Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Review - The Howling Reborn (2011)

“Full Moon. New Blood.”

Director: Joe Nimziki
Stars: Landon Liboiron, Lindsay Shaw and Ivana Milicevic
Writer: Joe Nimziki

I liked the first Howling movie, but I won’t say I was blown away by it. To be honest I have a perverse love of Howling 6: The Freaks. But who wouldn’t like a movie with vampires and werewolves (I’m ignoring you Twilight). But the reason I bring this up is I’m not precious about the series, and I am not against a remake or rebirth if you will, as long as the movie is good. Sadly what we have here is something that is just horrid. Normally in my reviews I try to be fair, and highlight some of the positives in the movie. This is going to be a bloody hard review to do. With that let’s get Kraken (Yes I know) and put a silver bullet in this bastard.

The biggest problem in my mind is how the remake approaches the issue of appealing to a new audience. Quicker than you can say “Bella is the most evil character ever to grace literature,” the movie goes down a very Twilight angle, with teen angst being the key theme. So with the relationship between Will (Landon Liboiron) and Eliana (Lindsay Shaw) front and centre a lot of the emotional pull has to come from this development. Needless to say the development just doesn’t work. It’s too quick, too forced and just doesn’t bloody work when they head down the path of love soothing the savage beast within. I groaned when love beat Freddy Krueger in the second movie and that was a hell of a lot more developed than this movie. Another problem is in the character of Kathryn (Ivana Milicevic) who seems to be evil because she’s a werewolf. That’s it. It’s hard to explain how bad this is, without spoiling the movie. But needless to say when we find out certain things about her, her evil plans seem very out of the blue.

Without the solid foundation of a credible story, the actors really struggle with what they are given. I didn’t find any actor’s that bad but none of them really stood out to me. If I’m going to give any compliment, it will be to Landon Liboiron who does okay, and maybe with a better script could have been good. Oh wait there is an actor I have a bone to pick with, and that’s Jesse Rath who plays Sachin. He’s basically the equivalent of Randy from Scream, the problem being is his character is badly written, and Jesse Rath plays him with such hyped up energy I wanted to transport into the movie and slap him. Everything about the character annoyed me, including his digs at movies of old. You know its okay to take the piss out of older movies, if you can back it up and be a good movie.

Visually the movie is fine, and I’ll give Nimziki some credit that the movie didn’t look like ass. Well it looks okay for what budget he had; however there are some special effects that just look really bad. An explosion just looks like it’s layered over footage, and some of the werewolves look like BATS! You see there are alpha wolves that look like actual werewolves, and all the others are werebats. God damn it how hard is it to make werewolves look like werewolves. I shouldn’t even need to say that, but there you have.

Simply put. Don’t see this movie. It’s a bad werewolf movie, it has plot holes bigger than the forest moon of Endor, and its characters really don’t make much sense. It thinks it’s a lot cleverer than what it is, and honestly is a movie that gives remakes a bad name. I hate being so down on a movie, but to be honest its made me appreciate the originals a lot more.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Review - Burke and Hare (2010)

“Six years in the Army I don't get a scratch. Ten minutes as a grave robber I get shot in the ass.”

Director: John Landis
Starring: Simon Pegg, Andy Serkis, Jessica Hynes, Tom Wilkinson, Tim Curry, Isla Fischer and Bill Bailey.
Writers: Piers Ashworth, Nick Moorcroft

You would think that the man who made An American Werewolf in London would be able to get the right balance of horror and comedy in a film? However in Burke and Hare we have a movie that fails to be really funny, and doesn’t really horrify. Then again maybe this isn’t a horror comedy, but just a black comedy. Well we come back to that whole not being funny thing. What went wrong? Let’s find out.

