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Star Trek review

Posted : 5 years, 7 months ago on 12 May 2013 08:40 (A review of Star Trek)

It's true that I ain't no Trekkie, and it's true I couldn't tell who's who in the universe, but since J.J. Abrams proved himself as a more accessible version of Joss Whedon, I didn't need to bother myself with extensive past knowledge. This is modern film done right. Those who grew up with the series or those who still hold the original series in high regard of everything else, I cannot say for sure how their feelings were, but for me, a true newbie, I was simply mind-blown; and it had almost nothing to do with the mythos of Star Trek. It was the execution style, the easy to follow storyline, the strong casting and brilliant script-writing that held my attention.

A sci-fi at heart with action as its soul and humour for brains, Star Trek is one of modern cinema's great "young" films - casting young actors who more or less fall somewhere near the late 20's/early 30's line, and are crafted specifically for modern audiences. Not films like the remake of Nightmare on Elm Street or Avatar or Cloverfield, but the ones although specifically and directly aimed for the modern audiences, can also be enjoyed by old-timers and the untargeted ones. This film has a sleek as a silver concept car look to it while adopting a shiny razor-edge atmosphere that gives a two-finger salute to "older", "humdrum" films like Indiana Jones and I Am Number Four and Hulk, just to name a few. Anyway, it is brilliantly crafted, has several rewindable moments, and although it does for a moment fall into a melee free-for-all mode with several predictable moments and a Spock-ception climax, it manages to end on a great note that altogether makes you wish the Star Wars prequels were more like this and less of the misshapen clay pieces they unfortunately became.

From the performances, Chris Pine totally won me over by his charismatic performance as Kirk. Although initially introduced to us as a reckless playboy, he almost quickly rejects the cliche path and becomes the main highlight of the film. Zachary Quinto, in an equally impressive performance as Spock, too won me over. Their chemistry was immaculate and their combined screen presence was at times mesmerizing and at times a ying-yang clash, like a space version of First Class's Magneto and Prof. X. From the supporting, everyone was highly charming, charismatic in their own ways and energetically spirited, with Karl Urban, Anton Yelchin and John Cho stealing the side spot-lights. Simon Pegg was a welcome surprise, adding a whole new crazy level of humour and personality to the film. Zoe Saldana made the best of her screen-time but seemed too confused to set on a specific path. As if she was unsure whether to transit from the previous attitude to another or to not. But still, this is one of her best screen roles to date. Chris Hemsworth, in his cameo at the beginning, was surprisingly full of personality and development. Not bad for a guy who only has 15 minutes of screen time. Eric Bana, although brilliant in his role as Nero, did not bring anything new or unique, but I still say this: Nero is definitely one of modern cinema's best acted villains, even if the character wasn't exactly original nor sympathetic, especially when his tragic past is revealed.

In conclusion, Star Trek is definitely one to watch. It's well written, well acted, has humour, has action, and should make for a perfect popcorn-and-soda night!


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Gone in 60 Seconds review

Posted : 5 years, 7 months ago on 29 April 2013 01:06 (A review of Gone in 60 Seconds)

Gone in 60 Seconds is one of the least memorable films I've had the (dis)pleasure of watching. It has an interesting enough plot, but is only used as an attractive gold wrapper to hide the fact that underneath it is a boring, sloppy film that's mostly concerned with the relationship of two brothers - who don't even look like brothers. Cousins, understandable. It has a great cast, even that bunny from Donnie Darko makes an appearance here, but all of them are criminally underused; mostly through cheap shots, uninspiring editing, low-level script - although the script for Delroy Lindo was quite cool; or maybe he was the only worthy actor / character in the film - and a very boring feel to it. In short, Gone in 60 Seconds runs like a slow internet connection.

