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Posted : 5 hours, 15 minutes ago on 17 June 2013 06:18 (A review of Rear Window)
So far this year, Rear Window is the first film I've given a full 10/10 rating. Even though my rating system may be nondescript among others, a sort of a wave in pitch darkness, to me it is the best realized. It's not too flashy, not too complicated; short, simple and to the very point. Now, Rear Window is an arrestingly fascinating film. The follows an invalid, a photographer, peeping into the windows of his neighbors. What starts off as an innocent time-pass graduates into an obsession, and finally to the point of insanity. It's one of those one-setting films and emphasizes a-lot on psychological under-and-over tones, with symbolism and metaphors. Jeff, the protagonist, sees through his window to the others' windows and observes their different lives, all the while ignoring his own. This is a metaphor for cinema / screen itself. Behind every window there's a story; behind every reel there's a story waiting to be seen. Jeff is not a character, but us, the audience. His "television" or "cinema" screen(s) is / are the windows, just as the movie is our window to a story. His expressions and actions mirror that of ours. The more the film progresses, the more his "glance" becomes ugly and one-minded. At the climax when Miss Lonelyhearts is contemplating suicide, Jeff nonchalantly ignores her and instead focuses solely on Mr. Thorwald; thus reducing Miss Lonelyhearts to a shadow, a blurry background. It pretty much correlates our determination to know the truth and not get distracted by anything else. To sum it all up, we're pretty much spying on a security guard by a CCTV camera who is in turn watching others by several CCTV cameras on several screens - at once!
Jeff and Lisa Fremont are the complete antithesis of Mrs. Thorwald and Mr. Thorwald - the two important pairs in the film. In the former, the male is an invalid - he is confined, for most of the film, in one corner, due to an accident that leaves his left leg severely fractured. In the case of the latter, Mrs. Thorwald is the invalid - always sick and always nagging. Simultaneously, Rear Window plays on the theme of masculinity and femininity, and how each is both vulnerable and immune.
All the windows, apart from Jeff's own, represent the screen in which you're watching the film in, be that the TV screen, your iPad, your Samsung Galaxy. As you see none of the characters interact with Jeff, and, almost consciously, never seem to gaze in his direction. It's as if Jeff's not there, just as you are not there. I mean, movie characters don't interact with the audience, do they? Jeff's obsession with his neighbors - "characters" - and his increasing distance with Lisa - "audience" - is pointed out several times in the film. It is not only when Lisa goes into the Thorwald residence does she receive care and love from Jeff, because as far as the movie is concerned, Lisa becomes a character, an object to care about. Till then she was only an embodiment of a female persona. Once she enters the window, she literally jumps into a "movie" - a metaphor - and this triggers a reaction from Jeff. When Lisa points out the late Mrs. Thorwald's ring to Jeff - who had spying, as before, with his camera lens - Mr. Thorwald, who was standing next to her, looks up and gazes at Jeff and realizes that someone had been watching him the whole time. When he looks up, he is searchingly, and almost cruelly, looking at us. He kinda breaks the fourth wall by hinting at our inhuman desire to see the murdered wife, so see our morbid wish come true. He cannot believe that, and he personifies the stunned face of the film.
Caught in the act, Jeff switches off all the lights in his apartment and waits in the shadows for Mr. Thorwald to appear. Here the roles have reversed. The character from the movie has come to reality and is demanding answers. From the point where Mr. Thorwald appears in the room to where he pushes Jeff out of the window, the "eye" of the audience, that is to say the person from which we're seeing the film through, shifts from Jeff to Mr. Thorwald. Now Jeff has become a part of the spectacle, a part of a place where only the inhabitants of it can see him. When he is pushed from his window, every resident appears before him, finally recognizing him as "one of their own". The frequent use of the flashbulb to blind Mr. Thorwald could be a metaphor to blind us from the real truth.
Since the windows and their inhabitants also act as metaphorical mirrors to Jeff and Lisa, it can be almost safe to assume that the supposed "happy ending montage" of all the inhabitants could serve as a symbolic future of Jeff and Lisa. When the sexy Miss Torso opens her door, in comes a boyish army soldier, her true love. He utters that he's hungry; just as how Jeff utters when Lisa is first introduced. Also, he's back from war, and very early in the film we get to see that Jeff has taken several war photographs. There could be something there. Miss Lonelyhearts finds love in the Music Man. This could stand in for the lost love and love right under the noses - both of which describe Jeff and Lisa. The newly-wed couple, shown as happy and loving, are displayed to be arguing and the wife is heard saying something her husband losing his job. Also notice that none of the residents seem to have kids; or at least no kids are shown in visible frames. The above two could very well be symbolic to the potential future of the pair; Jeff, having now two broken legs, could for all we know remain that way for the rest of his life, rendering him impotent - alluding to no kids - and could very well be jobless - alluding to the bickering new couple. Also, the ending is not as happy as it seems. Lisa is seen reading a foreign travel book, but as soon as Jeff falls asleep, she picks up a fashion magazine, hinting at dark corners.
