Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Movies to Look Forward to


Why You Should Look Forward to Inception:

Not only has Christopher Nolan proven himself as a master writer/director with films such as The Prestige, Memento, and The Dark Night, but he is also one of Hollywood's most original filmmakers. Nolan keeps getting better and he seems to always have a new idea. Christopher Nolan's Inception won the most "manticipated" movie of the year at the Guy's Choice Awards and it looks to be one of the most original films of the year.

Inception is set for a release date of July 16th.

The Twilight Saga: Eclipse

It has only been seven months since the last installment  of the Twilight Saga: New Moon, but if you are a die hard "Twilighter" like I am, then these past seven months have seemed like an eternity.

I have not read any of the Twilight books so I am not going to pretend like I know what is going on here and try to explain the storyline to no avail. So I will just tell you what I think is going on in this movie instead. Edward is worried that Bella will choose Jacob over him because he knows that he has a fatish, white flab when Jacob has an awesome six pack. Not only that, but Edward is the walking dead and he knows that Jacob has warm, humanesque blood running through his veins that might attract Bella to him. The villainess, Victoria, has also heard about Jacob's rippling muscles and wants them all to herself so she has created an entire vampire army that will attack Jacob and bring him to Victoria so that she can mate with him and have little vampire-wolves. Edward cannot let this happen because he fears the power of the vampire-wolf cubs so he must destroy Victoria and her army before they can get to Jacob, effectively saving Bella's wedding ring. At least, that's what I got out of it.

Let's face it, nobody goes to these movies for the story ( eccept for the thousands and thousands of teenage girls who have read the books ). The only reason people show up to see these movies is because they want to see werewolves tearing vampires defunct limb from defunct limb and don't worry, there is plenty of that towards the end, after you've braved sequence after sequence of Edward and Bella making out and talking lovey dovey to each other.

Eclipse has all the ingredients of a modern day, teenage romance film: two crazy teens who just want to spend the rest of eternity together ( literally ), uncomfortable conversations with father, and a love triangle involving a werewolf and a vampire. These films are definitely chick flicks and if you walk into the theater expecting anything other than sappy romance held together by the strong foundations of B acting, then you're in for a shocker.

Nobody ( eccept for the thousands and thousands of teenage girls who have read the books ) takes these movies seriously as good cinematography and it is doubtful that any of them will every win any Oscars; however, Eclipse is an improvement over its predecessors, incorporating something that has never been seen in a Twilight film before- camera motion, making this film the most enjoyable so far.

What else can be said? I am sure that most Twihards and Twilighters will enjoy this film ( I know my sisters did ). If you're into Twilight and the whole "loving a vampire" thing, then you might want to try sinking your teeth into this film ( pun intended no matter how unoriginal or unfunny it was ), otherwise you might just want to stay away.

Saturday, June 26, 2010


If you have any brothers then you know how annoying it can be to have to put up with them all the time. Well, this movie isn't much different than that annoying brother.

If you couldn't pick up on it by its title, Brothers is about, well, brothers. The older brother, Captain Tommy Cahill ( played by Tobey Maguire ), goes missing in Afghanistan and is declared dead shortly afterwards. Meanwhile, back home in Minnesota, the younger brother ( played by Jake Gyllenhaal ) is fresh out of prison and comes to comfort Maguire's immediate family only to fall in love with his newly widowed wife. All that seems fine and dandy but when Maguire's character is found alive and brought back home, all you-know-what breaks loose. 

 This film has the perfect setup for what could have been a really good dramatic thriller: A cast of good actors who definitely could pull something like this off and an interesting storyline. So why, if it has the basis for a really good movie, does this movie not deliver? There are many reasons. For one, the direction in this film was terrible. The director never takes any risks or does anything that could possibly make this film more enjoyable to watch; instead, we get stuck with boring shots of everybody's faces as they talk.

Another reason this film doesn't deliver is becausse the actors didn't seem too into their roles and were obviously just there for the money. Maguire's character is supposed to be suffering from post-traumatic stress AND he has to deal with what is going on between his wife and his brother so this should bring out his emotional side. Sure he yells a lot and smashes things up but it wasn't enough to stirr up the emotions. Gyllenhaal should be a professional in this kind of film and yet his character still seemed boring ( as most of the characters in this film are ).

Thirdly, this movie supposed to be about the two brothers and it doesn't feel that way. This movie feels like it rushes through to tell the story. It starts and we get a few minutes of meeting Maguire, even less with Gyllenhaal, Maguire goes off to war and disappears, Gyllenhaal comes to the rescue, we get a few cuts to Maguire's character in captivity, then Maguire comes home, and by that time everything feels so worn out that you kinda just want it to end and by the time it finally does, nothing is resolved.

Overall this film is just boring and probably was only worth the one dollar that I spent on renting it. It is sad that this movie doesn't come near its potential and that we get stuck with this.

Disregaurd this movie.

   Narration does not work in this film.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Toy Story 3

It's here! It's finally here! That's right, after more than a decade, the guys at Pixar Animation Studios have finally brought back everybody's favorite toys for another round of play time. Only this time around things aren't so hunky-dory ( and yes I just used the word "hunky-dory" ).

