Friday, December 24, 2010
TRON: LEGACY (2010)
Directed by Joseph Kosinski
Jeff Bridges - Kevin Flynn/ Clu
Garrett Hedlund - Sam Flynn
Olivia Wilde - Quorra
Sam Flynn, the tech-savvy 27-year-old son of Kevin Flynn, looks into his father's disappearance and finds himself pulled into the world his father created and has been living in for the past 20 years. Along with Kevin's loyal confidant, father and son embark on a life-and-death journey across a cyber universe that has become far more advanced and exceedingly dangerous and dark.
Well I waited to write this review just so where I can actually go back and think about and pick it apart in my mind. But something happened while I was doing that. I actually didn't think about the movie at all almost since I watched it. Usually when this happens with movies with me, it means that I could really care less about the movie, or that it was just a "Okay, now I've seen the movie, now what?" I know one of my friends is highly critical of reviews for this film, but that doesn't mean I'm going to go easy on it (please don't spam my inbox!!!)
I'm going to start off with the basics for this, the main story. If anyone actually stops to think about it, it's not the story of Sam Flynn finding his dad, but instead it's a true Frankenstein story. The creator's invention goes nuts and starts killing while keeping the creator terrified. Now this part of the movie I loved completely. Here's why I like this part, it's because this is what Clu was programmed to do. To be perfect. To create a perfect world set by his creator, Kevin Flynn, lets call him "Frankenstein". While Frankenstein keeps on evolving over time, Clu does not. He has his orders and nothing else. When he sees something new, it doesn't compute so he has to destroy it to keep that perfect world going from his original programming. Due to this, Clu commits almost a complete genocide on what is a new self evolving species. He does not understand it so he has to destroy it. Hmm, almost sound like Clu is human! Hence starts a 20 plus year game of chess between Frankenstein and his creation/monster Clu, in which Frankenstein has decided he cannot beat his perfect Monster and has decided to do nothing instead, which in turn only makes the whole situation worse. Way to go Dude! Now Jeff Brides I just love in this movie. Just like in the first movie, as is with this one, Bridges makes the movie. Let me explain why. About two weeks back my friends and I watched the first Tron for a movie night, and one of them cracked a joke how The Big Lebowski is the unintentional sequel to the movie with The Dude as a burnt out Flynn. Perfect! Ever since then I've had that in my mind, and it still fits perfectly with the Tron: Legacy. The Dude just got burnt out in the real world is all and he created his own universe! Not really the last part, but wouldn't it be fun if that was what really happened. Anyway, Bridges brings back a older more Zen Dude to this role and it fits perfectly.
I will also say this for the movie, it is amazing to watch. It will basically melt your eyes it is so cool looking. From the disc fights at the beginning of the movie in which it seems everyone seems to know capoeira and kung fu, specially cool when the fight goes upside down, to the new light cycle battles. Now this, was so much fun to watch. While the original was amazing to watch back then, it moved kinda slow and in a set pattern. Not anymore now. The bikes can now make jumps, zigzag, and shockingly, make true turns and not 90 degree angles! In the light cycle battles now you actually feel the danger and speed to it. Loved it when the bikes started to wobble before they end up crashing also. Everyone knows that Daft Punk did the score for the movie, and I have to say, if it wasn't for them the movie would have been less than what it is. Their music set the tone for the movie and it stayed that way all the way through to the end credits. Not a lot of people notice the background music in movies which is a shame. Let me put it this way, imagine the first Star Wars movie set to disco music or Aliens set to music by Mozart. Done? Both would not be the same movie without the music which helped make both classics. Music helps a movie out so much due to the fact that it helps create the atmosphere for the whole film. Tron: Legacy will have that advantage thanks to the music. I should also should mention that Daft Punk is in the movie as the MP3 programs in the club. I laughed when I saw this even though I knew they were in the movie.
