Friday, January 29, 2010

Review - Law Abiding Citizen (2009)

“Well, justice should be harsh Nick... especially for those who denied it to others.”

Director: F. Gary Gray
Starring: Gerard Butler, Jamie Fox, Colm Meaney
Screenplay: Kurt Wimmer

Just released in Australia, already done the rounds in America, this movie hasn’t made the biggest splash. Revenge movies generally try and connect with our darker sides, the part of us that wants to kind of leave civilization behind and go back to an eye for an eye. Law Abiding Citizen seems to take a different track from most of these revenge films but is it successful?

Basic story goes as such, Clyde Shelton (Gerard Butler) is frustrated at the justice system when a plea bargain sets one of his family's killers free. He targets not only the killers but also the prosecuting lawyer Nick Rice (Jamie Foxx) and others involved in the deal. What’s interesting is that Clyde comes off pretty sympathetic yet his revenge targets the innocent as well. In fact the movie gets through the killing of the two killers pretty quickly and the rest of the movies plot is centred on the lawyers who are getting picked off by Clyde. This might of made a very interesting movie to experience however it all seems too rushed to pull of any emotional resonance. Other than Jamie Foxx we don’t get to know the personal lives of the other lawyers which makes them more like body count when they die rather than victims. Also there are plot strands that don’t really seem to go anywhere.

Acting wise everyone does their part, Gerard Butler is the highlight, I could feel his rage, his sorrow and I think he walked the line between victim and killer very well. Jamie Foxx had some good scenes but at times his reading just felt off, like he wasn’t really invested in the character. Other than these two, no one else was given the time to shine, yet again I feel that this movie might have been hacked a bit as there did feel like there should have been more. I did like Colm Meaney as Detective Dunnigan, like others he wasn’t given much to do but his charisma made up for it. In the end though the movie was a battle of wills between Gerard and Jamie and I didn’t get drawn into it. I liked the scenes they had but there could have been so much more.

F. Gary Gray knows how to direct, I’ve seen a few of his movies and I’ve been entertained. The movie looks good yet doesn’t really stand out of the pack, he gives time to scenes and doesn’t over do it allowing time for the story. Now the same problem comes up, it’s like he wanted people to concentrate on the importance of the stories message, yet the way its put together makes it more of a popcorn movie than a movie that has to be thought and mulled about over and over. I honestly can’t say if it Mr Gray’s fault or if it’s the influence of other powers but the word ‘almost’ comes to mind.

As I walked away from the movie I turned to my friend who I had watched it with and started going on about some of the small things. A theory I had about the films ending actually got my friend thinking and he agreed with my theory. I felt smart and started to make my way home, that’s when I realised the movie didn’t actually give me much to work with and I was over analysing. I think this movie is full of possibilities, it could have been excellent, but in the end while it had a lot of positives these are over ridden by the need to turn it into a mindless popcorn movie. I’ll watch this movie again, I’ll probably own it, but it’s a shame as the potential to be great was there.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Review - Ready to Rumble (2000)

“There's a lot of glare coming off that dome of yours, squirrel nuts!”

Director: Brian Robbins
Starring: David Arquette, Scott Caan, Oliver Platt, Rose McGowen
Screenplay: Steven Brill

I’ve watched this movie a few times now and for a while I’ve wondered why? It’s bad, real bad and yet I’m drawn to it. This movie is a perfect example of train wreck cinema, it’s bad yet you can’t help but look. To be honest there are a few things that I really dig about the movie but I’m man enough to admit that it doesn’t make a good overall movie.

The plot goes as such, two idiotic wrestling fans Gordie Boggs (David Arquette) and Sean Dawkins (Scott Caan) see their hero Jimmy King (Oliver Platt) lose the title to Diamond Dallas Page (plays himself). They decide to go on a quest to help Jimmy King retain the title and along the way find out that their hero isn’t exactly the man they think he is. It’s a simple plot that might have been entertaining and a nice experience for fans of wrestling but they really lose themselves.