First off the acting isn’t that bad, in fact if it wasn’t for some of the actors I would have probably stopped paying any attention to the film. Simon Pegg as William Burke brings a certain lovability to his character which is impressive for someone who is a murderer. Andy Serkis (William Hare) and Jessica Hynes (Lucky) play the more deranged protagonists, for them death is not only a good way to make some money, but it’s great to patch up their relationship. Tom Wilkinson (Dr Robert Knox) is a noble presence with noble goals, but at the same time he’s pretty aware of what’s happening so yet again he’s a bastard. Isla Fischer tries her best as Ginny Hawkins who is Burke’s love interest, but a lot of the comedy around her falls flat. Everyone else is trying to bring a comedic vibe in their actions and delivery; but really has nothing to latch on to.

The script has to be the biggest villain of this movie. Comedic moments just don’t gel, a lot of jokes fall flat, or the laughs they are going for are just tired. Considering the actual notion of the movie, there is a rich vein to mine for black comedy, and yet the script is lazy. It honestly wants to do the least amount of work it can. Also one of the most glaring problems with the movie is how it treats Burke and Hare as lovable scamps just trying to make some money. They are killers, and the movie is just wasting time trying to humanise them in a way so the audience is on their side. Hell even at the end of the movie a character points out we shouldn’t feel anything for them because they are killers. Thanks movie, I’m glad you are also aware that you’re wasting my time.

As for Mr Landis the movie doesn’t look to bad, and you can imagine a black comedy taking place in the setting. There is a pace to the movie so it doesn’t lag too much. But like the script there just seems to be a certain feeling of laziness. Landis is a good director, but it just feels like he’s going by the numbers. Maybe if the script was stronger, then the end product would have been more entertaining. I think Landis still has the potential to make good films, but maybe he needs to work with someone who can help him tap into that potential. A young script writer perhaps. But whatever you think, Landis probably needs to challenge himself to really get the creative juices flowing.

This movie suffers from just not embracing its source material and taking it to a darker place. There is just a mixed tone, that doesn’t gel, and the comedy seems very by the numbers. Most of the actors step up and try to make the most of what they are given but they just don’t make it. The core of this movie is lacking, and as such nothing truly good grows. I don’t think people will hate this movie out right, but perhaps it’s best to go look at Landis’s earlier work.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Review - Drive (2011)

“My partner is a belligerent asshole with his back up against a wall, and now, so am I.”

Director: Nicolas Winding Refn
Starring: Ryan Gosling, Carey Mulligan, Bryan Cranston, Albert Brooks and Ron Perlman
Writing: Hossein Amini

Diving head first into the world I learnt many interesting things. Albert Brooks can play a great villain, Bryan Cranston is appearing in every movie now a days, and I’m now a fan of Nicolas Winding Refn. I think it’s obvious where this review is headed, but let me explain why this movie would be a contender for my favourite movie of 2011.

First off the acting on all fronts is brilliant and truly elevates this story. Ryan Gosling as the character simply known as Driver is perfect. His performance is minimalist and yet he can express his character in a glance or a smile. I was drawn into the character and was fascinated by his quiet moments; there is so much to like in the performance. Carey Mulligan also downplays it, and is pitch perfect as Irene. She carries this sadness with her, which says a lot about her past, but you can see the genuine kind person she is with her actions. Bryan Cranston is great as Driver’s friend and boss Shannon. Unlike the Mulligan and Gosling he plays his character a lot more livelier and stands out because of it, yet he doesn’t go so far has to wander into ham acting territory. Finally I would like to mention Albert Brooks, a man who I will always remember as the voice of Hank Scorpio from The Simpsons. Well I would until his turn as Bernie Rose, a villain who does send a shiver down my spine. Bernie isn’t a psychopath, isn’t over the top, isn’t remorseful, but one of those rare villains who just is. It’s hard to really explain, but needless to say yet again another wonderful performance in a movie exploding with talent.

Visually the movie is stunning with Nicolas Winding Refn giving us these beautiful driving scenes that show us why Driver is in love with driving. We aren’t talking Fast and the Furious speeding down street, more just driving around the city at night. There is something beautiful about it captured on screen. However when the action does ramp up we get some well shot chase and getaway scenes that definitely feel tense. It was also a pleasant surprise to see a getaway from a robbery involve using one’s head, rather than putting pedal to the metal. In Refn we have a director with an assured eye for this film, able to blend action and drama seamlessly together. It was such a pleasure just to watch this film I really want to go back as soon as possible to see it again.