Now comes to my gripes about the movie. If you have not seen the first movie, you will be lost about whats going on. Even though some of what happened before is explained, it will still be hard to follow due to there is a back story to the whole movie as well as this movie retreads the past movie in parts, more than it should infact. As for Sam Flynn, does this character actually evolve over the course of the movie? Does he understand what really was at stake both in the real world and on the Grid. I'm going to say no to that one as even though he is told, quite specifically in fact, that his dad will not be able to make it back through to the real world. But what happens at the end of the movie? He whines that his dad won't be able to make it. I really didn't like the character one bit, it's as if Garrett Hedlund doesn't really care for most of the movie about the character, or understand, I'm going for the second one. As for the CGI monster, which is a young version of Frankenstein, graphics have come a long way, and have almost made it to the point where it looks real, it still has trouble with human faces. When they show a young Frankenstein, the colors look off on his face, and the eyes are just dead and have no soul to them. Even in the Grid, the monster still looks as if he's out of a video game half the time. Another gripe, this one is more of a bitch, there should have been a lot more Tron in the Grid. I mean, come on, the movie is named TRON, not Sam Flynn and not Rinzler, who by the way is actually a corrupted Tron. Also the movie had a great actor in it, who's character went nowhere. The actor was Cillian Murphy. Talk about a total waste of talent for such a bit part when it could have been so much more.
Now while I won't say the movie is great, it is good and fun, which is what the movie needed to be. For the movie to be great it had to have been about more about Frankenstein and why he was truly afraid to confront his monster, due to the fact at the end of the movie you find out he is basically God in the Grid and can reprogram, destroy, or rebuild anything he touches. The movie shows him as such during the air transport scene while his son and Quorra are talking, if you pay attention in the back ground they show him in a zen position like Buddha with a halo around his head. Which by the way, I found to be brilliant use of scene setting due to the fact during that whole time you could always see Frankenstein as an all seeing and knowing presence.
The program who gets a hole in his head during the light plane chase/ fight. Hilarious!
Change the scheme! Alter the mood! Electrify the boys and girls if you'd be so kind.
The skintight "electric" suits worn were actually fitted with embedded light strips, thus eliminating the need for any such effects modifications in post production.
Cillian Murphy appears in an uncredited role as Edward Dillinger Jr. He is the son of former ENCOM Senior Executive Ed Dillinger.
Jeff Bridges noted that as he was being scanned by laser into a computer (for CGI effects), he realized the same thing happened to him (fictionally) in the original TRON.
The movie makers opted to painstakingly recreate the original interior and a portion of the exterior of Flynn's Arcade in Vancouver, with the rest of the location filled in with CGI. The exterior even includes the "Space Paranoids" billboard on the roof, but with the addition of the "TRON" logo - in-universe, TRON is an arcade game that Flynn created after the events of the first movie.
Sunday, December 19, 2010
BLACK SWAN (2010)
Directed by Darren Aronofsky
Natalie Portman - Nina Sayers/ The Swan Queen
Mila Kunis - Lily/ The Black Swan
Vincent Cassel - Thomas Leroy/ The Gentleman
Nina is a ballerina in a New York City ballet company is completely consumed with dance. When artistic director Thomas Leroy decides to replace the lead ballerina for the opening production of their new season, Swan Lake, Nina is his first choice. But Nina has competition: a new dancer, Lily, who impresses Leroy as well. As the two young dancers expand their rivalry into a twisted friendship, Nina begins to get more in touch with her dark side - a recklessness that threatens to destroy her.
This is another movie I was waiting to see this year, and was actually afraid I wasn't going to to be able to. Thankfully Fox decided to push it out rather quickly before the end of the year (thank you Golden Globes for the push!!) Needless to say, plans were made the day I found out it was going to be released wide. Before going into the movie I knew that it wasn't going to be fun, hell, when is a Aronofsky film fun! I will say that Aronosfsky films are amazing to watch no matter what even when it's painful to watch. The man is a master of the psychological breakdown of characters. I should mention that the movie at the very beginning basically tells you how this is going to end. I won't say how, so you have to watch it yourselves. Just expect to see something raw and unrelenting and you should be set.
