Tag Archives: Rated PG-13

Review of The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2 (2012)

20 Nov

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2 (2012) is a fantasy/romance/adventure film, the fifth film in the Twilight film franchise based on the series of novels by Stephenie Meyer.

Directed by Bill Condon (The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1 (2011), Dreamgirls (2006)).

Written by Melissa Rosenberg (Twilight (2008), Step Up (2006)).

Starring: Michael Sheen, Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner, Billy Burke, Peter Facinelli, Maggie Grace and a shitload of other good-looking people.

Here we are again. Thankfully, for the last time. Please, even if they decide to do some shitty spin-off, don’t tell me. I don’t want to know. Unless it is about Aro. I want to see a movie about him.

I don’t know where to start talking about this, because I don’t want to. The series as a whole has been an incredible journey through bad female role models, bad acting, bad effects and bad filmmaking in every other way. A year ago we saw the first part of the adaptation of the fourth novel. It was one of the most boring movies I’ve ever seen and I’ve seen Heaven’s Gate, Titanic and Alexander‘s final cut. It dragged like shit. If you pressed your ass against the floor, had some diarrhea explosion and then tried to blow it along the floor, using your mouth, it would be a more or less acurate representation of watching that movie.

To be fair this movie was way less boring. I still got bored, but I could see the simple-minded fans, who like the blank characters, enjoying the ethnical stereotypes, idiotic plot and the horrendous special effects.

We start off with Bela Lugosi waking up as a vampire chick now, all her senses have heightened, so she hugs Squidward with her Hulk-strength and then decides to go hunting for deer, doing weird faces and feral noises. She almost kills some cliff-climber, who doesn’t look down to see her jump away in a humourously frozen position doing an arc over a canyon, one of the many special effects in the movie done by a 5-year-old with Down’s Syndrome. Just donate the money, don’t make them work for it.

Then she remembers her baby, which is the most fucking creepy thing I’ve ever seen. Now she’s kind of pissed that Sixpack has ‘implanted’ her baby, so he’s destined to bang her. Him saying „It’s not like that!”, when it is exactly like that doesn’t sit well with Bela Lugosi, so Kirsten Stuart tries to do something she hasn’t done before. Emotions. Sorry K-Stu, A for effort, but F for looking like you’re face and voice doesn’t understand the concept.

After this, Sixpack goes to show his six-pack to Bela Lugosi’s dad, Charlie Movember. Sixpack for some reason thinks that taking off his clothes and turning into a cartoon-wolf would somehow explain his daughter’s absence. It doesn’t. Like at all. Charlie Tom Selleck is the saddest character ever. Every scene is him saying „Fuck it, no one is telling me shit, there’s no reason for me to be in this movie, I’m just going to grow my fucking moustache until someone decides to actually give me something to do.”

So basically Eddie Van Paleface and Bella Van Blankface have their horribly deformed child. It seems she’s ok, except for Sixpack’s  pedophile curse, being half-vampire and having this disgusting CG face. It’s uncanny beyond the valley of death. I wanted to turn away every time I saw it. 10 actresses play their daughter. So they all (or at least 9?) have CG faces. It is insane.

And that is not the only awful effect they have. They’re all rubbish. Almost every scene takes place on a set. There’s a shitload of blurry matte paintings, green screen as shitty as they get. Having people wave their arms in front of a green screen, and then replacing the background with a sped-up footage of a forest is not an effect I should see in a 100+ million dollar movie.

The movie starts as an unfunny fish-out-of-water comedy with Bella Lugosi discovering her abilities, having PG-13 extreme close-up sex and ironically having to learn to act human. Then it transforms into a superhero team forming movie, where vampires from all over the world are gathered. They all have various superpowers and represent stereotypes, eurotrash Russian guys, red-haired Irish ones, an Egyptian (might as well be Indian) who is the last airbender, yet conveniently forgets to use his abilities during the final battle and even some Amazonians and later Brazilians dressed in loin-clothes and face-paint.

They need to gather this team of vampire X-men, to protect them from Volturi, the evil vampires, who want to kill Squidward and Bela’s daughter Jailbait, because they think it’s a full vampire and not a half-ling that will look like a full-grown woman at the age of 7, when Jacob is going to fuck the living shit out of her unstable pre-school psyche. For some reason they manage to gather this team from every corner of the earth during a couple of months or something, while the Volturi are travelling from Italy. What is taking them so long? Are they taking the bus?