Story wise we have a very basic premise, but action is not really the aim of this movie. Instead we have a drama and character study that has moments of action and violence. At its core it’s a look into the character of Driver and how he struggles with a growing attraction to Irene and his past and job seeping through into his life. Driver is also somewhat of an enigma, a lot is implied rather than out right said, and that’s refreshing as while his past is important, it allows for Gosling to be able to show rather than tell. There were moments in this movie that reminded me of Heat, in that while there was a crime story taking place, the movie really tries to get into the heads of the characters.

Not sure how passionately I can say this, but whatever you do you need to go see this movie. Sure I can see people not gelling with it, as minimal dialogue and lack of action might turn people off. But this is what cinema is all about, movies that are able to get the audience thinking as well as be entertaining. Gosling is phenomenal, the movie is beautiful and obviously the more people who go see movies like this, will help in getting more movies like this made. GO SEE THIS MOVIE NOW.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Quick Movie Reviews: Vol 16

So I’m back on the movie train, watching plenty of new and old films. During a re-watch of one of my favourite movies of last year, I noticed it ended with ‘The End,’ plastered on the screen. I honestly thought in this day and age we don’t really need to be told when the movie ends. Really don’t see the point, and what made me scratch my head even more was that the film in question had naturally come to the end without need of telling us that. But I’ll stop before I get into old man rambling mode. Let’s get on with the movies.

Warrior (2011)

This movie isn’t going to shock anyone, it’s not going make you look at films in a new way, but what it will do is give you a solid story and some brilliant performances. It’s a drama set in the world of MMA (mixed martial arts) and centres on a family torn apart. You can probably guess where the movie is headed from the outset, but the movie is more concerned with getting the audience to connect to the two main brothers Brendan (Joel Edgerton) and Tommy (Tom Hardy). Putting it plainly I guessed the ending, but damn if I wasn’t on the edge of my seat feeling for both characters. Some times the best movies are predictable but allow us to connect emotionally.

Hatchet 2 (2010)

I heard rumblings that fans of the first movie weren’t that keen on the sequel; actually saying rumblings is a nice way of putting it. In some respects I can see why people were disappointed in this sequel; it’s a different kind of movie with the gore amped up. But there is actually nothing wrong with this movie, it’s still fun, gory and does the job. In fact I think it’s a great riff on how horror sequels try and up them selves. More body count, more action and as always an over explanation of the monster. Adam Green injected the first movie with a sense of humour and a love of horror, no matter what you say about the story direction of this sequel, it still has those things. Also any movie that gives Tony Todd the spotlight is worth your time.

Unknown (2011)

Every now and then a movie comes a long with a plot development that just makes me want to give the middle finger to everyone involved. This movie uses a plot device commonly used by the Flinstones, and for that it can go to hell. Look if I can step back for a minute from my bile duct, I will say that Liam Neeson is fine in the role, and the movie does have its thrilling parts, in fact it’s not a bad movie if it wasn’t for one glaring horrid excuse for an ending I’ve seen in a while. The reason why I feel so impassioned by this plot development is that it wasn’t necessary. All it actually did was give one more action beat, smarter writers could have written around it, and actually created a more meaningful ending. Most people will watch this and enjoy it and not really care with the ending, and there are things to like in this movie. Honestly if you want to see a good Liam Neeson thriller I would go for Taken instead.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Disgruntled Monkey's Top 10 Directors

It’s weird that it’s taken me long to get to this list. But now is the time to look at my favourite directors. For this list I did a lot of looking about and tried to really figure out the directors whose work I admired the most. I also made sure I stuck to one golden rule. I had to like at least three of the director’s movies, which also means a director has to have made at least three movies. I think this one golden rule really helped me refine the list down. But for the people out there I will also list my favourite movies from the director. As if I didn’t have enough work already.

