Sunday, June 30, 2013

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest (Gore Verbinksi, 2006) Review

Whenever I ask people which of the Pirates of the Caribbean they like most, they normally always say Curse of the Black Pearl and I think that the only reasons for his are that it's the first film and also has Geoffrey Rush playing easily one of the best characters there really anything else the first one have that the others don't? The only reason people hate the later films is because they have more problems, not that it misses anything out. So are these claims true? Let's find out.

Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) is reminded of a debt that he must repay to Davy Jones (Bill Nighy), the captain of the Flying Dutchman. Rather than face joining Jones' crew of the damned, Jack hatches a plan to retrieve the heart of Davy Jones with the assistance of Will Turner (Orlando Bloom) and Elizabeth Swan (Keira Knightly). However, Will and Elizabeth face hanging unless they assist Lord Cutler Beckett (Tom Hollander) by getting his Jack's compass.

Personally, I prefer this film to the first. It returns with it's perfect tone and great acting. Johnny Depp brings back his excellent performance and works well with Bill Nighy who delivers a delightfully hammy performance and has since become my favourite character in the series. Normally I'm not one for CGI but damn has this got some excellent CGI which goes very well with Hans Zimmer's beautifully atmospheric and just downright awesome music. I'm not going to give it away but it's great to see a film with a cliffhanger and excellent twist (I think cliffhangers are dead...).

Something that this film does now is have a stronger focus on supporting characters. All I can remember from the first film is Jack, Will, Elizabeth and Barbossa. With this film, I remember much more such as Davy Jones, Beckett, Norrington (Jack Davenport) and the crew aboard the Black Pearl. It makes the series much more developed and generally a better experience.

I love having controversial opinions but if you want more, join me next time but in the meantime, Dead Man's Chest is a stronger film than the first with more going for it with an expanded cast accompanied by great acting and the use of CGI is excellent. There is much more here than in the first one thanks to a much better story.

A greater cast, excellent CGI, engaging story and fantastic music proves to be better than he first.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (Gore Verbinski, 2003) Review

Time to head into another franchise that has suddenly rekindled my love for it after re watching the third film. Pirates are inherently awesome and no other franchise seems to capture this idea like Pirates of the Carribean does. It brought pirates back into public attention and brought use what is arguable the last original iconic film character in the form of Jack Sparrow. So let's get deep into another film franchise that everyone seems to have seen.

In a world filled with swash-buckling and plundering, Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) finds himself caught up in an adventure after the governor's daughter, Elizabeth (Keira Knightley), is kidnapped by the crew of nefarious pirate captain, Hector Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush). Jack teams up with Will Turner (Orlando Bloom) in order to rescue her and learn of Barbossa's secret.

I already mentioned that Jack Sparrow is the last original iconic film character and the main reason is thanks to Johnny Depp's excellent, Oscar-nominated performance. Yes, he does over shadow the rest a bit but they can still hold there own with Geoffrey Rush being the best of the supporting cast. The tone of the film is also a highlight as it's so refreshing to see films that, while can have serious moments, doesn't take itself too seriously. If this franchise had started this year, it would have definitely been gritty and dark throughout.

I know that this seems to be the popular one of the series (as evident for being only one to get a 'fresh' rating on Rotten Tomatoes) but I think that it's a little bit dull in comparison to the other films. Now hear me out. I love this film and think it's great but it doesn't ahve as much substance as the others do. I would probably give this film a higher score if it was on it's own but, as it's not, I just feel that it's weaker than some of the others (some...not all...).

The Curse of the Black Pearl is a great way to start off a new franchise with new and original characters that runs on a tone that doesn't take itself too seriously. This film is truly a breath of fresh air but the amount of content seen in the next films seems to have spoiled me as I feel this isn't as strong as the others. All I can say is that Depp deserves the Oscar nomination and it's great to see something as awesome as pirates get public attention.

