This song is all about atmosphere. When the first few chords are played you know that you're in for a spooky ride. There is reason why the music of Silent Hill is strongly remembered along with the game.

05 - Atlas, Battles, Mirrored

When it comes to singing I'm very very picky. And probably from the list you've noticed that I prefer soundtracks to standard songs especially in my top 30. However Battles is unique, there are no lyrics but there is vocal which is used to create noise to blend in with the instruments. It's hard to explain so just try and find this song and listen.

04 - Death is the Road to the Awe, Clint Mansell, The Fountain OST

The reason the movie got under my skin was really due to the soundtrack, without it I doubt the movie would have hit me as hard. This particular song is the done for the crescendo of the movie and it's all build up. It even has several false ends and just gets larger. Truly an awesome song.

03 - Where is My Mind?, The Pixies, Surfer Rosa

For a song that was supposed to be based on a scuba diving experience it sure kicks a lot of ass. I was introduced to the song thanks to Fight Club but still it quickly became a favourite of mine and was a song that I would constantly sing to myself while I attended university. It's also a question I ask myself all the time.

02 - Mercy Seat, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Tender Prey

I liked Nick Cave but this is the song that blew me away. I'm a fan of dark, depressing songs and a song about a man heading to the electric chair fits that pretty well. I've yet to hear the Johnny Cash version but I don't think it will beat this. There is something about Nick Cave's voice that just draws me in every time.

01 - Kara Remembers, Bear McCreary, Battlestar Galcatica S4 OST

Hearing Chris from OTC talk about this song was rather funny but true. It's hard cause it is so instrumental to the scene that uses this song. However take it away from the show and you're left with a song that tells a story without the need of words. It's very layered and really builds to a huge finish. It's a song that has stuck with me after one listen, it's one where I can close my eyes and imagine a scene from a movie and most importantly it's a song I can listen to over and over again without getting bored.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Review - Iron Man 2 (2010)

“I have successfully privatized world peace.”

Director: Jon Favreau
Starring: Robert Downey Jr, Gwyneth Paltrow, Don Cheadle, Mickey Rourke
Screenplay: Justin Theroux

Plot: The world now knows that Tony Stark is Iron Man and as such is facing pressure from both the government who wants his technology, the press who is holding him to the ideals of what is a super hero, and himself who wants to leave a legacy. It is at the height of this pressure Ivan Vanko enters the fray, a man intent on destroying Tony Stark and his family name.

The first Iron Man was just awesome with Robert Downey Jr turning in a performance that embodied Tony Stark. Without Downey the movie would have probably failed as I can’t imagine Stark being played by anyone else. It was of course an origin movie so the central character was important, but in the sequel there is some room to let other characters flex themselves and it is with joy that this is exactly what this movie did.

Everyone in this movie is bringing their A game. Mickey Rourke is just awesome as Ivan Vanko. Every scene he is in just oozes with presence. Maybe the one problem would be there doesn’t seem to be enough Ivan Vanko but it’s a very minor complaint. Don Cheadle takes up the role of James Rhodes from Terrence Howard and while I dug Howard in the first film Cheadle just rocks. It was nice to see the relationship of Rhodes and Stark developed further and also of course War Machine. Gwyneth Paltrow as Pepper Potts really brings not only some class but a great counter point to Tony Stark. The two really share a great chemistry that reminds me of some of the older romantic comedies Hollywood use to produce. And one final shout out to Sam Rockwell as Justin Hammer. Justin Hammer is the sleazy opposite of Tony Stark, in the hands of Rockwell a memorable character is developed that I hope to see in later films. There are other great actors here but that is what is impressive with this comic book movie, it’s done a Dark Knight and stuffed the entire movie with wall to wall good actors.

When Jon Favreau isn’t playing Starks chauffeur Happy Hogan he’s behind the camera and boy does he know what he’s doing. You would think that after the first movie the studio would trust Jon, but as the movie was starting to get made it wasn’t clear if Jon was coming back. Thankfully he got the nod and if there is any message that Marvel needs to understand is for the love of god just let Jon keep making Iron Man movies. It would be safe to say that Batman is currently Nolan’s baby; well this is Favreau’s. He’s got a great eye for what needs to be shown; Jon can joke around with the audience and at the same time get serious for the more intense scenes. From beginning to end he had me by the balls. I would also like to add that a lot of maturity was shown by not just going bigger action wise but allowing for time to develop character. The fact that Happy Hogan got more screen time and a little character development shows a man who is having fun but at the same time cares about what he is creating.

I can remember Iron Man being on my top ten of the year when it came out. I wouldn’t be surprised if this also manages to get onto my top ten. What we have here is the lighter side of comic books but just done in a way that proves the comics aren’t just for kids. People have been going on about Kick Ass but damn it for my money this is the best comic book adaptation this year. See it or Tony Stark will cry.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Review - Kickass (2010)

“Fuck this shit, I'm getting the bazooka!”