First problem comes with acting. David Arquette is way over the top and just grates your nerves; it’s a shame as while not the best actor in the world he can do better. Scott Caan is just plain and while he works well with David you can pretty much forget about him at the end of the movie. When the two leads in your movie aren’t good you have a problem. Probably the two highlights are Oliver Platt who comes of as the arsehole in the beginning but his gradual turn and learning to become a man seem natural, plus he’s done comedy before and has great timing. The other memorable acting job is Diamond Dallas Page whose natural charisma shines through and he really knows how to be a heel.

Overall the comedy is very broad, often going to the lowest common denominator when it really doesn’t need to, and for a movie that is about wrestling a lot of the humour isn’t directed at it. It’s a film that is targeted at a very certain audience, yet it really doesn’t care about that audience. Maybe that’s the films biggest problem; it’s trying to appease too many people and not really doing its own thing. I can sense that maybe Brian Robbins as director was just letting people go over the top in hopes it would add some sort of zany flavour to the mix.

Visually the movie is okay but when it comes to the wrestling they really fail to capture it on the screen. Considering WCW (World Championship Wrestling) was heavily involved it’s weird that they wouldn’t have helped them out. It all leads to a movie that’s trying really hard to be a product that sells and nothing more, being rushed to get dollars quickly and too many factors not being controlled. With nothing being controlled, chaos reigns and the wreck forms. I can’t recommend this movie, I kind of like it but that’s because I’m weird. If you want a good wrestling movie watch The Wrestler, slightly more depressing but worth your time.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Review - Jason Goes To Hell: The Final Friday (1993)

Robert Campbell: I'm going to say a couple of words to you and I want you to say the first thing that comes into your mind.
Creighton Duke: Okay.
Robert Campbell: Jason Voorhees.
Creighton Duke: That makes me think of a little girl in a pink dress sticking a hot dog through a doughnut.

Director: Adam Marcus
Starring: Kane Hodder, Steven Williams, John D LeMay, Kari Keegan
Screenplay: Jay Huguely & Adam Marcus

For my reviews I’ve been looking at movies I liked, well enough is enough and it’s time for a change. This has to be the worst Jason movie hands down. Now I’m not going to defend the series as it is pretty damn bad, at the end of the day it’s all about the kills and the cheese and while a lot of people look at the Friday the 13th series with a certain love we have to be truthful. I myself remember when I was about ten staying up late and watching certain Friday the 13th movies with my headphones on so as not to wake up my parents. Jason is an important part of me loving the horror genre, but when I got older I saw a bigger world with far superior movies, still there is a charm to Jason and his wacky antics, a charm that has let the series endure and even go through a reinvention, also a charm that seems to be lacking from Jason Goes to Hell.

The movie opens with Jason chasing a near naked girl through a forest, but quicker than you can yell “Worm Sign” he gets blown up by what seems to be the army. Que probably the best thing about this movie Creighton Duke (Steven Williams) muttering that Jason isn’t dead. Well low and behold it turns out to be true as Jason seems to possess normal people as he makes his way back from the morgue to Crystal Lake to have himself truly reborn by possessing a body of the Voorhees.

Looking at the overall quality of this picture, it just comes off as a quick money spinner. Barring Steven Williams and Kane Hodder all the actors just seem to be going through the motions. The script is pretty piss poor with way to much explanation for something that should have been simple. I can see that the writers were trying to flesh the mythos of Jason but honestly they didn’t need to bother, in fact by trying to introduce something new they committed their biggest mistake. Finally the direction is nothing to write home about, it’s just there.

Now you’re probably wondering what the big mistake of this movie is. Well remember the Dune reference up above? That wasn’t just because I have a hard on for Frank Herbert, that was foreshadowing. For most of the movie Jason Voorhees is a worm. That’s right; one of the biggest, baddest muthas to grace the screen is a god damn worm. Hope you didn’t pay money to just see Jason. I mean one of the main reasons you go to a Jason movie is; let me think; yep I got it Jason. Not only that but Jason killing a lot of people. Maybe if the movie had strong characters and a cool plot this could have been over looked but alas no.