This film takes place many years after Toy Story 2 and brings us right back into the life of Andy and his toys. This time around, however, Andy has reached the ripe, young age of 17 and is now heading off to college and unfortunately this means that the toys must go to the attic. Of course there wouldn't be much of a story if something didn't go horribly wrong and lucky for us, something does; Woody and his pals are thrown to the curb after being mistaken for garbage. After an impromptu escape, the toys decide that Andy doesn't care for them anymore so they hop in a box filled with other toys that are to be donate to Sunnyside Daycare. Upon arrival Sunnyside seemed like the perfect place to the toys and according to Lots-O-Huggin' Bear, the head hancho at the daycare, they would never have to worry about being thrown out or forgotten by an owner ever again. The toys soon find out that Sunnyside Daycare isn't exactly heaven on earth.

I am not a huge fan of threequels for many reasons. One reason is that the characters can become unrecognizable due to senseless plotlines that never needed to exist in the first place ( or at least were not thought through well enough ). Another reason is that things can become too complex or even boring when a perfectly good character's storyline is dragged out through witless sequels. Pixar will have none of that. The animators at Pixar love their characters and it shows in all of their films, but perhaps none does a better job at doing this for Pixar than the Toy Story trilogy ( I mean there is a reason why Pixar finished this trilogy without even producing one sequel to any of their other works first ). Pixar does a fantastic job of remaing faithful to the little details that made us love Woody, Buzz and all the toys. And as far as being a "threequel" goes, Toy Story 3 has more everything: more action, more danger, meaner villians, more humor, more romance, and a higher level of pretty much everything without being dragged out to the point of being stupid or boring.

This 'Toy Story' is much deeper and has a much darker feel to it than any of its predecessors. Don't be frightened, this is only a natural occurrence caused by the harsh reality that the toys must face about Andy growing up and moving on. One of my favorite things about this trilogy is that it has always been about Woody and his loyalty to Andy, so when Andy finally starts to move on with his life, Woody must face the greatest conundrum of his life: Does he remain ever-loyal to his owner or does he continue a happy existence with his friends?

Pixar really does a nice job with their films and they take their time to make each one perfect and Toy Story 3 is nothing less than exactly that. This film is the best movie of the year so far and hopefully the academy does what's right by placing Toy Story 3 in one of the 10 nomination slots for best picture. Here's to you, Pixar, for giving us Toy Story and all its loveable characters. We will love them for infinity and beyond.

See this film!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Top 5 Movies Where Narration Works

My good friend at has created his top five list of movies where narration actually works and in detication to narrated cinema, I too have done the same. Check it out.

5. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

The narration in this film is pretty much just used in its basic form here. The opening few scenes of this movie are quick flashbacks narrated by the elf Galadriel that are intended to give the background story of the ring before the film actually jumps into the story.

 4. Forrest Gump

This movie is pretty much just Forrest Gump telling his life story to random strangers who sit down next to him at the bus stop and that is exactly why his narration works in this film. Gump doesn't go through his entire life, he skips around to the important memories and that isn't something you can just put up on a screen without letting the audience know what is going on. Hank's narration is the glue that hold it all together.

3. Fight Club

This story is told from the point of view of our main character, played by Edward Norton (who is labeled as "The Narrator" on Imdb). The narration that Norton gives in this film is clever and it allows the audience to connect more deeply with Norton. This movie definitely would not have been as good as it is without the beautifully-depressing insight from Norton.

2. American History X

It shouldn't be a big suprise to find that the next film on my list is another Edward Norton film, who I am sure is next in line for the throne of King of Narrators (he is still waiting for Morgan Freeman to keel over). This film is about the redemption of Norton's character and the prison stories he tells his younger brother his in hopes that his younger brother doesn't follow the same path. Yet the overall story is narrated by the younger brother in the form of a paper he is supposed to write for his "history" class. Sound confusing? That's because it is. Go watch it.

1. Stranger Than Fiction

Lastly we have what I consider to be the greatest use of narration in a movie to date. Why is the narration in this movie so great you ask? Because the whole premise of this film is thatthe main character's life is being narrated. So when the disembodied voice threatens to kill him by the end of the story, Harold has to find the narrator and stop her before it's too late. This narration is smart because it does what a good narration should do, it describes what Harold is feeling and thinking and without the voice, we wouldn't know as much about Harold. The narrator makes the audience feel sympathetic towards Harold both by telling us he is going to die early on and by revealing just how lonely Harold actually is.

Honorable Mentions include: Double Indemnity, The Shawshank Redemption, and, March of the Penguins (because without Morgan Freeman, that movie would just be penguins).

Monday, June 14, 2010

The Karate Kid (2010)

It's finally summertime and you know what that means... Summer blockbusters! And I happily kickoff my summer movie reviews with this very enjoyable remake of an old classic.