Remember, this is a nutshell-analysis, and was written for the sake of something to write on this movie. You can easily find hundreds of in-depth movie and character analysis scattered all over the internet. But before you go on reading about them, watch the film at least once, whether you're able to pick up the subtle clues or not.
From the performances, Grace Kelley, James Stewart, and Thelma Ritter (as Stella, Jeff's nurse) were outstanding in their respective characters. There's really not too much to say here except that all three gave realistic, standing ovation performances. Raymond Burr, too, was equally imposing as Lars Thorwald.
In conclusion, Rear Window is easily one of the finest movies ever made, and hands-down one of the few contenders of the number 1 greatest film ever made. In my book the number 1 spot is filled, but I think this film can settle down nicely in the number 2 spot. Hmm, now where should I place The Godfather now?
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Posted : 4 days, 9 hours ago on 13 June 2013 01:44 (A review of Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides)
Some series just won't die. Take a look at the dreadful Fast and the Furious and American Pie series. When will they open their eyes to the fact that they have long out-stayed their welcome and that no-one's buying, no matter whatever you're selling. Also, the Indiana Jones franchise. It took a 500 feet fall - in a fridge, no less - to make them realize that no-one cares, except maybe them quite-brainless die-hard fans. Films which deserve a sequel, or to made a series out of, aren't getting any love - 500 Days of Autumn / Spring / Winter, anyone? - and those to which we don't need, are getting elongated incessantly - how many more gory deaths do we need to see before they axe the SAW series? or how much destruction of USA, and Shia LaBeouf, before they finally put Transformers in the trash can?
Pirates of the Caribbean is no different. Remember the first film? or the third? how incredibly awesome they were? recall the second? how laboriously slow it was? Well, On Stranger Tides is even much slower than that. It has a heart of a dying rat, spirit of a 116 yr. old man, and the entertainment factor of a waterbed. The film, especially the first 30 minutes, was a labor to the eyes, akin to painting a house and then being forced to watch it dry. Not only were the jokes not funny, but they were hackneyed, generic. Jack Sparrow was so painfully over-stupid that half the time I kept wishing they should just hang him and get it over it. The story is arguably the weakest from the series, and it isn't too exciting, nor adventurous. Although I enjoyed the fact that the characters of Will Turner and Elizabeth Swann were finally written off, they wiped the big smile off my face by bringing in mermaids, half-assed humour, no stability, and dragging screen-time. The inclusion of mermaids turned me off the most, as they were poor excuse for nothing more than just general excitement among male viewers. Delicious eye candies so that us males can deviate our eyes from the (usually) fully clothed Angelica, and also that we stick to the very end, in case we get a notorious *ahem*nipple shot*ahem* - which we don't get. Adding salt to wound is the fact that they made one mermaid strangely philosophic. Seriously? Make them like Ariel, you know, rebellious, red-headed, with a huge man as their father. But no, instead we get walkway models who try hard to cough up the right expressions... usually failing!
As much lame the film was, the light bulb was shining strongly in the villains department. Villains have always been a strong factor of the series - Hector Barbossa in the first, Davy Jones in the second and Lord Cutler Beckett in the third. This time around we get Blackbeard, played by Ian McShane. Where the previous villains were either manipulative, egotistic, or intellectually clever, Blackbeard here is plain and simple, evil. He practices voodoo, plays twisted little games with his crew, and impressively lives up to his status as the most feared pirate, even among other pirates. Because he is simply EVIL!
From the performances, Johnny Depp was still on the treadmill, surprisingly, but on a much lower speed, almost shuffling-point. Ian McShane was the most impressive, and certainly the best acted villain of the series. Penelope Cruz was an interesting addition. She had in her caliber, a western gun-moll spirit to her. In fact, she ended up being the most "woman-who-draws-men-in" character than her semi-nude, fish-tailed aquatic counterparts. The returning cast + the new additions were decent enough, but they could've gotten more recognition had they been in any of the previous installments.