If you are one of those people who have the need to watch every movie in the series then it doesn’t matter what I say you’ve already made a decision. If you are new to Friday the 13th then slap yourself across the face for ever considering watching this first, instead may I recommend you go to the first one and work your way through the first few. If you have watched everything up to this and wonder if you should go ahead and watch it then I’m going to tell you the end just so you can skip it. They kill Jason and Freddy’s claw drags his mask down to hell. There done. Now go watch Freddy vs Jason and Jason X as these may be bad movies but they are so much better than this one.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Review - Gremlins 2: The New Batch (1990)

“Tonight, on the Clamp Cable Classic Movie Channel, don't miss Casablanca, now in full color with a happier ending.”

Director: Joe Dante
Starring: Zach Galligan, Phoebe Cates, John Glover, Robert Prosky, Robert Picardo, Christopher Lee
Screenplay: Charles S Haas

The first Gremlins was a comedy that had some scary moments and put a black streak in Christmas movies. Honestly barring Die Hard the first Gremlins is my favourite Christmas movie. So you have this pretty scary comedy, you want to make a sequel, what do you do? Oh take away any scary elements, poke fun at your own disturbing moments from the first movie and go completely bat shit insane throwing Looney Tunes, Hulk Hogan, fourth wall breaking moments, genetic experimentation and Christopher ‘god damn’ Lee into the mix. Excuse me for a minute I think I love this movie.

From the beginning we get a taste of what the movie will become. Daffy Duck and Bugs Bunny introduce us to the proceedings. Let me repeat that again for anyone playing the home game, two cartoon characters introduce us to a live action movie and then are seen no longer. Why? Well because as soon as the Gremlins start tearing the Clamp building apart this movie is a cartoon. But maybe I’m going a little fast. Too the plot I say.

Billy Peltzer (Zack Galligan) & Kate Beringer (Phoebe Cates) from the first movie have moved in together and are now living in New York. Kate as a tour guide of the Clamp Building and Billy as a site planner for Daniel Clamp, together they are happy together but not really fitting in to the city. Enter Mr Wing’s shop, Clamps expansion into Chinatown demolishes said building setting Gizmo the cute little Mogwai alone in the city. Needless to say Gizmo finds his way to the Clamp Building and Billy and Kate, things go wrong, Gremlins enter the picture, Gremlins get into the Clamp Buildings own science lab run by Christopher Lee and all hell breaks loose.

Acting wise Zack and Phoebe keep their characters the most realistic, though Phoebe does get a wonderful scene that pokes fun at her character and probably one of the most disturbing scenes of the first film. Really for me the highlights were Christopher Lee as Dr Catheter who channelled the inner hammer horror movie, his big monologue is classic or would have been if gremlins didn’t burn the movie at that point. Robert Prosky was also great as Grandpa Fred a host of a program that shows horror movies, seeing him run about dressed as Grampa Munster trying to be a real journalist and get the gremlin invasion on camera is a hoot. Finally the duo of Daniel Clamp (John Glover) and Forster (Robert Picardo) are awesome. Daniel Clamp is basically Donald Trump but played as a teenager, trust me he’s super excited about finally using his secret escape tunnel. Forster is his chief of security and is just a lesson in an awesome smarmy character that gets his what for. If this was the original then that would have meant his death, in this sequel it means something so much funnier.

This movie is just an exercise in going for broke. It destroys normal conventions, it makes fun of everything including itself, and as such some people are just going to watch this whirlwind of chaos and turn the movie off. When people get hit with so much it tends to get overwhelming. Still I think this is one of Joe Dante’s best movies, and I just love to absorb everything that comes my way. Funnily enough if you liked the first movie you may not like the second they are very very different. Still if you like chaotic comedy then I suggest you go for it.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Review - The ‘burbs (1989)

Director: Joe Dante
Starring: Tom Hanks, Bruce Dern, Carrie Fisher, Rick Ducommun, Corey Feldman & Henry Gibson
Screenplay: Dana Olsen

To say this is a weird movie is an understatement. Imagine a monkey swimming through chunky mango yoghurt, the two things separately might make people smile but together it’s just a weird funny mess. Is this my not too subtle feeling towards The burbs? Not really but I just wanted readers to imagine that weird image.