The plot they devise to protect the little CG-creep is so stupid and involves so much unnecessary details, which does not make sense when they have a chick, who can tell the future. I guess these vampires don’t get wiser as they get older. Just like the wolves keep looking completely awful as the movies go on.

I do have some good things to say. Since the love triangle is resolved, the movie is a lot less annoying, since characters actually have some motivation. The actors seem more comfortable. Chicken-Stu attempts emotions, Bobby Patterson at times seems to enjoy himself and Squidward laughs when Betty is kicking the mexican’s ass. And the mexican gypsy is somewhat likable, since he’s moved on and is saving his sixpack for Charlie Brown Moustache and his 8-year-old granddaughter.

Another thing I loved was Michael fucking Sheen. He acts so over-the-top flamboyantly gay, I almost felt like being prison-raped and loving it. I think he knew exactly what he was doing and joyously screeching at the sight of the abomination that is the little half-vamp Renesmut, is something he did specially for me the desperate anti-fan, who somehow failed to feel the tone of scenes despite the constant bombardment soft rock and score telling me what to feel.

So yes, the ending that involved the most decapitations you’ll ever see in a movie, Michael Sheen’s constant mugging, mincing and overacting, while masturbating in his pocket and leaving the unconvincing love-triangle in the dust made the movie barely, but bearable. Despite the ending introducing a cop-out twist, some deus-ex machina and Beige saying „No one’s ever loved anyone as much as I love you, Squidward.”, which is an outright lie. Turning it into a B-movie was the right choice.

Overall, it was better than the previous Twilight movies, but that’s like saying a kick in the balls is better than a paper cut on the tip of your penis. Some might disagree, but most will agree that both are pretty bad. I would never recommend this movie to any sane person. But let’s rejoice, it’s over.

“Oh my, Carlisle, you’ve been working out, haven’t you? And that neckerchief, a feast for eyes, you are.”

Review of The Young Master (1980)

19 Jul

The Young Master (1980) is a Hong Kong martial arts/action/comedy film.

Directed by Jackie Chan (The Fearless Hyena (1979), 1911 (2011)).

Written by Jackie Chan (Half A Loaf Of Kung Fu (1980)), Tin-Chi Lau (Knockabout (1979)), King Sang Tang (The Protector (1985)) and Lu Tung (The Invincible Armour (1977)).

Starring: Jackie Chan, Kien Shih, Pai Wei, Lily Li, Biao Yuen, Feng Feng, Feng Tien, Ing-Sik Whang and others.

The second movie Chan directed starts out a bit differently. He is a member of some school, but he’s neither the worst or the best student, he’s just there, so if you didn’t know who Chan is, you might spend almost half an hour not knowing he’s the protagonist. His school participates in some puppet dragon dance/fight competition, which is cool and you better enjoy it, because there’s a long time before another fight scene takes place.

But the wait is rewarded by one of the best fight scenes of Chan’s career. It’s a fight, where Jackie is wielding a huge-ass fan. Filming the fight allegedly took 329 takes to complete it. That is a lot. Oh, and don’t worry, after this, there’s not 5 minutes without another fight scene.

On this movie Chan seems to have discovered some zoom lenses or something, because he does that cheesy trick of zooming in and out of character faces for dramatic effect, it works about once and then gets funny and then just irritating.

There’s a scene where Chan fights a group of police-men wielding swords and one of them is a cross-eyed idiot. Now I really have to wonder why do Asians find cross-eyedness so funny and connect it with stupidity? Because almost every Asian-comedy of this time period had at least one cross-eyed and dumb guy.

The movie starts out serious, but it fluently transforms into a way more comedic movie, this is followed by Chan’s character’s intelligence decreasing as well. You could call it inconsistency of tone, though. Fight scenes also get sillier, besides the fan-fight, there’s this character, who carries around a bench, which he uses to kick-ass. Then there is a scene where Chan uses a pipe to fight of a guy, who is very careful not to break it, since it’s signed by imperator. Then he fights dressed as an old man, old man disguise is soon abandoned for  a skirt, which he uses as a matador. It’s crazy.