I'll go ahead and say that Natalie Portman just wiped all those years of bad acting in Star Wars movies out with this movie. This brings back memories of how good of a actress she truly is. She's just amazing to watch in this movie as you get to watch her just break apart and become unhinged. From a tightly self controlled, frightened of rejection girl to when her personality cracks completely at the end as everything that has happened comes crushing down on her it was amazing to watch. I'll go ahead and say that this is probably the best I've ever seen her act in any movie that I've seen her in. Vincent Cassel also does an amazing job playing Thomas Leroy, the director of the ballet, who pushes Portman's Nina to let go and not be in control as much, to get the best performances he can from the dancers. Cassel could have just played this role as a one note type character, but instead he adds a layer to it that gives it a darker side. Now some of the tricks he tries with Nina can be considered awful, but he is trying to push her to be the dancer he knows Nina can be. As for Mila Kunis, I haven't seen very many things she's done, but before watching the movie I kept on going back to her character Jackie from That 70's Show. I must say I never will again see her that way. Kunis plays the free spirited Lily, who is for all purposes the complete opposite of Portman's Nina, and who you can never tell what is going on with her character throughout the film, but yet every time she's on screen she draws attention and sometimes even outshines Portman. Everyone does an exceptional job in this film all the way around.
I must mention that while Black Swan is a movie about ballerinas, it's also an interpretation of Swan Lake. While Nina can be seen as the White Swan, Lily can be seen as the Black Swan constantly playfully messing with Nina, but never out of harm. But the true Black Swan is also Nina who personifies her darker side as Lily. As Nina's psych begins to crack under the pressure and constraints she put upon herself , her world begins to change into something darker. Now here's where the movie gets interesting. Nina was never the stable one to begin with. This is shown early in the movie as she sneaks into the dressing room of Winona Ryder's just released from being the star Beth's dressing room after she is told the news. Even though it seems innocent enough that Nina takes her lipstick, we find out later on that she's been stealing from Beth for a while, trying to be as she puts it, "perfect" like Beth and she sees these objects as a way to help her do that. Watching Ryder's reaction to this as Nina comes clean to her is amazing. That's just one example of how disturbed Nina is. Another is her seeing out of the corner of her eye reflections in mirrors of her moving when she isn't and black shadows moving around when there are none. You're pulled into Nina's world, from her delicate relationship with her overbearing, possessive, controlling mother, who isn't all there either (she paints portraits of her own daughter, and you can tell she's been doing it for a while) and is trying to live her lost life through her own daughter, to when you know Nina's gone, well no other really good way to put this, batshit crazy when she sees all the paintings of herself start talking to her, which I must say I had a smile on my face as this was happening. But the true fracture in Nina's world happens during the opening night performance of Swan Lake which is hard to watch but you don't want to look away. To go into detail about this part of the movie would just ruin the shock and surprises that are there on the screen as this is where everything comes together that has happened.
Aronofsky has again created a world which is hard to watch but yet at the same time is so beautiful to see. The film itself has a grain over it which makes it look dark to begin with, but with the story as it plays out, it gets so much darker. The over the shoulder shots helped make you feel as if you were in the film as did the club scene where Nina truly began to let go and find her darker side and become the true Black Swan. While there are scenes of violence in the movie, it's much harder to watch due to the fact that it's against ones self than to another person. And to make it worse you can't tell if it's real or imagined in Nina's mind as she slowly loses her grip on reality. I mentioned this mostly due to the ending of the movie when Nina truly turns into the Black Swan, both figuratively, and literally. I must say I was amazed during the last part of the movie as reality becomes warped. From Nina's neck lengthening (I was giddy after watching that part) to her on screen transformation into the Black Swan. I will say that some people are going to hate this movie, and for them, I feel sorry for, as it's a slow burn type of film where everything is set for a reason and nothing is wasted. I don't want to give to much away about the movie as I want to mention so many scenes that stuck out so much, but to do that I feel as if it would ruin and cheapen the movie for people that haven't seen it yet, as there are plenty of scenes in there, so I'll just say that I can easily say that this is one of my favorite movies this year, if not the best movie I've seen this year so far.
Easily the Black Swan in the dressing room. I'm not going to say how or try to explain it, but after the watching the movie I hope you'll understand why.
I was perfect......
Natalie Portman lost over 20 pounds to look more like a real ballerina as did Mila Kunis for her role as well.
Aronofsky and Portman first discussed the film in 2000, though the script was yet to be written.
Portman is actually undergoing a real physical therapy session in one scene with the actual physical therapist due to the fact that she actually twisted a rib during filming of the movie.
