Archive | November, 2011

Review of Predator 2 (1990)

29 Nov

Predator 2 (1990) is a sci-fi/action/thriller film, which is the sequel to the highly succesful Predator (1987), that starred Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Directed by the Jamaican-born director Stephen Hopkins (A Nightmare on Elm Street: The Dream Child (1989), The Life and Death of Peter Sellers (2004)).

Written by the creative team consisting of Jim Thomas (Mission to Mars (2000), Executive Decision (1996)) and John Thomas (Wild Wild West (1999), The Rescue (1988)). They also wrote the first Predator movie.

Starring: Danny Glover, Kevin Peter Hall, Gary Busey, Maria Conchita Alonso, Bill Paxton and others.

The movie starts out with this dystopian vision of the year 1997 in LA. And it has that 80’s understanding of near future that has gone to shit. It’s really dirty, the streets are ruled by gangs, at night it has this steam/fog all around, like a modern version of Victorian London. The movie opens with an action scene, so you know you’re in for some fun-time.

I’m a big fan of the original, which I thought was an incredibly entertaining film and had a great ensemble of though guys, when the original showed us the flexed biceps of Arnold and Carl Weathers as they meet, we knew that we should be expecting testosterone splashing in our faces. And when Predator 2 opens with this turf war in this urban setting, we know we’re going to get a dark, gritty and Robocop-esque take on the story. If that’s what you actually wanted to see is another matter.

The casting of Danny Glover is an original, yet somewhat odd choice, but he does do an excellent job. Although it did feel like any moment he could say “I’m too old for this shit!”. I must admit that it was a good choice to have someone in the lead role that doesn’t look like he can punch a hole into the predator if he wants to. On the other hand Kevin Peter Hall’s stature made us believe that there might be something that looks more powerful than Arnold. And Hall brings his convincing physicality to this role as well. Also I had so much fun watching Bill Paxton acting delightfully douchey. Gary Busey, of course, could be entertaining if he just stood there, doing nothing.

I think this is a great sequel. Not as good as the original, but at least it doesn’t try to duplicate the first one and gives us a completely different setting with completely different characters. It delivers on the action, gore (apparently a bit too much, since it received NC-17 rating at first), special effects, predator designs and expands the mythos in a very compelling way. Also it has a nice nod to the Alien vs. Predator comics, by putting in a skull of an Alien warrior.

On the other hand the movie’s setting is a bit too ugly compared to the beautiful jungle locations they used in the original and sometimes it comes across a bit too angrily cynical, which takes away from the fun, so overall it isn’t as enjoyable as the original.

It is a good movie, gotten a bad reputation for undeserved reasons and I would say it is still pretty cool, although the clothing (I’m mostly looking at you, Danny Glover’s disgusting suit) and it’s late 80’s/early 90’s trend of putting different “hip” things in movies makes it a bit dated. Recommended, if you’re a sci-fi action/Predator fan.

When the predator says "Shit happens.", know that this is what he's reffering to.

Review of The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1 (2011)

25 Nov

Could have gone a bit easier on the airbrushing.

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1 (2011) is a romance/fantasy/drama film and is the latest entry in the Twilight franchise, based on the novels by Stephenie Meyer.

Directed by Bill Condon (Dreamgirls (2006), Kinsey (2004)), who has won an Oscar for best writing for Gods and Monsters (1998).

Written by Melissa Rosenberg (Step Up (2006), Dexter (2006 TV)), who has also written all the previous Twilight movies.

Starring: Kristen Stewart, Billy Burke, Peter Facinelli, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner and others.

Since I am not a 15-year-old girl or a 40-year-old house-wife, I’m neither the target audience or a fan of the series. But as each movie got more blatantly stupid, they also got more entertaining, so I naively thought I actually might have fun watching this, in a “so bad it’s good” way. Sadly, it just got the “so bad” part right. Although at times it was really hilarious, for example, when Bella says she wants to name her daughter Renesemee. Really? You’re gonna go with that?