Oddly here, Chan needs no training montages, he’s a master fighter from the beginning. The last fight is cool from a technical standpoint and is considered the longest fight scene in any martial arts movie, it’s also the problem with it, it’s too long. Which is weird that they left so much of it, when they had to cut down the movie so much. They cut a 3-hour movie to 100 minutes, so, I guess, it’s not surprising that the plot itself doesn’t make much sense.

Overall, it’s a pretty decent one, has some great fight scenes, but other than that, at this point it seems like Chan keeps going over an all too familiar territory and he does it a couple of times more until moving on to more interesting projects. Recommended for Chan fans.

Pictured: The most uncomfortable and painful handshake ever.

Review of The Amazing Spider-Man (2012)

16 Jul

The Amazing Spider-Man (2012) is an action/sci-fi/drama film, based on the Marvel Comics character Spider-Man, rebooting the film franchise.

Directed by Marc Webb (500 Days of Summer (2009), Lone Star (2010 TV)).

Written by James Vanderbilt (Darkness Falls (2003), Zodiac (2007)), Alvin Sargent (Gambit (1966), Unfaithful (2002)), Steve Kloves (Racing with the Moon (1984), Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (2001)).

Starring: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Denis Leary, Martin Sheen, Rhys Ifan, Sally Field, Irrfan Khan, C. Thomas Howell and others.

My first introduction to Spider-Man was through the animated series, probably when I was around six. I loved him, the series itself wasn’t as good as X-Men and not that great overall, but I loved it. Then the Sam Raimi movies came along and I sort of liked them, but that wasn’t it, I didn’t love the guy himself, I was carried by my affection for the character, but this doughy-faced, bulky, man-child bearing the name of Tobey Maguire wasn’t him. So for about 15 years I’ve been waiting for a movie to re-ignite my love for him. Turns out I was waiting for this movie.

I did somewhat enjoy the Raimi ones, especially the second one, but at the same time I found them too cheesy and, at times, making me cringe. However, I’ve never wanted The Dark Spider or something overly realistic and “gritty”, I just wanted to care about characters and not caricatures. Also for something as campy as Raimi’s Spider-Man adaptations, they were basically humorless. Watching this I genuinely smiled and laughed.

Oh, Andrew Garfield is just brilliant. He is Spider-Man, he’s got the right kind of build, athletic, but lean, agile, but physically awkward. I believe he’s actually really intelligent (mechanical Web-Shooters FTW), he’s adorably twitchy in conversations, nerdy, but not a wimp. And when he cries you don’t feel uncomfortable, but feel with him. Watching Maguire cry, I forgot if I was watching Spider-Man or The Elephant Man.

The relationship between him and Gwen Stacy is really good too, it’s sort of a teeny romance, but Marc Webb knows how to not make it too cliché and also Stacy learns early that Peter is Spider-Man and it’s nice that he has a confidant. Emma Stone being one of the cutest young actresses out there right now also helps a great deal. Other supporting actors do a great job too. Rhys Ifan is cool, Denis Leary is bad-ass and Martin Sheen really makes you care about the Uncle Ben character and his fate is really impactful.

I’m not a fan of 3D and even though it was still unnecessary, I liked it in this movie. The action scenes mostly, because the shots are incredible, it really feels like a person is doing all the crazy shit Spidey does. The swooping over the city is spectacular, I actually felt immersed in the space of the movie sometimes. The downside is that, the dramatic scenes have basically no 3D effect whatsoever, I mostly just lifted my 3D glasses and there was no layering blur or anything.

The special effects are pretty solid, there’s an awful looking, mutated CG lab-rat, but, thankfully, that’s only a few seconds. Then there’s the big thing of The Lizard. It didn’t look great, but it wasn’t bad either, it was very middle ground. I could accept it, because he did walk around in a lab coat for a bit, that was all I was asking for.

Overall, not flawless, but a great superhero movie, definitely in my top 3 Marvel movies (if not my favourite), it made me laugh, it made me teary-eyed, it made me want to run around and pretend to be Spidey, it made me 10 years old again. I thank you for that, movie. If you like superhero movies, definitely recommended.

“I’m melting!”


Review of The Avengers (2012)

3 May

The Avengers (2012) is an action/sci-fi/adventure film, which is based on Marvel Comics’ superhero team of the same name and several previous movies featuring its members.

