Jack and Jill Review
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Jack and Jill

2011

Director: Dennis Dugan

Starring: Adam Sandler, Adam Sandler, the Great Al Pacino, Katie Holmes who sometimes looks like Anna Faris in this, Some Children, Norm MacDonald for once NOT being creepy, And ... Probably Another Adam Sandler in there SOMEWHERE.

~

Oh, my friends, we're in for a treat. I, like many of you, saw the trailer for the latest attempt at eye and ear rape spectacle that is another Adam Sandler movie, and thought "might as well make THIS the day I'm gonna burn down the city."

I went to my local theater, like most of you with our shotguns in tact, telling the guy selling me the tickets, "If this is as awful as I think it's going to be, I'm going to kill everyone in this theater, then myself." Then got my tub of popcorn and jug of cola and went into the theater, ready to perform Seppeku, to truly entertain the children. But as the film reached it's credits, I thought "Maybe I was in the wrong theater. Surely, this is the day my senses truly just give up and I'm left in my theater seat as a rotting vegetable." But, no, I was in the right theater, saw the movie I paid money to see. And instead of something I assume would be worse than cancer of the child's soul, I saw a work of genius.

Yes, genius, it took a long while but Adam Sandler has helped create one of the greatest pieces of satire this generation will hope to receive. It's not a bad movie, it's a great movie attempting to create the Ultimate Bad Movie. It's genius is in it's hinted desire to fail. And that's where it succeeds.

Some of you will not believe me because you cannot see how I saw the movie. Fear not my idiots, let me help and explain why "Jack and Jill" will quite possibly revolutionize the way we look at film.

We all know Adam Sandler has been going downhill for a long while now. With lackluster comedies like Mr. Deeds (a movie with maybe a FEW memorable moments), Don't Mess With The Zohan (which was more unfunny and racist as opposed to being hilarious and racist) and his last attempt Just Go With It (which had ONE legitimately humorous moment ... in fact, I'll show you it so you don't have to watch the rest of the movie: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=naOrfPrYDQg). So, I can only assume, Sandler and long time director and friend Dennis Dugan (who, along with all that shit, made Happy Gilmore AND Big Daddy. So, he's been with Sandler through and through) decided to work on a secret project, involving such intellect, that they had no choice but to hide it, just to appease the idiotic audience for such a film. And thank God they did, creating a film many film professors will no doubt include as part of their lesson plan, if not, at least part of the final exam.

The movie is about twins, so they start the movie off by interviewing real twins about what it's like ... being a twin. Each set of twins has their own quirky story, some of them having decent humorous lines and cracks at each other. This may throw you off into thinking you're not watching shit, or an Adam Sandler movie at all. But fear not my simpletons, this is merely a movie technique to lure the audience into a stage of self delusion, thinking they're watching something the least bit human, making the planned actual shitfest ready to pop at you when you least expect it. They want you to think you're going to watch something with the slightest bit of what Hollywod decrees to have "heart" and "character" and a "purpose". But it's all part of the ruse people, the fun is REALLY just beginning, as we get our first whiff at Adam Sandler parodying himself!

Adam Sandler continues his most beloved unfavorable role as a family man. No doubt to point out to the audience that his success isn't something he's going to just keep to himself, he's rich and COULD stop making movies right now, but he won't. That's to add on to his annoyance, and it works well here, considering we don't care for him. That's why every character he plays recently has A) a hot wife B) at least TWO children and C) A lovely house, only attained by those above the middle class, a class Sandler can no longer relate to. So, Sandler and Dugan know the stage is set for shit. Brilliant.

Now, they take a basic mediocre movie premise and amp it up on the "zany" meter to 11. Adam Sandler has to invite his cooky sister over for Thanksgiving (Just in time for the holidays, making us accidently watch a holiday movie. Oh, sneaky.) Hmm, that's not "tiresome" enough of a mediocre premise to make this movie truly the Citizen Kane of Unholy that it could be. Wait, is that ... Yes! It's Adam Sandler, in a woman suit! With an accent so awful and unfunny, you can't help but you subconsciously smile.

The "being multiple characters" and "being in drag" schtick has been done before, many argue Eddie Murphy perfected it. In his Nutty Professor movies, he played so many characters, all with different character traits, with subtle hints of humanity and with such likability, that it was hard to remember that Eddie Murphy is sitting down and talking to himself. Luckily, Adam Sandler will have NONE of that. Not for this piece of genius. He worked so hard on his "Jill", probably studied years to perfect the role, amping his annoying level to "bagillion", so that no matter how hard we try, we cannot convince ourselves that these are, in fact, two different individuals. We cannot even try to think "yeah, it's kinda convincible".

He also leveled up his game in this art by making sure his Jill was not only not likable or convincing, but also not funny. Oh, she says funny things, and looks funny, and gives funny faces, but comes off not so much "funny" as much as "agonizingly annoying". Which is all part of Sandler's craft, he knows levels of annoyance better than any man should, and he made sure to over react just right, to say every line to such obnoxious lengths and to make every word he (she) said so painstakingly horrible, that the audience has no choice but to not laugh, but to pity. Adam Sandler is an artist, knowing truly how to to grab and break into tiny pieces our "suspension of disbelief" and pummel our sense of humor to the ground. Brilliant.

Well, already this is Oscar gold, but how can we at least try to earn a Mega-Super-Oscar? Why, intentionally terrible writing! Of course!

Adam Sandler films were al ready sort of kid friendly, even his stuff with bits of adult content could be handled by a small child because Adam Sandler is a big child. So when trying to force that child friendly theme into his films like Bedtime Stories, you're going to end with something that's just gonna be more sad than funny. The kids are probably gonna get a chuckled or two but not understand the main lame "sort of" adult story, and the adults taking their kids are slightly getting dumber with each passing moment of a CGI booger or fart sound effect. Now, assuming Sandler and Dugan want to make their Shakespearean Turd to be agonizingly awful, you figured there would be more goofy cgi, or at least another big eyed gerbil somewhere. But no, they're putting the audience through another test, and decided to go *gasp* ... "less annoying". Ingenious, putting god awful with tame terrible is a brilliant blend, it leaves us wondering when's it going to get worse!? They do so by giving Jill a pet bird. Does it repeat everything she says, only MORE annoying? Why, you'd be a fucking moron to think otherwise. Sandler rewards our intelligence in predicability by making that thing never shut up, or die.

They also intentionally up the ante with the terrible writing by doing whatever they can to make this film sooooo not for kids. How? By randomly throwing in adult situations into dialogue, just so kids will be forced to ask "Dad, what's an atheist? What's a hooker? What does the gardener mean by 'crossing the border'? What's it mean to be circumcised?" All for the sole intention of forcing your little spawn to grow up faster than you intended. You can send your "Thank You" cards to Sandler and Dugan by watching the movie at least 10 more times.

There's many other wacky antics going about. Like how Sandler needs Al Pacino to do a coffee commercial. Brilliant sub plot; it's not the least bit relatable, kids will have no idea what an Al Pacino is, and it wastes a great actor's time. Though be wary, my only criticism is I think this is the point where the director has kind of lost train of thought. Al Pacino is trying to ruin this film experiment by being honest to goodness funny, and looking like he's having fun. I think the director must have not been paying attention during most of his scenes, maybe they'll fix it when this movie gets released on DVD, Blu-Ray, Blu-Ray 3D, Downloadable Digital Copy, and Downloadable Copy you can thrust into your mind so that you'll see this movie every time you go to sleep. It's a valiant effort boys, but please, don't let Pacino's blooper reel be part of the actual film. I damn near almost intentionally enjoyed the film for a few minutes. We can't afford actual humor, that's why Allen Covert's role as "funny homeless guy" was so short. Dugan wanted a short glance at actual humor, even if it was tame.

Alan Covert, being with Adam Sandler since the beginning of time, perfected the role of actually trying to be humorous and likable in his role of "funny homeless guy" and BOOM, like 5 minutes he was gone. Whether because the script called for him to leave or if Allen Covert himself simply wanted off this film because he thought it was retarded and didn't get the brilliance of it. Either way, it worked, it lured the audience once again into another feeling of security, lead them thinking "hey, that's passable for humorous and likable, maybe there will be more of him". But no, we throw him out as fast as you start to like him, all part of the reeling in for the real great shit.