Director: Matthew Vaughn
Starring: Aaron Johnson, Mark Strong, Chloe Mortez, Nicolas Cage, Christopher Mintz-Plasse
Screenplay: Jane Goldman

Plot: Dave Livewski is a regular high school student who loves comic books. One day he is inspired by all these comic books to become Kick-Ass, a superhero. Through a series of events he gets drawn into the world of real superheros and the villains that pervade that world. Out of his depth he has a few hard lessons coming his way.

I watched this movie a few weeks back but I’ve only come to reviewing it now as I wanted it to sink in. I’ve already heard a few peoples view points and didn’t want to jump on any bandwagon. So after the wait how did I feel about this movie? I did like it, there was plenty of things that make me want to watch this again, yet I don’t think the movie is all that. Maybe people have taken a shine to this movie and are building it up too much.

First off let’s get this out of the way. Nicolas Cage is just awesome as Big Daddy and his Adam West impersonation had me laughing big time. I’m glad a movie of his has come out that at least gives me evidence to point to when I say he’s a good actor. Chloe Mortez also steals nearly every scene she is in as Hit Girl. It’s amazing how much presence this girl has at her age and I’m sure she will be an actress to be reckoned with when she’s older. Now on to Aaron Johnson who is the title character. If he had been bad it wouldn’t have mattered how good the side characters were the movie would have failed. A big thumbs up to the boy, as he balances serious and comedy very well and creates a character that you do give a damn about especially when the movie goes into darker territory.

Now story wise people have really broken down the meanings and messages of this film as if it means to be deep. Arguments have also come up in regards to one character and whether the depiction of the character is going to cause harm. Personally I watched this movie and thought it was pretty light and breezy with some darker moments to emphasise that these people don’t actually have super powers and when bad stuff happens to them they sometimes can’t escape. Once I left the movie I was happy enough but wasn’t over thinking anything. Some have said kids are going to be harmed by watching this movie, my response is duh, but this isn’t a kid’s movie. Watch this movie but don’t try to bring too much to it as you may miss the tongue and cheek that are very present.

Look wise Matthew Vaughn has really created a very crisp, beautiful look to the world and really switches up the story telling technique to keep the audience interested. The Big Daddy flashback which was done as a comic book really stuck with me and is made all the better with Mr Cage doing the voiceover. There is also a pitch black shoot out scene that in the beginning starts with the viewpoint of the person with night vision goggles. Very cool and yet again sticks out and gives this movie a real variety. I can remember the same kind of interest in the visuals when I watched Layer Cake. Matthew Vaughn is a great in throwing interesting things at the audience but never having it derail the actual story.

I liked this movie but I don’t see why it’s causing so much talk. It’s a funny movie that mocks superhero movies while being a serious take on the genre. Don’t bring your kids to it but if you’re a fan of the superhero genre or offbeat action movies take a chance and you will probably find a movie that you enjoy, as well as an awesome performance by Nicolas Cage.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Review - The Book Of Eli (2010)

“People had more than they needed. We had no idea what was precious and what wasn't. We threw away things people kill each other now.”

Director: The Hughes Brothers
Starring: Denzel Washington, Gary Oldman, Mila Kunis
Screenplay: Gary Whitta

Plot: The world is torn apart, the sun has turned nearly everything to a wasteland, and water is a precious resource. In a post apocalyptic world Eli is travelling ever west, guided by a quest that revolves around a book he is carrying. Along the way he meets Carnegie, a man who is after Eli’s particular book as he see’s the potential in turning it into a weapon. Eli must now decide how far he is willing to go in order to protect the book.

As soon as the picturesque first shot flicked up on the screen and the atmospheric music of Atticus Rose kicked in I was hooked. I know that this movie has gotten some flack from critics, but to put it simply I loved this movie. I’m a fan of science fiction and just the atmosphere and the main idea in the movie fascinated me more than some of the recent sci-fi movies.

Acting wise we have Denzil (Eli) giving a really subtle and focused display. The man is a great actor and really creates a character that is flawed and yet a good man. Through a simple look Denzel can show the weight of the characters decisions. Gary Oldman (Carnegie) on the other hand is anything but subtle but that’s why we love him. As Carnegie we have a smart villain that is just as focused as Eli but has a lot more anger. They both play off each other well and it is very interesting to see how the two individuals influence the people around them.

The movie was very beautiful with The Hughes Brothers taking the time to allow the audience to bask in the world of the movie. While it’s weird to think of an apocalyptic movie having a beautiful look; it’s the truth, the way the cool colours are applied to a world that has this horrible heat was something I found unique. Just unlike some genre pictures there is a care to the detail that was refreshing. Also the fighting scenes were top notch with The Hughes Brothers showing us the action and not overly editing it.

If I had to red flag one flaw of the movie, it was that it did downplay the central message. Sure not every movie needs a message but Book Of Eli does actually play around with a notion, it does get a few scenes to be developed yet I feel that it doesn’t really get anywhere near it’s potential. The movie dabbles with the ideas of religion and how powerful faith can be which is something that interests me is. But to see it not delved into deeper made me one sad panda.