Honestly The burbs is probably the movie I’ve watched the most in my short time on this earth, the more I think about it the stranger that seems as it’s not even in my top 20 movies of all time but yet I’m addicted to it. When ever I’m feeling down or pissed off The burbs seems to be one of my go to movies to relax. It’s a fun, well paced movie that is over the top, has a dark streak of humour and says a lot about people living the suburban lifestyle.

Tom Hanks plays Ray Peterson, an over stressed man on vacation trying to relax, but thanks to the eccentric behaviour of his neighbours the Klopek’s; they like a spot of night digging; his mind is starting to let urban legends get the better of him and he’s beginning to suspect that he is living next to killers. While his wife Carol (Carrie Fisher) might be a calming influence she’s no match for his friends, Mark Rumsfield (Bruce Dern) who’s a war veteran who relishes the chance for a return back to his glory days and Art Weingartner (Rick Ducommun) who’s the friend Ray would rather not have, both men are played over the top and come off probably crazier than the Klopek’s. It’s an interesting plot and one that is played for laughs over scares but it must said that the Klopek’s; especially Henry Gibson who is Dr Werner Klopek; come off on the right side of creepy or at least enough to realistically fuel Ray’s paranoia.

Visually the movie looks like it should be a sitcom, even the beginning starts things off like that before introducing the weirdness of the Klopek’s. Dante keeps this theme throughout the movie with everyone’s house looking picture perfect except for the Klopek’s. Strange angles, odd lighting, all is held off until a scene deals directly with the Klopek’s or when someone is talking about the darker side of suburbia. In particular Art’s speech about an urban legend is very creepy and effective, pulling you in before the laughs are once again administered including one of my favourite lines. “I’m off to do something productive, watch television.”

Yet again Joe Dante makes a movie that’s bright, fun and really connects with a weird vibe that might have something to do with his love of Looney Tunes. The acting is okay and gets the job done; really it’s Joe’s sense of fun that gives it the watch ability and while not the best movie in the world there has to be something to the combination of dark humour and broad humour that makes me watch it way to much for my own good.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Review - Looney Tunes: Back in Action (2003)

Director: Joe Dante
Starring: Brendan Fraser, Jenna Elfman and Steve Martin
Screenplay: Larry Doyle

After the horrid, abysmal and bogus Looney Tunes movie that was Space Jam I thought that maybe the whole real life meets cartoon movie would be put to bed, and then I heard the rumblings. They were going to try again and this time they would get Joe Dante to direct. On this news my heart skipped a little as Gremlins 2 was as close to a live action Looney Tunes movie as anyone has gotten, I mean Dante pretty much tells the audience that they are watching a Looney Tunes movie with Bugs and Daffy starting Gremlins 2 with a little cartoon. But that’s Gremlins 2 a movie I’ll be covering later on this week today it is Looney Tunes, Back in Action.

When all is said and done this is a far better movie than Space Jam and at times can be very entertaining but I think the acting does let it down. Every, and I mean every one is trying to be the human equivalent of a Looney Tune and this doesn’t really work as you can’t beat Bugs and the gang, in fact this movie really does highlight the Looney Tunes and it’s great to see Daffy get a bit of the spot light. Probably the two biggest problems come from the two main actors Brendan Fraser and Steve Martin.

As DJ Drake, Brendan Fraser does his normal comedic schmo, you’ve seen it all before he’s an action hero yet bumbling fool. There was a time when studios were rebooting Superman and I thought they had to go knocking on Mr Fraser’s door as he’s great at playing both comedic and serious sides, however sometimes he can over do the doofus as if he’s fishing too hard to get a laugh. Personally I like Fraser but I can understand why people get turned off by his mugging. That brings me to Steve Martin. You will ether like this performance or want to dunk your head in a bath of acid. Mr Chairman is at least a unique character, part child, part evil genius and part nerd, he’s a villain we haven’t seen before but if you’re not on board then this movie is going to grate on you. Personally I laugh every time he says blue monkey. Trust me it’s hard to explain.

