Sunday, 30 October 2011

This ain't Saved By The Bell XXX (3 Stars)

I admit that it's been years since I've seen the television show that this parody is based on. If I were more familiar with it I might rate the film higher. Judging by photos from the original series the casting is first rate, but I wouldn't expect anything less from director Axel Braun.

The film follows two plots. The boys are asking the girls to go with them to the Friday night dance, and are being routinely turned down. The students are hunting for a mystery man who entered the girls' locker room, only identifiable by an extremely large penis. Is it a student, a teacher or an outsider? We have to watch the film to find out.

Conquest of the Planet of the Apes (3 Stars)

This is the fourth film in the Planet Of The Apes pentalagy, and in my opinion the weakest. It follows the rise of Caesar as the leader of the ape rebellion. In the third film his parents had named him Milo, but Caesar is the name he's chosen for himself.

The film was made in 1972, and takes place in 1991. That's the film's main problem. Viewers in 1972 might have been able to accept the view of society in 1991 as a possible future. For viewers 20 years later it seems ridiculous, because none of those developments actually happened. The film predicts that in 1991 apes will have been trained to do menial labour like sweeping, pouring drinks or even cutting hair. It's very difficult to take this seriously.

Another example of this is "Until the end of the world", made in 1984 but not released until 1991. The film is set in 1999, and the director makes the assumption that telephones will have been  replaced by video phones. This was an intelligent guess at the time, but he was wrong. The technology was probably in place by then, but he overlooked the fact that people just don't want to be seen by anyone who is calling them.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Four Lions (4 Stars)

Barry, Omar, Hassan and Waj are four British Moslems. Barry is an idealist white convert, Omar is a happily married man, Hassan is a rapper and Waj is a simple minded man who will do whatever Omar tells him to. What they all have in common is that they hate the corrupt society around them and want to make a change. They visit a training camp in Pakistan, then decide to make a big terror attack at the London Marathon.

The film starts slowly and is difficult to get into at first, but as it continues you get to know the characters and sympathise with their goals. "Four Lions" is a curiosity, probably different from anything you've seen before. Yes, it's a comedy, but the humour comes from its stark realism.

Monday, 24 October 2011

Lost and Delirious (4 Stars)

To start off, 4 Stars might not be enough for this film, which I watched today for the first time. It started off slowly and even seemed boring, but as it progressed it rose to magnificent heights.

Mary Bedford is a shy 14-year-old girl who's sent to an elite boarding school. She feels like she's been pushed out of the way by her father and his new wife. This is probably true, because he doesn't even turn up to a parents' open day and Mary is left as the only girl present without her parents.

Mary is in shellshock in her new, unfamiliar world. The two girls she shares a room with, Paulie and Tori, are in a lesbian relationship. When the relationship breaks up Paulie involves Mary in her plans of revenge. The film is really about Paulie, not Mary. We see Paulie through Mary's eyes, making Mary a representative of the viewer within the film. Paulie is a deep person, and it's impossible not to get drawn into her mind. She walks around quoting Shakespeare, and she rises before dawn to feed her pet falcon in the forest. A stunning film that contains scenes which will long haunt me.

Ip Man 2 (5 Stars)

It's been a few months since I reviewed "Ip Man". I know it's subjective, but I find that this film rises above the first. The plot is thinner than in "Ip Man", but the fighting scenes are more impressive.

The film starts with Ip Man moving to Hong Kong in 1950. The native population is poor and on the verge of starvation. The only ones with money are the corrupt British rulers. We see Ip Man struggling to make a living from teaching Wing Chun at a martial arts school. He soon makes enemies with the masters from the established schools, but eventually they unite against a common enemy: the British!

Whereas the enemy in the first film was the Japanese, the British are portrayed as much crueller in the sequel. In fact, I can't think of any other film that portrays the British so badly. The governor takes bribes from the Chinese police to allow them to work. When a newspaper prints (justified) anti-British articles the British police arrest the editor, and in the police cell they smash his fingers. When the British boxing champion kills a Chinese boxer in the ring he yells at the audience, "This is proof that the Chinese are inferior. Go back to China, Hong Kong is our country now". Wow! You just want to boo and hiss whenever anyone British appears on screen. I wonder though: this is supposed to be a true film; were the British really so bad in Hong Kong?

But the fight scenes make the film. I felt exhilarated when the film was over. A worthy sequel, though totally different in style to the first film.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Legally Blonde 2 (4 Stars)

Not up to the quality of the first film, but still entertaining. Reese Witherspoon once more stars as Elle Woods, who has now graduated as a lawyer, but still remains a ditsy blonde. After finding out that the mother of her pet Chihuahua, Bruiser, is locked up in a lab belonging to Versace (Veterinarian Experimentation Research Science And Critter Exploitation) she leaves her law firm and goes to Washington to campaign for animal rights. Don't look for a message about female empowerment, the film is played simply for laughs.

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Legally Blonde (5 Stars)

This is a chick flick. Chick flicks suck. Right? Wrong! Not this one. While targeting a young female audience, this is a film that anyone of any gender or age can enjoy. Reese Witherspoon plays the ditzy blonde to perfection. It's been said that you have to be very intelligent to convince people you're stupid. If that's the case Reese's IQ must be off the scale. She plays a fashion student who decides to go to Harvard Law School to pursue the man she loves. Predictably, once there she goes from success to success. While there is nothing deep about this film, it's so enjoyable that it can be watched over and over again.

Oh yes, I need to add something to my thoughts about the English language in my post on "Beneath the Planet of the Apes" two days ago. As every English school child knows, a billion is a million million, i.e. 1,000,000,000,000. For some reason Americans think a billion is a thousand million, i.e. 1,000,000,000. I don't know the reason for this. It's probably just a blunder two hundred years ago that was never corrected. Nevertheless, it's an unforgivable mistake, and would mean a failure in any English school.

Thursday, 20 October 2011

The Thing (4½ Stars)

It's getting close to Halloween so I ought to be watching horror films? Not really. This 1982 classic by John Carpenter is worth watching any time of year.

It seems very similar to "Alien", made three years earlier, but it's actually a remake of a 1951 horror film. A creature from another world attacks the staff of an isolated scientific base in Antarctica, killing them one at a time, and taking the form of its victims. Pure terror!

Escape from the Planet of the Apes (4 Stars)

Just when we thought it was over, the story continues. In the second film we see the Earth being destroyed. You can't get more final than that. Now we see Cornelius and Zira arriving back in 1974 in Taylor's spaceship that they've managed to repair. It takes a massive portion of suspension of disbelief to accept this premise, but apart from that the film is quite good.

We see the tables turned. In the 40th Century monkeys had been the Earth's rulers, back in our time Cornelius and Zira are kept in cages. Their existence is tolerated, but Zira is pregnant and the American president forbids the baby to be born. Does he smell a temporal paradox already? A good film that paves the way for the fourth part.

