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Mad Max review

Posted : 10 years, 8 months ago on 5 July 2013 08:45 (A review of Mad Max)

Living in a time where everyone is obsessed with zombies, disease, and everything that's closely related to post-apocalyptic doom, 1979's Mad Max hit like a cool air of an electric hand A/C. Just like how everyone seems to think that psychology in movies equal to copious amount of blood and numerous jump-scares, they also think that zombies and/or gangsters will be the post-apocalyptic world's only residents, with the occasional lone-guy or two. Although nothing has changed much from yesteryear's dystopic films and of the ones of the now, at-least the old ones had class. Though we do have some great modern examples - like The Road - almost all of them steer in the one direction, with little to offer, apart from the usual tough guy and attractive eye-candy. The old dystopic films, especially those of the 80's, had the propensity for being either brutally stark or brutally honest. Caricatures, they were not.

Mad Max is easily one of the finest examples of the genre, and of Australia Cinema as well. To the casual eye this film is straight-up vehicular porn. There are spectacular cars, even spectacular crashes, and orgasm-inducing engine sounds and unrelenting machismo. Only two types of people may be attracted to a film like this: the morally depressed, or the hormonally charged. As for me, I'm rather unsure, to tell you the truth.

The world of Mad Max is all but dead. Fearsome personas roam what is left of anything and terrorize what is left of anyone. Fuel has become a precious scarcity, and vehicles - any kind - have become the most prized commodity. No-one should be without one. I enjoyed how they made it less Western and more 16th Century expedition-style. I also enjoyed how the characters were unconventional, with none being too self-aware, and all being formidable in their own ways. It's clear to see they're inhabiting a world they realize is too corrupted and broken down without their help.

Unlike most others, bar Blade Runner, this film is also very masculine. It really is a man's world out there, and women and children are second-hand assets. I also enjoyed the fact that almost nothing was exaggerated and the spotlight - thankfully - did not dwell much on the emotional factor; because this film doesn't have any.

From the performances, Mel Gibson was awesome, though a little bit loose around the edges, and that's perfectly understandable. It's from the second film onward he becomes the iconic character as we know him today. Nevertheless, I enjoyed his performance and I likened it to a light-headed version of Rick Deckard. From the supporting, Hugh Keays-Byrne was quite unsettling as Toecutter, the antagonist. The villains of the series have always been brutal and creative, and Toecutter is the best example, though he always get over-shadowed by everyone's favorite, Humungus, from the second film. The rest of the cast were exceptionally brilliant, too.

In conclusion, Mad Max is a must watch. It's a film with little to no soul in it, even less sympathy, but a-lot of powerful moments and awesome vehicular scenes.


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Ghostbusters review

Posted : 10 years, 8 months ago on 25 June 2013 12:12 (A review of Ghostbusters)

Even before it saw the light of the day, even before the idea was conceived, Ghostbusters was destined to become a classic; if not of cinema as a whole, then just of the comedy genre. Given its status, I understand perfectly why some reviewers suddenly become conscious of its popularity and why their fingers tremble when they're about to accept to the opposite. Unlike films, say, Ben-Hur, Casablanca and 2001, which are clearly not accessible to all (not to say they're adult films or anything), Ghostbusters is for all ages, and it's only appropriate it should receive one-sided commentary. But, just like any good film, the film, and the fans, should learn to take criticism as well.

The gist is this that a trio of seemingly down on their luck good guys open up a new business: hunting and catching ghosts. In a fortnight they become the new sensation of town, with ghosts appearing left and right. The first half is very unassuming. It seems tired, bogged down by its tedious phase and lack of memorable moments. Enter second half: here is where the funny enters, with Venkman getting slimed and his devil-may-care attitude being shown in great light. Also, Egon and Spengler have some funny moments of their own coupled with the genuinely hilarious sequence of Louis in his apartment. It was, however, the third half that had me worried. The introduction of Winston sets off vibes of impending doom; a disaster that is confirmed by making the third-half randomly somewhat-religious and fully-irritating. By that mark, the film is decent enough, but it quickly loses its focus and becomes borderline-irritating, like someone not closing the bathroom door or a fly buzzing too close to your ear.