Visually Dante keeps it bright and varied and if you pay careful attention you will catch many references and in jokes. My favourite is when they are in a secret lab and you can see a Dalek and probably another half dozen science fiction monsters of old. Awesome. Dante also keeps the pace pretty full on, constantly changing places, getting the plot along and introducing new characters to just keep it moving. This works for the movie as I’m pretty sure there is no such thing as a slow Looney Tunes cartoon.

Really this is a light, fun adventure and does justice to the Looney Tunes. Joe Dante was an excellent choice as director as he seems to really know the spirit of the source. Yet while this is a movie I enjoy I can see people turn away because of the acting. Honestly I don’t think humans can really act like Looney Tunes, well maybe Christopher Lloyd but he gets a pass because he has daggers for eyes. Still if you want to sit back and just watch a fun movie you can do way worse than this.

This Week

This week is Joe Dante week. His movies make me laugh and laugh and; well i'm just going to repeat myself. I hope you enjoy.

Monday: Looney Tunes, Back in Action

Wednesday: The Burbs

Friday: Gremlin 2

Friday, January 15, 2010

Review - The Shawshank Redemption (1994)

Director: Frank Darabont
Starring: Tim Robbins, Morgan Freeman, Bob Gunton, Clancy Brown, Mark Rolston & James Whitmore
Screenplay: Frank Darabont

Adapted from Stephen King’s novella Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption, the movie is about Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins) who is sent to prison for a murder he didn’t commit. What follows is a story about life, friendship and hope all set in one of the harshest of environments; prison.

Upon release the movie tanked; it could have been due to the prison setting not really drawing an audience in, some have even suggested maybe the name might of confused people. But the genius of the movie could not be taken away. After the theatrical release the movie found a second life in video rentals and has now become a movie that is held up in high esteem.

As Andy Dufresne, Robbins is wonderful in the role that requires him to balance a cold restrained manner with an everlasting hope that can lead to some warm moments. A central part off Andy’s character is the friendship he starts with Ellis Boyd Redding (Morgan Freeman) commonly referred to as Red. This is a guy who knows a guy who can get a few things through some channels; his charm and smile hide a man who has come very cynical with the world. Both Robbins and Freeman compliment each other and their chemistry makes for a friendship that many people can hopefully relate to.

When it comes to the villains of the piece, wisely Darabont has made sure to highlight three different shades of darkness. Mark Rolston plays Bogs Diamond head of the Sisters, he represents an animalistic evil, a predator who is only interested in satiating his basic needs, and unfortunately the prey in this case is Andy. Captain Byron Hadley (Clancy Brown) is a monstrous force, feared by every prisoner he is the boogie man. His fits of rage are brutal yet what makes him scary are the few scenes that show a little humanity. Finally Warden Samuel Norton as played by Bob Gunton is the scheming villain, at first he seems to be just a hard man trying to keep order in his prison but at the half way mark of the film we start seeing a darker side. All the acting in the movie is pitch perfect and Darabont manages to give every actor their moment to shine.

Visually the movie is a mixture that encompasses sweeping camera shots to tight shots that emphasise the confinement of prison; yet while the movie has it tricks Darabont makes sure not to overdo it and lets the story drive the movie not the visuals. Probably the most interesting scene is right at the beginning when we first see the prison, like a bird flying over the building it’s a weird moment as there is a sense of freedom and probably the last sense of freedom in the film for a while.

At the core of the movie is the sense of duality; hope and cynicism, friendship and individuality, prison and freedom. Frank Darabont weaves it all together and creates richness in the movie; scenes that aren’t connected compliment each other. One of the movies more beautiful scenes is Andy resting on top of one of the prisons buildings after a hard days work, the sun shines down on him, he’s made a few friends and even though he’s in prison he’s free in his mind. Later on one of the Reds gang gets out of prison yet he can’t adjust to life outside, he has his freedom yet he’s very much still a prisoner. This is the beauty of The Shawshank Redemption it’s a very simple story yet it touches on some very important things. It can get very dark sometimes but that’s so it can highlight those brighter moments. It has a lot of questions for the audience yet at no time is it overwhelming.