In conclusion, On Stranger Tides does indeed take one on a ride, but one shouldn't expect a lot of wild happenings. Think of it as a rollercoaster ride... but with the seat still warm. That makes many people uncomfortable!
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Posted : 5 days, 2 hours ago on 12 June 2013 08:59 (A review of The French Connection)
A film that opens with a Santa Claus and a white man giving chase to a black man deserves to be given credit. That aside, French Connection is a monumental achievement, regarding the realistic characters and the realism in the nature of the surroundings. It's a starkly tough film, harsh, and brutal. Most of the early 70's films emphasized on the realism, and this film is no different. All the crashes, the punches, the against-the-walls, the shouts, the inhaling of the cigarette, the pointing of a finger; all felt natural, all too real, almost a semi-documentary in itself.
The story is this that a French criminal is smuggling narcotics from France to the USA, and two cops, Popeye and Cloudy, must stop him from doing so, or catch him red-handed. The plot is nothing original, but the way the film snakes around it is energetic, angry, powerful, and top of all, impressive right down to boot. True, the film does take time to come to its pace, but it's only natural. Given how modern dramatic-action films tend to go off like an atom bomb right from the first minute, and how every cast - even the villains - are incredibly handsome looking, The French Connection plays out like a slow-defusing dynamite, and has characters that very well could be the cinematic equivalent of Marcus Fenix and his company; damn ugly, but damn professional - no shadow of a smile, no sly smirk to the camera. Check out Bill Hickman: aquiline professionalism that cannot be matched, especially by modern standards, no matter how hard they try. He also co-ordinated the legendary car chase. Check out his other works - Bullitt and The Seven-Ups.
From the performances, Gene Hackman was the top dog. What impressed me the most was his hand gestures. Strong, dominant, full of power. This one performance is strong proof of a dominating, angry screen presence. Roy Schneider, on the side as Cloudy, was akin to a medicine tablet to a sugar patient. Slow, subtle, but effective. Fernando Rey was equally amazing as Alain Charnier, as was Bill Hickman, who plays Bill Mulderig. But Hackman and Schneider had such a strong grip on their characters and on the film as a whole that no other actor, no matter how skilled, could come to their level.
In conclusion, The French Connection is solid brick of a film, as hard-hitting as a boxing glove filled with pebbles, as mighty as Duke's Mighty Boot!
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Posted : 5 days, 2 hours ago on 12 June 2013 08:46 (A review of In Time)
In the dystopic future world of In Time, time has replaced money as the currency of the world, or at least of the place where it's set in, as we never get to see "foreign time". Dayton is the dwelling of the time-poor, while New Greenwich is the heaven for the time-rich. These two locations are the polar opposites of each other, and in more ways than one. In Dayton the deaths are so frequent, that living is a constant fear. In New Greenwich living equals to immortality and that instills fear of death, or lack of it, in the minds of the people. In short, everyone is in constant fear; pretty much how we're nowadays. The concept of this film, I believe, was not to bring in anything new to the table, but to bring the air around us to solid shape. We often say things like "saved by the skin o' the teeth" and "saved by a hair's breath" and all that; In Time personifies all that by making humans a living digital clock; turning our figurative metaphors (often hilarious) into literal.
What turned me off the most was the lack of development. I'll try to explain it the best as I can. True, human nature almost impossibly cannot be changed, but is it really so damn one-sided, no matter what shiny new toys man is given to play with? Ever since we've found out that our time on earth is limited, we've always wanted to capture immortality. The ticking of the clock is seen by many as an ever-present reminder of our doom. Does that metaphor really need to be turned into literal? Has mankind really become that unsympathetic that they turned themselves into the one object that has been mocking them for forever? Or have they finally decided to swim with the tide? Whatever the case may be, In Time does a fairly poor job in explaining things, rather it just focuses on the generic moments that we see in countless other films, in which time is hung on a wall. With an interesting premise as this, one expects it to be philosophic, and one almost gets his wish fulfilled by the opening narration of Will Salas - the protagonist. But he is quickly betrayed of that illusion when he realizes the film is only interested in the brawny aspects of it, not in the brainy.