Beneath the Planet of the Apes (5 Stars)

This is the best film of the original Planet of the Apes pentalogy. Yes, that's the correct word to describe a sequence of five films, even though my spell checker doesn't recognise it. The words "trilogy" and "quadrilogy" are more commonly used, but guess what? The word "quadrilogy" doesn't exist. It was incorrectly used by the film industry in recent years, for instance to describe the Batman Quadrilogy. The correct word for a sequence of four films is "tetralogy", also not recognised by my spell checker, and I'll make sure I remind my readers of it at every possible opportunity. I love the English language, and I like to use it correctly. Sure, changes occur over the course of time, but I intend to resist change for as long as possible. I don't mind new words being invented for new technology, such as "internet" or "email", but there's no need to change the spelling of existing words or invent new words for old matters. "Quadrilogy" is out, "tetralogy" is in. In the past I've accepted American variations, out of respect to my cousins on the other side of the Atlantic, but no more. Americans can pronounce words any way they like, but they have to spell them correctly. "Color" is wrong. "Learned" is wrong. I don't care what they teach in American schools, I went to an English school and I learnt the correct way to spell "colour". Thankfully they still teach correct spelling in Canada.

I also reject the word "Moslem" being spelt "Muslim". This is a recent change, dating back less than 40 years. Before then "Muslim" was used as an unofficial transliteration of the original Arabic word, but nobody doubted that the correct spelling of the English word was "Moslem". This change has been forced by the Moslem lobby for idealistic reasons. The problem is that the word "Moslem", when pronounced as it's spelt, "mozz-lem", is an Arabic word that means an evil, unjust person. And so Moslems object to the spelling. What idiots! That's just about the most stupid thing I've ever heard. So it's not enough for them to crash planes and murder those who think differently to themselves, they have to attempt to destroy the beautiful English language. I say No. I shall continue to call you Moslems. I don't mean the word as an insult, so if you feel offended by it it's your problem.

Now back to the film. It continues directly where the first film ended. There's even a recap of the first film's ending, or rather an overlap, as there was in "Halloween 2". In the second film we learn that the apes are not the only intelligent beings remaining on the Earth. There are some slight illogical matters in the plot, which don't detract from the quality of the film, but I'm pedantic enough to name them here. A team of astronauts has been sent from Earth two years later to look for Taylor and his crew. Since Taylor had been sent on a 700 year mission, why was this deemed necessary? But this film succeeds by showing us more of the ape civilisation, fleshing out the skimpy overview we were given in the first film. Excellent. The films should have ended here, making this a duology. But they were both box office successes, and the third film followed. And the fourth. And the fifth.....

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

General: My favourite 10 films

A few people have asked me what my favourite 10 films are, so here's my list. If you ask me again next month the list might be different. Whenever I watch a film it jumps up a few places in my list. Please, readers, leave me your top 10 lists as comments.

1. Lost Highway
2. Batman (1966 version)
3. Donnie Darko
4. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
5. Mars Attacks
6. Terminator
7. Ed Wood
8. Kill Bill
9. Dark City
10. Faster Pussycat Kill Kill

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

The Green Hornet (4 Stars)

My main problem with this film is Seth Rogen. He is the wrong person for the title role. I can't think of any other film where the miscasting is so extreme. There isn't one thing in his favour. Just about anyone could have played this role better. Pick any white Hollywood star between 20 and 50 at random. Keanu Reeves, Tom Cruise, Jack Black, Brad Pitt, Nicolas Cage. Robert Downey Jr is my personal choice, but anyone could have done it better.

Having said that, the film itself is good, and the final car chase and battle are a masterpiece. Britt Reid is the son of a billionaire newspaper owner. When his father dies after being stung by a bee he dons a mask and becomes the Green Hornet. In order to prevent being targeted by criminals he pretends to be a criminal himself, claiming his campaign against crime is to set himself up as crime lord. An interesting concept.

The Green Hornet's archenemy, Chudnofsky -- what a name! -- is admirably portrayed by Christoph Waltz. Supposedly he's made almost 100 films, but the first time I ever noticed him was in "Inglorious Basterds". Judging by these two films he must be one of the best actors alive. I really need to check out his other films.

Let's hope there's a sequel. And let's hope for a more suitable lead actor.

Monday, 17 October 2011

Big Tits Zombie (3 Stars)

Five strippers discover a secret door leading from their dressing room to the cellar. They find a 16th Century Book Of The Dead and read it aloud. First the sushi comes back to life, then an army of zombies rises up intent on destruction. The girls do what any other self-respecting exotic dancers would: they put on their high heels, grab their chainsaws and set out to save the world.

The DVD contains both a 3D version and a normal version. Forget the 3D version. Part of the film is in 3D, but it alternates with 2D scenes. Annoying.

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Planet of the Apes (4½ Stars)

Before "Planet of the Apes" there was... "Planet of the Apes"!

As you can probably tell by the picture above I'm writing about the original version of the film, made in 1968. Sure, it looks dated, but it's a classic, much better than the recent remakes.

Four astronauts are sent on a mission to a far off planet. The journey is scheduled to last 700 years, so they are put in suspended animation. Something goes wrong with the controls and they sleep for 2000 years and don't wake up until their craft returns to Earth. They find that monkeys (in particular gorillas, orangutans and chimpanzees) now rule the Earth. Humans have devolved to a primitive level and are no longer able to even speak. The sole survivor of the mission, played by Charlton Heston, is treated by the monkeys as an oddity, since they are not aware that humans ever had advanced intelligence.

This is science fiction at its best. Okay, I'll deduct half a star for the obvious illogicalities, even though I'm sure that they were intentional. The monkeys speak English. They use rifles. They smoke cigars. And there's one more thing that might not be so apparent. Would scientists ever send astronauts on a mission that lasts so long that they would never receive the results? Even if the trip had only lasted 700 years as planned it would have been pointless, from the viewpoint of science. Or even 100 years.

The film is based on a novel with the same name by the French author Pierre Boule. After this film was made there were four sequels in quick succession which included new ideas not found in the book. After the fifth film there was an unsuccessful television series that only ran for 14 episodes. In 2001 the first film was remade by director Tim Burton. And of course, a prequel has just been released, "Rise of the Planet of the Apes", which uses the same characters as the fourth original film but tells a different story.

Friday, 14 October 2011

Sucker Punch (3 Stars)

A young girl is locked up in a mental asylum through the scheming of her father who wants her inheritance. She attempts to escape through the power of her mind. Or is she just fantasising, imagining an escape?

This is a difficult film to review. It's a depressing film wrapped in a layer of glory. The visuals are spectacular, the girls are tittilating eye-candy, and the film's multi-levels of reality are mind-boggling. And yet it doesn't work. Why not?

I'm not sure. Maybe the problem is that the characters aren't developed enough. We're given a backstory for the main character, Babydoll, but her companions in the escape attempt are blank slates, total strangers to the viewer. Director Zack Snyder obviously wanted to present something intellectual to make the audience think, but in my opinion he's failed. The end result is just confusing.

One good thing about the film though: the music is excellent throughout. Many of the songs were sung by the film's actors, including the main star Emily Browning.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Real Steel [Guest Writer] (5 Stars)

 The Story: A future-set story where robot boxing is a popular sport and centered on a struggling promoter (Jackman) who thinks he's found a champion in a discarded robot. During his hopeful rise to the top, he also discovers he has an 11-year-old son who wants to know his father.