A fun films with excellent acting, action and a great premise. It's just a shame that the others tower over it in terms of content and scope.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Hotel Transylvania (Genndy Tartakovsky, 2012) Review

Lack of a third review from last week...ahh crap. Well I'm back to doing reviewing films now (although I was never gone, I was just lazy) and we're back with a good example of a film with some horrendous adverting and hopefully the film that saves vampires from how they are represented in films (which may or may not be referenced in this film)...okay maybe not considering that this film hasn't exactly been getting the best praise but it's my turn to share my opinion...hence the title of this blog...

In 1895, Dracula (Adam Sandler) builds his own hotel to not only protect his daughter, Mavis, from the human threat but to also let other monsters have a place to be themselves. Cut to the modern day and Mavis (Selena Gomez) is about to celebrate her 118th birthday. As Dracula and his friends (considing of Frankenstein (Kevin James), The Wolfman (Steve Buscemi), The Mummy (CeeLo Green) and The Invisible Man (David Spade)) prepare for the party, a human named Johnny (Adam Sandberg) stumbles upon the hotel leaving Dracula to disguise Johnny as a monster and make sure he leaves forever.

Wow.......WOW is this film predictable. It's predictable on an unbelievable level. You could watch the trailers and already guess what happens. It also suffers from an identity crisis. I can see that thsi film could appeal to adults in some way (especially the portrayal of Dracula as an overprotective dad) yet it uses pop songs and moments of immature humour as well as having celebrities for the sake of having them (although props to Selena Gomez for doing a good enough job).

There is quite a few good stuff. The way in which the filmmakers interpreted he classic horror characters is surprisingly imaginative with the help of some fun voices (my personal favourite character is the Invisible Man). Adam Sandler should also stick to voice acting from now on since he does a great job here (a little bit too like Steve Carell in Despicable Me though...). There is also one scene that is done very, very well and I commend the film for delivering such an amazing scene. Sadly the rest looks crap next to it though...maybe you did too well there.

Hotel Transylvania seems to have a split opinion. People either hate it or lose it...I'm gonna be annoying and say I'm in the middle. I enjoy the voice acting and interpretation of characters with some great and fun animation but the humour is off and is really predictable. I would've made this a 5/10 however that ONE SCENE is so good that I just have to commend it that one extra point.

A fun film with some good animation and characters but everything else

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Talk To Her (Pedro Almodóvar, 2002) Review

Mexican...Spanish....Mexican...Spanish...there is a difference between the two, I can assure you. So I'm back to foreign films (or just one in this case) because I just finished all my exams and I figured I would review the last film I had to talk about in my last exam (yes I do film studies...did you really expect anything else from me)...that is the only reason I'm reviewing this film and is the only reason I watched the film in the first place!

Talk to Her follows two men, Marco (Darío Grandinetti) and Benigno (Javier Cámara). Benigno is a nurse working at the local hospital who speificially cares for a comatose girl name Alicia (Leonor Watling). Marco is a writer who finds himself wanting to help a famous bullfighter named Lydia (Rosario Flores). Marco and Lydia build a relationship which ends in tragedy when Lydia is put in a coma after a bullfight. Marco meets Benigno at the hospital and slowly become friends. Benigno's connection to Alicia may put him in jeopardy to which Marco tries to save. 

Now I could tell you all about the auteur style and how Almodovar applies this to the film in order to make it clear that this is an Almodovar film (don't expect to see more of his films here any time soon) but I won't draw upon it for too long. To be honest, knowing that this is a melodrama actually makes the film even better considering that you gain a much better understanding of the film considering that the use of a melodrama allows for a lot of coincidences which means that you will have to suspend your disbelief to like the film...and there is a lot to like.

The narrative is fresh and well written, the acting is good and leads to quite a good resolution. My main complaint is that this is definitely...awkward. I wouldn't recommend this to people if you have company...things get interesting...and I just glanced over at the DVD case and saw that it's a 15...not sure if that is completely correct (one scene in particular is very very awkward). It's the tone of the film that makes me feel a little bit weird.

Talk to Her is a good place to start if you wish to get into Almodovar's films. There is good acting, writing and a great narrative however the tone of the film is...interesting. Make sure you watch this when no one else is around. Right, we haven't done an animated film in a while so I guess we ought to do that next....soooo...The LEGO Movie got a trailer now....that looks interesting...okay I'm just padding because I'm done. Goodnight.