Now, in the performances, Nic Cage should've known better than to star in this. He wanted to be an action star, understandable, but how in the hell did he equal a guy who talks to cars and who runs a kiddy go-kart club to action? If you want to become the next Vin Diesel or Bruce Willis, then star in a film that doesn't involve a character talking to an inanimate object. But still, talking to a car has some dignity than talking to a flower-pot. Or his own hand. Angelina Jolie, I believe, was mis-cast. It felt as if she walked into the wrong movie and decided to make the most of it. Imagine Jar-Jar Binks in The Matrix. But then again, I guess this is what happens when people win an Oscar. The world becomes their oyster; good films or bad films, the hell cares, I just won an Oscar. Robert Duvall was also badly underused. Being the veteran from the cast, he should've known better, at-least. He was being so un-Robert Duvall that I didn't even notice he was there until he was mentioned in the credits sequence. Giovanni Ribisi was just OK. No matter how many films he makes, he will always be Phoebe's little brother to me. I mean, he didn't have any depth to his character. The only saving grace was Delroy Lindo as Det. Roland Castlebeck. Despite some uneasy setbacks - like being followed everywhere by a painfully annoying Timothy Olyphant - Lindo bought dignity and seriousness to his character. The rest were just OK.

In conclusion, Gone in 60 Seconds should've exactly been as long as the title implies the "boosting" to be. If you want to watch this film, but really do not want to, then just strum the lower E string of your guitar. It's about as exciting as that.


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The Rock (1996) review

Posted : 5 years, 7 months ago on 25 April 2013 08:53 (A review of The Rock (1996))

The Rock is complete bad-ass. If this sentence reminded you of the wrestler, don't bother reading this review. Michael Bay has become synonymous with big-budgeted flicks with little to no soul to them nowadays. The Rock is as arthouse a film as one can get. This film is still to this day his most celebrated film, and his most critically acclaimed, and that's ironic seeing he is less known for his one sole hit and more for his string of misses, namely Armageddon, Pearl Harbour and the Transformers franchise, which were far more superior in the "financially acclaimed" and less in the "critically acclaimed."

This film is nothing more or less than a standard, generic action film. All the signatures of one are present here, some being thinly characterized, others starkly presented. It has mindless destruction, some off-dialogue, and some moments of insanity, but despite this, The Rock is actually one of the more plausible action films I've seen with a damn engaging storyline and powerhouse performances by the lead trio. Since it's an American film, it also has a tiring pseudo-patriotic speech by the president that's less on the tears and more on the groans! These moments do little to no justice in the film, and only belong to the real world.

In the performances, this is the last time we get to see Sean Connery as a complete bad-ass character, in one of his strongest performances of his career. He completely owned the film, and his introduction is arguably one of the greatest in recent movie history: a huge, rusty and tough as nails prisoner with a grunge hairdo. Not bad for a guy who once introduced himself as "Bond. James Bond." Even though Mason lacks emotional depth, he is at home in the carnage and destruction, that makes his character look like a mustachoi'd, hair metaller version of the Terminator, or maybe a steampunk-era reject. Joining him is Nicolas Cage in one of his best roles to date, giving an entertaining performance. Just like the case with Mason, we almost never get to see Stanley's emotional side, but instead get to see all sides relating to carnage, violence, and swearing. The reason why I'm bringing this up is because they felt too one-sided at times, too restricted. But unlike other action movies which are completely mindless, this one had depth, had value. Ed Harris had integrity in his role as Gen. Hummel, the antagonist in the film. He had his character down pat.

As much as a high point the film was to many who were involved in it, it was also the last greatest effort for many. Michael Bay, for one, never directed a great film after this. Big on the money, yes, but low on the quality. this was Sean Connery's last greatest role before he retired - after a string of failures, that is. Same goes for Nicolas Cage, although he did have a string of hits, another Oscar nomination, and a great comeback in Kick-Ass, almost none matched up to this film and his 90's films in general.

In conclusion, The Rock is an awesome piece of work, has (almost) everything you could ask for, and should be right up your alley if you enjoy films like these.