I just got finished watching this movie and my heart is still pounding with adrenaline and I'm not even a fan of boxing - mixed martial arts, the UFC, martial arts - but not boxing! This made me fall in love with boxing a little bit and I'm thankful for that because it was too exciting to describe but I'll try my best. Is the overall back-story premise original? Probably not. It reminds me of Rocky and that feel good American classic of triumph and redemption. This had the same backbone of such good-old-fashioned fun and excitement. It seems like producers feel they need to add sex, drugs and rock in roll to an action film to make it exciting and give it that punch but this does it without that. This is something that everyone, and I do mean everyone (from a 6 year old child to a 70 year old war vet that's seen it all) can find some enjoyment in which is one of the things I love about this film. Another thing that attracted me to this film was the fact that Hugh Jackman was a part of it and I love this actor probably more than many others because he always makes his parts so realistic and believable for me. I can believe his characters and in the beginning he made me want to hate him and beat the crap out of him when I normally just want to jump his bones. Toward the end he had redeemed himself which I'm glad to see and I ended up leaving this film satisfied, exhilarated, excited to take on the world, and so much more. Jackman's co-star, his young son played by Dakota Goyo, really took me by surprise with his great acting. He seemed to fit next to the veteran and highly-acclaimed actor well and held his own without fading in the background or becoming some needless window decoration so I say kudos to him. I look forward to seeing him in more upcoming films and see how he grows in talent because he has some quality skills. I HIGHLY recommend this movie to anyone and everyone that wants a good old-fashioned movie that gives you that feeling of excitement, accomplishment and satisfaction and I have no negative criticism about this movie whatsoever!

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Nikita (5 Stars)

I'll start to discuss the film in a moment. First of all some general rambling. I assume most of my readers have noticed a change in my blog in the last week. I finally managed to persuade a friend, Kaylena, to write reviews for me as a "guest writer". It seems like I've created a monster. She has practically hijacked my blog. She's writing five times as many posts as me. But I don't care. Her posts are informative and entertaining. She's bringing fresh wind into my blog. The films I watch are a mixed bag, from the 1940's to today, with the majority being films from the 1980's and 1990's. Kaylena is reviewing almost exclusively modern films from the last two years. I hope my readers will enjoy her posts as much as they do mine, and more than that I hope that it will encourage others to contribute posts as well.

Now to the film. It was made in 1990 by Luc Besson, who both wrote and directed the film. The film has spawned two television series, "La Femme Nikita" (1997-2001) and "Nikita" (2010 to present). I watched and enjoyed "La Femme Nikita" when it was first broadcast. I haven't seen the new series yet. Today was the first time I watched the film. And I wish I hadn't waited so long. It's amazing.

The film and the first TV series don't deal with the same character. The film takes place in France. The TV series is set in America and just borrows the concept. The plot: A 19-year-old girl is in a gang that robs a pharmacy. After a shootout with the police she is the only surviving gang member. She is sentenced to life imprisonment on multiple counts of murder. Someone who works for the government sees potential in her. Her death by suicide is faked and she's transferred to a shady organisation where she's trained to "do something for her country". The first half of the film deals with her training to be a professional killer. The second half shows her being sent on missions to assassinate strangers, without even being told why they have to die.

An interesting premise, that can spawn a story taking place in any country. All of us in democratic countries – especially America? – suspect that our governments have secret organisations that carry out dirty jobs. Jobs that are for the good of the country, but can only be carried out by disregarding the law. Those who commit crimes but are too rich or too clever to be sent to court have to be killed. Quickly. Discreetly. That's what the film is about.

Jean Reno only appears in the film for about 20 minutes towards the end, but as soon as he entered I sat up in excitement. What an actor! His natural charisma immediately eclipsed everyone else in the film. I haven't seen many of his films. At the moment I can only think of "Leon" and "Godzilla". I need to check out what else he's made.

"Nikita" is a French film. I began to watch it in with English dubbing, but it sounded so silly that I changed to the original French dialog with English subtitles. To dub or not to dub? This is a controversial subject. A lot of serious film fans reject dubbing, saying it spoils a film. This might be the case with "Nikita", but I don't agree in general. I prefer dubbing if it's done well. If I don't have to read the text at the bottom of the screen I can concentrate on the rest of the picture. But can dubbing be done well? Let me give an example. I've seen three versions of the French film "Z". The first time I saw it was in the cinema with English dubbing. A few months later I saw it on television in French with subtitles. The quality of the dubbing had been so good that the subtitled version added nothing to it. Then I rented the film on video, it was dubbed, but to my great surprise it was dubbed differently. In the cinema the dialog had been dubbed by English speakers, on the video the dubbing was by speakers with American accents. The American dubbing grated on me, not just the accents themselves, it seemed to be of lesser quality.

Over the years I've seen many dubbed films. Usually the quality of the English dubbing is poor, but in a few cases I appreciated it. But what about other countries? In Germany almost all foreign films are dubbed, and the dubbing is very high quality. Maybe the reason is that in Germany dubbing is a bigger industry. In England most films shown, even foreign films, are already in English. In Germany the majority of films are not in German, so there are big companies that work on dubbing dialog. Not just films, even whole television series are dubbed. As a fluent German speaker I was pleasantly surprised by the dubbing of the series "Dawson's Creek". When I watched the DVDs with the original sound the dialog was often difficult to understand, because the characters spoke fast and often unclearly. Out of curiosity I changed to the German soundtrack. I was amazed. The dubbing was done by speakers who sounded similar to the original actors. Apart from this the dialog was spoken clearly, so I could understand the German dubbed version better than the original!

My advice is that you keep an open mind. If you have both versions of a film available, try the dubbed version first. If you don't like it change to the subtitled version.

Hostel (4 Stars)

A controversial film because of the level of gore. The first time I saw it, about five years ago, it churned my stomach. I wouldn't say it's the most gory film I've ever seen, but it was extreme enough to disturb me. I've waited until now to watch it again. It shocked and disturbed me again, I admit, but not to the same extent. I was prepared. I knew what was waiting for me.

The following review contains spoilers. I normally try to avoid spoilers, but it's difficult to write about the film without going into the plot in detail. If you haven't watched this film yet and already intend to, read no further. If you're just curious what the fuss is about read on, after the picture.

Three American students are an holiday in Europe trying to get laid. With some success, some failures. In Amsterdam they're told that the world's most beautiful and most promiscuous girls are in Bratislava, Slovakia, so like any other horny young men they jump on the next train and head east. What they experience exceeds their wildest expectations. They go to a hostel where they share a room with three young girls.

But then the problems start. First one man disappears. Then the second. Finally only one man, Paxton, remains, and he has to search for his friends. He finds them, or rather their dead bodies, in a factory full of rooms in which people are being killed. He barely escapes death myself. As Paxton eventually finds out it's a sort of "holiday camp" where rich people go to discreetly torture and kill strangers. Amusingly the fee depends on the nationality of the victim: $5,000 for a Russian, $10,000 for a European, $25,000 for an American.

Gore apart, this isn't a bad film at all. It has a solid plot and is full of suspense. The gore might be what has made the film infamous, but it isn't gratuitous violence, it's always vital to the plot. I'll give it 4 stars for now, but I might revise my rating next time I watch it.

Friday, 7 October 2011

Ninja Assassin [Guest Writer] (5 Stars)

Trained since childhood to be a lethal killer, Raizo has since turned his back on the Ozunu clan that raised him and now seeks revenge for their heartless murders. Teaming up with Europol investigator Mika, Raizo steadily butchers his enemies while inching ever closer to the long-awaited bloody reunion with his former master.