Directed by Joss Whedon (Serenity (2005), Firefly (2002 TV)).

Written by Joss Whedon (The Cabin in the Woods (2011), Toy Story (1995)) and Zak Penn (The Incredible Hulk (2008), X-Men: The Last Stand (2006)).

Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Hemsworth, Samuel L. Jackson, Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Tom Hiddleston, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner and others.

This is the movie, that it’s all been leading up to. Thor, Iron Man, Hulk, Captain America together in one movie? Sounds epic? Yes, it does! Does the movie live up to all the hype? Maybe? Not really? I don’t know.

I’m really lost on all of it so I’ll just run through the characters.

Black Widow – although they tried to make her do some cool stuff, she still felt like the lamest member of The Avengers, I mean, being a spy is cool and all, but she has no powers, except looking hot. In one scene Johansson attempted to speak Russian, I’ve heard worse in movies, but if her character is Russian, she should be able to speak better, that’s just a nitpick though.

Hawkeye – not much to say about him, at first he just shoots arrows while under Loki’s control and later he shoots arrows and… well, there’s not much else to his character, but Renner does well in the role.

Loki – the villain. Hiddleston really impressed me, I thought he was ok in Thor, but here he was just great, not overly serious, just a very stubborn, arrogant jerk, at first I thought it’s not the greatest villain choice, but Hiddleston made it enjoyable.

Nick Fury – Well, it’s Samuel L. Jackson, in other words, he’s a stick with two ends, you can’t go wrong, but you can’t do anything new and interesting either.

Thor – He’s kind of whatever, I’ve never cared for his character, even after his movie, the only difference was that I could accept him as a serious character.

Captain America – Chris Evans is ok, his costume helmet looks a bit stupid, but it’s not a big deal, the waking up in a world where everyone you knew is dead and everything is different is an interesting aspect of his character, but only vaguely explored.

Iron Man – he is still sort of funny, but I’m getting tired of Downey Jr.’s shtick, his fast talking asshole genius routine is getting tiresome for me.

Hulk – I was surprised, but he was totally the best part of the movie. Mark Ruffalo was good as Banner and the Hulk was awesome. He looked as good as a green CG gorilla can look and was used correctly. There’s one beautifully hilarious moment, where Hulk goes against Loki.

The story itself is basically: bad guy has MacGuffin, good guys need it, with some ulterior motives and dire consequences thrown in. Most of the entertainment comes out of Hulk smashing and personalities clashing. It is cool that the team doesn’t really get along. That is until they get something to… (clue: the title).

The 3D is shit, it’s incredibly pointless. It was ok in the last half-hour, in the climactic action scene, which was going on at daytime New York, but the first half of the movie, takes place mostly during the night or in dark places, so it sucks. If I had watched it in 2D, I’d probably enjoy it a lot more.

Overall, it’s a fun, entertaining, lighthearted movie, it walks the line between providing fan service and fun for the common movie goer, who cares if it also loses something in both departments at the same time. Recommended for everyone who enjoys some superhero action and doesn’t mind heavy CG.

“Enough is enough! I have had it with these motherfucking superheroes on this motherfucking plane! ”

Review of The Hunger Games (2012)

16 Apr

The Hunger Games (2012) is an action/drama/sci-fi film based on the novel of the same name by Suzanne Collins.

Directed by Gary Ross (Pleasantville (1998), Seabiscuit (2003)).

Written by Gary Ross (Big (1988), Dave (1993)), Billy Ray (The Shooter (1995), State of Play (2009)) and Suzanne Collins (Clarissa Explains It All (1991 TV), The Mystery Files of Shelby Woo (1996 TV)) .

Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Stanley Tucci, Liam Hemsworth, Wes Bentley, Elizabeth Banks, Woody Harrelson, Donald Sutherland, Lenny Kravitz and others.

So here is the movie, the marketing tried to tell us is going to be the next Twilight. And that is a fucking insult. Except for its target demographic, there’s nothing these two have in common. Twilight is a characterless romance with a gimmick and The Hunger Games is a cool action drama for young people. Another comparison that is often brought up is Battle Royale and some other similar films, but the survival reality TV wasn’t a new concept even when Battle Royale was made. Why didn’t we draw the line after The Running Man or even earlier Death Race 2000, in an age of constant idea recycling, this is not a serious offense.

