Monthly Archives: March 2012
This is today’s lesson: size does not matter, when it comes to making an evil character. Just because a character is the largest one on the screen doesn’t make them the meanest or scariest. The character I am referring to is Kronos, father of Zeus, Hades and Poseidon. Though the studio had the key pieces to make a blockbuster of this movie, they did not follow through in taking the parts and expanding on them. The perfect example was the Kronos character. After draining the power from Zeus, played by Liam Neeson (Taken, The Grey), the audience was led to believe this power would give Kronos the energy to break free and destroy the world. At least that is what Hades, played by Ralph Fiennes (Harry Potter franchise, The English Patient) was telling us after he imprisoned his brother Zeus in the underworld. Talk about your family dysfunction. The hero coming to save Zeus was his son Perseus, played by Sam Worthington (Avatar, The Debt). I give credit to Sam, for his role appeared to be a truly physical one as he was being beaten and thrown around. As I mentioned, the pieces were all here: from the love interest, to family betrayal, to battle scenes, to the love between a father and son. However, the story was not able to glue these parts together and create some excitement. It was not like I was totally bored with this movie; there was some good special effects that entertained me. But at one point of the movie I did wish they would have brought back the Kraken and let it destroy everyone in the movie, so there would not be any further sequels.
Within the opening scene of this film, I thought the title was aptly chosen. Little did I know the story was going to take me to a different place from what I had imagined. Daniel Craig (Quantum of Solace, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo) played self-destructive Joe Scott, a movie star on the cusp of being considered too old for the film industry. With the news of his childhood friend’s death, Joe reflects on old memories as he prepares to go back to his boyhood home and attend the funeral. In flashback we see a younger Joe, played by Harry Eden (Oliver Twist, Pure), in scenes that laid the foundation for Joe’s future path in life. I found the acting believable and quite good in the dual story line. Also, I was fascinated how the story took a startling turn of events and connected the past with the present. A well done movie that I enjoyed and admired in its depth of story telling. This was the type of movie where afterwards, I sat back and took a look at some aspects of my life to see how they led me on my current path.
2 3/4 stars — DVD
During one point of the movie I felt I was watching an extreme episode of the Iron Chef. There was so much slicing and dicing, I almost had to take a motion sickness pill. The story was simple: a small swat team of police officers, on a mission to bring in a ruthless drug lord, got trapped in his compound. Vastly outnumbered, the team had to fight their way through an endless amount of the drug lord’s minions. There was nothing to the story, it only had sparse dialog and practically non-existent acting. The key element here was the action scenes. The main star was Rama, played by Iko Uwais (Merantau). My guess is the studio was hoping to market Iko as the next martial arts superstar. He was a national champion in silat, a traditional Indonesian martial art, which he has been studying since he was 10 years old. The fight scenes were choreographed down to the millisecond. The actors moved so fast I wondered how many real injuries took place while filming. After several battles, they all seemed to be the same to me except for the level of violence. If you play violent video games, you would be okay with this movie. Though I could appreciate the intricate fight scenes, I did not enjoy viewing this movie. Ginzu knives missed a great marketing opportunity here. Warning: extreme violence. Indonesian with English subtitles.
1 3/4 stars
I hope I never lose touch with the little kid inside of me. Harking back to the older, classic animated movies from my youth; this film shined like a well done piece of art. With a beautiful palette of colors, I enjoyed the vibrant scenes that led me through the story. Blu, a domesticated blue colored macaw voiced by Jesse Eisenberg (The Social Network, Zombieland), was one of only two such birds left in the world. With the hope of becoming mates, Blu and his owner were flown down to Rio de Janeiro to meet Jewel, voiced by Anne Hathaway (Get Smart, The Devil Wears Prada). The two actors were perfect choices to voice their characters. Jesse with his distinctive way of delivering his lines and Anne’s ability to project sweetness or irritation with her voice, along with her wonderful singing, made Blu and Jewel come to life. This movie had everything: there was plenty of thrilling action when the two birds were kidnapped, a smattering of musical numbers and amusing humor throughout; I had a great time watching this fun, exciting film. All that was missing was my little table and chair from when I was a child, so I could have had my glass of chocolate milk and chocolate chip cookie.
3 1/4 stars — DVD
Sometimes a father and son have a mercurial relationship. I have seen instances where the father was disappointed his son did not meet his expectations. Or there was the father that always tried to upstage his child in being the center of attention. In this dramatic movie, father and son Eliezer and Uriel Shkolnik, played by Shlomo Bar-Aba (Half a Ton of Bronze, Kvalim) and Lior Ashkenazi (Walk on Water, Kalevet) respectively, were both scholars at Jerusalem University. Where the son sought the limelight and alcolades from his peers; the father focused on a narrow range of study, seeming to ignore the establishment. But was that really the case when Eliezer was mistakenly phoned with news he would be the recipient of a prestigious award? Having seen the trailer for this movie and with it being an Oscar nominee, I expected much from this film. Unfortunately, I was disappointed with the story. There were some humorous scenes, but the more I watched the characters, the less I cared about them. Without that connection, my overall feeling for this film was one of boredom. As the credits were rolling a thought came to me–I hope I was not turning into a one of those reviewers with high expectations, just because a film received a nomination.