I honestly can’t think of anything negative about this movie, it’s probably as close to perfect as any movie can be. While the journey might be dark at times there is a light that shines at the end of the tunnel. This is a feel good movie that gets you thinking but also wrapped up in the emotions of hope and friendship. All the elements lead to a very powerful movie that manager through word of mouth get a second life. If I could only recommend one movie to a person this would be it.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Review - The Fountain (2007)

Director: Darren Aronofsky

Starring: Hugh Jackman, Rachel Weisz

Screenplay: Darren Aronofsky

The Fountain is a love story that spans three points in time and all which revolve around the mythical tree of life. First story is about a 16th century conquistador Tomas (Hugh Jackman) who is trying to find the tree of life for his Queen Isabel (Rachel Weisz), in the present day we have Dr Tom Creo who is trying to find the cure for his wife Izzi’s illness, a cure that might be linked with a mysterious plant discovered in South America, finally in the 26th century we have astronaut Tommy whose intention is to fly the tree of life into a star close to supernova in order to resurrect his dead wife. Describing the separate plots really doesn’t do the movie justice as the plots interweave and personal interpretation also plays a heavy hand with the enjoyment of the film.

With three different stories going at once and central characters that both have to be similar yet different in some respects, failure can be close at hand for the actors. Both Hugh Jackman and Rachel Weisz are fantastic and the chemistry the two shares seem very real. Jackman has more screen time and really has the toughest job especially with the final story where as astronaut Tommy he’s acting completely by himself. Though that should not take away from Weisz who in a shorter amount of time has to convince the audience that she is the driving force behind Tomas, Tom and Tommy’s every action.

Darren Aronosfky should also take a bow as this was his baby, a film that he was personally invested in, a film that was almost thrown on the scrapheap. Care has been taken with what has been shown, and each age has its own feel. The 16th century feels darker, the present day is very clinical and finally the 26th century almost feels dream like. The sets are also very impressive especially the spaceship that Tommy inhabits, it’s nothing like we would imagine and offers Jackman a very fresh and creative space to work in.

The biggest weakness in this movie is that it really doesn’t offer the audience much to hold onto. Other than the bare bones love story there is nothing there unless the audience makes a considerable effort. Now movies should be encouraged to make the audience work a little and not spoon feed everything, but there is line where a movie goes from rich in symbolism to being hard to penetrate and while I myself managed to get a lot from the movie I know some people just thought it was simple and boring. Also if it wasn’t for Aronosfky interweaving the stories so the meaning of a scene say from the 16th century resonated with a present day scene, then most of the stories are really lacking with flow and can seem rather shallow. The present day is payed most attention and works, but the 16th century and 26th century would probably just bore people if played by themselves. Now I understand that the three stories are not supposed to be taken individually but this is just an example of getting the audience to work as they fill in the blanks.

When I watched this movie at the cinemas I was a huge mess at the end. I had to go grab a coffee and just be quiet for a while. A movie has never had such a huge effect on me like The Fountain. I’ve heard some people’s interpretations of the movie and they always seem different. What I feel for the movie is rather personal and I’m thinking that it’s personal for other people who liked the movie. But that’s the problem this movie will hit or fail and if you don’t want to put a bit of work into the movie you’re not going to get much out. It’s my number two of all time but I can understand why this might fail for other people. If you haven’t watched it give it a go as it may become your one of your favourites.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Review - Watchmen (2009)

Director: Zack Snyder
Starring: Malin Akerman, Billy Crudup, Matthew Goode, Carla Gugino Jackie Earle Hayley, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Patrick Wilson
Screenplay: David Hayter & Alex Tse

In the geek/nerd community it’s not that hard to find someone who had a defining life experience from reading Watchmen, a graphic novel written by Alan Moore. Yes that does sound a little extreme but this is why the movie adaptation has been anticipated by the graphic novel fans. The road to making the movie has seen the rights swap film companies and chew through a list of directors, a list that includes Terry Gilliam. This adaptation has been seen by some, as every bit problematic as Don Quixote, a movie that also broke Gilliam. Finally a young director that had turned some heads with his zombie remake Dawn of the Dead and his adaptation of Frank Millers comic 300, stepped into the arena. Many mocked and criticised the choice of Zack Snyder but he accomplished what many saw as the impossible and got the film made. Of course that’s just one step the other is making a movie that isn’t a failure.