I just finished watching this movie for the umpteenth time and thought I should get this review down while the adrenaline is still high. This movie is my personal wet dream or I may even liken it to my personal porno. [laughs] I know that sounds pretty creepy but considering that I'm a sadist with sociopathic tendencies and a knife fetish that never once mentioned the words normal or sane in relation to myself, I guess it works for me. This movie had everything, and I do mean everything, that I look for in an Asian karate and sword-fighting movie. The fighting sequences were superb, the story riveting and fascinating, the actors smoking hot (men and women) and strong in their skills that brought this movie to life. The only thing that I had a problem with this movie was the viscosity of the blood and the fact that they got a little heavy handed with the cutting of limbs that threatened to ruin my buzz but other than that I say it was a masterpiece and it is among my Top 10 movies of all time. You heard correctly; I'm not qualifying this movie in my top action genre list but my overall general list (would probably be #7 of my Top 10). It's just that good to me and I think it always will be. I'm going to go cool down now since my heart is still beating pretty fast. Highly recommended!!

Prince of Persia [Guest Writer] ( 4½ Stars)

Set in the mystical lands of Persia, a rogue prince and a mysterious princess race against dark forces to safeguard an ancient dagger capable of releasing the Sands of Time -- a gift from the gods that can reverse time and allow its possessor to rule the world.

I'm always a little leery when I see people making movies based on video games because they usually assume that the viewers have read the video game and would have sufficient knowlege of the backstory to understand what is going on which is rarely the case. I was happy to see that this movie wasn't another "Resident Evil" disaster in that area and really went about explaining things in an interesting way. I've played all the PoP games so I had a pretty good understanding of the whole storyline or at least the principle of things before I saw the movie. The fact that I'm a fan may make me a bit biased but I don't care. This was an excellent movie and I fell in love with PoP all over again. Jake really has been doing well in the films he's been chosen to act in so I'm a bit impressed with his growing skills. I still remember how weird and lack-luster his performance was in the "The Good Girl". This had all that I require of my action movies- a strong and interesting plotline, great solid characters, believable action, and a bit of a laugh here and there. Great all in all.

Killers [Guest Writer] (4½ Stars)

Spencer Aimes (Kutcher) is just your average, undercover, government-hired super assassin accustomed to a life of exotic European locales, flashy sports cars and even flashier women. But when he meets Jen Kornfeldt (Katherine Heigl), a beautiful, fun-loving computer tech recovering from a bad break-up, he finds true love...and happily trades international intrigue for domestic bliss. Three years later, Spencer and Jen are still enjoying a picture-perfect marriage - that is until the morning after Spencer's 30th birthday. That's when Spencer and Jen learn he's the target of a multi-million dollar hit. Even worse, the hired killers have been stalking the happy couple for years, and could be anyone: friends, neighbors, the grocery store clerk, even that crabby old guy shuffling across the street. Now Spencer and Jen are on the run for their lives. As their suburban paradise turns into a paranoid game of dodge-the-bullet.

This was a movie that kind of reminded me of Knight and Day which is funny that I'm writing both reviews in the same day but oh well. I loved this movie, much more than Knight and Day and would willingly pay the extra cash to buy the DVD and even put it on blu-ray despite how unnecessary I think the whole blu-ray system is. I'm not a fan of Ashton, especially when he tries to be funny because he always comes off as some silly little frat boy that I want to smack the shit out of but in this movie he stepped away from that and did a bit of a more serious character which balanced out Katherine's well. Is his "serious super-spy" character believable? Not so much but I'd take this over the frat boy comedy act any day. Heigl definitely made this movie for me and she has the same air about her as Cameron Diaz when it comes to her brand of comedic on-screen antics. It's a little silly and ditzy but always loveable. This isn't one of those movies that turned my head around and made me sit back at the end and say, "Oh my god, that was amazing!" It was more the type of film I turned off with a faint chuckle or smile saying, "Oh that was cute" or "that was fun". I give this a 4 stars because the plot wasn't original and didn't really bring something totally new to the table but the acting was well done and I enjoyed the humor that wasn't too over -the-top.

Knight and Day [Guest Writer] (4 Stars)

June Havens (Cameron Diaz) finds her everyday life tangled with that of a secret agent (Tom Cruise) who has realized he isn't supposed to survive his latest mission. As their campaign to stay alive stretches across the globe, they soon learn that all they can count on is each other.

I had some mixed feelings about this movie if I'm to be honest because I'm a bit biased against the starring actors. I'm not the hugest fan of Tom. I think his acting is somewhat bland although I have a few scenes from a few good movies that I have enjoyed him in. Cameron Diaz is a sweetheart and I loved her from the moment that I saw her in "There's Something About Mary". I think everyone saw that film and fell just a tiny touch in love with Diaz and her quirky, off-brand sense of humor. This movie kind of felt like it was half serious and half humorous, meshing these two characters and actor personalities together. I'm not sure if it was meant to be completely funny or completely serious or maybe just meant to be what it turned out to be but whatever the case is, it was a pretty nice film. I have to admit there were some times where I was scratching my head and wondering what the heck was going on as Tom did his shifty spy work trying to be secretive since we are pretty much seeing this movie from Diaz's perspective so we are about as clueless as she is throughout the film. There were also parts that had me laughing up a storm as Diaz went through her silly antics and shaking my head saying, "Oh Cameron, you're so crazy!" Overall a pretty good film with a bit of love, laughter and action. No complaints here.

Resident Evil: Afterlife [Guest Writer] (3 Stars)

 In a world ravaged by a virus infection, turning its victims into the Undead, Alice (Jovovich), continues on her journey to find survivors and lead them to safety. Her deadly battle with the Umbrella Corporation reaches new heights, but Alice gets some unexpected help from an old friend. A new lead that promises a safe haven from the Undead takes them to Los Angeles, but when they arrive the city is overrun by thousands of Undead - and Alice and her comrades are about to step into a deadly trap.

I'm a big fan of the Resident Evil movies mainly because I enjoy a good zombie and high tech slasher flick as much as the next bloodthirsty gal but this movie kind of gave me mixed feelings. I've probably seen this movie over 10 times and the first time that I did see it, I liked it although some of the parts dragged on for me but I guess they needed to have a bit of pacing and a break from all the shooting and killing. Now I'm starting to wonder how long they can drag this story on and I'm praying that this doesn't try to compete with the Friday the 13th franchise. 

So first the story: Alice (Jovovich) has just infiltrated an umbrella corporation stronghold located in Asia and she's brought some friends along - herself (or at least her carbon copies but of course we all know that nothing can be better than the original) and she goes about systematically destroying labs and killing all the nasty evildoers to get to the head-honcho. Suddenly when she's about to take her revenge and end it all she's injected with the anti-virus that puts her back to square one, the big evil boss has gone into hiding and she's now running around like a chicken with her head cut off trying to find Clair (watch the previous film) and all her buddies from the last film up in Alaska where there is supposedly no disease. Come to find that Clair's mind has been wiped and so she trusses her up like a Thanksgiving turkey and they continue on their journey to figure out what's happened to Clair and the others. 