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Letters from Iwo Jima (2006) review

Posted : 5 years, 7 months ago on 22 April 2013 03:18 (A review of Letters from Iwo Jima (2006))

Letters From Iwo Jima is the companion film to Flags Of Our Fathers: while the latter showed the American side of the Battle of Iwo Jima, the former shows the Japanese side of the same war. Seeing the type of films he's been making for almost a decade tells me he might very well become the Stephen E. Ambrose of Hollywood. I saw Flags a long time ago, and have forgotten much about it, so I won't be doing any comparing between the two. Letters is an impressive film, beautifully executed, has emotional depth, and a different perspective on the battle. The Japanese are portrayed as honest, respectful, sensitive and overall tough, or at least some of them. Their sense of honor and loyalty is impressively detailed here. Unlike most others, who put the war in front and the soldiers in the back, Letters does the opposite. Instead of playing on the theme on how soldiers affect the war, it plays on how the war affects the soldiers. The film gets increasingly violent, with blood and gore you normally wouldn't expect to show up, despite the fact it's a war film. By the time the film ends, you will have new found respect for all the brave soldiers portrayed in the film who stood and fought till their last breath, and (probably) sympathize with those who couldn't.

In the performances, Ken Watanabe was absolutely fearless in his role as General Kuribayashi. A dedicative, almost flawless performance. He was indeed the heart and soul of the movie, provided strong shoulders and bought deep characterization to his role. Simply put, he was perfect. All the rest of the cast were equally superior, had their moments, and bought appropriate understanding and connection to the viewer.

In conclusion, Letters From Iwo Jima is an authentic, superb war film that touches on many topics. It can be said as a modern war masterpiece, and one of the damn greatest war films of all time!


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I Am Number Four review

Posted : 5 years, 7 months ago on 20 April 2013 10:30 (A review of I Am Number Four)

Alex Fettyfer has proven himself as quite an impressive young actor in the past few years by his performances in Beastly, In Time and I Am Number Four. It's just a shame that he doesn't appear in great films, or films that you can actually care about. This flick was neither good or bad but it was somewhat stylish and had an anti-superhero atmosphere to it which I liked. Even though I enjoyed the moody feel to it, it didn't have depth in the philosophy area nor in the character-development area. Not only do they give us questions with no answers, motives with no reasons, but also extremely cliche use(s) of superhuman powers. Once Daniel discovers his powers, he runs off into the woods. When push comes to a shove, he uses them against a group of jocks and saves his (possibly) blushing bride to be from a high fall. Hmm, now where have I seen this before? Oh, and he flips over a car, too. I haven't read any of the novels but what I saw I quite enjoyed, but not thoroughly. I mean, it was decently enough made, but doesn't have any impact-making ability neither it gives you enough reasons for revisits.

But despite this, I still think Alex Pettyfer should reprise his role should they make a franchise out of it, which I'm guessing might flop, as seeing how negatively it was received. But what the hey, it would be cool to see a fresh new face + a fresh new character rise and (possibly) replace Harry Potter and Edward Cullen as the new leading fantasy icon. I don't care about the rest of the cast, but if Alex reprises his role, then I'm definitely watching the next film - should there be one. He had in him a decent level of charm, a character, a likable presence, something both Daniel Radcliffe and Robert Pattinson sorely lacked. If he's there, then I'm there. If he's not, then well, end of story!

Performance-wise, Alex Pettyfer and Timothy Olyphant may win you over by their chemistry and performances. I enjoyed how they interacted with each other, felt smooth, subtle, not too grainy. Dianna Agron and Callan McAuliffe were unfortunately not in the same orbit as the above two. They were certainly charming in their different ways but not on the required level I'm afraid. Teresa Palmer was quite cool in her role as Number 6. I believe they should make a spin-off film based with her as the lead. Yes, by her I do mean Teresa Palmer, because she wa... oh, I've already said that. Is it me or did she resemble Roxy from the Scott Pilgrim film? Moving on, Kevin Durand was effectively haunting and spine-tinglingly chilly in his role as the Mogadorian Commander. Man, was it scary. The rest of the cast were OK enough, but easily forgettable.