"Things used to be simpler once, or so am I told" - "For a few to be immortal, many must die" - "We are not meant to live forever" - These are not philosophic quotes, just rehashing of the everyday mentality we have adopted. Though I'm guessing that was their aim, I however wasn't satisfied. I wanted explanations, strong-based answers, but instead was treated as a thirsty man given a quarter filled glass of lukewarm water. Very early in the film we see an unfortunate soul "timed out" in the streets. Later on we get to see how one gets timed-out - when the timer reaches zero, an electric jerk passes through the body; a signalling that that person is dead. It shows us the style of execution, but doesn't dissect it to show us the internal workings of it. How does a man die in this dystopic vision? Does the heart give out? or maybe an important vein is ruptured as soon as the timer reaches zero? or maybe they have no hearts, seeing they're genetically engineered and all. Oh well, even Asimo was an awesome looking robot... until we got to see him walk.
Will Salas, a resident, and overall good guy, from Dayton, arrives at New Greenwich, for revenge. The reason for this attitude spurs from the "untimely" death of his mother. Once there, he quickly catches the ogling eye of Sylvia Weis, the poor little rich girl of the film. In the eating sequence that follows we get to learn something about Will. When asked by an attractive waitress why he does everything quickly, he coyly responds "Not everything". Well, whatever that means. Also, that Sylvia cannot keeps her eyes off of him, hinting at a romance that abruptly blooms out of nowhere. Maybe the reason for eye-balling was because she sensed a potential system-toppling strength in him? Or maybe due to he resembled Justin Timberlake a bit too much?... whatever the case may be, a little something more than an autograph on a tissue paper or a thumbs-up picture is hinted upon. A brief glance turns into a tryst turns into a full-time romance turns into a modern, picturesque Bonnie & Clyde in picaresque situations. As much as I found the story unappealing, I found the aforementioned couple to be even less impressive. Good looks in hand, Will and Sylvia seemed to me like an amateurish painted couple come to life. They felt plastic, cartoonish even. Mind you, I'm talking about the characters and how they were written for the screen; not the actors and how they portrayed them. Sylvia is too precious to be acting like a gun-moll, and Will is too hard-boiled to be running around like a crazed squirrel. Had he been one of those bloody-revenge guys with snarling expressions, then I would've been fine with it. In all, good looks, unconvincing characteristics.
From the performances, Justin Timberlake delivered a somewhat charismatic performance as Will Salas. He's still a long-shot away from becoming a great actor, but seeing his recent acting successes - Social Network and Bad Teacher - he's on his way on becoming the next Will Smith; or at least in the rendering stage of it. Amanda Seyfriend as Sylvia Weis was pretty interesting, but nothing breakthrough or amazing. She was, honestly speaking, a fish out of water. Though a decent performance, she consistently gets dragged down by almost poor character development. She goes from daddy's little girl to a cherry bomb in such a dizzying manner, it's virtually impossible. The transition actually makes the choppy editing Death Race 2000 laboriously slow. Alex Pettyfer, as I have said before in my I Am Number Four review, is an impressive young actor and a strong candidate for the young face of the future (at least film-wise), though someone needs to change his current Wikipedia picture as it clearly violates that rule. His performance as Fortis was impressive, enough to make him a breathing, living person. He should've been given a much longer screentime, and a good death scene, too. Vincent Kartheiser too was impressive in his role as Philippe Weis, father of Sylvia. I enjoyed the deliberate slowness in him. But the cake that takes the display is Cillian Murphy, as Raymond Leon, the Timekeeper. He reminded me of the mysterious 40's detectives in trench-coats and of those so-called psychic-detectives who are inwardly too poetic for their own good. His performance = classic!
In conclusion, In Time is OK, nothing special. The sole reason why it failed to snare its chains in me is because of its failure to explain the logical aspects of the story. Take a look at Terminator and its immediate sequel. Everything is laid out, explained perfectly, hence why it is a classic. Take a look at The Surrogates; absolutely nothing. A hodgepodge mess of the very things which cause a downfall in sci-fi movies. In Time falls somewhere around there.
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Posted : 1 week, 3 days ago on 7 June 2013 06:01 (A review of Face/Off)
I saw this film yesterday, and thinking back about it, I only remember the action scenes. I remember buildings exploding, boats exploding, piers exploding. Because that's what it's good at. But mind you, Face/Off is not your generic mindless mess; it is quite clever, but only so. The film sees a terrorist taking on the face of a honest cop, and the cop in turn taking the face of the terrorist. One does it for justice, the other for random pleasures. Now of course in a film like this, one can get confused, after all two personalities are getting mixed up. But don't worry, this film is probably the least confusing film you've ever seen, although it does try its best to catch you off guard. Heroic bloodshed and explosions aside, I liked the fact how the main focus of the film's spotlight was on the two characters, and not on the surroundings. Another other film, or any other director, would've made the specific places the characters find themselves in full characters of their own. Take a look at Shawshank, Green Mile and The Great Escape: the prisons too are characters. But the one shown here, although very ingenious, is so briefly shown, that it didn't even feel like it was there. I'm complaining, but in fact complimenting. The film is not a prison film, and long, extended scenes of the tedious, signature prison life would've slowed the film down.