10: Mel Brooks (Blazing Saddles, Spaceballs, Robin Hood Men In Tights, The Producers, Young Frankenstein)

Mel Brooks was one of the directors who helped form my humour when I was just a kid. While other kids watched Star Wars over and over, to the point of memorizing every line, I did the same for Spaceballs. When Robin Hood Men In Tights came out I was performing the main musical number for many of my friends. But even with all the zany comedy a film like Blazing Saddles also has a message buried beneath all the great jokes. While I’ve listed above all my favourite movies, even those that didn’t land well with audiences I still enjoy. Yes that’s right I I’m one of the few people to like Life Stinks. Still at one point Brooks was a director who could never miss in making people laugh, and when he wanted to he could throw a little message along with the comedy.

09: Paul Thomas Anderson (Boogie Nights, Magnolia, There Will Be Blood)

The day I watched There Will Be Blood is the day I knew I didn’t need to watch any more movies done by Paul Thomas Anderson, he would always have a place in my top ten. It’s hard to describe how much of an impact that movie made on me, and honestly only a few movies have ever had that effect on me. It all had to do with the character of Daniel Plainview. While a lot of credit has to go to Daniel Day-Lewis for the performance, its Anderson’s focus on character in his movies that truly lets Plainview live. But getting away from that movie, he also managed to move me and make me laugh in his other efforts such as Boogie Nights and Magnolia all which really delve into characters and allow the story to truly breathe through them. While the movie isn’t on the list above I’ve got to give him a fair tip of the hat to for Punch Drunk Love which made me believe that Adam Sandler can do serious movies. Paul Thomas Anderson is a director that is able to create powerful movies that really highlight interesting characters and ones that we might not normally want to watch.

08: Quentin Tarantino (Inglorious Basterds, Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, Kill Bill)

Tarantino only get’s number eight on my list, I can already sense people grabbing their pitchforks and torches for a little mob justice. But I still like the man’s work and do watch Inglorious Basterds maybe a little too much for my own good. I think the ultimate testament to the man is he creates movies that influence the way people talk. Sometimes I real of a quote from his movies and not even realize it as it’s just the way I talk. Add to the fact that the man can create interesting stories that just eat up the time even though the movies are long. Tarantino also has a habit of putting people in films that suddenly propel their movie careers, or even rejuvenate them. I can’t wait for his next movie, as I really want to see what he does with a Civil War era story. Tarantino is a director that has been able to tap into the social conscience and manage to influence it with his work.

07: Frank Darabont (The Mist, The Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile)

Frank Darabont is the man behind my favourite movie of all time. The Shawshank Redemption was the movie that made me take film seriously and is probably the reason why I’m blogging about movies. It was a movie about hope but it was set in one of the darkest of settings. It really shows the genius that is Darabont, as he really has a great handle on tone and atmosphere and how to use them to maximum effectiveness. But as if the man wasn’t cool enough, he also loves horror movies. The Mist is a fantastic horror movie, that really revels in the bleakness. He also helped write Nightmare on Elm Street 3 and The Blob as well as some other horror fair. Horror or drama, Darabont is one of those directors that always knows what he’s doing, and one that doesn’t shy away from the darkness of reality.

06: Wes Anderson (The Life Aquatic, The Royal Tenenbaums, The Fantastic Mr Fox, The Darjeeling Limited)

There is just something about Wes Anderson films that get to me. I can’t put my finger on it, but beneath all the quirkiness of the characters and settings, are themes that really resonate with me. More than any of his films The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou seems to emphasise this quality. Claymation sea creatures, film techniques that bring in to question the whole reality of what we are watching, characters that are delightfully weird, and a story that takes a left turn at Albuquerque, all hide the potent themes of family, love, loyalty, grief and revenge. Getting away from Steve Zissou and his crew, his other movies offer a lot in the same way, and when viewed as a whole he proves himself to be quite the auteur. Every movie of his that comes out I look forward to as I know I’m in for a fantastical ride, with a serious dose of heart.