In conclusion, I Am Number Four could've been a lot than what it is. It could've been philosophic and/or original. But instead it falls into the cliche pit of same old, same old. Think of this film as this way: a mature, serious version of Sky High. There, done!


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Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith (2005) review

Posted : 5 years, 7 months ago on 20 April 2013 09:47 (A review of Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith (2005))

The prequel trilogy is one of those series that is heavy on the quantity, but almost nothing in quality; akin to a new restaurant in town releasing an offer, only to discover they're cheapskates and are asking more for less. I've never been in the very least affected by the whole Star Wars phenomenon. Even though I ended up liking most of the characters and dialogues, none of the films in both trilogy attracted my fullest attention. Revenge of the Sith is no exception. It is an irony that the prequel trilogy was hampered by the very thing that Star Wars is least known for: acting. Weak performances by many led to awkward situations and thus made many characters weak and under-developed, but I'll talk about that later. RotS memorably opens up with an awesome battle scene, an impressive example of the wonders modern CGI and technology can do. It is only after when it has ended and when the dialogues have taken over that you wish they had done some CGI tinkering on the actors / actresses as well. Still to this day I've never cared about the story at all. Republic, Siths, Jedis, Emperial blah, blah, blah... this is all been there, done that, and nothing exciting in my opinion. Just replace certain real world words / phrases with strange sounding words / phrases and you got yourself Star Wars.

The pacing of the film was decent, but the acting by many were tiring, tedious, dragging, and hence, the pacing felt almost exactly like that. WTF was George Lucas thinking in casting Hayden Christensen as Anakin Skywalker? It was such a boring performance. Not only he had no chemistry or love with his co-cast, he had absolutely zero connection to himself. He completely ruined an otherwise promising role. There was no range, no depth, reluctant showcase of expression, and nary an emotion change in the vocals, angry, sad, happy, excited - all the same. What Kristen Stewart or Steven Seagal do with their faces, Hayden did with his voice. Ewan McGregor was another tiring joke in the film. His acting - alongside Hayden and Natalie Portman - is one of the awful I've seen in movies. Their combined awful performances, with stiff dialogues and wooden chemistries, make them the worst trio if not in history then just in the Star Wars franchise. Even a badass like Samuel L. Jackson was pitiful, laughable even, in his role as Mace Windu. So, yes, basically what I'm saying is that almost all of the cast were an embarrassment. The only saving grace was Ian McDiarmid as Lord Sidious. It was a menacing role, a vicious snake-like one.

In conclusion, Revenge of the Sith is impressive in the battle scenes, also has breathtaking imagery and the technology was put into good use. Had it been better in the acting department, then this film would've been an all-round heavy-filled awesomeness. In short, the film's greatest irony was its greatest defeat, and of the whole prequel trilogy in general.


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Con Air (1997) review

Posted : 5 years, 8 months ago on 15 April 2013 02:38 (A review of Con Air (1997))

Con-Air was, simply put, an awesome movie. I liked the premise, the convincing dialogues, the strong cast and the overall story-telling. There's nothing too flashy or gimmicky about it. You have give them props at their attempt at a quite-solid, quite-memorable action film. The film starts off with Cameron Poe enjoying a lovely moment with his wife that is quickly interpretated as "going to go bust" by our all too accustomed eye(s). After a drunken street brawl, which includes the death of the drunk, Cameron is sent to 7 years to jail. After a very bad 2 minute voiceover, and a montage / introduction of all the criminals that are to board the plane, the real film starts. Yes, when Cyrus takes over the plane, we know we're in for some memorable moments.

The majority of the charm lies in the characters. They're neither over or under developed, but appropriately done. They felt bad-ass, as tough as rusty nails, but there was not too much depth, but that's OK. The charm also comes from the theme. Man, it is one of the loudest, most awesome movie theme of all time.