Luckily the director realized Pacino was clowning around and decided to kick it up a notch by throwing in more awful. Yay. Just when you think this film can't possibly get any more high brow, they have the balls to put in a 1 minute long scene where Jill takes a shit. My god, I am on the floor, killing myself, it's that brilliant. A minute that felt like an eternity, we don't see it, but we hear it, and that's awful enough for me. Seeing Adam Sandler talk to his sister, as she's behind the bathroom door, whipping out diarrhea shits of epic proportions. No doubt they put months of research into finding the perfect sound to illustrate pure uninhibited gushing of 15  swollen assholes that soon will be titled "Jill's Chimichanga Symphony". To go so mediocrely bad, then to just go the whole mile and whip out the shits of the ages, just so film critics such as I can take in a breathe the genius of this film's brilliant satire of low brow comedy? Who DOESN'T have an erection right now?

And to make this the Opus of awful, they cover every cliche they can think of and more. Forced uninteresting romance? Check. Switcheroos? Check. Shenanigans? Check. Smart, unlikable, and mildly funny kids? Check. Cheesy generic kids film music? Check. Celebrity cameos? Check, check, and John McEnroe. All this, combined with an ending so cheesy and incomprehensible (Sandler and Sandler with tits apologize via mumbling incoherent jargon, played to dramatic music), that it makes us cry. And crying equals an erection of mass proportions for Mr. Dennis Dugan.

So, my friends, fear not, there is hope for the cineplex whether you're a down-trotted lower class hick looking for a cheep laugh, or a highly sophisticated chap looking for a good honest to goodness parody of something a hick would watch, then "Jack and Jill" is your God.

"Jack and Jill", a film for the ages, because it aims to please neither young or old, smart or dumb, it aims simply to be. Fuck your kids, and fuck you too.

This movie is rated PG. For PURE GENIUS.

J. Edgar Review
Sato (NHK)
atam_kcin


J. Edgar

2011

Director: Clint Eastwood

Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Armie Hammer, Naomi Watts

~

What the world knows about the man: J. Edgar Hoover was the founder and First Director of the FBI in 1935, and stayed with it until his death in 1972, practically lead to rise of the power house it is today. Building it into a crime-fighting agency that revolutionized police investigations by introducing the fantastic world of forensic science, including the criminal fingerprint system. He got results, but was not a man without secrets. He was suspicious of everyone and kept files on every president he worked with, did whatever he could to keep his power. Along with him living with his mother and possibly being a dormant homosexual, there was so much going on in the mind of Hoover that people today still quarry about. He was very controversial, but a pioneer in leading to the world we have today.

What little I knew about the man before walking into the theater: He's some guy who wore a dress once or twice, right?

Yeah, I'm not terrible at history, but I can't say I'm much of a buff, so, this movie is right up my ally.

I didn't think it would, the trailers for this one didn't leave me with high hopes. It looked like a typical docu-drama. It'll probably be good and treat it's source material right, but be really boooooooooooooooooring. Luckily I'm the guy who goes to movies all the time because he's bored, so, my initial impression of a film means almost nothing.

As far as docu-dramas go, J. Edgar does a great job due to many factors. One, the casting. With Leo DiCaprio, you're always going to get a great performance. I'd say that's just my opinion, but it's pretty close to fact, considering I can't think of a terrible movie he has been in ... well, maybe a few I didn't like, but it surely wasn't because of DiCaprio. THAT'S a fact. And this movie is no exception, he gives it his all in portraying the J. Edgar, in any age. From humble young man to bitter old coot, DiCaprio's dual portrayals of him are both exceptional. From misunderstood troubled mind, to conceited old man lacking compassion and trust. Naomi Watts plays the forever secretary with grace and likability. Also really endearing was Armie Hammer (the guy who played the douche-bag twins from The Social Network) as Hoover's second in command, Clyde Tolson. His smile always seemed kind and true, and we could see the anguish in his face knowing he cares for a man who can't and won't embrace him like he wishes. And of course Judi Dench plays a terrifically vindictive Hoover's mother. Not an evil mother, but one so cold and controlling, that's it's no surprise J. Edgar ended up like he did. With every harsh word she says giving a chill or two down my spine.

The story of how the FBI came to be and how one man could lead to for so long to the point that his mind will most likely expire before his big old wrinkly body is an interesting tale, but not without it's share of criticism. The the narrative is intriguing, it can get confusing. It plays back and forth between when the FBI began to when Hoover's old and wire tapping everyone. It's interesting as it keeps us focused, but sometimes the transitions don't work so well. And there may or may not be a few historical hiccups here or there, not sure since I don't feel like looking it up.

Aside from that, the film doesn't have a lot going wrong. The sets and costumes are great, here or there. The effects for Old Hoover on DiCaprio, I have to admit, are pretty good. With his raspy accent, posture, and way he delivers his lines, combined with that latex old man suit, I would totally buy that this was legit. So legit, that I keep forgetting this is Leo DiCaprio under all that rubber. The same cannot be said for the old man effects on Clyde Tolson. Some areas it works, like when they're sitting in Tolson's kitchen eating breakfast and he tears Hoover a new one, the lighting looks descent. But when I see these two old fakes standing side by side staring at the horse track, it just doesn't work. It looks pretty fake. The character is still interesting and likable, even as and old fogie, so, I can bare with the eye sore. Just ... squint when his scenes are present.

So, if you want to know more about the man that created the agency you all fear, then check this movie out. If for no other reason than to say you got a history lesson from Clint Eastwood. That'll shut anybody up.

Immortals Review
Sato (NHK)
atam_kcin


Immortals

2011

Director: Tarsem Singh Dhadwar

Starring: Henry Cavill, Stephen Dorff, Mickey Rourke, Freida Pinto, Luke Evans

~

Immortals is a film loosely based on Greek Mythology, telling of the tale of Theseus, The Titans, Zues and the Gods of Mount Olympus, etc. All these elements mixed into the pot of a director, who makes these characters of legend into his own. Creating a film that, though for the most part visually stunning, is a giant mess.

I didn't expect much from seeing the trailers for Immortals, I said "Eh, so, it's like 300 but it's not." And I was being too generous. It is 300, only not as interesting.

Before I pick apart what's wrong, let's throw Tarsem a bone by me saying one thing about his work: It's truly something for the eye. His vision for his work, though questionable, is ... well, there's nothing else like it. The costumes are extravagant and are definitely different than what one would expect from a film like this.

That being said, we have to explore why his vision just doesn't work here. First off, like many of his other works, he loves to douse his film in symbolism, only the said symbolism is very obvious to point out and just comes off as kind of obnoxious. I know why the Minotaur is man dressed like an Ox. Something about "legends are what man makes of them" or something snobby like that. I understand why the Gods in this film are portrayed by men and women of the same age (like, around mid 20s to early 30s) yet they all refer to Zues as the father figure he should be. It's to signify how Gods are above man and don't really need to age, especially considering they're immortal. It took me a second to figure that out and, while a intriguing move on the director's part, it's one I can't stand behind. I, like many, imagine these Gods as bigger than life, I imagine Poseidon as an epic beard man with a trident and whatnot. Not some tanned boy with some ... weird head piece.

And that brings me to something that's probably gonna get me a lot of flack. Everyone raves about the costume design being wonderful, I agree that it definitely catches the eye, but I don't really care for it. Personal preference I guess, but it has to be taken into consideration, and seeing these costumes with the big use of CGI and the epic slow battles, it really makes this movie into a confusing "Hodge podge" of art house film/mindless action movie. Don't believe me? The last action sequence alone felt like forever. Granted, it was an impressive scene, but it just dragged for quite a while. Say what you will about 300, yes it had a different visual style as well, but at the end of the day, it was a simple action movie of the "epic" genre with a simple plot. "We Spartans! They Persians! We Kill!" The End.

But let's say that everything I said above doesn't matter. Nitpicking about costumes and symbolism, what about the story? What about it? It's a mess. It follows a trend that most action adventure films follow now of late, it doesn't take it's time to breathe and let us relate to the characters or have a grasp of what the hell is going on before the next action sequence. They try to throw in some moments of character development, but it seems so "bare minimum" and that makes it come of as shallow and just doesn't work. Theseus should be an interesting character, a peasant who, with every right, has denied the Gods. Now after having his home taken from him and hint of light in his life telling him there's hope, the young lad goes to search for peace of mind and hopes to fight the evil King Hyperion, a man who also spits in the God's eyes, and hopefully bring peace so others won't suffer his fate. Because whether peasant or royalty, we all share the same blood. THAT point, they definitely wanted to beat into us. The only problem being Theseus is so bland and sadly not that interesting, so it's hard to root for him. I didn't buy that this guy with his rock hard abs and beautiful eyes was a lowly peasant (Hell, I didn't even realize he was a peasant till the asshole guard (who ended up being a failed attempt at a rival for Theseus) called him one). I didn't buy that he had to suffer greatly, or that a majority of his actions throughout the movie would be for the best. Granted, being trained by Zeus in disguise might make him a little more chipper than the average street urchin, but the way they present us out "hero" was mishandled greatly.