05: David Cronenberg (A History of Violence, Eastern Promises, The Fly, Existenz, Crash, Videodrome)

Whether it is his earlier science fiction and horror work, to his more modern reality based work, Cronenberg has the power to utterly creep, disgust and disturb the hell out of me. Still no matter the era I like his fascination with body horror and the changes people go through. Even in A History of Violence themes of transformation are present as violence acts as a virus and changes the people around the main character once it’s introduced into the circle. At his best he can create movies that turn audiences away as they are confronted with imagery that just manages to get under the skin, yet if they stick around there are lessons to be learnt about the human condition. Crash is probably an excellent example of this, as while I had problems getting through some of the scenes I emerged better for watching the movie fully through. Cronenberg is a director that doesn’t shy away from the blood and gore of being, but is always asking interesting questions to go along with it.

04: Ridley Scott (Blade Runner, Alien, Kingdom of Heaven, GI Jane, Gladiator, Legend, Black Rain, Black Hawk Down)

When I was young I went to a movie night that was showing both Labyrinth and Legend. Labyrinth was the movie that I liked the most, but I couldn’t help but be impressed by the visuals of Legend. Having grown up I’ve come to appreciate Legend a whole lot more, and realised that Ridley Scott has been a director that has regularly popped up in my life. Blade Runner is one of my favourite Science Fiction film, and really did formalise what I like about Science Fiction. Gladiator actually made me like Russell Crowe, Black Hawk Down is one of my favourite war movies, Kingdom of Heaven is slowly climbing my list of all time favourite movies, GI Jane is a movie that I enjoy despite some issues and it also was the first film to introduce me to Viggo Mortensen one of my favourite actors. Finally who can forget Alien which gave me the Xenomorphs that I love so much. Ridley Scott has always been in my life influencing my taste in movies.

03: Christopher Nolan (Memento, Insomnia, Batman Begins, The Prestige, The Dark Knight, Inception)

Well first off he did two awesome Batman movies, but this isn’t the only thing that drew me to the director. Memento was an excellent film that played with narrative flow, Insomnia actually gave Robin Williams an meaty role to bite into and The Prestige was just an excellent period piece that gave us a look into illusions. What I like about Nolan is how varied his movies are, and how dedicated he is to each and every movie. But maybe the ultimate reason why he makes it so high on my list is this little movie called Inception. One of my favourite topics is dreaming so I was having an absolute riot with the movie. Everything about this movie was polished head to toe, and it offered a movie that was only as complicated as you make it. To me Nolan is just an example of a professional that wants to craft a well tailored product that manages to reach as many segments of the population as possible.

02: The Cohen Brothers (The Big Lebowski, Hudsucker Proxy, True Grit, No Country for Old Men, O Brother Where Art Thou? Millers Crossing, Intolerable Cruelty)

Thrillers, Comedies, Westerns, Crime; the genre’s that The Cohen brothers have done is impressive. What is truly impressive about the brothers is how they seem to be capable of working in any genre. Sure there have been some missteps, but the amount of films that people enjoy is astounding. That’s the other thing that the Cohen’s bring, films that are loved by people as well as being praised by critics. They truly seem to be in love with their work and it seeps onto the celluloid. No matter how I feel I can always reach for a Cohen Brothers movie and find something to suit my mood.

01: David Fincher (Fight Club, Seven, Alien 3, Zodiac, The Social Network, Panic Room)

So my favourite director of all time has to be David Fincher and simply put it’s because he hasn’t made a single movie that I’ve hated. Every movie is a work of art and the darkness that he seems to deal with mainly really inspires me. Fight Club was one of those movies that knocked me down like a freight train. The Social Network was truly inspiring as he turned a subject many mocked, into an interesting character study. Alien 3 while crapped upon is an excellent ending to then trilogy, and while it had its problems it tapped into a side of Ripley not yet explored. David Fincher represents one of the directors who’ll be remembered from this current age of cinema. I’m anxiously awaiting the remake of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo as it’s just the sort of story that he can truly bring his dark visuals.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Review - Arthur (2011)

“Could you detach the half-naked business woman from under my bed?”