I don’t ever remember myself being more bored in a movie theatre. The movie achieved almost amazingly slow pace, kept me yawning constantly and to entertain myself, I often danced in my seat. To an orchestral score. At times I felt really depressed and wondered how they didn’t realize, they’ve made this concentrated mixture of over-the-top melodramatism and absolute boredom.

The acting is not good. There’s nobody that feels like a real person. Booboo (what kind of name is that?) Stewart is so incredibly bad. His character is written like he’s 10 and he delivers the lines likewise. Robert Pattinson is as always, looking like he’s in some slightly uncomfortable pain, but trying to hide it. Taylor Lautner is as usually stumbling around as a caveman, varying between his two emotions – “I’m strong and angry (like Hulk)” and… well, no, he has no other emotions. Kristen Stewart most of the movie does a “It’s ok, I’m fine, guys” routine and from time to time cries, letting the special effects department do most of her acting with CG body shrinking and some make-up shadows on her blank face.

The character Jacob is just fascinating to me. The first scene of the movie is one where it takes barely 5 seconds for him to remove his shirt and reveal his physique. I still don’t understand, why he’s the most muscular of all the “werewolves”? And why does he only take off his shirt and let the short pants get shredded to pieces? Does he pick up the shirts afterwards and go around, while Donald Ducking? And what do the fans see in this character? He’s rude, constantly angry, lives in a wooden cabin with a bunch of mexicans, who act like college frat-boys, skilled only as an auto mechanic, thinks that he is better than this other guy, Edward, who is protective, nice, doesn’t look like he’s on steroids, lives in a nice house, is smart and well-mannered, but is a vampire, which obviously is so much worse than turning into a huge wolf. And he wonders why Bella didn’t choose him, get over it!

There is basically no action in the movie. 80 minutes in,  I was so desperate, that a scene where Jacob kicks a motorbike across a driveway seemed cool now and, of course, the naive me thought that now the action will start, but what I got next was a cartoon, where a bunch of incredibly awful looking CG wolves got together and talked. I honestly couldn’t believe my eyes. On the other hand, the scene was so unintentionally hilarious, I loved every second of it. After that it goes back to the sluggish drama. Then there is another action scene at the end, but since all the wolves look the same and the vampires are so fast, that all you see is a blur, it becomes an unsatisfying mess.

This anti-feminist movie also keeps pushing the same old shit into my face, as if I’m supposed to care, that this indecisive little bitch, Bella is not having as much fun as she had expected from her rich and handsome boyfriend, who is concerned that he might be fucking Bella too hard. Even though, Bella likes it a bit rough. As we all know, every girl’s dream is to wake up in a bed that is demolished from the amazing sex she’s had. Women like to preach that they never watch porn, but it seems like this isn’t that far from that, just less graphic and more like food for imagination. And then, when it has to abandon the whole “no sex before marriage” thing, it goes into an idiotic pro-life message.

After the credits you see that vampire council again and I really want to know if in the books they’re written just as gay as they seem in the movie? The biggest reason, why I despise this franchise is because they just keep destroying the vampire mythos and all these young people who have never seen any cool vampires will think of them as these lame, sparkling weirdos. That cannot be forgiven.

I could keep pointing out other details, but I’ve been rambling on for too long here, so I guess I’ll leave that for next year.

I don’t recommend it to anyone, although if you watch this at home you can riff on it pretty easily and have fun. Definitely the worst of the series. I died a little inside, while watching it. Seriously, one of the worst movies I’ve ever seen.

Bella just kept wishing they would play more chess on their honeymoon.

Review of Immortals (2011)

23 Nov

Immortals (2011) is a fantasy/action/drama film, loosely based on the Greek mythology.

Directed by the Indian director Tarsem Singh (The Cell (2000), The Fall (2006)), who is currently working on the comedy Mirror Mirror, which doesn’t look all that good.