Despite the fact it is quite well written and well directed, there are many scenes which are quite silly. When Archer and Troy (as each other) battle on the boats in the climatic scene, Archer hangs from the side of the boat, his feet touching the water. The speed the boat was going, and the force of the water, can severely damage the legs, if not break them. But over here we see him almost literally water-ski over it. Also, the character of Castor Troy was relentlessly evil, and this point is exaggerated many times in the film, and this made Troy a very unfinished, over the top, baseless character.
From the performances, I thoroughly enjoyed John Travolta as Sean Archer/Castor Troy. Although not a very detailed performance, his capturing of the small nuances in specific scenes was impressive. It was muscular in its own right, brutal in its distinct manner. Nicolas Cage once again plays another crazy character, once again giving us an entertaining performance. But I have to say, this is one of his least best ones, but solidly entertaining. When Nic Cage becomes Sean Archer, the crying, emotional scenes were surprisingly pathos. Never knew he had it in him. Joan Allen was impactful in her silent demeanor. I also liked the fact that she doesn't become the next Lucy Lawless in the climatic stand-off. You know, an uzi magically appears in her hand, and she unleashes hell. She was great. The rest of the cast were decent enough in their roles, although not as memorable.
In conclusion, Face/Off is an entertaining film. Don't expect a lot of deep thinking though; it is only an action film!
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Posted : 1 week, 5 days ago on 5 June 2013 12:33 (A review of Spider-Man 2)
The sole reason why Spider-Man 2 is much lauded over its predecessor is because it is more mature. Not because it had to be, but because it learned from its past silly mistakes. This one is mature, dramatic, symbolic, and has emphasis on the psychological aspects of it. Even though this flick is not without its silly little touches here and there, it behaves like a responsible elder sibling that makes its predecessor a Sunday morning cartoon. Spider-Man 2 is the best from the series, and arguably one of the finer examples in the superhero genre, but despite this, is also rejected by the more action-heavy. It's funny how they reject this installment but love the 3rd one which is, in my opinion, the least memorable in the series. It plays out like a wireless mouse soon to run out of batteries. Just like the previous entry, this too is quite self aware. The part where Peter Parker ditches his costume in a trash-can, everyone treats it as the end of Spider-Man. I mean, no one says "this must be a fake" or "it must be a prank by the local joker" or anything. It could be anyone's costume for all we know.
Spider-Man 2 has too much to offer than your regular superhero movies. I mean, this film was The Dark Knight before The Dark Knight. It's one of those "To be or not to be" movies where the protagonist / antagonist has to decide whether to live out the rest of their lives as a man or as a mask. Here we see Peter Parker get affected by the failing relationship between him and Mary Jane - well, practically with everyone - and this in turn affects his costumed second life, with his webbing running out and falling from buildings. Look at the scene where he tries to save a kid from a burning building. Even though he's a superhero, he has rejected the idea, hasn't allowed his alter-ego to surface in a long time, and because of this he's unable to break down the door and get affected by the flames. You are who you are as long as you think you are. Stop thinking, and you unbecome that person. Not that you become an entirely new person, you just unbecome that personality. It's like filling or emptying a glass of water. If you fill it, it unbecomes an empty glass, but a glass nonetheless - and vice versa. The same goes for Dr. Otto Octavious, who becomes Doc Ock, the new terror in town. His mask is a metaphorical one. Unlike Green Goblin in the previous film who can't seem to remember his maniacal phrase at times, Doc Ock has rejected his once civil and honest man lifestyle. When the webhead knocks some sense into him, Doc Ock goes back to himself - a sort of reverse of what happens with Peter Parker. Hence this is the reason why he says "I will not die a monster" before, well, dying.