Some good acting, writing and great narrative that makes for one of Almodovar's best and most accessible films.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Man of Steel (Zack Snyder, 2013) Review

No, you're eyes don't deceive you...Superman does NOT have his red undies on. Good God, it's the apocalypse. Well, since this is clearly a gritty reboot of Superman following the likes of Batman Begins (well, Christopher Nolan did produce this...and it is from the same production company) and since everyone is sick of Batman now (I'm not...still waiting on Arkham Origins) .

On the planet Krypton, General Zod (Michael Shannon) is trying to seize control of the dying planet while Jor-El (Russel Crowe) tries to stand his ground. As the planet reaches it's final hours, Zod is exiled and Jor-El's son, Kal-El, is sent to Earth in order to carry on his father's legacy. Now grown up under the name Clark Kent (Henry Cavill), Kal begins to learn of his roots and needs to control his powers to protect his adopted planet against the wrath of Zod.

Now I've set up self up as a guy who doesn't really like giant action explosion fest than rely on CGI...this is now an exception. It's so good that we have the technology to pull off action sequences that are worthy of the Superman universe (even if it did look like gameplay from Injustice at Zod in that yet?) with a truly spectacular final battle (the scale, the look, the performances...OOOOHHH it's so good) however it works well this the narrative which, while people have complained is lacking, I say is good enough for a Superman film...even if the first half dragged a bit due to identity crises (it's retelling the a way that's aimed at fans...who would already know the story...)

It is so rare to find a film where EVERY SINGLE ACTOR is so, so good. Henry Cavill is perfect as Kal-El (yeah, he's not referred to 'professionally' as Superman) and Amy Adams does a good job as Lois Lane but I can't look at Adams and see Lois though...she's really good in the film but he's not Lois Lane (that's more the casting director's fault). Russell Crowe was born to play Jor-El and Michael Shannon steals the show as Zod (all villains seem to steal the show...weird).

Man of Steel is a solid start to a new series of Superman films that, while it definitely has it's problems, contains some amazing acting, mind blowing action sequences and a well written narrative. It doesn't quite hit the great start that the Dark Knight Trilogy had but it's one film that I definitely want to see a sequel for as there it has a lot of potential.

A solid action blockbuster that delievers great acting and amazing visuals.

If this doesn't win or even get nominated for the Oscar for Best Visual Effects, all hope is lost.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

El Crimen Del Padre Amaro (Carlos Carrera, 2002) Review

It is now our last Mexican film for a while...since I've only seen three. I was going to review Man of Steel but I wanted consistency so expect Man of Steel to be the first film of next week. Lets move on to El Crimen Del Padre Amaro, which means The Crime Of Father Amaro...and yes it does star Gael Garcia Bernal...I need to stop watching films with him in them...

Father Amaro (Gael Garcia Bernal) is inducted into a Mexican parish church having arrived to the town recently. He is assigned to work under Father Benito (Sancho Gracia). Amaro meets a religious girl named Amelia (Ana Claudia Talancón) who's ambition for religion quickly causes her to grow an attraction to Amaro. Meanwhile, Father Benito finds himself working with a drug-lord in order to help pay for the construction of a band new hospital.

Out of the three Mexican films, this is probably the worst one. That's not necessarily a bad thing, it just means the the film is above average at best. In terms of good stuff, there are some great acting (not really the two main characters since they just come off as awkward at times) and is definitely thought provoking since it focuses on the topic of corruption within the church. Yeah, it's one of those films. It does try to enforce some messages onto the audience.

For the bad stuff there is the second half of the film, mainly. Why? Because the romance plot is really tacked on since it comes out of no-where and just does really feel genuine (although you could potentially argue that that was intentional...but I'm not gonna let you argue that point) and Amaro and Amelia comes off are very bland characters.

So in El Crimen Del Padre Amaro, we have two bland protagonists who take part in a poor romance plotline that is contained in a film with some great acting and a thought provoking topic. So it's a real mixed bag that is easily the worst of the three Mexican films I watched. Next time we will dive straight into the return of the man of steel in...The Man of Steel (I guess calling it Superman or something is just a mad idea!)