Written by Vlas Parlapanides (Across the Sea (1997 Short), Everything for a Reason (2000)) and Charley Parlapanides, who hasn’t written anything before.

Starring: Henry Cavill, Mickey Rourke, Stephen Dorff, John Hurt, Freida Pinto, Luke Evans and others.

As the commercials told us (as if it isn’t painfully obvious) the movie comes from the same producers as 300. Yes, the movie’s are quite similar in their tone, showing how totally awesome and slow-motioned the epic battles were. But, while 300 took some large liberties with actual history , this film is based on Greek mythology and since that basically just like religion isn’t about real events, I can forgive them bending the legends for their own needs. When the myths were created they were meant to impress people, so updating isn’t such a bad thing to do.

And yes, the writing isn’t the best thing about the movie, it seems more like the glue to hold together these expressive characters, epic imagery and cool action scenes. For some reason most of the movie takes place on various cliff-sides. It’s like if 300 had those pits scattered everywhere they go, so they could kick people in them. And you’ll probably start watching the movie mildly confused and after a while find yourself not really caring.

The movie does look beautiful. The costumes are great, sets are… well, mostly  cliff-sides, but still cool, the action scenes look like Renaissance paintings. And the R rating allowed some beautiful gore. I’ll return to the action a bit later.

The acting was great. Mickey Rourke is a really bad guy and is so intimidating, he keeps grossly eating fruits and nuts and then he might just gouge some servant’s eyes out , just because he’s angry (Greek mythology’s equivalent to Darth Vader’s force grip). Stephen Dorff is actually charismatic and fun in this, which was a surprise, I believe he’s a good actor, but quite often, he gets sucked into awful movies. This was my first encounter with Henry Cavill other than photos from Man Of Steel and he exceeded my expectations. He’s likable right from the start, but isn’t a total pacifist who just gets sucked into war against his will, he can really kick ass and kick ass he does. I’m now convinced that they’ve chosen the right man to play the next Superman. He is both physically (have you seen the photo’s of him now? Jesus, he’s huge!) suited and has some acting chops as well. Also the gods were portrayed very human and vulnerable.

So yes, the action. It was so incredibly entertaining, that I instantly forgave all the incoherent and generic plot, some of the CGI that looked bad and everything else. Every time Cavill started his perfectly choreographed fight sequences it just took my breath away. And there’s a final fight where the gods fight the CG zombie-like monsters (Titans), it’s just spectacular as the gods move at normal speed, while the titans they strike dead go into slow-motion with CG gore splattering all around. Also in the middle of the movie is a similar scene where one of the gods just comes and smashes like 20 bad guy heads with a hammer, while they are frozen in time. It is pornography for just the eyes.

So yeah, it isn’t a great movie, but it is a great looking movie. Don’t expect good drama and historical accuracy, but go into it to be entertained and you won’t be disappointed. Recommended, if you’re an action-whore.

If they painted him green he'd look like Hulk.

Review of Wide Awake (1998)

22 Nov

Wide Awake (1998) is a family/drama/comedy film, also known as M.Night Shyamalan’s second movie, also known as the movie that totally bombed and didn’t make Shyamalan famous.

Directed by the Indian-born director M. Night Shyamalan (Praying With Anger (1992), The Sixth Sense (1999)), who is known for making movies with twist endings.

Written by M. Night Shyamalan (Stuart Little (1999), Unbreakable (2000)), he also used to make good movies, now he’s generally considered a hack.

Starring: Joseph Cross, Dana Delany, Denis Leary, Robert Loggia, Rosie O’Donnell, Julia Stiles and others.

As you can see there’s quite a few well-known actors here. Ok, obviously, Cross and Stiles became more known later, but still it is a solid ensemble for a low-budget family movie. And the performances are quite good. Cross isn’t a terribly annoying (although he is on the verge of being) little kid. When at the beginning he states “People think I ask too many questions,” you already know that he is one of those children. His parents are well portrayed too, but they aren’t in the movie a lot. Rosie O’Donnell is cast as a nun, obsessed with baseball, which suits her, seems a bit forced, but might be my favorite character in the movie.