With the hope of saving his sister’s life, Ryu played by Ha-kyun Shin (Save the Green Planet, Thirst) decided to sell one of his kidneys. From this one selfless act, a series of tragic and lethal events occurred in this twisted Korean thriller. It was not just the story that fascinated me, but the way it was filmed; there was a Quentin Tarantino flair to it. I loved the way the director used spacing and distance to assist in the telling of the story. And as for the story, I have to say I was not expecting to witness as many surprising turns of events as the characters encountered. I was absolutely impressed with the director of this movie, Chan-wook Park. It is my understanding that it was a viewing of an Alfred Hitchcock movie that made Mr. Park decide to become a film director. How fortunate for us he chose directing as his career. This was my first experience watching one of Chan-wook’s films and it certainly will not be my last. If you want to view something different, this is the movie to see. Please be aware there are scenes of blood and violence.
3 1/4 stars — DVD
I may not understand all the functions of being a tribute, since I did not read the book; but, I could not imagine anyone better suited then Jennifer Lawrence (Winter’s Bone, Like Crazy). In fact, this review will be more of a tribute to Jennifer’s acting skill as Katniss Everdeen, her district’s representative to the Hunger Games; a televised, fight to the death competition. As I mentioned, I did not read the book and felt some of the scenes were rushed and uneven, though the film was 2 hours and 22 minutes long. I am sure the book is better. The relationship between Katniss and her male counterpart, Peeta Mellark played by Josh Hutcherson (Journey 2: The Mysterious Island, Fragments) was not easily believable at first. It could have been the difference in the acting skills of the two characters; Jennifer had such screen presence, every time she was in a scene, I could only watch her. The action scenes were well done and a couple of times, I was taken surprise by the level of violence. So the good news is Jennifer Lawrence was outstanding; the bad news is reality television still exists in the future.
I believe I had this instructor for a teacher years ago. He was not a nice man and neither was the one in this movie. The teacher was Dr. P and he was played by Billy Bob Thornton (Mr. Woodcock, The Astronaut Farmer). One could trademark Billy Bob’s sarcastic meanness; he does it very well. The only thing though, it was nothing new for me; he has done this type of character before. The other lead actor was meter reader Roger, played by Jon Heder (Blades of Glory, Napoleon Dynamite). And here again, was a role similar to others Jon has done before. It just may be that Jon has a narrow range in his acting abilities, so he can only get cast for these type of characters. In this story Roger signed up for Dr. P’s confidence building course, hoping to gain assertiveness and get the girl of his dreams. I am afraid some of the actions taken in the course were far-fetched for me. With so few fun scenes, I started to get bored as the movie progressed. There was nothing horrendous in the movie, but there was not a lot of levity either. At the end of the day, just like I did not like that mean teacher back in school, I did not like this movie.
1 3/4 stars — DVD
Some people may find signs in burnt toast or water stained walls, others acknowledge no such occurences. Was it a sign when years ago I had locked myself in an apartment basement, while a couple of bullies were pounding on the door and the skies opened up with a fierce downpour of rain? As they ran for shelter, I was able to escape and make my way home. As a kid, I took it as a huge sign. Interestingly, the character of Jeff in this movie, played by Jason Segel (Forgetting Sarah Marshall, The Muppets), spends his time trying to make sense of what he believed to be signs. His brother Pat, played by Ed Helms (The Hangover, Cedar Rapids), was the opposite. He had a plan in life or so he thought until one day he spotted his wife out with another man. Though it appeared the brothers did not get along, Jeff helped his brother with his plans, using signs to guide his actions. It was an interesting premise for a movie and it was a relief to see Jason Segel act without his comedic shtick. There were no big laughs in the movie; instead, scenes were set up to induce a chuckle or smirk from the viewer. I enjoyed the even pacing of the film and was taken by surprise, shall we say,with the twist of fate event.
2 2/3 stars
If there are no accidents and there is a reason for everything, do you then accept what fate has doled out? Or do you set your mind to have some control over your destiny? Having controlling tendencies, this movie came across to me in a powerful way. Sixteen year old Nazneem, played by Tannishetha Chatterjee (Shadows of Time, Watch Indian Circus) was sent to London for an arranged marriage. Leaving behind her family in Bangladesh with its beautiful surroundings; her new life was confined to a small, concrete London flat with this older gentleman, husband to be Chanu Ahmed, played by Satish Kaushik (Rascals, Double Dhamaal). I readily admit the idea of an arranged marriage is a foreign concept to me. To see Nazneem’s spirit literally being crushed by her portly husband, with her only lifeline being the letters she would receive from her sister back home, was heartbreaking to watch. With a wonderful script and tender, heartfelt acting; this film blossomed with such emotion, I felt a visceral reaction deep inside of me. As the movie came to an end, I quietly stayed seated and thought about how much influence did one really have over their fate. Bengali and English language.
3 stars — DVD