Mary Jane Watson, as we get to know here, is a somewhat successful stage actress. She plays Cecily in the play The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde. The use of this play, and the certain scenes we get to see from it, is somewhat symbolic, or a metaphor, to the main theme of the film; identity. In the play, Cecily is so fixated on the name Ernest that she doesn't seem to care whose face goes along with it; the man has to be named Ernest, that is all. Algeron, the dandy of the play, assumes that name and tries to woo her. Although he is successful, he gets caught - but Cecily forgives him anyway, for she has fallen in love with Algeron - even though she already had fallen in love with him, but through a fog. The ending of Spider-Man 2 is very much reminiscent of this, as Mary Jane finds out about Peter's both true self and of his secret identity, and seems to forgive him and wants to spend the rest of her life with him, come hell or high water... or Venom, Carnage, Mysterio, Sandman, Hob-Goblin, Black Cat, Rhino or any from spidey's colourful rogue gallery :)
The version I downloaded was 2.1. The ".1" means it's an extended version, with over 8 minutes of scenes cut from the sans ".1" version. Viewing this version is one of my most pleasurable experiences as a movie-goer. I recently saw the "Redux" version of Apocalypse Now, but this "2.1" beats the "Redux" by miles; not by the longevity, but by subtleness of it. The scene with Mary Jane and Peter Parker by the fence is further extended, giving us a deeper look inside the life of the latter. The scene is almost flawless. Tobey Maguire almost flawlessly captured the micro-expressions, making him more than flesh and bone. See, it's these little things that count. If that doesn't sound too grabbing, then at least you get to see J. Jonah Jameson pretending to be the wallcrawler in his office... with the costume on!
Alfred Molina, you will agree, gave one of the greatest performances in a superhero genre. Willem Dafoe was amazing in the predecessor, and Thomas Haden Church was muscular and strong in the successor, but both of them weren't 1/4 of Ock's tentacles. In my opinion, this is the greatest performance given in the superhero genre, villain or hero.
In conclusion, Spider-Man 2 is a damn great film, if you ask me. Beats the first one by miles. Also, it is one of the Big 4 of the superhero genre, alongside X-Men 2, The Dark Knight and Batman Returns.
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Posted : 1 week, 5 days ago on 5 June 2013 07:06 (A review of John Carter)
John Carter does not disappoint, but it doesn't impress either. Ignoring the source it was based on, let's just focus on the cinematic result. Is it a great film? Not quite. What's its main fault? It is too generic, too standard. The gist is this that John Carter of Earth (Jarsoom) winds up, via an amulet, on Barsoom (Mars). He then ultimately finds love - the princess, no less - and becomes their saviour, and then decides to live on Barsoom for the rest of his life. The story is understandable, the characters are there, but the film either deliberately or unknowingly ignores the little details and doesn't even attempt to make it original or unique. Not to say every film has to be original, but since almost everything that's shown in this film has already been done hundreds of times, John Carter is just another bolt on the machine. Up until the Barsoomian's start speaking, and moving their lips, in English dialect, the film has a certain charm to it, a certain mystic aura. But when everyone starts talking English, it loses its charm and becomes repetition. Carter is given a special drink from which he can understand the dialect of Barsoom. That's understandable. But why do the Barsoomian's lips move in sync to the English words? They clearly don't speak that language. Shouldn't their lips be moving off-sync, as if two films of different language were dubbed over each other? Anyway, whatever the case is, maybe I'm reading it wrong, but like I said, John Carter isn't wildly innovative nor entertaining but it does boast pretty good talent, though.
It was both an annoyance and a relief that Barsoomians act the same way as Jarsoomians do. They have their betrayals, their love stories, their gladiator fights, their racial / tribe segregation, their Mario & Peach vs. Bowser complex, and what not. Is this how our Solar System is? Full of aggression and repetition? All the -sooms are the one and same, except for the skin colour?
From the performances, Taylor Kitsch was indeed quite charismatic, but I guess Disney used him as live bait for their love of good-looking princes and/or leading men. It was a shame really, seeing that Kitsch definitely has some talent to him, but this film is just an excuse to show off his well built body. Same goes for Lynn Collins, the princess of Mars. Although I enjoyed her performance as well, but after finishing the film and sensing their - the crew - aim was to make Tejah Doris, for a lack of a better word, meaty, they should've just called in Samantha Morton - who has a role as Sola. Have you seen the legs on Morton? Perfect for a role like this. Anyway, the rest of the cast were good, too. Ciarin Hinds was quite impressive in his role as Tardos Mors, father of Tejah Doris.
In conclusion, John Carter is a good film, has setbacks, and I think I might be lining up for the sequel - if there is to be one!