In the performances, Nicolas Cage as Cameron Poe was both awesome and unhinged. In the 90's he was at his peak. Like him or hate him, he starred in some of the best movies, gave some of the best performances, and showcased his love for hair. Over here he sports long, mangly, Cobain-esque one. If you can look past his deadpan stare and utterly bad quotes, the performance is one of his top 10 best. The main show-stealer of course was John Malkovich, who had my attention by his performance as Cyrus, the main antagonist. His great line delivery and crazy control on his character did the trick. John Cusack was pretty cool in his role, too, but nothing too exceptional. He has done better. Steve Buscemi, it seemed, was everywhere in the 90's. So when I saw him appear in the last quarter, I wasn't the least bit surprised. Even though his screen-time was quite short, he managed to give a haunting, hypnotic, everlasting performance that showcases just how cool he is! The rest of the cast were just as cool, but a little more depth in them could've made most memorable.

In conclusion, Con Air is a bit like Predators on a plane, and is - alongside Speed - one of the quintessential action movies from the 90's.


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Surrogates review

Posted : 5 years, 8 months ago on 12 April 2013 12:30 (A review of Surrogates)

Bruce Willis from the past 5 years has become more ubiquitous than Agent Coulson. Almost all of his films are watchable but he always almost hampers his characters - and the pace of the film - down by his trollish performances that give off airs as if he is completely bored by the project. Here's a friendly tip: try and watch as many sci-fi / action movies from the 80's, 90's and early 2000's as possible. Throw in a couple of Willis films in there, too. After when you've achieved that, watch The Surrogates and if you see tons of resemblances to previous sci-fi movies, don't be surprised. The setup, the story, the action, the theme is all been there, done that. In this endless explosions-era, dramatic and story driven sci-fi's are few and far in-between. Not to say I didn't fully enjoy this film, it just stuck out as a sore thumb amidst all the mindless ones. Had this film been released in the last decade, or the decade before that, it might've received some love or appreciation in the now-years, but seeing that it is virtually a rehash of previous films, The Surrogates will become a distant memory in the upcoming years. However, it is not entirely a bad film, it's just not too developed, nor too dramatic. I enjoyed the stylish look to it, the allegorical allusions to our real world, and quite bleak presentation, a doomed atmosphere, if you will. But in the end you will have accepted the fact that it was nothing too extraordinary. Heck, even I Am Legend and I, Robot were better,

Performance-wise, Bruce Willis was quite decent in his role as Agent Greer, but due to a limping script and under-development of the character, it is one of his forgettable roles. At times, honestly, it felt like a Rick Deckard clone, with near zero depth. But it was a decent, OK performance nonetheless. Radha Mitchell, on the other hand, was delicious in her role as Agent Peters. She's one of my favourite as I enjoy seeing her on-screen and even though she was nothing too exceptional here, she provided a delicious presence. I also enjoyed the chemistry between her and Willis as it had some depth. Rosamund Pike was just tasty and absolutely nothing much. Honestly, her character was the most under-developed from the film. Ving Rhames plays The Prophet, a character I have a complaint about. For the majority of his screentime, he holds his hand upwards, chest level, similar to how Muslims do while they're praying. It could be just me but I didn't like that at all. The rest of the cast were quite good, nothing too memorable.

In conclusion, The Surrogates is a pretty decent film, but could've done a lot more had it had strong character development and a much deeper story.