And now even more than ever this satire of reality television makes sense. During the contest we get all the staples of modern reality TV, forced romances, very antagonistic characters, fake obstacles created by the producers, sleazy hosts and so on.

It’s also very stylistic movie and I think this could get an Oscar nomination for production design. It is abundant with weird anime inspired/Neo-Victorian outfits for the upper class members of the society and some early 20th century common plain clothes for the working class.

Jennifer Lawrence, who I think is one of the most promising new actresses, doesn’t disappoint here and is solid as Katniss, who volunteers for the game show, after her sister is chosen and thank god, because her sister was a total wimp, she would’ve been dead in 5 minutes. Most of the other contestants are either not given enough screen time to do much (would have loved to see more of Isabelle Fuhrman) or they are just ok.

The adult characters, however, are very fun to watch. Woody Harrelson, is a winner of the games, who now is a drunk mentor for the District 12 contestants and he’s just amazingly entertaining. Also here he looks like an older Josh Holloway. Elizabeth Banks I didn’t even recognize under a heavy layer of make-up that looks like taken straight off of Helena Bonham Carter in Alice In Wonderland. She also acts appropriately over-the-top. As does Stanley Tucci being the overacting host with blue hair, who really knows how to milk the contestants for the right emotions, both from them and audience. Seems like the director told all the adult main actors to turn their eccentricity up to eleven. Lenny Kravitz went the other way though and just put on some golden eye-liner. Donald Sutherland does what he does best, plays a cold bastard.

The main negative point was the way it was shot. At the start of the movie we get some very shaky handheld shots of static things and I didn’t suspect that it was getting me ready for some of the later way more extreme shaking. In order to get the PG-13 rating they decided to keep some of the violence in, but make it totally incoherent. Seriously, after a couple of minutes of seeing stuff that looked like it was shot handheld by Michael J. Fox trying to stand while wearing roller skates, where the wheels are replaced by rotating vibrators, I thought it’s going to be the first time I’ll get motion sickness from a movie.

Overall, a good movie, I liked it and could recommend basically to anyone.

Pictured: Jennifer Lawrence interviewed by Meryl Streep on the set of The Iron Lady.

Review of Julie & Julia (2009)

31 Mar

Julie & Julia (2009) is a biography/romance/dramedy film about the real-life chef Julia Child and a blogger Julie Powell.

Directed by Nora Ephron (This Is My Life (1992), Bewitched (2005)).

Written by Nora Ephron (Silkwood (1983), Hanging Up (2000)).

Starring: Meryl Streep, Amy Adams, Stanley Tucci, Chris Messina, Jane Lynch and others.

You might ask why I’m reviewing this movie? Well, because in a way it is a horror movie. It’s about a huge and demented Meryl Streep destroying lives… sort of.

Right at the start I have to say that I totally understand that I am not the target demographic for this movie, but then again, I think a good movie can be enjoyed by anyone. However, I definitely did not.

The movie is split into two storylines. One is about Julia Child becoming a cook and writing a cook-book in the 50’s. And the other one is about Julie some-last-name, who is writing a blog about cooking everything in Child’s cook-book. Isn’t that an exciting premise? No, it is not. Due to having these two storylines it is way too long for a romantic comedy. And too short for a biographical drama.

Main problem of this movie is that neither Julia or Julie are likable. Julia is just loud, obsessive, insensitive, self-centered and overall obnoxious, although Meryl Streep does make her at times charming and the tallness is definitely done very convincingly. And Julie is a whiny, obsessive, self-centered and hysterical bitch. No wonder Julie idolizes Julia that much.

When Julie starts her blog she writes that she doesn’t know if anyone reads her posts. What kind of blog site is she using? Wewonttellyouifyougetanyviewsorcomments.com? And you’d think that her being a blogger would have helped me identify with her, but I really don’t care about a relatively wealthy 30-year-old woman, who is obsessed with Julia Child and moaning all the time with tears in her eyes. She is a person I would hate in real life. To give her credit she does admit she is a bitch.

So I was left to identify with the husbands, who are in both cases very supportive, normal and nice and have egocentric wives.

Closest I got to an emotional response was when I started feeling hungry or that one scene when the characters are watching a funny SNL sketch on TV.