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Posted : 2 weeks ago on 3 June 2013 02:04 (A review of Spider-Man)
On YouTube one of my earliest, and currently most popular, video is a MTV parody of this film, starring Jack Black as the titular hero. Due to receiving comments on that video on a daily basis, and I'm inclined to reply to most of them, I see that video 3-4 times a day... or at least the first 20-30 seconds of it anyway. At one point, after thousand comments and two-thousand views later, I decided to download the film and watch it once and for all, so that the constant nagging feeling I get every-time I play that video goes away. Five minutes into the film and I realize that I last saw this film at the cinema back in 2002, when I was only 9 yrs. old. I'm now 19, and it has been a full decade since I last saw it. This time nostalgia came in full force, all stop signs removed.
Since this was the first superhero film I'd seen in my life, I have a soft spot for it in my heart, but you can't deny, it is rather silly. This film, unlike most others (especially Nolan's Batman movies) is so self-aware, so fictional. I mean, a normal teenager turns into a superhero, a human spider no less, and every citizen of New York is completely OK with this? Everyone accepts this anomaly as if it's a normal occurrence? Last year we had a mosquito-man and the year before a woman who could turn into a tiger - and now we have Spider-Man. Yea sure, we're all fine with this. Superhero movies, to me, are serious psychology studies, because we're talking about a man and a mask here. One's real and the other's an alter ego. Enough time passes and they both get mixed up. Sure, you might say that Norman Osborne / Green Goblin kinda proves the above point in the film, but you will also notice they don't dwell on it. All they show is a man, already half-mad, descending into further madness. I mean, there's absolutely no psychological aspects to it. The closest we ever get to it is where Spider-Man has to either rescue Mary Jane or a tram car full of children. There's a sense of morality in it, but it's so thinly veiled, and it's further marred by the hilarious comments made by pedestrians - who throw fruits to Green Goblin. This film's great, but there's no wonder why its sequel is so widely appreciated, because there's heavy use of psychological themes in it, a great deal of morality and understanding.
From the performances, Tobey Maguire won and made the role his own. If you've ever played Spider-Man 2000 for the PS1, then you will notice a lot of similarities between the webhead that appears in that game and the wall-crawler in this film. This is meant as a compliment, as I really enjoyed it. I don't know if the crew did this intentionally. Anyway, I can't imagine anyone else replacing him, and yes I know that he already has been, but only name-wise, not face-or-voice-wise. Kirsten Dunst was attractive and convincing in her role as Mary Jane, but it's clear to see she wasn't polished enough. Neither was James Franco, who plays Harry Osborne. Although the trio were great as first-timers, they all come to their true pace and fully connect to each other and themselves in the sequels; so if either of them seems a little rough on the edges, forgive them, as they get loads better in the second one. Willem Dafoe was instantly grabbing and memorable in his role as Green Goblin. A crazy, scary, megalomaniacal performance that only gets memorable by each passing minute. Although of course he's no match for Alfred Molina in the sequel, it nevertheless was a damn near perfect performance. If there's one qualm I have regarding the character is his costume. He looked like a reject from a 90's Power Rangers TV show. It was so comical, it was an hindrance. A costumed character like that should be blown up 20 times larger and be fighting Godzilla or the Red Ranger, because that's who / what characters like these often fight.
In conclusion, Spider-Man is a great film, and is easily one of the better examples of the genre. If you end up enjoying this film and the semi-silliness it employs, it's only natural; but if you rank the sequel higher, that's perfectly natural, too!
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Posted : 2 weeks, 1 day ago on 2 June 2013 02:36 (A review of Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End)
... aaannnddd Geoffrey Rush is back. Honestly, for me the only reason to enjoy the series is Rush. His quite affable character, Hector Barbossa, is the main backbone of the series: maybe that's the reason why I didn't enjoy the second part, but the first one and this one. Also, his crazy, but solidly dignified, performance that outmatches almost everyone. Mind you, I said almost, and the barrier that prevents me from writing "all" is, as you all know, Johnny Depp and his wildly eccentric performance as Jack Sparrow. There's a "captain" there somewhere, but I can't find it. Now this is how a PotC film should be done, fun, exciting, funny, great battle scenes, and one tight story with brilliant script-writing. I kid you not, but this installment actually increased my vocabulary. Belligerent, homunculus and perfidious have all entered my vocabulary. Now I just need the right reason to use them. Also bosun, but I already knew that; this film confirmed the meaning for me.