Director: Jason Winer
Starring: Russell Brand, Helen Mirren and Jennifer Garner
Writer: Peter Baynham

When this movie first came out I wasn’t that interested in this movie. You see it all has to do with Russell Brand. His comedic persona is grating to some people, and honestly I’m not sure why he’s as popular as he is. But I’ve come to learn that even if I’m not a fan of the actor I should give a movie a chance, as I may be surprised. So here’s that chance, let’s see if I was surprised.

Well first off let’s deal with the actors in this film. Helen Mirren was dependable as you would imagine. In the role of Arthur’s nanny she was both stern and yet you could see the affection she had for Arthur. She definitely added some class to the role of Hobson (Hobson is my last name so you can imagine my delight). Jennifer Garner as the evil Susan Johnson plays it pretty much one note, other than a scene where she is drunk. To be fair she isn’t given that much to do. Geraldine James is cute as Vivienne the love interest of Arthur, however she too isn’t given much to do, as is more a goal for Arthur to change his ways. And now we make our way to the main star, the whole reason why this movie was made, Russell Brand. Straight off the bat if you don’t like Brand’s humour, you won’t like this movie. I’ve never really got his appeal but haven’t hated him, so it wasn’t too bad for me. He does bring a certain lovability to this role which is necessary as in this current age who would feel sorry for billionaire. However this story does take a turn into serious town in the third act and it is at this point that I didn’t buy the change in Arthur. Russell is so content playing Arthur as a fool, that it seems impossible that there is a real human beneath it all.

Now one of the complaints people had was how this was a shallow shade of a shell of a movie when compared to the original. I’m not going to get into the argument over the remake, as while I’ve watched it, it’s been a while and honestly I can’t remember too much about it. Instead what I will say is the very idea of a lovable billionaire is one that just doesn’t fly in this age. I can’t understand why they would want to remake this movie, as the very core of the idea hamstrings the movie from the beginning gate. People are supposed to feel bad for Arthur? Other than this core concern the story is a pretty standard romantic comedy affair. Things take a dark turn in the third and it just doesn’t seem right. It was good to see the idea of Alcoholism tackled in the movie, but I don’t think there was enough time really devoted to it to make it worth our time.

 Honestly this is a standard comedy and if you like Brand you’ll probably enjoy this movie. There is nothing to really write home about, and the story is very basic, with comedy winning out over any worth while topics. Also for those people who love the original, just skip the movie and forget about it. Having this movie out there in the cosmos isn’t going to ruin the original in anyway. If you want to see this movie, grab some friends and watch with some pizza.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Review - Immortals (2011)

“The Gods Need a Hero.”

Director: Tarsem Singh
Stars: Henry Cavill, Mickey Rourke, John Hurt, Luke Evans
Writers: Charley Parlapanides, Vlas Parlapanides

The director known as Tarsem was the mind behind The Cell, a movie that I don’t mind at all, but has plenty of detractors. Yet even those who didn’t like the movie said that it was visually interesting. So with that in mind I was really interested in seeing what this man would make of the Greek gods. Well the results are a movie that I’m somewhat torn on. Let’s get down to brass tacks people.

Like the Cell this movie is a visual feast, and for some people it could be worth the price of admission alone. It’s nice to see an action movie with such an experimental eye, and honestly I wish there was more action movies that tried to break free from the standard movie look. However there was one thing that did bug me when it came to the look of the film. Several times throughout I had to remind myself that it was in 3D. Not once did I think that the 3D enhanced the movie, in fact most the time I thought it was all in 2D. Still it’s a minor gripe as it was never distracting, just lacking, and more a problem with marketing than the film itself. The movie is also a lot more adult than you would expect as well, with the gore being pushed to the max. Along with the beautiful visuals, the gore does have a good punch to it all.