Even the villain Hyperion is to blame for this movie's lack of interest. Oh, I know, he's suppose to be this uber badass villain, who spits in God's water, and kills whoever and does whatever generic bad asses do. But it just seems so cliche and strangely NOT threatening. I don't even understand his goal: His family died, so he's gonna get back at the Gods by taking over every kingdom, killing and raping everyone, then releasing the Titans, who will kill more ... talk about overkill. He kinda reminds me of the villain from the Conan the Barbarian remake, only HE was less annoying. Stephen Lang has this ability to play ruthless horrible people, but with a calm and collected demeanor. And that made him pretty badass, knowing he'll be chill with you one minute, then stab you and burn your village the next. I love Mickey Rourke, but his Hyperion wasn't intimidating at all. This character tries too hard to be major badass that he just comes off as a child. Also his battle helmet looks like he skinned a Pokemon and put it on his head. Again, interesting costume work.

Other characters are just other bland stereotypes that get tossed aside so often, I honestly don't think they wanted me to know their names ... because I completely forgot some of these characters until now. Like, there's the oracle lady who's just all "wise and tells the future and I'm the only woman so I'm the love interest" who has as much chemistry with Theseus as I do with getting my fingers eaten. There's a monk character who gets his tongue caught off who died when I blinked. And ... some other guy who was with them ... think he had A line.

Honestly, the only character I kinda liked was Stephen Dorff's character. I don't even know his character's name. He's the typical wise-cracking asshole character. In short, he's this film's Han Solo. Yeah, he's a walking cliche, but he's a cliche I can get behind. Because at least he's not boring. Despite his back story being not as interesting, he's still somewhat far more interesting than Theseus with his cut and dry attempt at a character all about doing good. Also, I like his grin. It just screams "I'm a dick, but you gotta love me." I know that's a shallow reason to like a character, but this movie has giving me very little to go with. And what little they've done with Dorff must have been something right, considering the second his character dies I lose vast interest in what happens next.

On top of bland characters, the story is just all over the place. The goals of the characters keep changing, the rules of what can and can't be done keep changing and at the end ... what did we learn? What was the purpose of Theseus to go through all this? To realize Gods are real? Only to be put a lot of pressure to do things he ended up not being able to do? Seems like a big waste of time for the lackluster Gods. While watching Gods fight Titans, with slow mo and fast motion action sequences, CGI blood flying everywhere and people being torn apart, I shouldn't be groaning asking "what's the point of this and when is this movie over?"

So, if you want something ... interesting to look at, well, that's what Tarsem does best. If you don't fully understanding what you're looking at, you'll hate it, but you can't say you won't forget it. Now if the visuals could match with an engaging story that focuses on likable characters and not making sure all the men aren't wearing shirts, then we'd have something worth remembering.

Drive Review
Sato (NHK)
atam_kcin


Drive

2011

Director: Nicolas Winding Refn

Starring: Ryan Gosling, Carey Muligan, Albert Brooks, Bryan Cranston and Ron Perlman

~

I remember one time I was working with a friend and out of the blue an '80s song popped up on the radio. I say "popped" because that was one of the many characteristics that defined media in the 80s. Something that popped. Anyway, we were enjoying it and my friend said "Boy, I wish I was living in the '80s at my age." I can understand for the most part why people would think that. We look at our times, our dilemmas, and wish to go back to a simpler time. It's a feel of nostalgia. I always think that nostalgia is fine, as long as we realize that's all it should be, a feeling. A universal feeling that transcends time, because the people in the '80s probably wished they were in the '60s, and the people in the '60s were all high on shrooms and wished they were in the time when Jesus was born, etc. But what I find most interesting is that the one decade I hear people wishing they could live in, more than any, was the '80s. It makes you wonder what made it so special, and the only answer we can look to is it's media, it's pop culture and what we think of it today. And looking at it, you can understand why people adore that decade, it's filled with a feeling that's kind of hard to explain. The poppy or techy or just plain catchy music, the simplicity of some movie storylines that manage to do so much more with so less, the characters that just scream "he's so coooool!", it's just a feeling that people want to look back on. And for some directors, emulate.

That feeling is no more apparent than in Drive, the story of the nameless getaway driver for hire who finds love and get's dragged into a world of trouble. Ryan Gosling, straight from his great success with Blue Valentine, plays The Driver (that's what he's called in the credits, his character has no name. Though a few times he's referred to as "kid"), a loner who went to a auto shop one night owned by a man named Shannon, played by Breaking Bad star and Malcolm's Dad Bryan Cranston, who realized the kid had a gift with cars, inside and out. Hence he became a stunt man, driving cars for the movies during the day, and a getaway driver for heists at night. He's very calm, cool and collective. He's no nonsense, calculative and gets the job done. He'll wait for you for five minutes and WILL get out safe, with or without you, as seen in the opening scene of the movie where he escapes the police, using his speed, knowledge of street routes, and whatever elements he can take advantage of. Drive by day. Drive by night. He drives. After that scene we cut to the opening credits ... which is rare for movies nowadays, so, I found it intriguing. If you didn't get an '80s feel before with the Driver's Steve McQueen homage and his car with no modern radio, you'll feel it with the high pop and techno opening song, and the bright pink cursive font.

After the heist, he returns to his one bedroom apartment, where he runs into a girl (of Never Let Me Go and Wall Street II fame, Carey Muligan (who gets cuter and cuter with each film)) that catches his eye. After a few more encounters, trying hard to stay to himself and not enter some else's life, he aids her and her young son with their car. After a rather awkward "getting to know each other" conversation about his day job and her husband being in jail, they part ways only to meet again at Shannon's auto shop, where he plays Cupid and let's him drive her home. Meanwhile, Shannon tries to make some money from his friend in organized crime, played by Albert Brooks, and his associate played by Ron Perlman who has a tan, is a little pudgy, and doesn't have a beard ... so, he's horrifying. After a fun drive to some more catchy pop music, the driver and his girl start to connect. Unfortunately, as he starts to think things are going smoothly, the husband comes back from jail and hells slowly starts to break loose. After getting the shit kicked out of him by two men wanting protection money from when he was in jail, the driver decides to aid in getting his debt paid, hence protecting the girl and the kid. It's a simple plan, pull a heist at an antique shop and everything will be fine. But things aren't what they seem. And I'll spare you the rest from here on out.

What really attracts me to this film is, as I said before, the very '80s feel to it. The director was a fan of films in the 80s with a very, as they called it back then, "European" feel to it. It's shown in the main lead being not a macho asshole, but a quiet loner (with a tad of a violent beast inside), the very quiet moments in dialogue that let the characters breathe and get to actually know each other, and of course, the music. Also to note, this film is surprisingly violent. Which is my favorite kind of violence: random. I mean, it's bloody violent, lots of stabbing, some head shots with shotguns, head stomping, etc. I always liked films that added many elements that kept it from being in one particular genre. You're like, "aw, look, a kiss, and now OH MY GOD, HE'S STOMPING ON THAT GUY'S HEAD, HIS HEAD IS GOO ON THAT OTHER GUY'S SHOE!!!!!! " That's just classy.

In our time, our action films emphasizing on car chases, this film seems like the black sheep of the bunch. The car chase scenes are well done and pretty cool, but they are few and far between. But the scenes are integral to the film and don't feel shewed in. Like "WE NEED AN EXCITING CAR DRIVING SCENE WITH CRASHES AND BOOOOM!" They seem more organic this way, and besides, it's not about the car chases, it's about the characters.The characters in this film are rich and very memorable. A complaint I hear is that the talking scenes seem to drag, but if you actually watch and pay attention, you'll see that it's not a dragged out conversation, it's actually a REAL conversation.

There are many different ways to approach dialogue scenes in films. They can be just people spouting out lines, like most films. Or they can feel organic and real, which shouldn't be hard to do, but for most films, it's damn near impossible. One of the best examples of people talking in film I can think of for this year alone would have to be Super 8. There's a scene I remember where the kids are in a burger joint talking about the crash that happened and what they're going to do from here on out, but it's not "I'll say what I'm gonna say, then you can talk" dialogue. People talk over each other to say what they want to say and try to get their point across, some get pushed aside so some idiot can spout something, etc. For anyone who has ever actually been in a real conversation with friends (I pray some of you have) that's exactly what it's like, everyone talking over each other and TRYING to be patient. That's real. In Drive, it's different because these are different sort of characters. The dialogue between the driver and Carey Muligan's character is more slow paced because of who these characters are. The Driver is a calm and collective soul, he rarely speaks and when he does, it's usually after he thinks about the most appropriate answer for the moment. He has his armor on and ready to protect him when needed, especially when Carey Muligan tries to peek in and understand this quiet and handsome man. She's also quiet and reserved due to her past with a troubled husband and the baring responsibilities of providing for her son by working at Denny's and barely making end's meat. These two take their time because they're real, or, at least they feel real. Then again, that's just my input.