For every step forward, there is a step backwards which can only mean that it's...alright.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Y Tu Mama Tambien (Alfonso Cuarón, 2001) Review

Another Mexican film....another Mexican film with Gael Garcia Bernal in it for that matter (get used to him...I'm looking at three films with him in) and also Diego Luna...he was in Milk if you were wondering (you probably weren't). So let's get down to it then and take a look at a film with "the sexiest film you'll see this year" plastered on the front of the DVD box...ohhh myyyy!

Tenoch (Diego Luna) and Julio (Gael Gacia Bernal) are two late teenagers who, after their girlfriends leave for Europe, meet an older woman named Luisa () at a extravagant wedding. They try to impress her with talk of an amazing beach called Heaven's Mouth and, after Luisa's husband, Jano (), cheats on her, she decides to go on a road trip with them to Heaven's Mouth which...they just made up to impress her. So the three set off for...nowhere, basically. 

I have one major gripe with this film: how am I supposed to be engaged if I hate the character so much. Julio and Tenoch are just unpleasant people who have no real redeeming qualities. I therefore don't care what happens to them really. At least it's justified as to what Luisa does (although the reason would be a spoiler...a huge spoiler considering you don't even learn until the last scene) but as for our protagonists....why should I care?

That's my only major gripe really as I do enjoy roadtrip least I would if there were any good ones which luckily, this seems to be. The use of certain contextual aspects such as the social division between the two (Tenoch is from a rich family while Julio is not) and we do get a good look at some of Mexico (they really like getting free money in different ways). It's also a well shot film with some nice landscape shots and good use of shot length.

Y Tu Mama Tambien ('And Your Mother Too' in case you were wondering...yeeeeah) is a film that makes me feel dirty and is kind of unpleasent. I don't become engaged with these two characters because they don't really have any redeeming qualities but hey, the rest is alright. I would recommend it but A) if no else is around and B) if you don't mind watch an awkward and dirty film.

While there are some nice use of cinematography and some humourous moments, I just can't bring myself to like the characters and therefore can't get engaged in the film enough.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Amores Perros (Alejandro González Iñárritu, 2000) Review

I can only assume that it's Mexican film week on my website. Mainly because I'll review three Mexican films this week for no other reason than my last exam says so. This could also be considered Gael Garcia Bernal week since he's in all three of the films that I'm looking at. I think I've done all the good introductions I can think of so let's just get this film out of the way.

Looking at the lives of three people, Octavio (Gael Garcia Bernal), Valeria (Goya Toledo) and El Chivo (Emilio Echevarría), who are all connected by a car crash. Over the course of the film, we witness how the crash affects their lives whether it's for better or for worse. Octavio tries to win over his brother's wife (Vanessa Bauche), Valeria has to cope with her life after the crash and El Chivo wants to reconcile with his daughter.

I love the structure this film goes for. It relies on a three act structure that most films use however instead of one huge story, it's actually three combined into one film with only the car crash as the link between them. Other than that, there is nothing that connects the stories together which gives the film a unique feel similar to Pulp Fiction...but Mexican. This means the film never drags and leaves with a bittersweet feeling after it ends (the last story ends...the other two are just tragic).

Normally I talk about the acting but I want to focus more on the characters and, while it's normally acting that helps identify the characters, there are some especially good ones. All I'm talking about is how much I enjoyed El Chivo and his story (easily the best of the three) as I didn't really care about the other characters. The story arcs that characters go though (yes, even the dog) show some excellent writing and use of narrative structures.

Amores Perros is a god film to start with if you want to look at Mexican cinema. The narrative structure shows that it does get old or drag, the story is well put together, the characters become well developed and given attention and it also doesn't make me feel bad like the other two Mexican films do...which means we'll get onto those next. Amores Perros is in IMDb's top 250 films for a reason.