By all accounts this movie does not fail, even though it may not be everyone’s cup of tea. It has a deep central story layered in symbolism that isn’t force fed, it looks absolutely gorgeous and does capture the atmosphere of the graphic novel, it has performances that are incredible and for some have proven to be great moves as they have garnered attention and finally film is faithful to the graphic novel while deviating where necessary. But; and you all knew there would be a but; the movie is far from perfect.

Acting wise the three stand outs in my mind have to be Jackie Earle Hayley as Rorschach, Billy Crudup as Dr Manhattan and Jeffery Dean Morgan as The Comedian. As Rorschach, Hayley is phenomenal, he embodies this broken man who once would have been considered a hero, but has become as big a monster as the criminals he fights against. Some may cheer Rorschach at the beginning but that all changes by the end. When I saw it at the cinemas it was fascinating to see people laughing and cheering for Rorschach only for those laughs to become uncomfortable and finally gasps. On the other end of the spectrum we have Jeffery Dean Morgan’s performance as the Comedian where he starts of in the eyes of the audience he is a bastard yet in the end he proves to be the sanest and most moral of the lot of so called heroes. I don’t think people have given Morgan’s performance the dues it deserves. He has only small scenes to work with yet he gives us a three dimensional character that like Hayley makes us cringe and feel sympathy for. Finally Billy Crudup has the hardest job out of the lot as he has to be completely alien in thought. He pulls it off splendidly, meaning unfortunately that most audiences will hate the character and probably not get him. His big scenes on mars are very impressive. Out of the other actors I would say both Carla Gugino and Malin Akerman are the weakest. Honestly I’m not sure if the blame can solely lay with them, maybe the script let them down, and they just don’t seem that connected with their characters. I will say that they aren’t horrible, they don’t ruin the movie, and in fact the do a good enough job, just when compared to the three gentlemen above they don’t come off well.

Effects wise this movie is top notch. The complete CGI character of Dr Manhattan is impressive as we can see the small facial movements and character eek out of this creation. Watchmen may not have invented the whole fully rendered CGI character for their movie but they use the existing technology very well. Setting wise every scene seems to be out of the pages of the book. It’s obvious that Zack Snyder has an eye for shots that will stick in a person memory. Seeing a gigantic Dr Manhattan walking tall through Vietnam, choppers flying behind him, sun slowly setting as he blasts the enemy to bits and pieces of gore is something I will always remember. Snyder should also be congratulated as he kept the story in 1985 time period and the sets, adverts and all the little touches help us believe in that era. Someone took a lot of time to make everything look right except for some of the make up. What is weird is that there has been an effort made yet someone really screwed up with the ageing effect. Carla Gugino character looks horrible as an older woman and it’s not how it’s supposed to be, as it just looks fake. While it may seem minor it stands out when everything else looks good.

Probably the movies weakest link is the story. Now I can hear a million people scream out in anger at once, but I have to look at this movie with out the fan boy in me wanting to just gush. This movie is very dark; people who are going into it thinking it will be a fun superhero romp are going to be very disappointed. For one it’s not action packed, yes it does have action but it slows down to let the audience get to know the characters and hit us with some deep questions. Needless to say this movie isn’t for everyone. Snyder has also changed the ending of the film as not to completely alienate those who haven’t read the comic. While I think this is necessary it’s going to piss off some fans. So unfortunately Snyder is in that lose lose position thanks to his source material. Also because the movie is so layered sometimes it’s pacing is horrible, honestly I can see why some people who have seen it, have said they are bored. The story that Alan Moore wrote works better as a graphic novel, there is no doubt about that, but this is probably the best adaptation anyone could have done.