Okay so this is just a quick synopsis and I wanted to give you a story that was less vague than the official plot version. Of course she meets some survivors (what would the movie be without some zombie cannon fodder) and some new twists and turns in the plot emerge but nothing too earth-shattering as to be completely unexpected. I'm starting to see a pattern here and if I'm not mistaken it's starting to resemble a video game more than a movie as we continue on with each flick and from what I've seen they have even gotten some of their inspiration from the RE games. Now this would be all fine and dandy except some of the characters that show up in the film (while explained in the game) has absolutely no history in the movie and makes no sense. A good example would be the huge-ass hulking zombie giant with a metal axe the size of an oak tree and a potato sack nailed to his head. We see that he has some slighter than average intelligence because he uses an axe (haven't seen any other zombie using tools) but other than that we know nothing about this guy. Of course Alice has a huge showdown as you have probably seen in the trailer but come on people! Apparently this guy is supposed to the a "boss" in the video game and while I don't know the history I've read that apparently they have a little bit of knowledge on him in the game, information that isn't even disclosed to the viewers of the movie. Seriously? This plot is starting to have more holes in it than swiss cheese and I've pretty much stopped taking it seriously. Good action? You bet. Good acting? Nothing I can complain about too much. Good plot? This is debatable and I've started to just look at these films as throw-away horror slash action pieces. 

In the beginning this movie had some great promise and with the new powers that Alice acquired it added a new dimension to the heroine character that I wanted to see more of, but now they are just getting repetitive and I'm waiting for something new and more realistic (as realistic as flesh eating zombies created by a evil corporation can get). While I know Alice does some great action scenes and many go to see her in her tight outfits cut out into jig-saw puzzles kicking some major ass, a good solid plot isn't a huge request either although I know it may be difficult with something that is being dragged out over 3 or 4 movies. Overall it was an okay movie for what it has become today. Don't watch it for the plot, but the action.

RED [Guest Writer] (5 Stars)

Frank (Bruce Willis) is retired, bored and lonely living off his government pension in a nondescript suburb in an equally nondescript house. The only joy in Frank's life are his calls to the government pension processing center when he gets to talk to his case worker Sara (Mary-Louis Parker). Sarah is as bored and lonely as Frank and marks her conversations with the unknown Frank and her spy novels as the only things fun in her life. When something in Frank's past forces Frank back into his old line of work and puts an unwitting Sarah in the middle of the intrigue, Frank and Sarah begin a journey into Frank's past and the people he used to work with. Like Frank they are all RED...Retired Extremely Dangerous.

This was a good movie in my opinion and the actors did their characters well. Bruce is a veteran at this and I had no trouble believing he was an ex-bad-ass spy that was ready to take your ass out in a heart beat- he does these roles the best. I think that this was action-packed, lighthearted, and a potential tear-jerker (depending on how much of a softie you are). I saw this movie probably four times and I wasn't bored once which means that in my book it stands the test! Good movie. Good plot. Great actors. Ass-kicking action. Belly laughs sprinkled throughout. A splash of re-kindled romance. Really...what more could I ask for in a movie?! Absolutely nothing!

Megamind [Guest Writer] (4 Stars)

After super-villain Megamind (Ferrell) kills his good-guy nemesis, Metro Man (Pitt), be becomes bored since there is no one left to fight. He creates a new foe, Titan (Hill), who, instead of using his powers for good, sets out to destroy the world, positioning Megamind to save the day for the first time in his life.

I enjoyed this movie even if I don't like Will Farrell as an actor and comedian - he just has never been funny to me. However, he does this role well - whether it's because his voice and humor is more suited to the cartoons or not, I don't know but I liked this movie overall. It was funny, simple and played on the whole cliched "Good guy vs bad guy" and gave it a simple, endearing and playful twist. Was it surprising? Probably not. Did it do something unexpected? I didn't think so. Is it entertaining with a good message that is great for the family and kids? Most definitely. Cute is all I have to say.

Beastly [Guest Writer] (2½ Stars)

Kyle (Alex Pettyfer) thinks he is God's gift at his high school. He plays a prank on a fellow high school student, Kendra (Mary-Kate Olsen) who, unbeknown to him is a witch. Kendra teaches him a lesson by putting a curse on him making him as beastly on the outside as he is on the inside. He has one year to find someone to fall in love with him or stay like that forever.

Words cannot express my utter lack of interest in this movie. I think the best way to describe how bored I was with this movie was the mention that I had gone to see this movie in theaters (against my better judgement I may add but my date at the time wanted to see something romantic) and both me and my date ended up falling asleep not even a third of the way through. It was an expensive nap in my opinion so I'm glad I'm not the one that paid for the tickets and food.

I can say that what I did see didn't interest me one bit. Now I did mention that I don't like romance movies but this is even worse than Sleepless in Seattle or You've Got Mail. Watching this movie was worse than watching paint dry and seeing it once was one time too many. The story was cliched and the acting sub-par. I wouldn't liken it to the Twilight saga because I can at least stomach watching that and find it a little bit interesting but I do admit this movie is much more suited to girls that aren't over the age of 14 years old. The acting was bad and the ONLY relief I had in this movie was with Neil Patrick's snarky remarks sprinkled throughout the movie. Would I recommend this movie? I'd only recommend it to young girls and tell adults to go watch another movie while their kids are busy or take a pillow and blanket. I only give this movie 2½ stars because I know that tweens would enjoy this and the positive message it tries to send because otherwise it would be lucky to get 1 star (and that's just because I like Neil).

The Expendables [Guest Writer] (5 Stars)

Barney Ross (Stallone) leads the "Expendables", a band of highly skilled mercenaries including knife enthusiast Lee Christmas (Jason Staham), martial arts expert Yin Yang (Jet Li), heavy weapons specialist Hale Caesar (Terry Crews), demolitionist Toll Road (Randy Couture) and loose-cannon sniper Gunner Jensen (Dolph Lundgren). When the group is commissioned by the mysterious Mr. Church (Bruce Willis) to assassinate the merciless dictator of a small South American island (David Zayas - most noteable for his role in Dexter), Barney and Lee head to the remote locale to scout out their opposition. Once there, they meet with local rebel Sandra (Giselle Itie) and discover the true nature of the conflict engulfing the city. When they escape the island and Sandra stays behind, Ross must choose to either walk away and save his own life - or attempt a suicidal rescue mission that might just save his soul.

This movie is an action-movie fan's wet dream with all the veteran talented actors that make this movie what it is.The story is a bit cliched and it does remind me of other movies such as "Losers" or "The A-Team" and whatnot - the ragtag team of misfit mercenary cowboys that like to play by their own rules and are good at what they do. I almost think that this wasn't meant to be taken as seriously as other films out there that try to make it seem like it's the new big thing. Why do I think this you ask? Some of the actors made sense and others seemed more like a joke with it's ironic cameos and dialogue.

My favorite actor in this movie is, of course, Sylvester Stallone. People make fun of his voice and the way he talks or lack of eloquence but in this type of movie that is pretty unnecessary because he plays his role to a Tee. He just seemed to fit and did it so effortlessly that I had no trouble in believing his characterization. Bruce Willis and Arnold the Terminator (that's how I refer to him. Hehe) seemed more like it was meant to be a parody and they just wanted to squeeze as many well known action stars in this movie as possible even if it meant handing out short roles. I did love the by-play in the scene with Willis, Stallone and Arnold because I did get a chuckle or two out of it.