A well written film with developed characters and a excellent narrative structure.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Fish Tank (Andrea Arnold, 2009) Review

That's right! It's time for everyone's favorite film...what? You've never heard of this film?...Can't say I had either until the start of this year but now that I've seen it, I can tell you about with every film I've seen (actually this is only the 210th review while I've seen probably over 500 films) so with that incredibly forced intro out of the way, let's take a look a British independent film...because why not?

Mia (Katie Jarvis) is a violent teenage girl who lives with her mother (Kierston Wareing) and sister (Rebecca Griffiths) in an Essex estate however her life starts to change when her mother's new boyfriend, Connor (Michael Fassbender), makes his introduction to Mia and her sister. Connor begins to help change Mia's life around by encouraging what Mia does best, dancing. 

This is definitely one of those films that could be insightful but, personally, I don't care for the lifestyle that is represented. I makes me feel a bit unpleasant but, like I said, it's insightful...I assume. I'm not exactly sure if this is an accurate image of what is being conveyed but, considering they found Katie Jarvis arguing with her boyfriend at a train station (true story), I would say that there is enough to go by that thsi is realistic also noting that this is placed in the gritty-realism genre akin to the likes of This is England and Brassed Off (or that could be partially a class based comedy).  

What's also rare for films that I watch is an example of a film with an omniscient narrative structure which means that we only see the events of the film through Mia's perspective. So much would have been ruined if we had known certain characters back stories so I think the film definitely benefited from using an omniscient narrative. I will admit that there is one scene that is nothing short of perfect. I don't think that they could have done that scene any better than we see. 

Fish Tank is an interesting look into a certain lifestyle that, like I said, I don't really benefit from knowing but if that's for you then you might like this film. The narrative structure of the film is used very well in the film and the actors, despite some that are inexperienced (that's not an insult, this is Katie Jarvis' only role!), do an excellent job. If one thing stands out, it is that one scene that I can't spoil but damn is it good!

Some good acting and a good insight into a certain lifestyle. Some stuff is done insanely well but I still feel a bit unpleasant after watching it...

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

127 Hours (Danny Boyle, 2010) Review

There is something wrong when EVERYONE knows what happens in the end of the film. That's partly due to being based on a true story...and that everyone spoiled the ending anyway when this film came out. There are also several films in which it sort of makes you wonder what you would do in that situation...I always end up dead for some reason. Anyway, let's see what is arguably Danny Boyle's least disturbing film...not that that's saying much...if anything.

Aron Ralston (James Franco) is a young mountain climber who's life takes a turn for the worse when he falls down a chasm, finding his arm wedged between the side of the chasm and a giant boulder. Aron now finds himself stuck there for five days in which he not only has to try to stay alive but also has to keep his sanity.

I hear a lot of people telling me that this is a very boring film (except that bit everyone knows...*shudder*) but clearly they don't care about emotional or character. The point of the film is to show how one person deals with a life-threatening situation. I love this because it means that the film has a lot of focus and therefore we therefore are more engaged with what happens to a person who we grow to appreciate over the course of the five days...even better considering that Aron Ralston does exists which makes the film that much more deep.

Of course it has Danny Boyle's dark style, specifically in terms of humour. I never thought I'd see a film where Scooby-Doo can be used as a jump scare (makes sense in context) and the scene where he pretends to be doing a talk show is tragically hilarious. It offers for a lot of mixed emotions for the audience that kind of makes me feel bad at times. All I can say is that this is a very focused film and it leaves me with satisfaction.

127 Hours has the biggest problem in that everyone already knows what happens. If you don't know what happens (all...1 one of you) then I would recommend you watch this before looking more into it so that you get a raw reaction which is, in my opinion, the best kind of reaction (spoilers are the worst things ever). It made my skin crawl but I enjoyed the rest due to it's focus on...having a focus.

A well put together deep look at isolation and what lengths someone will go for freedom.

Monday, June 3, 2013

The Lorax (Chris Renaud and Kyle Balda, 2012) Review

I think this is a part of childhood I must have missed. Of course I'm familier with Dr. Seuss and his stories...most of his stories. I know The Cat in the Hat, The Grinch, Horton Hears and Who and someothers but The Lorax proves to be unknown territory for me as I never read the story and am therefore going into this film completely unaware of what will happen. Also I wanted to see more of Ed Helms and I figured this would be a good place to start.