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Wrath of the Titans review

Posted : 5 years, 8 months ago on 6 April 2013 02:41 (A review of Wrath of the Titans)

Let it be known that Wrath of the Titans isn't a good film. Not to say it was the worst or anything, but it had zero energy, and an even less will to continue. Honestly, the correct title of the film should be Limp of the Titans, because everyone - and everything - in the film was tired. No-one's heart was into it, and if it was, it was fueled only by the thought that one day the shooting will be finished and they can all go home... finally. There are major flaws everywhere and I'm going to start on the so-called Wrath: It was nothing. Plastic. A Barbie doll tantrum. Just as loud and powerful as a squeaky gate. The "wrath" was almost comical, almost like Marvel comics. Although I don't usually talk about them in my reviews, but the script was sub-par. It was horrible. Was it only me did it seem too "modern"? I've read about the Greek / Roman mythology and I don't think they spoke like that, but then again this wasn't an official mythology-to-reel transition either. But still, some dignity required. This one has none of that, as gods, demigods and humans all are portrayed as dumb idiotics. Like most films that are heavy on the CGI, effects and all that, this one is quite impressive in that department but almost virtually useless in the others, especially in the writing and in the story. Neither were the least bit entertaining nor convincing. The special effects were quite cool, though, especially in the opening Chimera sequence and in the end with the Resurrection of Kronos. The maze sequence wasn't bad either, reminded me of The Matrix somewhat, but had no charm in it whatsoever.

Performance-wise, Sam Worthington managed to bring a silent dignity to his character, Perseus. By silent I mean mute. It was a performance that Sam can look straight in the eyes of the haters and say "Well, at-least I tried". I've always liked him as an actor and I think he is a worthy actor - Terminator: Salvation, Rogue & Avatar - but if he keeps starring in bad films - this one & Man On a Ledge - he will never become the named actor he so wants to become. Despite an above-average performance, he did provide a likable face to the series and probably the only relatable character. Rosamund Pike was delicious and tasty in her role as Andromeda. In all respects, she basically played the same exasperated - but looking beautiful while doing it - character she played in Doom. Just replace her status from doctor to queen and you got it. Ralph Fiennes wasn't at all convincing in his role as Hades. He played out as a Hollywood stock character and I was expecting him to get blown to bits any second, but of course that didn't happen. Liam Neeson was a complete bad-ass, especially in the last 10 minutes, when he gets 10,000 years younger. By the time of his "Resurrection", the film had limped enough, to the point of being sleepy, and I guess Neeson knew that fact because he then rolls up his sleeve and manages to bring in quite a bit of impressive display that somehow manages, if only for a short period, bring the film to its *true* pace. But alas, that bubble is quickly busted. The rest of the cast were OK, nothing too exceptional, nothing too impressive.

On the whole, Wrath of the Titans is just unbelievable. Apologies, but as much as I enjoy Greek mythology, I couldn't even begin to like this film. It must be by far the least entertaining I've seen so far in this year. But at least the special effects were pretty cool!

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X-Men: First Class review

Posted : 5 years, 8 months ago on 3 April 2013 09:50 (A review of X-Men: First Class)

X-Men: First Class was impressive. I really enjoyed it. This film is proof that superhero movies can survive the next decade. It was sleek, stylish, had a great cast and had an admirable attention to details. It's clear to see that this film is modern. It's new. It's for everyone. Gone are the old and mature atmosphere of the previous X-Men films. First Class is young and it knows it.

Once again I'm going to point out the fact that I'm no comic book fan so I found some scenes confusing, as well as the placements of some characters. Unlike most others, especially the previous X-Men films, this one requires a lot of back knowledge and information because I was lost most of the time. Even though the overall effect was very entertaining, it just wasn't that accessible.

From the performances, I thoroughly enjoyed James McAvoy as Charles Xavier and Michael Fassbender as Erik Lensherr. Here I was thinking that no-one could replace Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen in their iconic roles but these two proved me wrong. Both were indomitable, right from the start to the finish. Even though I liked the casting of -well-knowns and not-so-well-knowns in supporting roles, none of the characters were developed, and many don't rise up to the level they were supposed to. In short, under-developed characters, but good performances. Kevin Bacon was surprisingly awesome in his role as Sebastian Shaw. He tackled his character as if Shaw were an Austin Powers villain, or an Inspector Gadget one.

In conclusion, I really enjoyed X-Men: First Class, but it could've done times better in the character-development department because, honestly, many felt cardboardish and not strong enough.


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