This movie deserves a viewing and I think it will be a science fiction movie that holds up over time. Personally this might even be in my top ten at the end of the year. There was something about it that really got to me. Sure it’s not a classic movie in the realm of Blade Runner but it’s still worthy. Go ahead and see this movie.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Review - They Live (1988)

“I have come here to chew bubblegum and kick ass; and I'm all out of bubblegum.”

Director: John Carpenter
Starring: Roddy Piper, Keith David, Meg Foster
Screenplay: John Carpenter

Plot: A drifter named Nada accidentally stumbles upon a world wide conspiracy that involves aliens, subliminal messages and a pair of sunglasses that lets him see the real world. In no time he’s in the thick of things and is not sure where to turn. Who can he trust when he’s in a society that shuns him?

As a kid there were two movies that made me a fan of John Carpenters. One was Big Trouble in Little China, the other is this one. What fascinates me is that this is actually a very slow burn type of movie, and doesn’t get into crazy land until about the thirty minute mark. As a kid what drew me to this movie? Well finally revisiting the movie I’m still not sure why a kid would like this but damn did I enjoy it.

Watching Roddy Piper in the lead role I’m a little sad this didn’t amount to a bigger career. While he’s not a great actor he had what it took to be a fantastic action star. A quiet demeanour for the serious parts and charisma out the butt for the action scene, when the penny drops in the plot seeing him rocking around shotgun in tow is awesome. Keith David is also great as Frank, unlike Nada he likes the blinkers he has on to the world, and to me represents what a normal person would do when thrust into this situation. Meg Foster just has evil evil evil evil evil evil eyes.

I like the atmosphere that John Carpenter creates in the movie, he lets the audience drench in what it is to be homeless, the trials and the hope for a better life. I think the first third of the movie creates this real strong foundation with its social commentary, so when the action starts you care about Nada. Of course when the action kicks in you’ve got one liners, gunplay and some funny social observations.

This certainly is a product of its time and it might of dated a little bit but it’s still very solid. Greed versus the social good, some nice action including an awesome fight between Nada and Frank, it’s all worth the time. If you’re a fan of Carpenters then you’ll like this. It also has another Carpenter Soundtrack. Dig those funky tunes.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Review - Cop Out (2010)

“I was in the moment and the moment said smack ya.”

Director: Kevin Smith
Starring: Bruce Willis, Tracy Morgan
Screenplay: Robb Cullen, Mark Cullen

Plot: Jimmy Monroe (Willis) and Paul Hodges (Morgan) are two New York Cops which are considered a joke by most of the department. During a suspension they get caught up in an underworld power play when one of them has an expensive baseball card stolen from him.

Okay people lets all jump aboard the hate train and really rant and rave about this movie. Oh hang on a minute I laughed when I was watching this, I left feeling pretty good, I heard the audience laugh as well. Maybe just maybe this is a funny movie that doesn’t really attempt to be anything else. By the powers of Greyskull we might be on to something.

Now we’ve got that out of the way let me say that in my mind this is the worst movie in Kevin Smith’s catalogue but that doesn’t mean it’s an atrocious film. It has its flaws but I can’t really trash a movie that made me laugh and made me feel chipper on a bad day. There has to be something merit worthy.

Acting wise Bruce Willis does his normal thing acting all tough and sarcastic. This is basically John Mcclaine but on a smaller scale, no terrorists to fight this time. Tracy Morgan is where the movie really hinges. Either you will really like what he does or you’ll be so annoyed that you want to rip your hair out. I as you can tell actually liked him in the role but then again I’m a fan of 30 Rock. Oh and I will say the Juan Carlos Hernandez who plays Raul is so over the top it really annoyed me. Consider that for a minute. In a movie that has Tracy Morgan doing his over the top thing another actor actually in my mind out did Morgan for ham acting.

I have to give one thing to Kevin Smith and that is it looks pretty good and he does move the camera about. If you know Smith movies then you know that any camera movement must be encouraged as he loves the static shot. But there is no real style that stands out and here comes the huge problem I have with this movie. They got Kevin Smiths role arse backwards. I watch a Kevin Smith movie for the script he writes not for his directorial style which is pretty much designed just to get the job down. While it’s great to see Smith stretch himself a little I do miss the dialogue he creates.

The plot has some funny moments but its not continuous laughter and is really something that you watch once and then discard. I would of liked a bit more on Morgan’s character and how the hell he is a cop. There just seems to be a lot missing from the movie, it’s more a gag machine than anything else, and something like that works in sitcoms but doesn’t for a full run movie.

Watch the movie and you may get a few laughs just don’t expect an incredible film. I really hope Smith gets back to his own scripts as that’s what I’m really here for. Don’t believe the negativity of the movie. Sure there are flaws but it could be worse, so much worse.