Props to Bryan Cranston, who I've started to love recently after becoming a hardcore Breaking Bad fan. He's really starting to break out and hopefully will become a household name. His portrayal of the greedy but lovable Shannon won't be forgotten. I've already pointed out how creepy Ron Perlman looks to me, but aside from that ... he's Ron Perlman. Can't go wrong. I also really dig the cold and ruthless Albert Brooks, who'll kill you without really giving a damn.

It's funny, while looking up this film on Wikipedia, I came across a direct-to-video movie with same name from 1998. The poster read "If you live for action, don't settle for anything less". Well, I'll settle for less if it means THIS DRIVE falls into that category.

Apollo 18 Review
Sato (NHK)
atam_kcin
http://www.onlinemovieshut.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/apollo-18-poster.jpg

Apollo 18

2011

Director: Gonzalo Lopez-Gallego

Starring: Warren Christie, Lloyd Owen, Ryan Robbins

~
Full spoilers for this one, cuss, I couldn't help myself.

It's hard thinking of an original idea for films these days, everything seems like it's been done before. So, why not make a film based on actual events? The problem some film makers have with that liberty is that some insist on being stuck with the bare facts and have no choice but to portray their films in the reality of what they're referencing. That's why we have anti-climatic historical dramas like Public Enimies. Would I prefer to see John Dillenger go out in a blaze of glory, firing upon an entire town while shooting down Christian Bale in a Batman mask? You're damn straight I would, but that didn't happen, so, they're screwed. Of course film makers are also artists, and like many great pieces, art thrives itself off of being a representation of our culture, so we can look at something, and tweak it to make it look not only more presentable, but waaaaaay more interesting. That's why we have films that nudge history like Amadeus or The Social Network. We look at what really happened and go "yeeeeah, what happened in the end is cool and all, but, I can make it like 90% less boring. with catchy music and a bitching cast". That's why they say they're BASED off actual events. You gotta read that line more carefully and take it into consideration when watching films like these.

This left a trail for the visionists out there who look at the many fluffs of history, those moments that're a little murky on the details, and try to fill them in for entertainment values, mostly filling those gaps with sci-fi elements. What was once a lifelong hobbie for conspirators and nutballs, are now a profitable means of fucking with history on the big screen. Like how Stargate claims the pyramids were formed by Aliens. Or, as I explained in my Transformers review, that the Apollo 11 lunar landing was a front to investigate a crash landing from a ship full of robot aliens. Who'da thunk, huh, that I would then move on to review another film that does the same thing, only shittier.

Apollo 18 is another entry in the "missing footage" genre of films, where a compilation of footage was put together to show what happened on the Apollo 18 flight to the Moon in 1974, which, in reality, was one of the many cancelled missions in the 1960s and 70s. The film mockuments the astronauts being given the go to proceed with the mission, though it would be top secret (of course). Three fictional astronauts then flew to the Moon, to collect rocks and set up detectors so the US will know of upcoming Russian attacks. While collecting samples, some spooky shit starts to go down. Almost like-

Okay, I'm just gonna spoil it, cuss, you're gonna figure it out anyway. Those rocks they collect are tiny spider-crab alien things.

We see what goes on through many different cameras: Ones all around the ship, ones set up outside, and some Super 8 cameras the astronauts randomly carry around (I know, it's to document their thoughts and feelings like bloggers and shit). And they'll focus their shots on some of the rocks outside the ship and zoom in to show *gasp* they move a little bit! Oooooooh, spoooooky. The camera work comes off as really obnoxious and just seems distracting. But, we'll discuss that later.

Anyway, soon the astronauts discover a cosmonaut ship and are all pissed off because the Russians got here!!! And they think that's the worst they have to fear. But soon after they realize the only cosmonaut they find is a dead one in a dark crater of the Moon, they start to get beyond freaked out and can't figure out what it cou- It's the rocks! You morons! Just throw those rocks awa- gah, need to calm myself. Oh well, worse becomes worser when one of the little fuckers destroys the satelite to contact Earth, meaning they're stranded on the Moon till they can find a way to reach Houston. And it gets even WORSE when another one of the little fuckers attacks one of the astronauts and harbors itself inside his body. Even when the other guy surgically removes the rock, it's far too late. The astronaut gets contaminated, his eyes turn red, his skin looks real bad and ... and it's just comedy gold from there.

I know he's suppose to be kinda creepy at this point, but, I can't stop snickering around him. He's awesome! He's staring at you all creepy like, he keeps yammering away about "they're here" and "there's no escape" and he keeps smashing shit up with a hammer. He made the movie for me, and God bless him for it.

After the crazy possessed astronaut smashes the window of their ship with a hammer, they decide to hop into their space hum-vees to use the cosmonaut ship to see if they can contact Houston. I say THEY because even though the infected astronaut is CLEARLY out of his mind, and his regular conscious self is not capable of breaking free of the alien hold, the other astronaut INSISTS on taking him along. Yeah, he's keeping his crazy friend, because he won't leave a man behind ... Dude! He's done! Just ... just leave him! A couple of times, the guy was capable of being reasonable and telling his friend "leave me behind, save yourself". You shoulda just done that! Or at least DON'T let him keep the hammer!

Oh well, GUESS WHAT. Their little space buggie crashes thanks to MC Hammer, and they get separated. The sane one finds the cosmonaut ship and contacts Houston. As usual due to douchebag government standards, they won't allow the astronaut to come back due to them knowing about the alien space rocks and fearing he got infected. The scene is somewhat genuinely heartfelt as he begs and pleads to let him return, since he never actually got infected, wanting to come back home to his wife and kid. After they repeatedly tell him to fuck off, he throws a fit, listens to a recording his son made over a mixtape of his, plays it over and over till we fade to black . . .

THAT'S how if should've ended, but, no, we need more bullshit. He gets a radio signal from the third astronaut, who's been cooped up in the main ship orbiting the moon (I would've mentioned that earlier, but, I didn't care). And that astronaut is all like "fuck that, we're going home anyway". The cosmonaut ship prepares to launch ... but wait, Crazy Astroanut is outside, and smashing the window with a hammer! Oh thank god, I missed him. Sadly another one of the little aliens gets inside his space suit, and kills him inside his suit, leaving him dead. RIP Whoever You Are. The cosmonaut ship launches towards the main ship as they prepare to return to Earth. However, as the cosmonaut ship enters orbit, the reduced gravity shows tons and tons of rocks floating in the ship . . . OH BOY! They all attack the guy, he loses control of the ship and crashes into the main ship. We get an epilogue saying "they're bodies were never found blah blah" and we end there.

As far as films like these go, this is not the worse, but it's filled with flaws. As I was mentioning before, the editing is distracting. The footage itself occassionally disolving or having those lines pass through like they're ancient VHS tapes, that's fine, we're suppose to believe these were lost scenes that're transmitted from space. I think. But there are some things you should just avoid when making films like these, especially if you're trying to sell the whole "Oh, yeah, this really happened" feel to it. A prime example of how NOT to do these types of film is George A. Romero's Diary of the Dead. Aside from from it having mediocre acting, a "meh" plot and overall just being a bad movie, it fails really hard in the "trying to make me feel like this is real" department. It adds music for dramatic effect, the scenes transition in such piss poor ways, and the feel of it just feels ... well, cheesy. Apollo 18 is nowhere near THAT bad, but it's close in some areas. Some scenes really go overboard with the feel of it being ancient film with rips and tears. And zooming in on a rock to see it move is just .. what other reason would you do that if you didn't already KNOW they were alien rocks?

Also, while we're talking lost footage, let's talk about a pretty big plot hole. The film ends with the cosmonaut ship crashing into the main U.S. ship. We see this through the astronaut's Super 8 cameras they carry. We see them before they crash and die ... HOW DO WE SEE THIS? The scenes taking place near the ship on the Moon, I can kinda see how they got that. Either they transmute the footage to Earth, or someone went back up and collected the scenes for evidence, or something, I dunno how that works. But those two ships blew up! They're gone! Either Super 8 cameras are invincible, or there's a huge plot hole here.

I dunno, I don't care. That's the best way to describe how I feel about this flick. I don't really care for it. It's not the worst film I've seen, but I think it's pretty bad. The acting is okay but these performances end up as forgettable as the character's names. The pace is soooooo slooooooooooooow despite it being a pretty short film. And overall, it just feels pointless. What was the point of this film? To scare us, to demonize the Moon by saying it's filled with evil space spider-crab-thingies? Well, congratulations, you just accidently made the Moon goofy.