Vincent Cassel compared his character to George Balanchine, who co-founded the New York City Ballet. The actor said Balanchine was "a control freak, a true artist using sexuality to direct his dancers".
Sunday, December 5, 2010
A MEIA-NOITE LEVAREI SUA ALMA (AT MIDNIGHT I"LL TAKE YOUR SOUL)
Directed by Jose Mojica Marins
Jose Mojica Marins - Ze do Caixao
Magda Mei - Terezinha
Nivaldo Lima - Antônio
Ze do Caixao is a undertaker in a small town and has complete disrespect for everything and everyone and is looking for a mate to carry on his name.
Going into this movie I had no idea what to expect or really no concept what the "Coffin Joe" (Ze do Caixao) character was about and in the long run that actually helped me enjoy the movie more. I didn't have any expectations before watching the movie. Sometimes, like now, that's a good thing.
I can see why the Coffin Joe films are so popular (there's three total main films with multiple appreances in other films and tv), the character is just pure evil and he's so much fun to watch while he's doing it (save for the close up of his eyes changing). From mocking people's beliefs to maiming a bad card player, the character is just a joy and commands attention. All this can be attributed to Jose Mojica Marins. While Marins does overdo it a bit and hams it up, it's when plays it down that it really draws your attention. as for when he plays it down, it's when there's killing to do, and Joe is ready for it, and reveling in it, enjoying the pain he's inflicting on others. There's just one scene in the movie that Coffin Joe shows any humanity and that's when he stops a dad from beating his son, due to the fact that Coffin Joe sees children as the heir to the parents blood and legacy. Now the scene doesn't last long, but it just goes to show the one true weakness he has. Then he goes about and kills and hurts some more. Fun.
Now while there are other actors in the movie, most are just in the background or are a plot device to further Joe's story along. They do a good job of what they do, but Marins just outplays them all the way, except for a scene with Magda Mei after he forces himself upon her. She plays it with a solemness that just shines in this movie when her character tells Joe she's going to kill herself and haunt his ass. To bad she ruins this with that laugh out loud face she makes when you see her hanging from the ceiling. I can't explain it, you just have to see for yourself. Of course Joe just laughs this off, then we get to laugh at him toward the end of the movie, but I won't spoil that. The one scene that truly sticks out in the movie though is after Joe kills his wife, his best friend and after his fiance kills herself. He just goes nuts asking for Heaven or Hell to strike him down for what he has done or for the earth to swallow him to take him to Hell. You get to see Joe's insanity and his willingness to die. When he isn't struck down, he believes himself to be all powerful and no one will stand in his way or what he wants to do. Marins hams it up during this, but it's so fun and chaotic you actually kinda cheer for him.
While I can easily pick apart this movie with the scenes or sound, I'm not going to just because I had too much fun watching the movie. From the bad special effects, to the horrible thunder crashing type sound, it just kinda went to the background, cause my attention was on Marins performance of Joe and the embodiment of evil that he is (that's also the name of the last Coffin Joe film released in 2008). The movie is just brooding and surreal. I was sucked into this world with ease and I enjoyed my time there and the movie. Now it's not perfect, nor will it ever be on any top 10 list (hell for that matter, top 40), but I enjoyed the movie all the way through. Now if only I could just get the 2nd movie, This Night I'll Possess Your Corpse from Nexflix.
Even though his death happens from fire, I'm making an exception this time for the slow double eye gouge of the Dr. Rodolfo. Loved the after effect of it!! Watch the movie and you'll see what I mean!
You agonize because you can't scream.
Marins sold his house and car to finance the film.
Except for the cemetery scenes, the entire movie was filmed in a 600 square yard area indoors.
The crew refused to shoot a scene because there wasn't enough sunlight. Director 'Jose Mojica Marins' forced them to shoot the scene by pointing a gun at the cameraman. Marins claims still to this day that it was a movie prop.
Marins' played the main role when the original actor quit.
The film was banned over and over again in Brazil not due to the violence, but because the main character was so blasphemous (Brazil is 99% hard Roman Catholic country).