It is in a way a success story, but it lacks any impact. Oh, you live in a cool apartment in New York and have enough money to keep making these exquisite foods every day? That’s so awful, I hope you’ll get a publishing deal, so you can start living a normal life.

Overall, this movie is shit. Not entertaining, not moving, not funny, not worth seeing.

"Yeah, that's right, what's for dinner, you self-absorbed bitch?"


Review of Häxan: Witchcraft Through the Ages (1922)

27 Mar

Häxan: Witchcraft Through the Ages (1922) is a Danish/Swedish silent horror/documentary film, that shows how superstition led to witch-hunting.

Directed by Benjamin Christensen (House of Horror (1929), Mockery (1927)).

Written by Benjamin Christensen (The Devil’s Circus (1926), Seven Footprints to Satan (1929)).

Starring: Benjamin Christensen, Clara Pontoppidan, Oscar Stribolt, Astrid Holm, Maren Pedersen and others.

So this early horror classic is actually a weird documentary consisting of various ways of portraying witchcraft myths and truths, while adding up to a creepy piece of silent cinema.

There are some strange illustrations while some facts about the way authorities have dealt with witches are told. This feels like an odd educational film for kids, that kids shouldn’t be watching.

When we actually get to the live-action stuff, they show both the portrayal of people thinking everything is black magic and re-enactments of the myths about witches. The movie has a sort of dark sense of humor as it shows us witchcraft rituals that might ask for a figurative interpretation. Like „all the witches had to kiss devil’s behind” gives us a rather amusing sight of witches lining up behind the devil (played by the director in make-up), who has bent over. I don’t think the filmmakers took these parts too seriously themselves.

Seeing this early example I noticed that often I’ve seen monks portrayed as morbidly obese, gross pigs, eating like whole  cow-legs. Does that mean they are corrupt or just into gluttony? I guess the first option is better since corruption is not a deadly sin. Here the monks are total assholes and one example of a witch-myth actually made sense. Why did this fat monk just rape some girl? Of course! A witch must have slipped him some love potion.

Another great example is a totally absurd way of making sure if a girl is a witch. You tie her up and throw her in the water. If she comes up, it means she is a witch and they kill her, if she does not and drowns, then you should thank God for her innocence. One thing is for sure, they knew a fool-proof plan, when they came up with one. It is an interesting commentary on how people afraid of some things actually create the myths about the existence of such things.

At times I felt like the movie is just throwing examples and concepts at me, but doesn’t do anything with them, they’re just there and don’t lead anywhere. After a while I started wondering what’s the point of all this. I get that people were gullible and stupid, move on!

Some of the imagery is really creepy and for 1920’s the make-up and costumes are pretty decent. Out of the context those scenes are even nightmarishly unsettling. Back then the audiences must have been terrified by this stuff.

Then there’s some presentations of various torture devices, they just show them to you, tell you what they do and almost show you them in action. Sounds boring, but actually was my favourite part, because it is done in the classic horror movie way. They set up how they work and just before you see them deliver the crippling they cut away and you’re left there imagining what did happen.

I wonder why nowadays there are so few mainstream witch movies? I guess we are so PC that they would be instantly considered sexist. Yet having the lead of a vampire/werewolf movie be a blank, selfish and unlikable human girl isn’t a disservice to women.

The score is really great, having some nice classical pieces, like one of my favourites – Beethoven’s „Moonlight Sonata”. On the other hand I’m not sure if they aren’t just randomly thrown on or do they in fact add to the idea of scenes.

Also it concludes with some scenes showing how the alleged „witchcraft” is now recognized as various mental illnesses and they are being treated instead of persecuted.

Overall, it is an interesting piece of cinema history and I would recommend it as such, but it doesn’t really work as conventional movie due to the constant changes of narrative style and it doesn’t work as a documentary, because it spends too much time on just dramatically portraying various myths. Still, recommended for enthusiasts of cinema history, other than that it doesn’t offer much for a modern viewer.


Pictured: Probably the illustration for the phrase "what the fuck?" in the Danish dictionary.

Review of Chronicle (2012)

8 Feb

Chronicle (2012) is a sci-fi/action/drama film using the found footage filmmaking style, which recently has become quite popular.

Directed by Josh Trank (The Kill Point (2007 TV)) and this is his first feature film.

