Saturday, 29 September 2012
I think the best part of this movie is the acting. It has two of my favourites in Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis. Through well used makeup and good acting, Gordon-Levitt is able to make you believe that he could be a young, impetuous Bruce Willis. It was better to do that than the other way around because I don't think Willis could pull it off. But through their performances and some good writing, there is an air of believability in a movie where the premise is scientifically impossible.
There really are no heroes in this one. Everyone is kind of a bad person with the exception of Sara and she's got a past too. With that, they're willing to break a few cinematic rules and it makes the movie much darker and grittier than I was expecting. That's a good thing because I found when it did that, I was sucked in much more emotionally and enjoyed the movie that much more. I will concede that there are times when it is a bit predictable and the foreshadowing isn't veiled very much. But I think that helped keep it simple given the time travel angle and actually allowed for a better experience. There also moments of deja vu and then the viewer will realize that there are some intangible elements that evoke memories of another great time travel movie, 12 Monkeys.
This is a definite must see movie. It is one of the best I have seen all year.
Wednesday, 26 September 2012
Overall, this is a good film. It started out a little boring and slow. But, by the time I got halfway through, I found myself really enjoying it. It has a very decent mix of heartwarming, heartbreaking and humour that keeps the audience interested. Performances are strong from all of the main actors. Amy Adams plays the "had to be strong to get by yet oddly vulnerable" daughter very well. Justin Timberlake gives a fantastic performance as a former pitcher who has already adjusted to his second chance and, in turn, teaches Adams and Eastwood how to do the same. The weakest of the three (and it wasn't that weak) was Clint Eastwood. His performance was basically the same thing he did in Gran Torino: the stubborn old crank that refuses to change but can't help but soften a bit. But, let's face it. Isn't that all he ever really played? Go back and watch the Dirty Harry movies. That's just Eastwood. He's never been a great actor. But he's got that quality that just makes us want to watch him. He used to be a bad ass but now he reminds us all of our own cranky grandfathers.
Most of the secondary actors are decent too. John Goodman, Robert Patrick, the guys who played the other aging scouts, etc. are all good. The only one I would say they needed to change was Joe Massingill. While he looked the part of a high school baseball prospect, his acting was just too poor to make his character entertaining. You're supposed to hate him. But I hated him, not because of his attitude but because of his inability to deliver a line convincingly. His character was too important to allow for that performance.
The writing, overall, is a bit weak. The movie is very predictable and really has no surprises. It follows basic movie formulas of things that need to happen in order for the heroes to win and the villains to lose. But it isn't a thriller that would rely on surprise twists to keep you interested. Instead, Trouble with the Curve is a drama that wants you to be vested emotionally. Because the performances are decent, it can rise above slightly above mediocre writing and deliver a quality movie.
While it isn't a masterpiece, it's still worth two hours. See it.
Saturday, 22 September 2012
Normally, I hate horror movies. While I see the Resident Evil movies more as monster action movies, they really are a horror franchise. For some reason, I enjoy these movies. OK. I admit it. It's probably because of Milla Jovovich running around and kicking ass while wearing tight clothing. Most guys my age were hopelessly infatuated with her as Leeloo in the Fifth Element. But I also do thing that these movies have terrific action and effects. With that element, Retribution continues the great tradition.
The effects are top notch. Everything looks quite real even though most of it is added after the fact. The action sequences are very good and as lifelike as they can be with monster zombies, etc. The fight scenes are well choreographed and use a terrific mix of regular speed and slow motion. The 3D was also used judiciously and just enough to almost make the viewer feel like they are actually there.
But that's the end of the positives in this one. There is basically no story development. Given the end of the previous one, it seemed like it could be a good continuation of trying to find a safe haven. But, if the ending is any indication, it was simply a bridge from that one to the next one. It was almost as if the film makers knew they needed to make a film to keep the momentum going but had no idea as to what to do for a story. So they just made a simple escape story with elements regurgitated from the previous movies. And, in making that, the actual dialogue suffers because there's no development and you do not care about any of the characters except Alice. Then, it's combined with some absolutely terrible acting. Everyone except Jovovich is downright terrible in this movie and even she seemed to be phoning it in sometimes. Some of it has to be because of the uninspired writing but, even with dialogue that could be good, every delivery is wooden and forced. This is especially true of Sienna Guillory as Jill Valentine. I can't beging to express how horrible she is in this movie. And Binbing Li and Michelle Rodriguez are only slightly better.
If you are a fan of the franchise, you'll want to see it for the effects. You don't need to see the others to see this one because they spend the first few minutes giving a very concise exposition with everything you need to know (the overall story isn't that deep). But, if you do want to see this as a stand alone movie, I suggest you think twice and don't see it. There's really no story development and I'm sure you can pick it all up in the next one.
Sunday, 16 September 2012
Technically, I think this is also one of the better movies. It came out at a time when CGI was just coming into its own and, even though it is easy to see that it is heavily green screened, I've seen recent movies that do a vastly worse job than Goldeneye. As far as settings go, it does what we expect in Bond movies. There's cold Russia, the Caribbean, Europe, etc. So there's really nothing special there. One of the things that really stands out here is the innovative tank chasing Ouromov through the streets of St Petersburg. Normally, Bond uses his own car with all of its gadgets. In Goldeneye, he had to improvise with something he isn't familiar with and it results in some cool over the top property destruction.