Most of the actors do a fine enough job, with John Hurt and Mickey Rourke being very dependable. Mickey Rourke in particular as Hyperion is an interesting villain, there are attempts to flesh him out and have some human characteristics, and yet he’s a completely loathsome. Henry Cavill as our hero Theseus was a little boring in my opinion. There was just nothing about him that really stood out to me. I wish I could speak more about the performance but honestly there is nothing to talk about, which gets me worried as he’s the next Superman and well say what you want but Superman has a personality. Stephen Dorff on the other hand as Stavros does an excellent job as the sidekick, and brings some much needed personality to the group of heroes. The gods themselves all act very regal but aren’t given much to do, other than look good for the visuals. Luke Evan’s as Zeus does bring the thunder, and lightning, and does bring a certain presence to the godly role.

The story itself strives to be an epic tale, and the end is rather exciting with the action really ramping up. However it does take a while to actually get there and the story is a very sparse thing. There are little idea’s planted all over the place, and I would think that in the hands of Tarsem the movie would of made more of an attempt to get in depth with the questions raised. But maybe I’m expecting too much from a movie that is supposed to be action packed and a fun ride. Still why bring these themes up if you aren’t going to do anything with them? What they do is just pad out the beginning to make the movie drag, when you want to get to the glorious action.

People who like the mythological like adventures should give this movie a look. The action is really good, and the experimental nature of the visuals does create a uniqueness not found in a lot of action films. But this still doesn’t stop the fact that the beginning of the movie is slow, and the main hero isn’t anything memorable. If you can find a 2D version of this movie I would go and see it. I’m sure most people will find this a beautiful Greek tale.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Quick Movie Reviews: Vol 15

So with new work I haven’t been watching as many movies as I would normally. But I still get my butt out there when I can. Tonight I actually watched Immortals well before the release date (at least in Australia), and I’ll be getting a full review out there hopefully in a day or so. As we get closer and closer to the end of the year, my top ten list for 2011 is starting to shape up. However I’m still hoping for some movies to come along and wow me. But enough of this chit chat, lets get to the quick fire minty fresh burst of Quick Movie Reviews.

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest (2009)

And thus ends the Millenium trilogy. Damn did this go out with a whimper in my mind. It’s somewhat not fair to cry at how the ending just feels so unfinished, the writer of the books died before he could write anymore and as such emotional character arcs are just left dead in the water. The journey of the characters Mikael Blomkvist and Lisbeth Salander is an interesting one, and yet what was such a strong relationship in the first movie is never explored again. I understand that the two characters still show loyalty and friendship to each other even when separated, and for Lisbeth any form of connection is impressive, but you can see that there were roads yet to be taken for the two and it’s never fully realised. As for the film itself, it tidies up numerous story lines and therefore does offer some resolution for the audience, but there is never the definitive end. If you liked the other movies I would say go ahead and watch this, but those of you who want to start the series should be warned that you may find the end disappointing.

Real Steel (2011)

It’s a movie about robots beating the crap out of each other. If this single idea makes you giddy with joy, then stop reading right now and go and watch this movie. There is nothing I can say or do which will stop you from spending your money on this film. However if robot fighting isn’t everything you are after, then perhaps I could suggest go and finding Rocky. It’s not that this movie is bad, but Rocky does this type of story so much better and it has that human connection that robotics just doesn’t lend itself to. Truth be told this movie not only takes the story of Rocky but crams as many sporting clich├ęs as it can into the run time. Honestly this movie shouldn’t work, but it does and I think it has a lot to do with two things. First Hugh Jackman and Dakota Goyo have such a wonderful father, son chemistry together; they breathe life into the flaccid script. The second is real care and attention has been put into the creation of the robots to give them as much a personality as possible. I’m going to admit it; I felt something for the damn robot Atom in the final fight. Real mixed emotions about this movie. I’ll go ahead and recommend for father and sons, and those who are after a bit of robot carnage.