In a world where no trees grow, a young boy named Ted (Zac Efron) wants to impress his dream girl, Audrey (Taylor Swift), by finding a tree seed and bringing them back to the world. To do so, he must go out into the unknown wilderness and find a man named The Once-ler (Ed Helms). The Once-ler agrees to tell Ted about the trees and with that, we are presented with a flashback of the young Once-ler arriving in a forest guarded by a mystical creature known as The Lorax (Danny DeVito).

I REALLY want to like this film. I think that The Lorax and The Once-ler are great and enjoyable characters and I enjoyed their story very much as it's visually stunning with an excellent look at someone's decent into darkness as well as social commentary of corrupt businesses and deforestation...for about half the film! Nope, sadly this great story is sidelined by some generic crap with Zac Efron trying to woo Taylor Swift against a bland and boring villain. If someone shortened the film to just focus on The Once-ler's story, then I think I would like this film but, as it stands, I do not.

This is such a nice film to look at (well, The Once-ler's story is anyway) and I feel sorry for those who saw it in 3D. Not because they wasted extra money but because of the darkened image. You have to see this with the colour at it's fullness in order to see the great visuals. Something that the marketing kind of forgot is that this is also a musical...just thought I'd add that. How are the songs? Mostly forgetabble but one especially stands out as catchy as hell. 'How Bad Can I Be' offers some amazing visuals, great performance from Ed Helms (this makes up for a lack of song in The Hangover Part III) and does a good job of pushing the narrative along.

The Lorax is a film that I really want to like as I thoroughly enjoyed all the scenes with The Lorax and the Once-ler. If you are going to watch this, just skip through the stuff about Ted and Threedville. It's a pointless waste of time that ruins the great flashback story. Ed Helms and Danny DeVito are great in their roles and try their hardest to save the film...sadly they failed...

I love the story with the Once-ler and Lorax but the rest ruins everything!

but if someone were to shorten it to JUST the Once-ler scenes then it would be

Saturday, June 1, 2013

The Big Lebowski (Joel Coen, 1998) Review

John Goodman seems to be in a lot of things I've watched recently. The Hangover Part III, Monsters Inc. and an episode of the Simpsons so I guess I would watch another of his films and decided to pick out this film. I've seen so many parodies of this film in random cartoons (you know, for kids) so I thought I would find out what the source of all this.

In the early 90s, a name known as 'The Dude' (Jeff Bridges) gets visited by some henchmen who claim that the Dude, real name Jeff Lebowski, has their money and ends up peeing on his rug (makes sense in context). The Dude, having none of this, goes to find the real Lebowski (David Huddleson). Lebowski reveals that he will pay the Dude in order to find his kidnapped wife (Tara Reid) so that they can put all this behind them. The Dude and his friend Walter (John Goodman) end up on a mission to solve the case.

This film should be labelled as Red Herring The Movie. This over use of red herrings makes the film unique and also makes the case much more simply than it should be making things over the top...which I love. It's such a mellow film (for the most part) that I can help but be enthralled by Jeff Bridge's performance as The Dude accompanied by John Goodman. Steve Buscemi is good but his character has absolutly no reason to be in this film considering he does nothing to advance the narrative. Perhaps another red herring, hmmmm?

This doesn't necessarily contribute to the film's score (review score not musical) but the fact that this is not a sequel, remake, reboot, prequel nor does it have any of these is nice. It seems like there aren't that many lone films left but this can never be touched! It's uniqueness and ability to survive of random scenes that come out of nowhere that make no sense proves to do the film some good. It's an exquisite film that may seem weird but you have to be open minded.

The Big Lebowski is certainly a strange film for a specific target audience but it's quite clever as it knows how to fool the audience. The actors are great with some excellent characters but some, while enjoyable, are kind of useless. In terms of emotion, it's all over the place. I guess it's primarily a comedy, if I had to but this into a genre. So go and see Jeff Bridges at his best and if you need some more John Goodman...I really don't need more John Goodman...

A clever and mellow film that knows how to fool the audience topped with some great actors.