The directing this time around was mature, the cinematography was apex. The sequence where Sparrow is in Davy Jones' Locker was mesmerizing in its quality, humorous in its sub-story. Those 5 minutes very well could be a short film on its own, a sort of a feature that precedes certain cartoons, like the one in A Bug's Life. Although I was quite disappointed that they didn't show any battle concerning Kraken, I was later on glad they didn't; given the many battles and fights that happen, any Kraken one would've lost its appeal and would've dragged on the already long screen-time. Amidst this, a small hindrance did rise by the usage of tried and tested jokes, but they made up for that by creating a rather formidable villain out of Lord Cutler Beckett and making Elizabeth Swann a warrior woman, a sort of Lucy Lawless of the high seas. Despite the fact that the light was cast more strongly on the love story between the two coffee-faced lovers, the overall effect was less slushy than what I was expecting. Not to say I didn't like it, but it was a good move, it was in league with the rest of the film, although the "do you love me" and the "wedding scene" on the ship near the climax did drag on quite a bit.
Going back to the humour, it waded on dangerous waters (man, I'm using a lot of puns nowadays) when Barbossa places a pair of metal balls in an awkward position that does not go amiss with Sparrow. A short thinly-veiled conversation ensues, which may not be deciphered by kids, but will make a lot aware adults raise their eye-brows. I mean, seriously? Was that really necessary? When will Disney cease its obsession with subliminal messages / themes I do not know.
From the performances, all the returning cast were as strong as ever, with Keira Knightley being the most impressive. I loved how she transited from a dependent to an independent woman, but there certainly was interdependence between her and several characters, namely Sparrow and Turner. Speaking of which, Orlando Bloom was actually better in this one than the first two, provided strong shoulders - especially near the end of the film. Bill Nighy once again was impressive, although I felt he was underused. Tom Hollander gave a rather strong performance. His character, Beckett, provided a good mix of a man torn between "business", "revenge" and "pleasure." In an inspiring cameo, Keith Richards dominated his 3 minutes of reel fame. Chow Yun-Fat, too, in his short screen-time was awesome. But a painfully under-developed script and short screen-time made his character, Sao Feng, somewhat unmemorable.
In conclusion, At World's End is an awesome film. The Maelstrom Battle? Arguably one of the greatest battle scenes in all of movie history.
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Posted : 2 weeks, 2 days ago on 1 June 2013 07:18 (A review of Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest)
With great success comes a great sequel; thus spake Uncle Ben's lesser known younger brother, Uncle Tim. And we've had several examples, ranging from this genre to that. Does Pirates fall under the category? Unfortunately, no! The first film was great, no doubt about it, but this sequel wasn't so much. In the first film they didn't even try to be funny, they just did it naturally and effortlessly, but over here they tried too hard, and limped too badly. Everyone seemed lazy, too tired, too fed up, as if they were all chained to large shackles. Although this sequel does resemble Empire Strikes Back somewhat - Jack Sparrow and Han Solo are captured and the rest of the characters must rescue him; which happens in the third part - it actually shares the same soul as The Matrix trilogy. The first Matrix is legendary: the second a stick in the mud, but quite enjoyable.
I know, they had to expand the story, but couldn't they have done it in an enjoyable way? Seriously, the way everyone was dragging their feet as if stuck in quick-sand made this 2 and a half hour feature feel like a 4 hour epic. Also, it was unnecessarily dark and dwelled quite a bit too much into religion for my taste. What's the harm in keeping it children friendly? Why is it that whenever someone, anyone, everyone gets a free reign, the first thing they do is go dark? or stray terribly off-course? Don't get me wrong, I enjoy dark films, but since Curse was a quite light-hearted, family-friendly entertainment, a dark and violent sequel wasn't called for. I'm currently downloading the third part, and let's see if that's better of the trio or not!
From the performances, Johnny Depp was as usual up to the mark, but the main spotlight was Bill Nighy as Davy Jones. Although initially disappointed that they followed up a comedic villain from the first film - Hector Barbossa - to a nonsensical character, Davy Jones eventually warmed up to me as an excellent successor. The character was dominating, the acting amazing. It felt real, with every twitch a convincing one. Bill Nighy did a brilliant job. The rest of the cast, especially those returning for the second time, were all great once again, albeit a little tired and dazed looking. Newcomer Naomi Harris impressed me by her performance as Dai Lama. It was a fascinating performance, a good blend of both comic and seriousness.
In conclusion, Dead Man's Chest has some very convincing moments regarding Davy Jones but is too silly in almost every other part. The one where Will and the band of miscreants tumble down the hill in a ball of bones - seriously, no broken bones? no deaths? Also, the three way fight between Will, Jack and Norrington on top of the giant wheel. Quite impressive, yes, but it was Indiana Jones and company falling from a plane on a waterbed 12,000 feet to safety on the snow all over again!
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