Written by Max Landis (Ghost Closet ’07 (2009 Short), The Death and Return of Superman (2011 Short)).

Starring: Dane DeHaan, Alex Russell, Michael B. Jordan, Michael Kelly, Ashley Hinshaw and others.

I’ll start with sharing my thoughts on the found footage films. I like them. Sure, it’s sort of a gimmick, but when done well it works and that’s all that matters. And in this one it clearly doesn’t try to pass it as a real found footage, so you don’t care that it’s so polished or you can see what’s CGI or that the guy has the sturdiest camera ever. It isn’t Paranormal Activity or Blair Witch Project. The movie doesn’t feel like a found footage movie, because a lot of times no one’s holding the camera (and it makes sense), so most of the film you see the protagonist on-screen and they can achieve some beautiful cinematography.

The movie is about three guys getting some mysterious supernatural psychokinetic powers and bonding as friends trough exploring their abilities. They do the sort of thing that any teenager would do, they have fun and that’s one of the things this film executes very well. As you see the characters having fun you’re thrown into their secret little circle that know about their powers and you’re having fun with them.

And here comes one of the best aspects of the film, the acting. I mean, the three leads are so likable and well written you get a sense of them immediately. You get to see the main character, who is this outcast at school and everybody’s treating him badly, so he decides to start filming everything to sort of  distance himself from others. Then there’s his cousin, who is just a regular guy, who tries to go out of his way to impress a girl with his philosophy knowledge so he’d seem more interesting. And there’s even a popular guy, who’s good with people and everyone likes him, he’s a candidate for school president, but he does it just because he’s good at it. And the young actors make these characters so believable that you immediately find something in them to identify with.

As they do more with their powers, they get better at them, so it starts exploring the “With great power comes great responsibility” aspect of being superhuman. And the main character Andrew uses his powers to get people to like him, but then (sort of SPOILERS!) he finds that this doesn’t work out and he just starts getting back at those who have wronged him, and it goes into a Carrie-like scenario. The way his characters evolves and you see his downfall being foreshadowed I couldn’t help, but think that this is what I wanted to see in the Star Wars prequels. Mostly thanks to DeHaan’s acting. (END of sort of SPOILERS!)

Anyway, I don’t want to give too much away, so that’s all I’m going to say.

Overall, brilliant. Entertaining and well-made, definitely recommended, even if you’re not a fan of the recent found footage fad.

"In my free time I do some voluntary car crushing at the local junkyard.|

Review of Another Earth (2011)

2 Feb

Another Earth (2011) is a low-budget drama/sci-fi/fantasy film, setting an idea of an alternate Earth-like planet appearing in close proximity to our planet as a backdrop for a mainly drama film.

Directed by Mike Cahill (Boxers and Ballerinas (2004)), this is his first feature film.

Written by Brit Marling (Sound of My Voice (2011), The East (2012)), who’s also the lead actress of the film and the director Mike Cahill.

Starring: Brit Marling, William Mapother, Robin Taylor, Diane Ciesla and others.

As soon as I heard the intriguing premise I was hooked on seeing the film and even though I expected it concentrating and exploring it a bit more, I wasn’t disappointed, because it delivered in other departments.

It really doesn’t go into the sci-fi too much, they play it loose with the physics of having another planet so close to ours. It just sets up this world, which offers choices for the main characters.

The film opens with a car accident, which totally changes the lives of the two main characters. And it makes you realize how easily lives of good people can be ruined, by one of them making a bad decision.

Then it switches to four years later and shows the main character Rhonda’s life totally destroyed by the accident, her being emotionally tortured and having no career options.

All this time the Earth 2 is just there, it looks like an exact replica of our Earth and they arrange a contest, where people can send in letters stating why they should be chosen to go on a trip to the other planet. Of course Rhonda decides to write a letter. And then there is a scene where Rhonda and her family are watching a telecast of an attempted contact with the other planet and it is successful. It gave me goosebumps and left them on me for the rest of the scene, because the possibility of something like this happening in real life is kind of scary.

You really start to care for the relationship between the main characters, but weirdly it is the most heartbreaking in its happiest moments, because you know it can’t last forever and you keep dreading the moment when it ends and wishing for it to not happen. And you really have to thank the two lead actors of the film, they completely sell it. William Mapother is usually good, but Brit Marling is an amazing young actress, also really beautiful.