O’Donnell’s character got me thinking a bit more and realised that this is what christian fundamentalists would imagine is the perfect career choice for a christian lesbian woman. As we all known you can’t be gay and believe in god. For that you will be ass-raped by Jesus Christ himself during his frequent visits to the depths of hell. So what you should do, not to anger God, is say goodbye to all the worldly pleasures and become a monk or a nun. Your only choice is either having sex with your own gender (and burn in hell) or choose absolute abstinence.

It also made me think, why would anyone ever send their child to a parochial school? It seems like the most depressing place ever. It teaches you to be stiff, wear short pants and not question God. It just made me sad. Although, if they can teach these 11-year-olds to write essays like the main kid did at the end, props for them. It’s quite obvious it’s the work of a screenwriter, who hasn’t met kids of this age for a while.

This really feels like a made-for-TV family movie. In a sense that you might turn on the TV in a weekend morning and while waking up watch this. Although, you might see that until the very end it’s actually a depressing movie. It isn’t fun or entertaining. For a family movie I don’t think there’s much that kids would enjoy about it and the parents will wonder why the hell are they watching this overly sappy family movie, that even their kids don’t like.

In one scene the kid just runs past a statue of Jesus, while yelling “Holy Shit” like six times. Can you really do that in a movie and have it rated PG?

The kid’s grandfather is dead and it was unclear to me at times if I was seeing flashbacks with him or the kid was just imagining him.

Other than it being very cheesy at times, you can’t tell this is a Shyamalan movie. That is until the end of course, where he inserts this unnecessary plot twist, which is barely a twist, since if it had been cut, nothing would have changed.

I can’t recommend it to anyone really, because it’s too depressing for young children, too cute for teenagers and too naive for the adults. It’s a mediocre movie and the only reason to see it might be if you’re curious about Shyamalan’s early work.

"Hey man, do you think we're latently gay?" "Shh, just hold my hand..."

Review of Taken (2008)

20 Nov

Taken (2008) is an action/thriller/drama film, produced by the well-known French director/producer Luc Besson, mostly known for his stylistic action movies.

Directed by Pierre Morel (From Paris With Love (2010), District B13 (2004)), who has worked as a cinematographer and in camera department on quite a few Besson produced movies.

Written by Luc Besson (Taxi (1998), La Femme Nikita (1990)) and Robert Mark Kamen (The Karate Kid (1984), The Transporter (2002)).

Starring: Liam Neeson, Maggie Grace, Famke Janssen, Leland Orser, Olivier Rabourdin and others.

It is basically a revenge thriller, except nobody dies at the start of the movie, but the main character goes on a revenge spree while trying to find his kidnapped daughter. And there’s something about these revenge movies that resonates in people. I guess, it’s because most people have at times wished to just go and beat the shit out of the people who have been assholes to you.

The acting mostly wasn’t all that good. Liam Neeson at the start of the movie is pretty awful, there’s something about him playing a normal guy that doesn’t really work, but when he actually starts doing cool stuff, he becomes totally awesome and kicks so much ass. Famke Janssen just doesn’t leave any impression. I had trouble believing that Maggie Grace’s character is supposed to be 17, Grace does try to be convincing, but it comes across a bit too forced. She spends most of her screen-time crying, thankfully, she’s not in the movie a whole lot.

The writing isn’t the greatest asset of this movie either. If the action wasn’t so great, the cheesy writing would have killed the movie. There’s some things that just don’t stand logic, but work because of Neeson’s performance, he can convince that he means all his cheesy lines. I can even forgive that photo zooming they do on CSI, where it is all pixellated and then easily cleared or the movie’s xenophobic tone, just to see Neeson being angry and karate chopping people’s throats. And he does those quite frequently.