Anonymous (2011)

This is without a shadow of a doubt Roland Emmerich’s best film, but it’s still far from perfect. Getting away from alien invasions of ID4, or giant lizards, or global catastrophe’s has really helped Roland connect with the human emotion lacking from some of his other movies. It seems more realistic and it is helped that Rhys Ivan’s gives a fantastic performance as the Earl of Oxford. However there are some time jumps that just seem a little off when you consider that the movie is actually supposed to be a play. It muddies the flow of the story for no real reason. Having everything take place in chronological order wouldn’t have hurt the movie in the slightest. There are also some performances that just didn’t seem right and did veer into the cartoony side of the acting creek, which is a shame considering the serious tone of the movie. The movie also seemed too big for its running time, which at two hours and change to me seems that some editing could have been used. Some character motivations just aren’t clear thanks to not enough time being paid to them. Also for a film that is all about the conspiracy behind Shakespeare, there seems to be a lack of the man. He came off as one of the cartoony characters I was speaking about earlier, and by having him such a buffoon it made me less interested in the story. Still I would recommend this movie to people into period dramas. It’s a harmless little diversion.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

American Vampire, Chew and Penguin: Pain and Prejudice

With getting a job comes cash, and that can mean only one thing. What’s that? Fiscal responsibility. Hell no, it means picking up some trades. The two trades I thought I would get are Chew and American Vampire. I’ve been hearing a lot of great things about these two books and upon reading them I knew that I needed to write a blog post about them. Also to add some depressing flavour I’m looking at the first issue of the Penguin mini series Pain and Prejudice.

American Vampire Vol 1 by Scott Snyder, Stephen King and Rafael Albuquerque

Taking a monster such as the vampire, which is well known by many people and changing it, can be a tricky thing. Some attempts seem ridiculous (yes I’m looking at you Twilight with your god damn sparkly vampires), others just change without any respect to the tradition of the vampire. However American Vampire manages to not only be something different, but to also pay homage to the tradition of the vampire. Skinner Sweet is an American cowboy who has been turned into a vampire, but he’s something different, a new species of vampire.

The writing of both Scott Snyder and Stephen King is absolutely awesome and grabbed me from the balls from the out set. Swapping between Skinner Sweets origin story and Pearl Jones story set in the 1920’s, it’s an interesting look at this young America and its various historic periods. Rafael Albuquerque’s art also aptly captures both time periods and really helps define both stories. Highly recommend this trade for people.

Chew by John Layman and Rob Guillory

In the last week I’ve purchased the first three trades, I love this series that much. It’s such a warped fun world to read. Basically 23 million Americans were killed by the bird flu, as such chicken and any other bird have been deemed illegal. Tony Chu is a detective for the FDA who tracks down black market chicken rings and murders surrounding such things. Tony Chu also as a power that helps him, he’s a Cibopath which gives him a psychic impression of any object he eats. There are also other people out in the world with taste related powers and it all leads to some unique situations.

This book is not just a fun action adventure tale, but also smart in how it constructs each issue. The layout and the playing around with time conventions always keeps the tale fresh. The characters are also really well developed and even those who seem to be one dimensional bastards, get fleshed out to show the inner workings. Comics like Chew are the reason why I keep reading. They take the art form and really show the possibilities. Another big recommendation for people out there.

Penguin: Pain and Prejudice 1# by Gregg Hurwitz and Szymon Kudranski

I picked this up not expecting much at all. Penguin is one of my favourite Batman villains and this was me getting it for the sake of having a Penguin story in my collection. What I got was a very mean, nasty comic that is absolutely brilliant. You probably not going to read this more than once, but wow is this a fascinating take on the character. It’s actually not that far removed from what we know, instead the story takes a darker approach that is both sad, depressing and gives the Penguin such a strong foundation as a villain.

This is a mini series and I can’t wait to see where the story goes, but the tone has already been set and I’m sure it’s not going to anywhere happy. This first issue reminds me of a show like OZ or Shield, where it’s an indepth look at people who aren’t heroes, yet sympathy is created even in the darkest of characters. If you are a fan of the character I would say get out there and get it.