It's fun to fool around with history, especially to play "connect the dots" with the parts of history we don't know. It's fun to make our little fanfictions about how the JFK assassination actually was caused by Captain Planet, but, at some point, we gotta get real and think "maybe our ideas aren't THAT good to make it to film".

Except mine. Mine's brilliant. Make that Captain Planet/JFK film. It'll due fine, it's only BASED on actual events.

Transformers: Dark of the Moon Review
Sato (NHK)
atam_kcin
http://cdn.tfw2005.com/transformers-news/attach/7/3/8/6/3/Transformers-3-Dark-of-the-Moon-Poster_1304096952.jpg

Transformers: Dark of the Moon

2011

Director: Michael Bay

Starring: Shia LaBeouf, Rosie Huntington--Whiteley, Optimus Prime

~

Been a while since I've written a ... well, written review, I know. But, whatever, let's roll.

Ah Transformers, love them or hate them, they ain't going anywhere and WILL get their Summer Blockbuster title. All the movies are the essential summer blockbuster: they're loud, kind of obnoxious, got loads of famous people to work with, and everyone wants to see them. Though, after Revenge of the Fallen, I wasn't sure how they'd get many people in the seats. That movie was viewed as a big piece of shit, and a sign that maybe the novelty of a series based on a tv show from the 80s was starting to die down. I personally think that died thanks to the GI Joe, but, to each his own. So, Transformers 3, when looking at the trailers for it and before entering that theater, you have to ask yourself "Is this the Transformers sequel that can make me give a shit?"

As per tradition, a Transformers film has to take a historical event or two and somehow form it around so that it turns out to be some conspiracy involving the Transformers. First film was the construction of the Hoover Dam being a holding place of Megatron and the second film was ... some pyramids in Egypt being a sun eater or something, I don't remember, I didn't care. This film's insult to history: The 1969 Apollo 11 mission to the Moon was ACTUALLY a covert mission to investigate a crash from a giant Autobot ship from Cybertron during the robot war. Strangely enough the only thing more unbelievable than that, was that that DISTURBING thing walking and talking in the White House was actually John F. Kennedy. That's sad when a CGI JFK is more unrealistic than Optimus Prime. Hehe, CGI JFK. Acronyms are fun.

Anyways, decades later, we return to our hero (I guess) Sam Whitywkiliki, or whatever, played by Shia LaBOOF. He awakens to Megan Fox, as a blonde, with big lips, and an accent, and a - WAIT, who's this!?

Yes, due to Megan Fox being ... I don't know, fired or something, she's replaced with Rosie Huntington-Whiteley (a Sports Illustrated model in her first film debut (and it shows)) playing Sam's new love interest, Carly. "But wait," you may ask if you actually care "what happened to Megan Fox's character? And Sam's room mate? And the two racist Autobots from the last movie?" And to that I ask, would having any of these elements make the movie better? CERTAINLY not the latter. Granted, at first I too was curious. When your boyfriend saves the world from evil robots TWICE and proclaims towards the end that he loves you ... WHAT could possibly upset you so much you'd just up and leave him?

"Sam, this isn't working out, I'm leaving you."

"What? Bitch, I saved the world! ... Twice!"

"Yeah, well, what have you done recently!?"

Like it matters, her character was ... oh wait, that's right, she wasn't a character, she was just some girl to fill in the role of "love interest" for Sam and "wack off material" for te audience. And the blond seems like she can do that just as well, maybe even better. Though the chemistry between the two is kinda baffling, she does have more of a sincerity and kindness that Fox was lacking. That, and because I'm a complete pig, I'll just say ... Mmm, those curves.

Meanwhile, where interesting stuff is happening, the Autobots are helping the humans track down terrorists and remaining Decepticons. While hunting down and coming across a ... giant ... metal ... Dune worm? or something, Optimus finds a fuel cell from the ship that crashed on the moon. After discussing his frustrations about the humans hiding Intel from him with Special Agent ... Frances McDormand, the Autobots go the moon (since ... they can do that) and recover the robo body of Sentinel Prime, the leader of the Autobots before Optimus.

On the other side, we return to Sam's plot, which revolves around him finding a job ... yay.  With loads of twists and turns, he finally finds one, working for an insane tanned John Malkovich. With crazy co-working Ken Jeong, who can play the most annoying comic relief in the short amount of time. While being quirky and annoying, he gives Sam papers about the Moon landing and info involing humans working with the Decepticons. This brings Sam in on the interesting plot (finally), just in time for Optimus to use the Matrix (that thingy from the second film) to bring Sentinel back from the dead (voiced by Leonard Nimoy). If you didn't get that it was Leonard Nimoy at first, have no fear, the movie will be more than able to provide you with enough Star Trek references till you finally get it.

Meanwhile, Megatron and his army of few remaining Decepticons hear of the Autobots findings and go in to get what the moon ship has to offer, since apparently this is an "all according to plan" motif. Once again, it's the Autobots VS the Decepticons in an all out brawl to the death for the fate of Earth.

... And I mean BRUTAL brawl to the death. Apparently Decepticons can bleed now. Who knew?

I won't give too much away in terms of plot from here on out, unless I note otherwise throughout this review.

The performances in this film were pretty standard, some do pretty okay, while some are painstakingly abyssmal to watch. Tis just an example of the Transformers films problem with writing human characters. They're characters, that's for sure, but they don't feel real. There's no real depth to these people. John Malkovich is too ... odd. Francis McDormand is the typical TOUGH and STERN government woman. John Turturro is the same as he was in the previous ones, but at least he's actually useful to the plot at some points. The parents, still annoying, but thank God they're cut short. If I have to give this film some credit where it is due, it's that it knows how to fade away it's comic relief so we can get to the drama and robot battles. Think about it: Sam's Parents, Sam tells them to go away and they do. John Malkovich, he just never appears in the movie again after some point. Ken Jeong, he dies! Don't get me wrong, I love Ken Jeong, but his character got REALLY annoying REALLY fast.

Strangely, this is probably the only Transformers film where I actually felt something for Sam. Maybe it's because I can sense his frustration in not being respected in the slightest after all he's done in the last two films. Maybe it's because the stakes in this film is the highest of them all and I want to see how he survives this. I'm not sure what it is, but it works.

One thing is sure, this movie does succeed in making me sort of give a shit. This one, you actually feel like mankind is screwed. Seeing Chicago being nearly destroyed by the Decepticons and the few hordes of human survivals trying to escape, it had an effect on me. I mean, I knew this wouldn't last and any minute now the Autobots were gonna come back and fight the good fight, but for a moment, I sensed the character's sense of hopelessness, and for that I gotta applaud the movie ... alright, enough of that, let's get the shit blowing up.

Remember when you saw the first two Transformers films, and all you wanted was robots beating the shit out of each other ... well, then this is the film for you. For probably the last hour, it's pure robo gore. And I mean gore, I mentioned the robo blood. What's nice about this film's action is I can actually, for the most part, tell what's going on. The Autobots have a variety of colorful characters, I don't know who they are, but I can point at them and go "THAT'S AN AUTOBOT. THOSE GREY ONES ARE DECEPTICONS. I UNDERSTAND NOW." They no longer look like chunks of metal humping each other, as appealing as it was for a minute.

Also, the human army, is ACTUALLY USEFUL in this film. I know, strange right? Josh Duhamel and Tyrese Gibson reprise their roles as "The two guys from the Army in both Transformers movies" and instead of pointing at things and yelling or firing at a dessert, they get a good amount of Decepticon corpses to claim. Having them really does, for once, make it feel like this IS their war, as it should be, since it's their planet and whatnot.

So, does it succeed in making me give a shit? I think it does. Is it still a stupid summer flick, oh, hell yeah.

It took a look at it's last film and took notes on what didn't work and TRIED to fix it, I think. For one thing, scenes have a better flow to them and don't seem weird and clipped together. Some shots are strange, but, that's just to be expected at this point. Just some of the problems you're faced with when you try to make a movie that looks like a two and half hour long commercial. I dunno what camera they use to do that, but they ain't getting rid of it. They set to make us care for the human characters, and by having them be in mortal danger, they succeeded. What felt like it should've been hollow and soulless, only ended up being ... just hollow.

The plot at some points doesn't make a whole lot of sense, there's still needless comic relief, and so much that they did right, you gotta debate on how it holds up compared to what they did wrong. But is it worth a look? I think, if you saw the last two, what have you got to lose?