Speaking of action, it is pretty great. Liam Neeson just going around and in this matter of fact way punching and shooting bad guys. And it has one of the best torture scenes in years. Luc Besson just knows how to make these testosterone filled high-quality popcorn trash movies. Yes, they’re stupid, but unbelievably entertaining.

How come that in movies, there’s always enough perverts among the high-society rich people to have these organisations, where they do this sick stuff?

I was surprised, when after watching this, I found out this is rated PG-13, it is quite odd for a movie about sex trafficking and a guy killing a bunch of criminals, so it isn’t overly graphic, but still pretty violent and unapologetic about it.

I definitely recommend this movie, because I had a lot of fun watching it. Don’t expect anything intellectual and when watching try not to analyse it too much and just enjoy Liam Neesonbeing a bad-ass. It got me pumped up and wanting to go out and punch some throat’s myself.

This is what Liam Neeson's character reads every night before falling asleep.

Review of I Am Omega (2007)

19 Nov

I Am Omega (2007) is a direct-to-DVD zombie apocalypse/action/drama film, produced by The Asylum, a company specializing in mockbusters. It may also be considered a unoffical adaptation of the novel I Am Legend (1954) by Richard Matheson.

Directed by Griff Furst (Lake Placid 3 (2010), Wolvesbayne (2009)), yes, also the director of the previously reviewed 100 Million BC (2008).

Written by Geoff Meed (Universal Soldiers (2007), 6 Guns (2010)), who works mostly as an actor and plays the main villain of this film.

Starring: Mark Dacascos, Geoff Meed, Jennifer Lee Wiggins, Ryan Lloyd.

You might be wondering about the title, it’s just a combination of two other adaptations the same novel. One is The Omega Man (1971) and the other is I Am Legend (2007), which this movie is trying to cash in on, but I wouldn’t call it a total rip-off. It even came out a month before the Will Smith version.

The script is the worst part of the movie, because the plot is incredibly thin. There’s no explanation for the zombie plague, it spends a lot of time on showing the main character being alone and doing things without explaining them either. That part actually sort of calls back to the novel. He also keeps hallucinating. Then it continues on with the main story which doesn’t make much sense when logic is applied. For example, the main character decides to blow up a whole city for no real reason by using unconvincing amount of explosives.

The acting is decent, Mark Dacascos isn’t the most expressive actor, but he does know martial arts and is a fairly acceptable action hero, being at his best when beating up zombies using a nunchaku and worst when unconvincingly delivering the cliché lines, written by the easily best actor (not much of an accomplishment there) in the movie, Geoff Meed. Meed is playing this buff asshole military guy (with a very peculiar motivation and a strange idea on about its execution), which seems like something Ron Perlman would play in a bigger movie. Both Wiggins and Lloyd are ok.

Since it is a The Asylum production my expectations were very low, but it actually turned out to be not anywhere near as bad as I thought it would, it is a low-budget film, so I can forgive the zombie make-up not being that great or the awful CG explosions, but there’s also good things. The cinematography is rather beautiful, at times even it being shot in HD video looks really impressive and it has some of these things that work in B-movies, like fist or nunchaku fights with zombies, it also does enough practical effects and the CG backdrops aren’t painful to see.

It is not a good movie, but I did for some reason enjoy it. With The Asylum you expect these entertaining, so-bad-it’s-good films, but in this there isn’t much action until about a halfway in. It lingers on the loneliness and the borderline insanity of the main character, seemingly trying to actually add substance to a B-movie plot.

I do recommend this if an I Am Legend’s mockbuster version sounds interesting to you. It is a very mediocre movie. Watch at your own risk. And if you want to see a better, more faithful adaptation of the novel, watch The Last Man On Earth (1964).

"Hey, man, want to buy my long-sleeve authentic zombie shirt?"

Review of The Cabinet Of Dr. Caligari (1920)

15 Nov

The Cabinet Of Dr. Caligari (1920) is a German silent horror/fantasy film, which played a big part in the German Expressionist movement.