The other actors such as Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Steve Austin, Terry Crews, Eric Roberts, and Mickey Rourke, kind of rounded out the action stars in this movie in my opinion and some of them contributed well and others seemed more like just extras that were added on for some window dressing. The only lives that we got a glimpse of was Jason Statham for the most part with his stuttering relationship with his girlfriend (seriously does he always have to have a girl??). I liked his character probably because I loved the fact that he was the "knife-guy" of the film and honestly it made me just a little bit excited and had the urge to fall in love with him a little bit. I know it sounds weird but coming from a gal that got her first dagger at 11 years old and then her first switch blade at 13 years old that was a high point of the movie for me. I did mention I was a simple gal. Heh.

We got to see a love-hate relationship between Dolph and Li where their relationship goes from friend, to enemy and back to friend again. I have to be honest and say that while some thought Dolph's character seemed like it was nothing new from his previous roles - a crazed man with sadistic tendencies that seem to live his life exclusively by the law of the "jungle" or "war". I kind of saw it coming in terms of what happened to him in the movie although the ending was different than I had originally expected. I can sympathize with his character even if I do think he tends to go a bit over the top with his acting and sometimes makes it a little bit unrealistic for me. But, as I said, I can sympathize with a character like that- one that has lived his life doing all sorts of unmentionable acts for the sake of country or to stay alive and when left unchecked can go on a rampage. Who hasn't felt like they wished they can go on a rampage every now and again?

The movie is like one testosterone driven tank that's about to run everyone over if you don't move out of the way fast enough. Besides the actors you know they have to live up to their reputation with the high impact action scenes with karate, knives, shoot-outs, wrestling and street fighting with large scale explosions and special effects. I think what I liked most about all of that was that it wasn't CGI and seemed a lot more real compared to movies that are happening now. I could practically feel every impact and punch from the characters. It was really exciting. Among my list of action movies this will at least make it to my Top 15 if not my Top 10. I may have to make an actual list to make it official. Hehe. 

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Sherlock Holmes [Guest Writer] (5 Stars)

Okay so I think we all know the concept of sherlock holmes but you may not know this particular story. In London, Sherlock Holmes (Robert Downy Jr.) and his partner Dr. John Watson (Jude Law) captures the follower of black magic and serial killer Lord Blackwood that has already killed five women when he is about to kill his sixth victim. Blackwood is sentenced to be hung and Dr. Watson attests to his death. However, Blackwood mysteriously returns from the afterlife and Inspector Lestrade summons Sherlock to help the Scotland Yard in the investigation. Meanwhile Dr. Watson intends to get married and leave the team while Sherlock is visited by his former lover Irene Adler that has a secret agenda of her own.

I enjoyed this film for many reasons but the biggest reason was the portrayal of Sherlock Holmes and Watson. I've never read the books but I've seen countless adaptions of these two characters and the one that most sticks in my head is the one of a skinny professor-like-stick-in-the-mud quoting, "Elementary my dear Watson." and a pudgy-overfed Watson tagging along on his coat-tails. Now I understand that this is cliched but it's gotten to the point that if you ask anyone about Sherlock Holmes this is the imagery that first pops into their minds but Guy Ritchie (the director) gave him a stunning and exciting new image that is both modern, realistic, manly with a touch of comedy.

Robert played this role well and the only other movies that I really can remember loving him in was Only You (probably memorable because it was one of the very few romance movies that I actually stayed awake through and enjoyed) and Iron Man (not including Sherlock). I've seen him play a lot of other roles in plenty of movies and I enjoyed them but I guess those are the roles that stuck with me the most next to this latest one. I loved Jude Law (I love Jude Law period) in this film and thought he really brought a flair to Watson that was long overdue. The whole film was a great modern adaption of a classic that I think was well done. In this new era of remakes over remakes this was one of the few that did it well - giving a nod to the past while pulling it into the future without it looking...boring.

I also enjoyed the storyline and it kept me laughing, on the edge of my seat during action scenes, and excited to see what would come next throughout the entire film. I saw this 3 times in theaters and then bought the DVD and have since watched it a total of probably 11 times so you can see that I am a fan of this flick. My brother had much more insight to this movie than I did, probably because he was remembering the "history" of Holmes but since I didn't ask too much about it (I honestly didn't care) I can't really say. Maybe if you know the history you can enlighten me about it since my brother's explanation would only serve to confuse the hell out of me.

Any-who, this is a really great movie with a good, solid storyline behind it and quality actors that play their roles extremely well while bringing something new to the table and doing the story and characters justice.

Wake Wood (4 Stars)

I'm not sure about the spelling. The film is called "Wake Wood", but it takes place in the village of Wakewood, spelt as one word. Maybe the title of the film is incorrect, maybe it's a word play. I don't know.

Patrick and Louise are married with a daughter called Alice. Patrick is a vet, and he moves to a small farming village called Wakewood, taking his family with him. On her ninth birthday Alice is killed by a dog. A year later Patrick and Louise are out at night when their car breaks down. They go to a farmhouse where they see what they think is a cult. Over the next few days they discover that the whole village has a collective secret. They decide to leave the village, but the villagers offer to bring Alice back to life for a few days if they promise to remain for the rest of their lives. Alice is reincarnated, but something has gone wrong and she goes on a murderous rampage through the village.

As far as I know, this is the first Irish film I've ever watched. I've seen several films set in Ireland, but they're either English or American films. This is a real Irish film made by an Irish film company. I assume the Irish film industry is very small compared with that of other countries. The slow pacing of the film and the use of minimalist music to build up suspense immediately reminded me of Scandinavian horror films. While watching the final credits I saw that the film has Swedish co-producers and advisers. The influence is obvious.

An interesting film. Very enjoyable. Maybe not a classic, but good viewing for those who enjoy well made low budget horror films with an emphasis on suspense rather than gore.

Wanted [Guest Writer] (5 Stars)

A young man finds out his long lost father is an assassin. When his father is murdered, the son is recruited into his father's old organization and trained by a man named Sloan (Morgan Freeman) to follow in his dad's footsteps.

The anxious, clumsy and abused office clerk Wesley Allan Gibson (James McAvoy) has a hell and boring routine life: his obese boss humiliates him all the time and his girlfriend betrays him with his colleague and best friend during working period. When he meets the sexy Fox (Jolie), Wesley is informed that his father was a professional killer that belonged to an ancient organization called Fraternity and killed by the skilled and powerful Cross, a hit-man that has betrayed the Fraternity. Wesley learns that his anxiety actually is a manifestation of his latent abilities and he joins the society under the command of Sloan. Trained by Fox, he changes his personality and attitude, being prepared to face the dangerous Cross and find a hidden secret.

