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.