Directed by Robert Wiene (The Hands Of Orlac (1924), Genuine (1920)).

Written by Hans Janowitz (Der Januskopf (1920), Marizza, Gennant Die Schmuggler Madonna (1922)) and Carl Mayer (The Haunted Castle (1921), The Last Laugh (1924)), who were inspired by Janowitz’s experience, when after leaving a fair he noticed a stranger mysteriously disappearing in the shadows and then hearing about a murdered young woman the next day.

Starring: Werner Krauss, Conrad Veidt, Lil Dagover, Friedrich Feher and others.

It is considered a classic and one of the greatest horror films of the silent era, also often noted for possibly introducing twist endings to cinema.

The visual style of the film is stunningly fascinating. It achieves the kind of eerie feeling, that was evoked in me when watching Max Schreck’s performance in Nosferatu. The sets are beautiful paintings of oddly shaped objects, static shadows and distorted perspectives, which add an uneasy and otherworldly feel to it. The frequent fade transitions, unrealistic angularity and lingering iris shots often make you feel like you’re watching a dream-world through a peep-hole. And as it usually is with dreams, you seem close enough to interfere, but you’re just not.

Sadly, I didn’t see the best available copy of the film. I found it hard to tell apart the present time and flashback scenes, which would have been apparent in the tinted version of the film, but was not in the purely Black&White version I saw.

As it often was with silent films, it has a pretty short running time, barely exceeding an hour, so it doesn’t get really draggy and I am grateful when silent films don’t dare my ADD to kick in.

I even learned a new word, maybe I’m an idiot, but “somnambulist” was new to me (still waiting to use it in a sentence). So this is also an educational movie.

The twist ending is cool from one perspective, more like a historical landmark, but from a modern perspective it is a totally unsatisfying cop-out, which was forced by the film’s producers. Although M. Night Shyamalan would love it anyway.

For the 1920’s audiences, unfamiliar by the possibilities of cinema, seeing something this grotesque must have been an unsettling experience.

It does suffer from the kind of overacting, that was quite common in early silent films, although one might argue that it is in a way forgivable in this case, because the film isn’t supposed to be realistic anyway. But Conrad Veidt does a good job as the creepy Cesar, mostly because he is refreshingly emotionless, yet seems to be screaming without making a sound.

It is a special movie for me, because it is the last 1920 movie I’ve seen and it is going to stay that way. That’s right, 90 years is where I draw the line, so there’s only a few weeks left to watch all the 1921 movies I want to see.

It’s a good movie, maybe not aged so well as a horror movie, but still is an amazing view in the weirdest visuals early cinema has to offer. I certainly do recommend it. Maybe the best way for a modern viewer to see it is by turning off the original soundtrack and put on some music of your own choice, preferably something that would go along with the film’s dreamlike mood.

"What do you mean 'I look like an emo'?"

Review of 10,000 BC (2008)

13 Nov

10,000 BC (2008) is an adventure/fantasy/drama film set in the prehistoric era.

Directed by the German director Roland Emmerich (Independence Day (1996), Godzilla (1998)), who is known for making blockbusters.

Written by Roland Emmerich (Das Arche Noah Prinzip (1984), Stargate (1994)) and Harold Kloser (2012 (2009)), who is better known as a composer.

Starring: Steven Strait, Camilla Belle, Cliff Curtis, Joel Virgel and others.

I guess, I should state my opinion on Roland Emmerich first. Although I do like some of his movies (Universal Soldier) and think some of them are ok (Stargate) and even if I ignore the outright awful ones (Godzilla), with his movies there’s always this feeling that he is an idiot. There is a certain group of directors, which includes Michael Bay as well, that consists of these filmmakers that have some talent in one area, but are total morons in other ones and Emmerich falls in this category, sometimes making something decent, sadly, with this movie he doesn’t manage to do that.