Prince of Persia: Sands of Time Review
Sato (NHK)
atam_kcin



Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time

2010

Director: Mike Newell

Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Gemma Arterton, Ben Kingsley

~

Boy, video game based movies have come a long way from Super Mario Brothers. What is it about converting a popular media like video games into another media such as films? It either flat out fails or leaves no lasting impression ... This film being the latter.

Now let me say this straight out, as far as video game based movies go, this is probably one of the best. And I'll explain why.

For one, it actually seems to know what the game they're basing this movie on is ABOUT. That helps. It takes elements from the game, the characters and settings and add in their own take to try and stay loyal to the source material, but still add in ideas of their own to give it a little edge. Also it's well shot, pretty well acted, and overall looks stunning. With all that being said, why do I say it gives no lasting impression? Well, let's look.

I should point out that I AM a fan of the game this film is based on, and I'll try to not be that type of person who just points out why the movie is different than the game, I EXPECTED there to be differences. Even minor fanboy qualms like "The Prince shouldn't have a name" should be the least of my worries. I knew they had to give him a name, compromises like that are not only necessary, but just plain logical. The conversion from one media to another has to make compromises like that. If they were to make a Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time movie, are you going to complain that "Link doesn't talk!" and expect people to comply? No, of course not, that's childish and unreasonable.

The game was about the Prince accidently releasing the Sands of Time which turned everyone in his huge Persian castle into zombies. He, along with his once prisoner princess from another kingdom now his arrow slinging female companion, Farah, must go to the giant hourglass that caused all of this and return the sands of time from which they came and return everything to normal. What really made this game popular was the time manipulation ability. With the Dagger of Time, the Prince stabs his zombie enemies to absorb the Sands of Time to enable the ability to travel back in time for a few short moments. This ability really came in handy when accidently falling to your death or losing your health all because you underestimated an enemy. The game was fun, inventive, had a good plot and was overall enjoyable. And Disney grabbed Jerry Bruckheimer and said "produce a movie on this."

Now this isn't like Pirates of the Caribbean, where you look at a theme park ride and think up a plot to go with the name, Prince of Persia already had a well rounded plot and well developed characters to boot. The problem with this situation being the game wasn't very kid friendly. Yeah, it's PG-13, but it has the Disney label on it and you know kids are gonna watch it. So they kept the main concept of the game, but changed a thing or two.

The movie begins with the King of Persia coming across a young noble orphan named "Dastan", who he adopts as his own son. Years pass and the boy grows up to be Jake Gyllenhall STILL  trying not to look like Tobey McGuire. He serves to help conquer a kingdom claiming to have weapons that could conquer his own, so he accompanies his adopted brothers (Richard Coyle and Toby Kebbell) and their uncle Ghandi (Ben Kingsley). After helping achieve victory in the most unlikely of acrobatic talents and overall just plain luck, the Prince (screw compromises, to me, he doesn't have a name) helps conquer the kingdom. They take many riches, including the Dagger of Time, unbeknownst to what power it holds, and the princess of said kingdom, played by Gemma "I have a tan now, hence I'm middle eastern" Arterton. When they return to the kingdom, the Prince is immediately accused of murdering his beloved adoptive father when he is seen burning to death after putting on a robe the Prince gave to him as a gift (a gift one of his brothers in fact gave to the Prince to give to their father, or was it ... ?), a robe which turns out to have been poisoned ... Ok. Fleeing from the scene with the princess, and after an attempt from the princess to take the Prince's life, he finds out that the dagger allows him to revert time itself. With this object and the desire to clear his name, he and Princess Tamina head off to solve this dilemma.

Yeah ... that's a little different. Don't get me wrong, I'm not usually the type who sees changes like this and call BULLSHIT! I'm the kind who's more open to different interpretations of such works, like when a book is converted to film and so on, as long as it stays true to the source material. And in this film it does, but some of the the things they add don't really help the film.

The moral of the game being that we can choose our destinies and so fourth actually take a backseat in this movie and is replaced with an overstated ideal about "trust in family" and "bonds of brotherhood." Which aren't bad morals or anything, but isn't at all what Prince of Persia, in any game, is about. And it is so ridiculously overstated that I could care less if his stupid family believes in him and his magic time knife.

Oh well, back to the performances. When I heard The Bubble Boy was going to be The Prince of Persia, I laughed and said "Haha, good one." Then I saw photos and went "... Dammit." I had problems with him back then because ... well, for one, he's white. I know there actually are white people in Persia, but do they ALL have to be in this film? But when I actually saw the film and his performance, I must say, I thought it was pretty OK. I was afraid he wasn't going to capture what the Prince was actually about. In the game, he was a good guy, but his mindset was always about claiming honor and glory to appease himself and his father, and he wasn't very trusting to those who set to be in his way. He wasn't the typical video game hero that was a goody goody with his goals always so noble and pure, the Prince seemed somewhat real. The Prince in the movie actually captured some of that, he still wanted to earn the honor and glory to please his father, with more motivation in the film since he's grateful to his father for picking him up from the slums and giving him a loving family. Even with the huge overtone of the "family is important" moral, Gyllenhall made a very convincing lad who wanted to be something worthy of such a blessing.

Aside from that, he's still a very different prince. He's more life loving and bit on the humorous side, especially in the scenes with Tamina, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. The scenes with the two bickering can get annoying from time to time, but don't entirely distract the film. That part is left to Alfred Molina and his ostrich racing ... yes, Doctor Octupus holds illegal (i think) ostrich races. What the?

Well, I figured there had to be SOME comic relief, but why ostriches?! WHY!? Oh well, aside from that, the performances are pretty good. Some quips here or there, but I don't want to knick pic every actor.

Might as well cut to the real reason why this movie overall is just plain average. It's actually a lot of things. One complaint I've heard is that "The Prince is too pretty and prissy" and I didn't understand what they meant by that, till recently. I look at the Prince character and notice that everything going on just seems to happen AROUND HIM, not really emerging him into the scene, in a sense. There's loads of CG effects in this film that help make the movie flow, loads of sand effects and creatures or things flying around, and it all seems like it doesn't really effect what's happening. The biggest example being when The Prince gets separated from Tamina in a booby trapped temple where the ground collapses and he's whirling around this endless sand hole, and he's jumping around, kinda surfing on broken relics and somehow, safely, enters a entrance that leads him straight to where he was originally going to go. Not that it wasn't an impressive scene, visually wise, but I never felt that the Prince was in any real danger, that I knew he would be fine. And that's a problem. How can you add suspense to a scene when you somehow know what the outcome's going to be. Throughout this movie, the Prince barely works up a sweat or gets a scratch, and I'm not sure what the problem is other than the effects are just too distracting. All in all, it just makes the film feel hollow and wooden and sadly, just average. It makes the characters seem hollow, the sets, the moral, the story, it just seems like something that could be better. And that's this movie in general, a movie that could've been better.

Like I said, pretty good for a video game movie, but as a movie in general, it's just average. Not to say you shouldn't watch it, hell, take the kids, they'll like it. And I did like it, a little, I just wish I could've loved it.

Kick-Ass Review
Sato (NHK)
atam_kcin


Link to Video: watch


Kick-Ass

2010

Director: Matthew Vaughn

Starring: Aaron Johnson, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Chloe Grace Moretz, Nicholas Cage, Mark Strong

~

Based on Mark Millar's graphic novel of the same name, "Kick-Ass" is the story of becoming vigilantes of justice, and how in the real world it isn't as simple as putting on a mask or a cape, it requires a little bit of madness. There are no superheroes in real life, only people who are crazy, stupid, and/or violent enough to attempt it. That holds true in this brutal action-packed dark-humored story of one boy's desire to fight crime, and all the shit he goes through along the way.

Our main protagonist is a young average teenager loser named Dave Lizewski (played by Aaron Johnson) who one day asked "how come no one has ever tried to be a superhero before?" To which his friends respond with "Probably because it's impossible." Putting on a costume and helping people, that's impossible? Well apparently everyone but Dave shares that view, that no regular person can actually be a masked vigilante and live to tell about it. Dave cannot comprehend this and decides to be the first to give it a try. So with a green scuba outfit, a pair of sticks and the name "Kick-Ass", Dave goes out to prove everyone wrong, that it's not impossible to be a hero.

Being a young teenager with no training in combat or anything of the sorts, he finds that being a hero is a LOT harder than it seems. Considering his first attempt at

SPOILERS!!!!!

stopping two car jackers resort in him being stabbed and hit with a car, leaving him completely paralyzed ... that's ... wow.

Yeah, right away you should know before entering this film that it doesn't hold back on ... well, anything. It's so comically crude to it's characters that you feel sorry yet cannot help but giggle at how "out of nowhere" the moment is, along with many other moments.