I know why they had to switch to Daniel Craig to play James Bond. And I like the Craig movies and the direction its going. But I am saddened that Brosnan was made to stop. I really think that he saved the franchise at a time when people were kind of tired of it. He brought new life and coolness to the character that Timothy Dalton couldn't. Fortunately, we have four Brosnan Bond movies and all of them are watchable (and Tomorrow Never Dies is my favourite of the franchise). So see it.
Saturday, 15 September 2012
Yes, the story seems to be a bit vague and not tightly woven together. But it is based on a true story and doesn't give in to the sensationalism that is often forced into Hollywood movies. Instead, it relies on a decent true story (even though some of it is probably embellished) that has the comedic and dramatic elements that can make it stand on its own. This is then magnified by some absolutely terrific acting performances. Tom Hardy, Shia LaBoeuf, Gary Oldman and Guy Pearce are absolutely perfect in their roles. This is especially true of Hardy. He plays the enigmatic anti-hero very well.
Being a historical piece set in the Depression era of bootlegers means that it needed to have authenticity in its costumes, sets and language. And I think it did a very good job of that as well. At no time did it ever feel like any of that stuff was forced or fake. I especially like the interior of the gas station/restaurant/Bondurant residence. Right down to the newspaper "wallpaper", it really seemed like a lower-middle class "do what you need to do to survive" family of bachelors lived there.
I said it seemed to move a bit slow. But it was done before I knew it. And once it was done, I didn't feel like I had been in there that long. I think that's a testament to the superior film making all around.
See it. It's a great example of a very well made, truth based story.
Friday, 7 September 2012
Second, there is a heavier reliance on special effects and more action. While I'm sure the effects were fairly groundbreaking for their time, there was that awkward period in the mid-90s where CGI was just coming into its own and in order to make it look realistic, you had to spend a very large sum of money. They didn't spend enough. The green screening and other CGI effects are very poor in this film and it does not age well at all. They should have relied more heavily on building tension like in the first one and less on the explosions and fake helicopters and submarines.
There is just a huge lack of any originality in this movie. Don't see it. Watch the first one instead.
Thursday, 6 September 2012
Don't get me wrong. The situation is preposterous. The notion of turning one of the most vibrant commercial centres of the world into a maximum security prison is laughable. But, when you think of the time period, New York's crime rate was pretty staggering and the city was seen as a cesspool of urban decay and moral depravity. While it's still a huge stretch, it isn't as preposterous as it would be now. With this context, they do a very good job of setting the story in a wasteland of a city with very good set designs and locations.
Another reason this movie ages well is that it doesn't rely on special effects too much. It relies on tension with Plissken working against the clock. It does a very good job in moving through the story quickly. A drawback to this is that it has to rely more heavily on the writing and acting. For the most part, this is passable. Lee van Cleef, Ernest Borgnine, Isaac Hayes, etc are all about what you would expect. But Kurt Russel is downright terrible. He looks the part very well. And I can see that he was going for a guy who doesn't give a damn about anything. But his portrayal of a badass is just way too wooden and lifeless. (Another thing that bothered me is that it has one of the worst choreographed fight scenes that I have ever seen.)
Overall, though, it isn't a waste of time. As I said, it moves quickly and does entertain. So if you see it on one of those specialty cable channels, stop and see it.
Tuesday, 4 September 2012
And the actors do their thing very well. Maggie Gyllenhall is terrific as the "hysterical" woman who sees the whole therapy as quackery. Jonathan Pryce is solid as the older doctor. Hugh Dancy has the look of an up and coming doctor with crazy new ideas. And Rupert Everett is fantastic as the quirky sidekick that helps out.
But I think the best thing about this movie is that they didn't bog it down in the romance story. You know going in that there is going to be a budding romance between Gyllenhall and Dancy. That's a given. They could ahve really dragged out her trial and his feelings and such. But they kept that part light with the rest of the film and made a very tight 100 minute movie that entertains at a decent pace all the way through. From start to finish, Hysteria stays fairly upbeat and quirky to give the viewer a good time.
See it if you get a chance.
Saturday, 1 September 2012
Action sequels are made good if they take the best parts of the preceding films and build on that while losing the crap. The Expendables tried to bring in some philosophy and a human element and I think they realized that it just didn't work. The first one had some morality to it. This one is just out and out revenge. They took the action, amped it up, and made a throwback to the mindless action movies of the late 80s and early 90s. For what it is, they did it very well. There is a lot of action in this film and the violence level is pretty high (at one point, Stephanie said it was 'a lot of raspberry jam').
Also, they kept some of the banter between Sylvester Stallone and Jason Statham that brought good humour to the first one. Those two work well together. The problem is that they tried to extend that to any time that any two of Norris, Stallone, Schwarzenegger and Willis were on screen at the same time. The references to their places in pop culture and other movies was not needed even if it was almost required by the viewing audience. What many people will see as a cool and funny line, I just find cheesy. And that is indicative of the story and writing as a whole. The story is almost non-existent and the writing is pretty terrible too. But, as I said, it's a mindless "blow everything to hell" movie so the story is very secondary.
There really isn't anything more to say than that. Acting and writing are pretty bad, but the action is very good. It's exactly what you expect and, with that, it entertains. So turn your brain off and see it.