After a couple of minutes you start realizing, that this movie just keeps slapping you in the face with its stupidity. If you’ve ever heard anything about prehistory, you might notice the movie seeming to be a bit off. I don’t know if Emmerich, while doing research for his script ever noticed that every major element of prehistory wasn’t happening at the same time. So the script consists of wildly clashing historical inaccuracies, just to support huge spectacles and visual effects. It makes it almost absurd when the tribe speaks in a very articulate english, actors of different ethnicities are playing members of the same tribe and this distorted history is thrown on top of it.

The movie showcases a spectacular set of historical inaccuracies. For example, horse domestication – 4000 BC, boats – 3000 BC, boats that are anything like the ones seen in the movie – 1100 BC, Egyptian civilization – 3150 BC, blue eyes – 6000 BC, mammoths galloping – not possible and so on. I’m not saying it should be totally accurate, it is a fantasy film, but why did they call it 10000 BC, when it should be called The Whole Prehistory? Also the movie takes itself so seriously. And when talking about himself casting unknown actors, Emmerich stresses it was done to not distract from the realistic feel of the prehistoric setting.

Speaking of casting, the actors aren’t really bad, but them being of different ethnicities and all having dreadlocks and speaking English in weirdly stilted accents, just was kinda unbearable. Also it is said that Emmerich rejected making the film in an ancient language, feeling it would not be as emotionally engaging. Well, I think a similar movie shows us otherwise, it’s called Apocalypto and it is a better film.

Another point is that it presented no feeling of how large are the distances they are travelling, it seems that in a couple of days they manage to do a month’s worth of foot travel.

It has a totally stupid ending, where we are supposed to care about this love interest which we barely see doing anything but wearing blue contacts.

Besides the idiotic script, there’s this horrible CGI, which is laughable. Seriously, they couldn’t make the CG animals more cartoonish and the green screen sequences more painfully obvious.

So yeah, the movie is a total waste of time and because of the shitty CG and horribly written script, I can’t recommend it to anyone. Only maybe if you want to make fun of it with some friends.

10,000 BC - Even the acting is CG.

Review of Up (2009)

10 Nov

Up (2009) is a computer-animated adventure/drama/comedy film, which is to date the third highest grossing PIXAR films, only behind Finding Nemo and Toy Story 3.

Directed by Pete Docter (Monsters, Inc. (2001), Mike’s New Car (2002 Short)) and this is only his second feature-length movie.

Written by Bob Peterson (Finding Nemo (2003), Ratatouille (2007)), who also served as co-director and a voice actor in this and also Pete Docter (Toy Story (1995), WALL·E (2008)), so there’s CG animation guys all over this.

Starring: Ed Asner, Christopher Plummer, Jordan Nagai, Bob Peterson and others.

This is one of those movies that creates my distaste for the modern animation films. It is so sappy and pushy in the emotional department and at times utterly idiotic and unbalanced and I didn’t enjoy it at all.

It starts of with this story of a little boy, who’s a nerd for this explorer guy and then he meets this androgynous girl, so, as it happens to all about-6-year-olds, they, of course, fall in love, marry and live happily forever after. That is except that time when they were sad that they can’t have children and that other time when after Carl forces Ellie to climb a hill one too many times, she gets sick and dies. At this point it could seem like I just spoiled the whole plot, but no, that’s just the first 15 minutes, also known as the best part of the movie. Then it goes on to this stupid adventure story, which involves huge birds, talking dogs, an annoying kid and some unexplainable logic.

I think PIXAR should just stick with drawing animals because their artistic choice on the designs of the people really baffle me. Why the hell does the main character is the only person to have this huge, blocky head? I don’t seem to recall Spencer Tracy looking like that. Seriously, how come no one notices how horribly disfigured Carl is? It is not fun when the main character of an adventure-comedy is the Elephant Man.