After returning from the hospital with his body now able to withstand massive amounts of pain with his metal plates and lose of nerve endings, Kick-Ass goes back out to try to help. After successfully saving a man's life from certain death in a gang related tussle and some kid capturing the fight on film and uploading it on YouTube, Kick-Ass had overnight become a household name.

Meanwhile, Nicholas Cage's character shoots a little girl at point blank range in the chest ... yeeeeeaah.

Oh no, it's OK, she was wearing a bullet proof vest. A couple more shots and they'll go out for ice cream! Meet Damon Macready and his daughter Mindy (played by the young Chloe Grace Morets). They play an intricate role in Kick-Ass's life, as Mindy (after slapping on a purple wig, carrying but-loads of sharp weapons and carrying with her the name "Hit Girl") saves Dave's after an attempt to scare a few drug dealers ends up with him almost getting killed.

This is one of the highlights of the movie that lets you know that it's only going to get more brutal and more disturbingly hilarious from here, as we see Hit Girl jumping around and slaughtering the drug dealers while the delightfully inappropriate tune of Banana Splits by The Dickies is playing.

Young Dave wonders what the hell just happened and where this crazy girl came from. As he follows her, he sees ... Nicholas Cage basically dressed up like Batman minus the ears, carrying a sniper rifle and calling himself "Big Daddy".

And it only gets more complicated and dangerous for young Dave from here folks, as we deal with Big Daddy's enemy, the mafia boss Frank D'Amico (Mark Strong), his son who'll attempt to capture Dave as the new super hero on the block known as Red Mist (played by McLuvin- I MEAN, Chris Mintz-Plasse), and Dave's feelings for the prettiest girl in school who wants to be friends with Dave only because the whole school thinks he's homosexual.

Quite a life, wouldn't you say?

The casting for this is superb. I haven't seen Aaron Johnson in a lot of work before Kick-Ass, but I'm hoping to see more. His performance as this character was well done. He's the lovable loser. He desires to help people and do the right thing, yet isn't so 2 dimensional in that resolve. He's still a teenager with urges and desires that're certainly not always noble or innocent. He's not the strongest hero, hell, he's not very good combat wise AT ALL. But his heart's always in the right place and his desire to help is our desire to see him do so. And when he comes through in the end, it's one of his proudest moments. He's a different type of hero. Have a kitten that's gone missing, then Kick-Ass is your man. Try to take down an entire mafia ... well ... let's just say I wouldn't ask him for help first.

Wht about the supporting cast? Well, let's dive in. Now, it's sad but must be said: Chris Mintz-Plasse will NEVER be rid of the character "McLuvin" from Superbad. Whenever I see this kid, I think "McLuvin!" Not that he's terrible or anything, he always gets some pretty humorous roles and plays the "nerd" role very well. However, in Kick-Ass, he gets something a little different. Is he a nerd ... well, yes, his character is established as a comic book nerd so, yeah. But that status just seems like ... well, a status. His character is nothing like we've seen before from Chris's previous work. He is the Dark McLovin. Being the son of a ruthless mob boss, his character (also named Chris ... that's kinda funny) desires to follow in the family business, and will do anything to gain his father's respect. Hence, he creates the hero Red Mist as an attempt to get Kick-Ass's attention and bring him to his daddy on a silver platter. Even though he likes Kick-Ass and knows he hasn't done anything to upset his father, he still brings him for torturing and just sits back and takes it all in, mildly annoyed about the whole thing. Which to me was surprising, you would expect him to betray his father and help out Kick-Ass. But no, he STILL wants to be in his father's life of crime, and thus, stays silent. The character is devious and also quite humorous, showing us that nerds can be the hero and also the villain.

Nicholas Cage is always a strange actor to critique. When you give him just the right character, you'll get quite a show. This is one of those roles. His character was once a former cop who refused to deal with the mafia, which D'Amico doesn't like. So he gets him arrested on bogus charges, making his pregnant wife to go through depression and kill herself (fortunately enough, the baby still survived), and leaving Damon Mcready with a great deal of rage that he won't stray shy of dealing to D'Amico and his entire organization. After being released from prison, he takes his daughter and trains her to become a deadly assassin with him, and thus Big Daddy and Hit Girl are born. Cage plays this character well, because the character is just as strange to determine as Cage himself. He's a loving caring father, yet a revenge fueled psychopath. He remains calm, cool and collect when killing off D'Amico's men with knifes and shotguns blasts, and yet he is so freakin goofy when he and his daughter are just hanging around. And the added touch of Big Daddy talking like the Adam West version of Batman is just hilarious.

Of course we can't discuss Kick-Ass without discussing the show stealer, Hit-Girl. The second she killed those dealers, she stole the show from Kick-Ass, sadly. She's a fast, little killing machine, and she looks so adorable while doing so. She swears, she slices and dices, and she's so likable as a character. She's just a little girl who wants to fight the bad guys with her daddy, and maybe wants to have fun while doing so. Hence Kick-Ass caught her eye and the strange notion of a "super team" of sorts could be formed, despite Kick-Ass's lame duck status. Although she's cruel to him, she does admire his spirit and just wants to play super hero. With the innocence of a child (in a sense, i mean, her intellect is to be noticed and she does BRUTALLY kills people) and the deadly skills of a midget assassin, is it any wonder Hit-Girl became so popular.

Popular enough to create an outcry from parents and some critics, saying this character is a terrible influence and that this movie will corrupt the minds of children everywhere!!!!!

... So you KNOW this movie has to be good, right? If your parents hate it, you MUST like it.

I kid, but seriously, this controversy is nothing to stray you from the movie. Does it have cruel acts of violence? Yes. Crude humor? Yes. Gritty language? Yes. Exploitation at it's finest? Yes. Yes. Yes. And I say if that's your thing, then this film is for you. Despite all that, it was still an enjoyable film. The great casting, the well done soundtrack, the story, the effects, I couldn't think of anything I didn't enjoy. Maybe it was just me, I don't know.

When I see Big Daddy and Hit-Girl, I see a very fond and humorous relationship (despite it's unconventionality). I see myself in Kick-Ass's lonely teenage struggle and admire his will to try to help people. There is just so much more to it than blood and violence and little girls saying the "C" word. This film is unlike anything I've seen before. I left the theater with a mixture of emotions that only lead me to smile on the drive home, wanting to see it again. Which I did. Then read the comic. That's how much I liked it. With that said, I can also say it does enough to pay the source material it's respect, while differentiation enough from the book to stand on it's own. It's just ... it's such a kick-ass movie to see.

So, all I can say is, if this movie is your thing, then you have nothing to fear. Wanna play?

She's Out of My League Review
Sato (NHK)
atam_kcin


Link to Video: www.youtube.com/watch


She's Out of My League

2010

Director: Jim Field Smith

Starring: Jay Baruchel, Alice Eve

~

Imagine an unfathomable world where men are not judged by their looks, but by their CHARACTER. Where the sexist and hurtful ratings of one's sexual appearance means nothing when you're head over heels in love. Where Beauty and a Beast can be together, just for being who they are.

This film TRIES to show us that world. Emphasis on trying.

In this add on to the monstrous list of romantic comedies, an ugly nerdy male only a mother could love named Kirk, played by Jay Baruchel (that one guy from Tropic Thunder and Fanboys), thinks his life is a living hell. He's in his mid-20s, lives at home with his family who shows him no respect, tries  to patch things up with his bitchy ex-girl friend (it's harder on him what with the chick making nice with his family and STILL hanging around with them, including HER new boyfriend), and he seems to be going no where in his dead end airport security job, being so close to planes yet no choice of flying away. This all changes when arguably, by the movie, the hottest female to have ever existed ever walks into his life. After loosing her cell phone and Kirk giving it back to her, a bond is slowly but surely forming. For some sick reason, this female, played by Alice Eve, has the hots for him. This confuses her friend, who tries to play the "bitch" character for laughs but only ends up playing it as an annoyance, and his three friends, a fat guy, some guy nicknamed "Stainer", and some other guy who doesn't really get enough screen time to be memorable. As the two go out more and get to know eachother, Kirk can't help but wonder "What does a hotty like her see in a hobgoblin like me?"

And thus we have She's Out of My League. It's a typical romantic comedy with the typical format. Girl meets boy, they get along, something happens to disrupt their eternal hollywood happiness, they get together, the end.