Wednesday, December 1, 2010
UNDER THE MOUNTAIN (2009)
Directed by Jonathan King
Sophie McBride - Rachel
Tom Cameron - Theo
Sam Neill - Mr. Jones
Teenage twins Rachel and Theo discover the Wilberforces, ancient shape-shifting aliens that live under a ring of extinct volcanoes in Auckland, New Zealand. Now the siblings must revive their special shared powers to destroy the evil creatures before something greater is unleashed.
To start out I should say that I love Mythos stories. For those that don't know what that is, it's basically stories centered around superficial elements from H.P. Lovecraft's "Arkham cycle". Or to put it more simple, it's about creatures that can't be explained coming to take over the planet from outer dimensions, or as some writers put it, to reclaim Earth which was theirs to begin with. I have to be blunt, I've seen only a few true good "Mythos" type movies and most were from John Carpenter and the best being a silent film made be the Lovecraft Historical Society. Then there are the middle of the road type movies that are fun to watch, but you keep noticing small things throughout. Under The Mountain is one of those type movies.
As far as the story goes for the movie it does a decent job of doing what it does but it just doesn't get to a truly full movie. It just feels as if there is something missing. You feel sorry for the sister and you think that the brother is a douche throughout most of the movie which is what it sets out to do. My problem with this movie isn't that, it's how the siblings came to have this power and how it's supposed to be dangerous for the Wilberforces and why. The movie just doesn't explain it. Is it pasted down through genes or is it just a quirk. And why is it only redheads, and twins at that, that have the power. I like movies that leave things up to the viewer to discuss or think about, but this is just one bit too much. One thing I do like about the story though is that it doesn't explain where the Wilberforces, Fireraiser, and the big nasties are from except from space and destroyed worlds. I will say also that the movie moves at a decent pace as well and that I think is thanks to the script more than anything else but the movie does get a bit scene jumpy at the very start though for about the first quarter of the movie, but then it slows down after. This has more to do with that the movie is trying to establish it's places and faces more than anything else. I should note that the score of the movie is truly well done as during times I was paying more attention to the music than what was being said in the movie. More at the beginning of the movie than later on though.
Sam Neill is probably one of my more favorite character actor in movies, especially horror movies, but in this one he just doesn't seem like he's giving his all in parts of it. He does a decent job, but it just seems like there was something missing that has been there in other performances. Now I will admit he does do good in some scenes, but in others it just isn't there. A good example of this is when he's trying to be all mystic master with the twins after the first Wilberforce attack. It just kinda falls flat and goes nowhere. Sorry Neill, better luck next time. As for the acting of the siblings, they actually do a good job considering that this was both McBride's and Cameron's first movie. While Cameron does a great job of acting like a pissed off douche at the world for most of the movie, it does get a bit tiring, but then again he is playing a teenager. Now McBride I have to say is the true star of film as she doesn't really oversell anything, but at the same time she doesn't try to phone it in either which is nice to see as most of the story truly centers around her more than her brother in the movie. One of the more fun scenes in the movie is when she's attacked for the first time and is being chased around a empty house. She doesn't go all scream queen, even though she does scream, but it just seems like she's in more control than most actresses would be. I'm actually curious to see what she'll do next cause I do believe she can go far.
The movie wasn't bad per say, but it wasn't great either. I really had high hopes for the movie but I ended up being disappointed more than anything else. With Jonathan King of Black Sheep fame directing and Weta doing the special effects you would think that this movie could do no wrong. I was wrong. It was one of those movies that you watch and just kinda lose track of over time. It's a good movie for kids that are getting into horror movies I can say with ease though, as it does have some scenes that would be tense for younger viewers. If one thing sticks out more than anything else in the movie it is the Weta Workshop designed Wilberforces. Now they were fun to watch, as well as the actors that played them. But even then, only when they were practical effects and not CG'd in as the effects, as they were, to me, below what Weta can do and has done for lesser movies. Maybe I'll try to find the book the movie was based on, as I'm sure I'll probably have a lot more fun with it.
Mr. Jones multi-punctured face.
To tell the truth, nothing really stuck out to me that much. Oh well.
The movie is based on the New Zealand novel Under The Mountain by Maurice Gee.
The movie is a remake of the New Zealand 8 part mini-series of the same name from 1981.
The original mini-series ran on Nickelodeon in the early 1980s when the network was starting out.