This was my favourite movie of 2009 and yet I really do hesitate to recommend this for the casual movie goer. Anyone who does love film should see this movie, its director has one of the best visual eyes currently going, you get some impressive performances and if you are after a deep story then this has one. I think in time this movie will be recognised as a classic just probably not on everyone’s list.

This Week

Well i'm starting the year off with a new resolution. I'm going to be writing a lot of reviews. Hopefully i'll touch on many things not just movies. However i'm going to be doing three reviews a week and each with a theme in mind. I'll also hopefully blog a few other things but if I want to review I should review. So if anyone is reading this please tell your friends as I would love feedback.

Anyway this week i'm going to review my top three movies off all time. I'm trying this out as I believe if I can stop myself from gushing about them and also point out problems I had with these movies then I might be at least half decent as a reviewer.

The three films are Watchmen, The Fountain and The Shawshank Redemption. Today's first review will be Watchmen.

That's all. Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Disgruntled Monkey's Top 10 Movies of 2009

Well after a long break I'm back and I'll do what most bloggers have done and release my top ten movies of 2009. Hopefull this will be the start of consistent updates.

(the author wishes to submit that these are his opinions and not the actual best movies of 2009)

10: Zombieland – Since I saw the trailer I've been looking forward to the movie, it wasn’t a disappointment. Woody Harrelson is just fantastic in his role as the uber zombie killer we wish we all were and the rules for zombie survival are funny but useful. Just a good zombie movie that stands out from the crowd.

09: Where The Wild Things Are – This is low as it was just a difficult movie to get through. I liked it, I thought the visuals were great but there was something underlying it all that was uncomfortable. Still a great movie that captures childhood and I would recommend this to people who like the book.

08: Up – I cried twice in this movie and that’s the power of Pixar. They don’t make children movies they make family movies capable of touching everyone no matter the age. Visually I think this is Pixar’s best.

07: Coraline – Both this and Up are great movies however I think the visual style of Coraline speaks to me a little more. Oh and it has Scottish Terrier Vampire Bats how can you go wrong with that. The story of being careful what you wish for also hits a little closer than Up’s story.

06: Star Trek – I’m a little bit of a trekkie and a few years back when I heard about the first rumblings of the movie I was worried. How could you top Shatner and Nimoy? Well watch this movie and find out. Smart, packed full of awesome special effects and great acting this was the first big blockbuster out of the gates this year and it showed people how it was done.

05: The Hangover – This was a very funny movie and was a breathe of fresh air when it came to the R rated comedy. A very simple structured plot that never over stayed it’s welcome.

04: Inglorious Basterds – This is simply the best Tarrantino movie out there. Every single scene is a lesson in building tension. See this movie!

03: Drag Me To Hell – Old school Sam Raimi horror movie that made me laugh and most importantly scared me. After this movie I was on such a buzz I knew that this movie would be on my top ten of the year. This also made me fall in love with Alison Lohman.

02: District 9 – My god did this movie kick seven shades of butt. This was made for $30 million dollars and looks better than some of the blockbusters that came out this year. Also the acting makes you care about what happens and I was amazed at the emotional connection I had with Christopher the alien.

01: Watchmen – The big daddy of 2009 movies for me. I am a fan of the graphic novel and I had faith in Zack Snyder. What he gave us was a movie that was as close to perfect as he could get. Some things are changed, some actors are not the best but god damn is this a layered film. Not to everyone’s taste but seeming this is my list this is number one.

Of course there were some movies that I missed this year that I really wanted to see. Below is a list of those films that I wish I saw.

Men Who Stare At Goats
The Brothers Bloom
Red Cliff
Law Abiding Citizen
Up In The Air
Whip It
The Road
Crank High Voltage
Black Dynamite
The Boondock Saints 2: All Saints Day
Halloween 2

And that's your lot. Stay tuned for more updates soon.