The above point is not the only reason for me disliking this film. Though laxly funny, it was too deadpan and pokerfaced for me to thoroughly enjoy it. Unlike most other comedies, especially the ones of the mid 90's, which have the occasional jab at being clever or smart, Ghostbusters doesn't employ anything like that, and instead relies on improvisation - the reason for the static effect of the dialogues and the virtually non-existent chemistry between the trio. As for Winston: he was a total joke, the most poorly written character for the film. In fact, the only character I found interesting was Louis Tully.

From the performances, Bill Murray was almost too perfect in his role as Dr. Venkman. A master of the deadpan, he made the character his own, just like how Jim Carrey does. But, rather unfortunately, Venkman unfashionably emerges as an ambition-poor, irritating character by the end of the film. I also enjoyed both Harold Ramis and Dan Aykroyd as Dr. Egon and Dr. Spengler, respectively. Sigourney Weaver was also likable in her role as Dana, but I guess she bought in solely because of her iconic role in Alien - 5 years previous - because Ghostbusters makes quite a few references to Alien. The part where she emerges from the gargoyle's body is very reminiscent of the alien eggs. Before he retired, Rick Moranis was one of my favorite funny actors back in the day. He made Honey I Shrunk the Kids and Flintstones bearable to watch, just as how he kept making things interesting in this film as Louis Tully, the unfortunate soul of the story. The rest of the cast were decent enough, although too under-developed to be taken seriously.

In conclusion, is Ghostbusters is a great film? The world says it is, but this reviewer thinks different. This reviewer thinks there are better comedies out there, and if he wants to watch ghosts, he plays a random Casper, the friendly ghost episode on YouTube.


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Bon Cop, Bad Cop review

Posted : 10 years, 8 months ago on 22 June 2013 01:23 (A review of Bon Cop, Bad Cop)

"Ah! The good cop, bad cop, routine?" - this semi-classic quote was uttered by The Joker in The Dark Knight in 2008. Jump back two years, and you have a full-classic comedy/drama that personifies greatly the above quote. A crime has occurred, and one cop from Quebec and one from Toronto are summoned to clean up the mess. David Bouchard is from Quebec, and is the the law-bender of the two. Early on we're shown the life of David - he lives with his deliciously hot ex-wife and daughter, and it is obvious that he's rarely at home. Martin Ward is from Toronto, and is the Mr. By-the-Books of the duo, so he naturally (for me) became the best character from the film. His family life is this - divorced, lives with his 15 yr. old son, and occasionally invites his incredibly sexy sister to live with him. In any other film, a showcase - or a montage - of one's family life, or just few minutes of it, would seem pointless or cliche. In this film it's important, because very early on it emphasizes the important distinction between this film and other buddy-cop ones. Lethal Weapon, Rush Hour, Se7en and others pit together two polar opposite personalities against each other, generally for comedic effect. Bon Cop, Bad Cop is that, but this time the missing pieces of the puzzle are from the same jigsaw puzzle.

The two cops, tough in their own ways, likable in their own manners, have nothing in common, except maybe that they're both divorced and that they're cops. With rapid fire transiting from English to French, their conversations, normal or heated, clash like two sabres. By the end, they end up forming a solid, almost unique, friendship that hasn't been produced in any other film - or to my knowledge at least.

The performances were as electrifying as the film. Colm Feore plays Martin Ward, the number 1 protagonist. Though initially employing seriousness to his character, he does fall under the serio-comic banner, and that's a compliment. Martin acts as a safety catch to David's explosive handgun. Patrick Huard, who plays David Bouchard, also gives an unforgettable performance. Unlike other buddy-cop films where the main guys are the polar opposites, David and Martin are practically cut from the same rough clothe, although one is cut by a razor-blade. Lucie Laurier and Sarain Boylan, the better half's of the aforementioned males, were almost equally impressive in their roles, too. The other rest of the cast were quite memorable.

In conclusion, Bon Cop, Bad Cop is one of those hidden gems. I think it deserves much more praise than it does, because it's so well executed and brilliantly balanced in both the violence and the humour.