Though I do give them credit for throwing a curveball here or there. For instance after the scene where they have the obligatory fight that causes a conflict in the relationship and Kirk has his big cathartic moment where he realizes the moral this movie intends to thoroughly beat into your head (Spoilers: The lesson is WE'RE ALL 10s!!!), he's on a plane and gives his big speech, thoroughly saying "fuck you" to his family and ex-girlfriend and leaves to find his beloved. Unfortunately he cannot leave because the plane has already shut the doors, and to forcefully open them up again would give Kirk a HUGE fine. So ... unfortunately, he has to sit back down. I'll admit, that was funny. Seeing the camera pan out from Kirk's face to his brother flipping him off had me laughing. Oh, don't worry, his friends do something that assures he is reunited with his super hot girlfriend.

The performances are pretty descent considering it's a cast of people I hardly see in movies. The only people I recognized other than Jay Baruchel was Debra Jo Rupp as the kind mother (Kitty from That 70s Show) and former Madtv Andrew Daly as the Head Airport Security dork. The others have their moments, most humorous are Kirk's brother who is either retarded or just comedically stupid, and his friend Stainer who is the head of Kirk's triad of friends. Also the fat one has his moments, even if it seems that he's trying too hard.

As for the female lead, I don't know how to feel about her. In the end I just plain couldn't truly see any real chemistry between the two. Maybe that was the point, that the spark that sets their passions a blazing is something only the characters can see, but I tend to think the fault lies more in lazy writing rather than something THAT well provoked in thought. Because honestly, I know some people do just fall in love just like that, but ... for HIM? I'm not saying ugly people shouldn't get hot chicks, but maybe just not this guy. His character is an archetype of puny and pathetic taken up 15 notches. It's like every time he said a line the director thought "That was annoying, but could you do it MORE annoying?" And trust me, I wanted to like this character, cuss I and many other males can relate to being that shy and socially awkward. And over all I think he's a pretty good young actor, he plays pathetic nerd like it's a second persona for him. But TAKE IT DOWN A BIT. I just don't know what to feel about this guy, his eyes squint like his girlfriend is the sun, his words slur constantly and it's just kinda annoying. Does he wear glasses? The way he squints, it looks like he should've been wearing glasses the whole time.

In the end, it's a romantic comedy. Is it funny? Yeah, it's pretty humorous. Some jokes are swing and a miss and some instances are predictable, but it'll make you laugh, it does it's job, 'nuff said.

Repo Men Review
Sato (NHK)
atam_kcin


Link to Video: www.youtube.com/watch


Repo Men

2010

Director: Miguel Sapochnik

Starring: Jude Law, Forest Whitaker, Liev Schreiber

~

In a future where selling organs has been upgraded from shady mafia gang business to the equivalent of of leasing a Mustang, Jude Law and Forest Whitaker play the roles of "Repo Men". A group of "collectors" who, when the renter of a Union kidney is due on his payments by even a day or two, grabs the owner, cuts them open and rips the organ out to bring back to it's manufacturer. Their boss, played by Liev Schreiber, praises Jude Law's character as being the best of the best at ripping people apart and stealing what they couldn't afford (which, frankly, almost NO ONE can actually afford). Unfortunately his wife, Carice Van Houten, who plays very well the role of an unreasonable bitch, cannot except his lifestyle anymore and locks him out of the house and hoping to be rid of him. After a busting a horde of dealer with a load of illegal organs and some device that makes it untraceable by Repo Men, Jude Law's character, named Remy, decides he wants to quit and get a desk job to appease his bitchy wife. His partner is completely unhappy about this (I think, it's hard to tell with Forest Whitaker, he might just be mildly annoyed) but let's Remy go with whatever. His last mission involves him taking back an organ from an R&B composer who seems rather at peace with this man killing him. When Remy get's his heart defibrillator to shock the artist, it malfunctions and he gets a heart attack. He wakes up with his chest attached to an artificial heart. Schreiber and Whitaker give him an option: Sign some paper that'll make him a client, eligible for the heart, or don't ... and die. With no choice, Remy signs, and is now part of the system. When back on the force, all of the sudden he doesn't want to cut up people and kill them, seeing as how he's "on of them". So Remy, with this help of his new Brazillian girlfriend he met at a bar once who has multiple artificial organs, is off to escape being in the system and hopefully shut it down.

Boy, that was a mouth full.

Just thought I'd get the plot out right away so I can talk about everything else.

The performances? They were pretty good. Jude Law is really getting himself more out there and I'm catching the bug. He's a pretty good actor. In this movie, he's just ok. He just doesn't really stick out with me. The parts with him and Forest Whitaker taking out people are said to be the best parts of the film. And I can't fully argue with that. The chemistry between these two is very well played. Liev Schreiber is another actor I'm starting to become a fan of. In this film he's not in alot of action scenes, which I find most alien considering his past movies. No, instead he's the sly and sleezy organ business owner, only wanting the money. He's plays "sleezy" very well, in that we can see that despite his demeanor. As common for car salesmen, they shine on you and try to be friendly, yet all they want is your money. All I wish for is that there was more development for his character, he just seems more like a prop for the obligatory antagonist. The female roles don't really leave a lasting impression on me. The female with the loads of fake organs in her seems pretty interesting and I wish they exploited more of her. One instance showed her artificial ear that could not only hear far away, but she could also plug in headphones for others to hear. After seeing that I wondered 1) What other purpose could that serve other than espionage or downright stalking and 2) Dude, what ELSE does she have on her.

The actions scenes, I have mixed feelings on. Some are kinda hard to watch, like many current films I've seen over the years. The camera just can't keep up and I end up asking "What's happening?" This mostly occurs in action scenes shot in the dark in cramp spaces. On the other hand, some action scenes and quite fucking awesome. Especially

SPOILERS KINDA

The final action scene, where it's just Jude Law, a couple of machetes and a whole lot of baddies to cut. It's shot very well, slowing down in some parts so i can really appreciate it. It's gory, it's explicit, it's crazy, it's ... well, I liked it. After the final guy has met his untimely demise, there was a roar of applause from my audience.

That's kinda where this movie stands, and I'll explain what that means in a minute.

There is one issue I have, and that's the ending.

SPOILERS STILL.

It turns out Whitaker's character rigged the device that gave Remy his heart attack, so that he'd be stuck with the system and they'd still be partners for ever and ever. Remy does not take this well and the two of them fight, Remy gets knocked out, wakes up and APPARENTLY his girlfriend knocked Whitaker out. After being accepted by a group of credit dodgers, Remy decides he's tired of this shit and figures the only way out is to get out of the system. Remy and his chick bust into The Union's mainframe, where they can erase their accounts and no longer be indebted to them. How they do this is ... rather sketchy. They have to take out their organs, scan is against I giant ... thing, and their accounts will be cleared. They have to repo themselves ... heh heh, cute. Jude Law does his heart right away and puts it back. But, UH OH, his girl friend has loads of organs. So step by step, in a rather weird way, Remy takes out her organs and scans them ... while making out, and in the end their both clean. Liev isn't happy, but luckily Forest Whitaker is there to stab him in the throat with a knife ... ok, that was cool. The three of them then are seen on a beach resort living the life of outlaws and they live happily eve-

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DAH, damn glitch.

What? Oh yeah, turns out when Remy was knocked out by Forest Whitaker, he was in-fact turned BRAIN DEAD. To keep him alive, they hook him up to their latest product (that has been hinted throughout the film) that allows head trauma individuals to enjoy life in an artificial dream. Kinda like in Vanilla Sky, only stupider. So yeah, that last part of the movie was a dream sequence ...

Fuck.

That was just lame. It's insulting. It's cheap. It's cliche. It's ... I didn't care for it.

Although it does help clarify the ending a little bit. Cuss that whole action sequence in the end was a little too much to believe. Remy being in a dream like state would explain why that scene was more exaggerated than previous ones. And might explain the contrast in his character. I mean, he gets an artificial organ and no longer wants to kill, I'll by that. But it's not consistent. Cuss then later, he's seen killing tons of people. Is that his sub conscious reacting to the threat at hand as a blank slate he needs to be rid of? Would that help? Or would you look at the film and just say "Poor writing". I don't know, it's up for debate.

Now, the final verdict. Is this a good film? When comparing it to any "great film" deemed by the general masses, I guess not. The plot is is a mess, the ending is terrible, the characterization is jumpy, and I don't know what to make of it. But, it had many instances that gave me a desired reaction that we don't get much in cinema. I had fun.

That last action scene was a blast. The futuristic stun guns are so cool and make me wonder why we don't have anything close to that. The plot is still relatively interesting. It has a good cast. And it was just a blast to watch some of these scenes.

It falls in the category of a mindless action flick you can turn your brain off and just watch. And sometimes, that's ok. It has it's faults, but looking past them and looking at the end result, I can say I enjoyed some parts and I kinda wanna see it again. It's not perfect, but neither am I.

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