I loved the shots, where you can see all the dust particles floating around in a room, where there’s a beam of sunlight shining in, really gives this feeling of stillness. Also the score is really good and there’s this amazing melody played on a hand saw in one scene, it sounds almost otherworldly.

My one regret might be that the sci-fi (loose in the “sci” part) concept could be used for a variety of different films in totally different ways, taking it more seriously and this one didn’t explore it that much, but it would seem cheap if suddenly others would take the concept and start exploiting it. But this is in no way a complaint against this film.

The movie is kind of slow, but not dragging, I was totally captivated and thought the pace was perfect. And the ending was pretty brilliant.

Overall, great movie, one of my 2011 favorites, thought-provoking and heartfelt, yet not unnecessary overcomplicated for a small drama film, recommended for everyone.

Pictured: Brit Marling after watching 8 Mile.

Review of Hulk (2003)

16 Jan

Hulk (2003) is a sci-fi/drama/action film, based on the Marvel Comics character of the same name.

Directed by the Taiwanese director Ang Lee (Pushing Hands (1992), Taking Woodstock (2009)), who won an Academy Award for Best Director for Brokeback Mountain.

Written by James Schamus (The Wedding Banquet (1993), Lust, Caution (2007)), who often works on Lee’s films, John Turman (Fantastic 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer (2007), Ben 10: Alien Swarm (2009)) and Michael France (Cliffhanger (1993), Fantastic Four (2005)).

Starring: Eric Bana, Jennifer Connelly, Sam Elliott, Nick Nolte, Josh Lucas and others.

So what do you do, when you have to make a movie about a huge green guy, who is fueled by anger and likes smashing things? If you ask Ang Lee, he’d probably say “Obviously, you should make a psychological drama about how hard is it to deal with turning into a large, green pile of CG shit.” Because that’s more or less what he made.

A lot of people have since tried to justify by using Ang Lee’s ambitions and what he sent out to do, but the bottom line is, he didn’t succeed. A lot of filmmakers want and try to make good, original films, but when they fail, it’s still a failure.

Yeah, it has a lot of interesting shots, but at times it’s a bit too gimmicky. I don’t need to see comic book panels replicated on-screen to understand it’s a comic book movie. And all those different scene and shot transitions makes it look like when someone just gets a camera and then tries out every available in-camera effect once. I liked this thing when in a close-up the camera just switches to a different angle on the same person. But every enjoyment was still sucked out by things like a sequence, which is basically like 5 minutes consisting solely of different transitions

Jennifer Connelly is the only thing I wished the The Incredible Hulk had from this movie, because Liv Tyler should stop playing human beings and stick to playing elves or fairies or whatever. Thankfully, she seems to have the most scenes she’s in.

Then there’s Nick Nolte. Did he really have to look like a homeless person? Did he really have to look his absolute possible worst for his unfortunate mug shot? I don’t know, I couldn’t make out his answer because of all that scenery he was still chewing.

Eric Bana does a pretty good job, but he looks more like a 6-feet-tall model, than a regular scientist.

I had to wait 40 minutes to actually see Hulk and it only makes it more disappointing. Seriously, considering the amount of work ILM put into the CG Hulk, it’s kind of sad how badly he turned out. I honestly think a green Lou Ferrigno (who has a cameo in this film) still would look more convincing than this cartoon. Also why does Hulk have shorter hair than Bruce Banner? Why is his pants so incredibly stretchy?

As if Hulk alone wasn’t horrible looking enough, we get to see him fighting a couple of mutant dogs and it is so lame and incredibly cheesy for a movie that’s trying so hard at being serious. Hulk fighting tanks was really cool, but then all the jumping around made the whole thing lame again.

Speaking of the big Hulk chase at the end, it would be a lot better if it wasn’t Hulk running and jumping around, resting somewhere for a bit, getting attacked, fighting back and then… repeating it again and again. Anyway, it was an ok climax, but then we get another, a totally lackluster fight scene, that feels more like an afterthought. And then there’s this little scene where Bruce Banner is in hiding and it’s kind of bad-ass.

Overall, a horrible film, which I don’t recommend if you don’t want to see one of the most disgustingly cartoonish CG characters jumping around through a movie that tries too hard and fails miserably.

Pictured: Hulk after seeing this film.