Then there’s this fat, little asian kid, who looks like he’s suffering from Down’s syndrome and his obesity doesn’t make it more appealing. I really hated that kid, I identified with the blockhead only because he was annoyed by him as well. I just wished I could reach in and punch his oddly small face deeper into his irritating head. And I so despise this cliché film trope (e.g. Cop And A Half, Real Steel), where and adult at first doesn’t like a child/animal and by the end has become attached to it, basically a type of a buddy film.

Ed Astner was a good choice for the voice of Carl, others were ok, no stand outs.

I won’t say there weren’t any good jokes, I liked that prehistoric bird, especially when he swallows and then throws up the walker-cane, I also liked that they inserted that Pluto thing, which the dog does at one point. But then it does this stupid gag, when the main bad dog has a broken voice-box, which makes his voice very high-pitched, so the joke is that everything he says is not intimidating anymore and also it uses this idiotic joke, which is common in family films involving animals, the bird Kevin turns out to be a girl. Hilarious, right?

Every time when I saw the balloons attached to the house, I kept remembering that Mythbusters episode, where they fail to lift a child with a shitload of balloons, yeah, it’s a cartoon, I can forgive them not giving a shit about physics. But then there’s this concept children do understand – aging. I mean, how come that this guy that was an adult, when Carl was a toddler, now looks the same age if not younger than him?

I didn’t hate the movie, but also there was nothing I really liked about it. I guess I would recommend it to you if you have lost someone close to you and a movie about coming to terms with the death of a loved one would be something to identify with, otherwise, I don’t see any reason to see this film. PIXAR has done better.

Real tasteful, huh?

Review of Bare Knuckles (2010)

8 Nov

Bare Knuckles (2010) is a straight-to-DVD sports/drama/action film.

Directed by Eric Etebari (Expulsion (2011 Short)), who is better known as an actor, as this is his feature-length directorial debut.

Written by Robert Redlin (McCinsey’s Island (1998), After Dark, My Sweet (1990)).

Starring: Jeanette Roxborough, Martin Kove, Bridgett Riley, Louis Mandylor and others.

I didn’t start watching this with high expectations, but considering my love for the Rocky franchise, there’s certainly some things I do expect from boxing movies. It’s weird to say, but I wished they would’ve copied Rocky‘s formula a bit more, the film could only benefit from that.

In this narrow sub-genre being cliché is almost unavoidable, so the premise of the story isn’t all that bad. My understanding is that the film was highly influenced by Jeanette Roxborough’s actual life, being a stunt-woman and a mother of a handicapped child. That is a unique angle to add to the story, but somehow they fail to insert the intensity of the real-life drama and while it spends enough time on exploring these issues, it seems to have inserted Roxborough’s handicapped daughter as some sort of MacGuffin, just to move the story along.

As I mentioned Jeanette Roxborough is a professional stunt-woman, which shows in her acting a bit, but not too badly. On the other hand she makes up for what she lacks in acting skills by her convincing physical performance. Martin Kove is unsurprisingly the best actor in the movie and gives a solid performance. The other actors aren’t necessarily bad, but the fact that they play these cheesy caricatures really doesn’t help.

The whole “training with the bodybuilder tranny” sequence is really creepy and then it goes on in to this idiotic scene, where they discuss the other fighters in a manner that is the movie equal of a fighting video game’s character screen.

The fights themselves are pretty bad, using slow motion seemingly at random, most fights aren’t “bare-knuckle” at all, since the fighters are wearing gloves and performs various wrestling moves. Also it might be more realistic, but looks terribly uncinematic, when most fights last about 30 seconds and those are the full fights, not montages of highlights.

It is shot in HD video, which makes the fights look more like the ones we’d see on TV, but overall, combined with the movie’s cheesiness makes it seem like it’s made about a decade ago.

The script is the worst part of the whole thing. I kept thinking that it could have been easily improved by just a rewrite by someone (more) competent.

Overall, it isn’t totally awful and unwatchable, but it throws so much stupidity at you that there really isn’t anything to recommend it for.

"I'm acting... with my fists!"