What more can a girl ask for in her movies? Action - check. Smexiness - double check. Intense scenes that keep you on the edge of your seat - check, check and check. I'm so glad that they discovered McAvoy and he's fast becoming one of my favorite actors if he continues to keep up these performances. I've never been the hugest fan of Jolie but she does an alright imitation of a mute (she's not actually mute she's just super anti-social) but she plays these roles the best I think - bad-ass chick with a chip on her shoulder. Freeman is just 5 star all the way for me in nearly every movie he plays in and this is really no exception even though his part isn't quite as large as some of his others even though...well I don't want to give away any spoilers but considering what his character is supposed to be in relation to the lead I think it was a bit underwhelming even if his acting skills were still on par. The whole story behind this movie is really intriguing and we start out in sympathy with the lead character. I mean who can't sympathize with someone who's life is as pathetic as that and shout with righteousness as we see him gain his own power throughout the movie and get a bit of his own back to triumph over the day? Honestly that's what dreams are made of and it lets us live vicariously through McAvoy. Truly a great film and will be going in my top 20 list if not my top 10! Bravo!

Source Code [Guest Writer] (5 Stars)

Colter Stevens, a US Army helicopter pilot whose last memory is flying in Afghanistan, wakes up on a commuter train. However, he discovers that he has assumed the identity of another man. 8 minutes later, the train explodes and Stevens finds himself in some kind of pod. He then talks to someone named Goodwin, who tells him he has to go back and find out who the bomber is. He is sent back to go through the whole thing again and attempts to find who the bomber is but fails. The bomb goes off and Stevens finds himself in the pod again. He is sent back another time, yet still cannot find out anything. When he returns, he asks what is going on. Goodwin and Rutledge, the scientist in charge, tell him that he is part of a project that can put someone in another person's consciousness during the last 8 minutes of their life. Stevens then asks why he cannot just stop the bomb. He is told that he is not going back in time but placed in the moment so he can find out who the bomber is and if there are any other targets. On the side, Stevens finds himself falling for the woman travelling with him while he is still in the other man's consciousness.

Two words sum up my feelings about this movie pretty neatly: Absolutely. Loved. While this movie causes you to think and can twist around your brain as snuggly as a pretzel I can forgive the confusion that it caused me because every minute was unexpected for me and kept me on the edge of my seat the entire time. I also liked the twist they put on the "time travel" aspect and it was really a unique premise that I can get behind that makes me feel as if I'm not watching some remake of a remake. The acting was pretty well done as well although Jake kind of falls between the "acting cracks" for me in terms of skill. He's not one of the greatest but neither is he terrible. He's kind of just...there but in this movie I think he redeemed himself just a little bit. Overall a very great movie that I would suggest to one and all. [grins]

Green Lantern [Guest Writer] (3¾ Stars)

A cocky test pilot, Hal Jordan ('Ryan Reynolds' ), acquires superhuman powers when he is chosen by "the Ring", the willpower-fed source of power, of the Green Lantern Intergalactic Corps. He, reluctantly at first, takes on the challenges these superheroes face. Putting his self-doubts aside, and spurred on by his sense of duty and love for his beautiful, intellectually equal, colleague, Carol Ferris (Blake Lively), he is soon called to defend mankind from Parallax, a super-powerful being who feeds on fear. He is the universe's last chance, as many Lanterns have been killed and the Corps is weakened. And he might just be the right Lantern for the job of keeping the world safe from harm. Based on the characters of DC Comics series "Green Lantern".

What can I say about this movie? It wasn't the best movie I have seen in years but it wasn't the worst either. It wasn't even really all that bad and gave me a laugh or two. So far I've seen this movie three times just to make sure that I didn't get swept along with all the hype when I saw it in theaters and I found my enthusiasm waning for this movie by the second see-through. The actor is a favourite among my comedy list and so I had to see it for that alone but I don't think I would've paid money for it if I had known any better. The whole Green Lantern super-hero was new to me so that was something that interested me as well and while it had a lot of action it just felt short for me in some places. The ending is probably my favourite part of the movie but other than that.... Hm. I wouldn't mind seeing it again if I had some free time to kill and overall a decent movie but was it top-dollar box-office hit-it-out-of-the-park for me? Probably not.

Thor (2011) [Guest Writer] (3 Stars)

The warrior Thor (Hemsworth) is cast out of the fantastic realm of Asgard by his father Odin (Hopkins) for his arrogance and sent to Earth to live among humans. Falling in love with scientist Jane Foster (Portman) teaches Thor much-needed lessons, and his new-found strength comes into play as a villain from his homeland sends dark forces toward Earth.

Okay so this is a quickie because honestly I don't know what to really say about this movie besides what I'm about to tell you next. Besides the action scenes (you know I love a good ass-kicking scene) this movie fell flat for me in all the ways that count. I was pretty disappointed in the acting and while the premise of the story is interesting it just seemed rushed and almost as if they put this movie together with some band-aids and sticky tape. That's not to say that the movie was bad quality in terms of cinematography but other than that it was just bland all around when it came to the character interaction and relationships. I think I would term this as one of those throw-away action films that you watch just to kill the time but not something I wanted to pay $12 dollars for in the theaters. I've seen some mix reviews of this and I think it's really just a matter of taste and if I saw this on DVD I'd probably just end up skipping through any scenes that required them to speak more than 5 minutes.

Cowboys & Aliens [Guest Writer] (5 Stars)

This is the movie that I have been waiting for all of my life! I've always wondered how those from the past would react to things of the future and this movie brings it all including some great ass-kicking with a hint of macho male bonding.

So the story: The Old West.. where a lone cowboy leads an uprising against a terror from beyond our world. 1873. Arizona Territory. A stranger with no memory of his past stumbles into the hard desert town of Absolution. The only hint to his history is a mysterious shackle that encircles one wrist. What he discovers is that the people of Absolution don't welcome strangers, and nobody makes a move on its streets unless ordered to do so by the iron-fisted Colonel Dolarhyde (Ford). It's a town that lives in fear. But Absolution is about to experience fear it can scarcely comprehend as the desolate city is attacked by marauders from the sky. Screaming down with breathtaking velocity and blinding lights to abduct the helpless one by one, these monsters challenge everything the residents have ever known. Now, the stranger they rejected is their only hope for salvation. As this gunslinger slowly starts to remember who he is and where he's been, he realizes he holds a secret that could give the town a fighting chance against the alien force. With the help of the elusive traveler Ella (Olivia Wilde), he pulls together a posse comprised of former opponents-townsfolk, Dolarhyde and his boys, outlaws and Apache warriors-all in danger of annihilation. United against a common enemy, they will prepare for an epic showdown for survival.

So why did I love this movie besides the initial premise of the story? The acting was well done and it had some of my favorite actors in it including Ford, Wilde, and Craig. I liked Craig ever since he was cast as the new "Bond", Wilde since I saw her act in the hit series "House" and of course Ford for his iconic character Indiana Jones. With this wonderful cast I was hard pressed not to take a peek at this movie and I wasn't disappointed. I love movies that go back to the past but I also love movies that give a different perspective of what could've happened if something unexpected was introduced. I'm kind of surprised that the characters took the idea of such an advanced civilization and strange culture so well - well after the shooting, screaming and praying. Haha. All in all, this is a movie that I would recommend to everyone. The pace in the beginning was a little slow for my taste but if things were left up to me they would've started right in the middle of a battle so I guess every story needs it's introduction. Great movie!

X-Men: First Class [Guest Writer] (5 Stars)

Before I begin this review I would like to point out that I watched this with no prior prejudice against the entire Marvel and X-Men corporation. The only things I saw before this was the previous X-Men movies and the Wolverine movie staring Hugh Jackman so bear that in mind when reading this.