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Strangers on a Train review

Posted : 10 years, 8 months ago on 21 June 2013 03:33 (A review of Strangers on a Train)

Two strangers meet on a train. What destines to become a small, unmemorable conversation, turns into a chilling, calculating plan about murders and private matters. With the theme of double-crossing in action, Strangers may very well be Alfred Hitchcock's most silently subtle and ambiguous film. The film's antagonist, Bruno S. Anthony, a shirker and a psychopath, meets, in what we assume as a chance upon, his favourite tennis player the protagonist, Guy Haines. Bruno, apparently read a lot about him, at first unsettles the celebrity, but kinda comforts him down by his smooth talks. The meeting is so smooth, so devoid of stuttering and awkward moments that one thinks Bruno had planned everything out, as noticed by his behaviour when he invites Guy to his private compartment. Though the theme of double-crossing is foremost, a hidden theme - undertone - simultaneously runs throughout, like two trains at a crossroads - homosexuality. Bruno gives us jabs at this theme when he sits too close to Guy, and when he stretches out when they're in his compartment. Also, when he kills Miriam - Guy's ex-wife - he doesn't do it just because he had made a deal with a reluctant Guy, but due to his affection and attraction to Guy. In short, Bruno killed her for him.

Unlike Hitchcock's other films, say Vertigo, Rear Window and Psycho, all of which require a peek into the sub-conscious and heavy rewinding, the metaphors / symbolism in this film is right out in the open, but because they're minimalistic in nature, one often misses it easily. The two most important being the opening shot of the railroad tracks - they criss-cross each other, foreshadowing the main theme of the film and of Bruno's devious plan. The other is the logo of the two crossed tennis rackets on Guy's cigarette lighter. Throughout the film, Bruno represents Guy's psyche. He's the personification of Guy's inner sub-conscious personality, although this not to be taken literally.

Strangers is loaded to the brim with legendary moments. When Bruno pursues after Miriam, the name on his boat reads Pluto - the god of the underworld in Greek mythology. Once Miriam and her boyfriends and Bruno enter the cave, Bruno's shadow seemingly 'eats' her alive; foreshadowing her death. Scary in its brilliance, mesmerizing in its execution. But perhaps the single most greatest moment is when Bruno strangles Miriam to death. The murder is reflected in her eye-glasses, which had fallen off in the strangulation. Also symbolic is the method of execution. Minutes prior to Miriam's death, Guy angrily shouts that he would love to strangle her. The very next shot sees Bruno's hands, a sign as to show that somehow these two men are seemingly connected; or at least one is.

The next most memorable moment, even for the day, is when the protagonist and the antagonist have a climatic showdown on a carousel that spins wildly out of control - a fitting metaphor for the two mens' "relationship". It is indeed one of the most tense, nail-biting sequences I've ever seen. One of the carnival workers manages to shut it down, and the carousel breaks down, resulting in the death of Bruno and the freedom of Guy.

From the performances, I'd initially found Farley Granger's acting rather questionable. I deduced his performance as reluctant, due to his simultaneous displaying of both fear and relief on his face. It was only when I read several analysis's over the internet did I realize I had read him wrong. In retrospect, I now think it is easily one of the best performances in an Alfred Hitchcock film, although still a long shot away from Cary Grant and James Stewart. He had in him human, slightly homosexual features, and I guess that was the whole point. Though somewhat mysterious at times, Granger was far away from being dark, and that was a good thing. Honestly speaking, he reminded me of Dorian Gray. On the other hand is Robert Walker as the former's doppelganger, Bruno S. Anthony. The acting can be said as a shadow version of Robert Mitchum in The Night of the Hunter. Walker wasn't at all slow neither was he too attention-grabbing; he marched to his own pace, a master of his own screen-time. He had the confidence of a person who had everything planned out in his head.

In conclusion, Strangers on a Train is a brilliant film. Calling it any less would be a sure-fire insult. It's a must-watch.


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Rear Window (1954) review

Posted : 10 years, 8 months ago on 17 June 2013 11:18 (A review of Rear Window (1954))

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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Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides review

Posted : 10 years, 8 months ago on 13 June 2013 06:44 (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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The French Connection review

Posted : 10 years, 8 months ago on 13 June 2013 01:59 (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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In Time review

Posted : 10 years, 8 months ago on 13 June 2013 01:46 (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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Face/Off (1997) review

Posted : 10 years, 9 months ago on 7 June 2013 11:01 (A review of Face/Off (1997))

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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Spider-Man 2 review

Posted : 10 years, 9 months ago on 5 June 2013 05:33 (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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