I loved this movie to be entirely honest with you. I'm a pretty simple person when it comes to my movies. I don't go to a movie to be confused, listen to thought provoking philosophers go on and on about the universe and try to convert me to some strange new cult way of thinking. I go there for the enjoyment of escaping away into a fantasy world where the impossible become probable for a few hours and this movie allowed it to happen.

So here is the story: In 1944, in Poland, the boy Erik Lehnsherr unleashes his magnetic power when his mother is sent to a concentration camp. The evil Dr. Sebastian Shaw brings Erik to his office and kills his mother, increasing his abilities through anger. In New York, the wealthy Charles Xavier meets the mutant Raven (Mystique) and invites her to live in his manor. In 1962, the CIA agent Moira MacTaggert discovers the existence of mutants working with Shaw and the invites Professor Xavier to recruit mutants to work for the USA government. Xavier teams up with Raven, Erik and a group of young mutants. Sooner they learn that the evil Shaw has the intention of beginning a nuclear war to destroy the world and increase his power.

I loved seeing the back-story of how Charles' and Erik's relationship grew and transformed by the end of the movie. It was probably the most touching and heart-wrenching part of the movie for me - to see two close friends become enemies. One thing that sort of confused me about their friendship and made it just a bit unrealistic for me was in how fast their friendship grew to such monumental proportions. From the way that they interact throughout the entire X-Men saga one would think they were childhood friends turned enemies. So unless their bond formed over a longer period of time than the movie suggests I had to question that. I enjoyed seeing some new faces and wonder where they went but otherwise it was a very good movie. I also really enjoyed the lead actors of this movie. I think James McAvoy, a recently discovered talent that I loved from the minute I saw "Wanted" (will do a review of that one later) and am glad he got to play such an iconic role and see that he did it justice. It was all so good I saw it three times in theaters. Haha!

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Rise of the Planet of the Apes [Guest Writer] (5 Stars)

Okay this movie I have mixed feelings about but in the end I have to say that I really enjoyed watching it. Three chimpanzees are captured in an African jungle from their troop by poachers and shipped to San Francisco. Will Rodman (James Franco) is a scientist at pharmaceutical company Gen-Sys who has been trying to develop a cure for Alzheimer's disease by testing a genetically engineered gene therapy on 12 chimps. The drug mutates the chimpanzees, giving them a human level of intelligence. The most successful subject, a female chimp named Bright Eyes (Terry Notary), goes on a rampage because she believes her baby, to whom she secretly gave birth, is threatened; she is killed disrupting a board meeting where Will is presenting the cure. Will's boss Steven Jacobs (David Oyelowo) orders chimp handler Robert Franklin (Tyler Labine) to put all the test chimpanzees down; Franklin cannot bring himself to kill the baby chimp and instead gives him to Will who later along with his father who is the reasons for Will's research (he has Alzheimer's) names him Caesar and raises him. Caesar eventually outgrows his surroundings and due to many misunderstandings and mishaps Caesar is locked away in a Primate Sanctuary where we later learn and see his abuse at the hands of the workers and owner's son. This is the catalyst for the entire movie.

Now I wasn't a fan during the beginning because it was taking so long to build up to the actual story. Maybe it was slow moving for me because I had already seen the result of all this in the "Planet of the Apes" so this is more like a history lesson to me than anything else. Now despite the slow beginning for me it really began to pick up when he got into the Primate Sanctuary until the crescendo of such a satisfactory ending which made me fall absolutely in love with this movie. I don't want to give any big spoilers away so I'll just say that it's an amazing movie that will move you from compassion to tears and then ending in joy. A definite must-see in my opinion so go see it! [laughs]

Machete (5 Stars)

Have you ever seen a film that you've loved from the very first minute? This is one. Right from the opening scenes I knew it would be a great film, and I wasn't disappointed. Over the top violence, nurses in mini-skirts, nuns with guns. This film has it all! In general it's a serious film, but I couldn't help laughing when I saw the bouncing cars driving into battle.

A brief synopsis: a Mexican labourer is hired to assassinate a politician who wants to stop illegal immigration. When he's about to pull the trigger he realises he's been set up; the assassination attempt is just a fraud to win sympathy for the politician. After this he goes on the run, pursued by corrupt government officials who want to silence him.

The actors slot perfectly into their respective roles. Even Stephen Segal, who I've never particularly liked, is ideal as a katana wielding Mexican drug lord. I can't fault the film at all.

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Lennon Naked (4 Stars)

This is a fascinating but unusual biopic about John Lennon. Starting in 1964 and ending in 1971, it concentrates on John's relationship with his father. We only see a few scenes with the other Beatles. Even Yoko Ono appears less frequently in the latter part of the film than we would expect.

The film assumes that the viewer has sufficient background information to fill in the gaps. Anyone unfamiliar with Lennon's musical career would be confused. That's my main criticism of the film, although I of course know who he was. The key events in his career aren't shown in the film; instead we see him at home or with friends talking about what had happened. We see Lennon as a tortured soul and are given an insight into the way he thought, which is the film's main strength. I was particularly moved by the scene in which he attempts to walk on water to test his divinity.

How could the film have been made better? I'm not sure. Though I'd have liked to see Lennon's career highlights portrayed, this would have watered down the film. The intention is to explore the father-son relationship, and as such it succeeds. Maybe 4 stars isn't enough. This is a film worth watching more than once to get the full impact.

Excellent acting by Christopher Eccleston. In appearance, voice and mannerisms he's more Lennon than Lennon. Although he'd been around for a few years, I first noticed him when he played Jesus in "The Second Coming". I was sad when he quit as Doctor Who after only one season. His brief appearances as Claude in "Heroes" were excellent.

The Air I Breathe (4½ Stars)

Happiness. Pleasure. Sorrow. Love.

This 2008 film is based on a Chinese proverb which says that it's impossible to know one of these emotions without experiencing the other three. The four leading characters in the film are named after these emotions.

Forest Whitaker is Happiness, a bank employee in a dead end job who knows there is more to life.

Brendan Fraser is Pleasure, a gangster's enforcer and debt collector, with the ability to see but not change the future.

Sarah Michelle Gellar is Sorrow, a famous pop star who is miserable despite her popularity.

Kevin Bacon is Love, a doctor who is dedicated to saving lives, but is tragically in love with his best friend's wife.

The four of them are brought together by their interaction with the gangster Fingers, played by Andy Garcia. All four of them find what they want by their chance meetings with one another. This is a deeply spiritual film, and with the multi-star cast it's difficult to understand why it wasn't more successful. Maybe it's too spiritual, too allegorical. Maybe the unusual naming of the four main characters is too abstract for the usual cinema fan. I enjoyed this film greatly, and I feel I may like it even more on watching it again. Wait for my next review.

Ghostbusters (4 Stars)

Laugh if you like, today is the first time I've ever watched "Ghostbusters". 30 years too late. Sure, I'd heard about the film, I knew roughly what it was about, but I'd never seen it. Until now. I thought it was a gap in my education that needed filling.

The plot is simple. Three university employees who are researching paranormal phenomena are fired. They decide to make a living by ridding New York of ghosts, charging $4000 or more a time. Good business.

Amusing from beginning to end, if you can make the step of suspending disbelief. I shouldn't have waited 30 years to watch it. Oh, and I love the catchy theme tune.