I think it is fair to say that we have all seen the original 'Karate Kid' a bazillion times and we all know the story about the kid who gets beat up by some neighborhood bullies who know karate, is saved by an aging karate master, is taught karate by this aging master, and uses his newfound karate knoweledge to beat on the bullies and win the karate tournement. The only huge difference in this remake is that it is all kung-fu, not karate.

So the storyline isn't anything new, it is just brought to us in a more contemporary style and yes, it actually works. In fact, all the character's names have been changed and are now being played by more contemporary actors. Jaden Smith takes the place of Ralph Macchio as Dre Parker, our new Karate Kid. This role truely is Smith's greatest preformance to date. Jackie Chan has taken place of Pat Morita as Mr. Han, our not-as-old-but-still-aging kung-fu master. For those of you who do not believe that Mr. Han could possibly replace Mr. Miyagi, don't worry, I am sure there is plenty of room in your heart for both and trust me, you may want to keep both because Jackie Chan does a beautiful job in this movie and really seems to channel the Miyagi spirit through his acting.

The direction in this movie is pretty well done. There is some interesting camerawork in this film and it makes it all the more enjoyable. Although it would have been nice to have seen the action sequences in this movie a little more clean cut.

This movie also has a good script. It is very funny when it wants to be yet it has the power to make you cry when it has to ( though lots of it is partly in thanks to the brilliant acting ). These filmmakers really freshened up the storyline and it left everything we loved about the original alone and did something all its own ( see jacket on, jacket off ).

The only thing that kind of bothered me about this movie is that it was a little too long. It takes its time and the first quarter is pretty much just showing us how mean these bullies actually are and introducing us to Dre's love interest.

In conclusion, this is a really enjoyable film ( and watching Jackie Chan wale on 12-year-olds helps too ). It may rely on our warm nostalgia from the original but that's okay because it doesn't destroy what we love about the original, it just brings it all back in a way that everybody can enjoy, which is what every good revisitation should do. I would like to end this review with a quote by Jackie Chan from this film: "Life will knock you down, but you can choose whether or not to get back up." I for one am glad that this one decided to get back up.

See this film.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Shrek Forever After

Shrek once said that ogres are like onions. If this is true, then Shrek is the aging, brown onion that has been left in the back of the refrigirator for a little too long. It kind of stinks now.

In this sequel, Shrek finds life as a happily married ogre to be, well, not so happy. To escape from the everday rituals of a married life, Shrek cuts a deal with the cunning Rumpelstiltskin; Shrek has to give up a day from his past in exchange for a day to feel like a real ogre again but, as always, things are not as easy as they appear.

You might be asking yourself, "So what's so special about this new 'Shrek' movie?". My answer to that would be, "absolutely nothing". Sure there are some twists and turns in this film but none of them are totally unpredictable and they are not anything that you need to rush to the theater to go see.

If you like these characters like I do and you cannot wait to see all of them back in action then you may be disappointed. This film almost entirely revolves around, big shocker here, Shrek ( I mean it is called Shrek Forever After isn't it?). It is indeed a rare sight in this film to see any of the original characters outside of Shrek, Donkey, or Puss and that is kind of upsetting because the characters like Pinocchio, the Gingerbread Man, Wolfy, and the Three Blind Mice were a big reason that the original 'Shrek' was such a big hit.

Shrek Forever After is kind of like an old dog; you have loved it for years, you've grown up with it and become attatched to it, but now it can barely walk across the room when you call its name. If you care for the dog then you are eventually going to have to put it down; however, it seems to me that the animators kind of love this too much to put it down and now it is just getting sad. The animators claim that this is the last 'Shrek' film and let's hope it is because he got old a whole sequel ago.

This new sequel, however, is far better than its predecessor, Shrek 3 and I guess if you are going to put down a dog, you want it to go out with dignity, so I guess this fourth film is not all bad.

So in closing, if you like Shrek and his friends like I do then Shrek Forever After is a must-see if you want to know how it ends ( and I know you do ). But let me give you a heads up: You won't be entirely suprised. If you could care less for the ogre and all those fairytale creatures then I suppose you could just disregard this new installment.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

City Island

Botero! Botero! That is the secret message to let me know if you liked this movie as much as I did. And yes, I liked it a lot.

Strong Bad once said that an indie film will most likely be titled after the city in which it takes place ( the example he gave was City, State ) and something to do with a dysfuntional family. Well, Strong Bad, once again you were not far off. City Island ( cleverly named after an area in the Bronx where the story takes place ) brings us the misadventures of Vince Rizzo ( Andy Garcia ) and the entire Rizzo family, who seems incapable of telling anything that even slightly resembles the truth to one another. All this lying and covering up inevitably escalates into greater conflict when Vince brings home a convict from the prison where he works as a prison gaurd.

The preformances in this film are very good though I doubt any of them will yield any Oscars. Andy Garcia is very interesting as a destressed father who's dreams have been crushed and is now working a job he doesn't care for so that he can support his family. Julianna Margulies is very plausable as a wife who suspects that her husband's pokergames are an excuse for a mistress. Steven Strait gives one of the most memorable preformances as Tony the convict, who is thrusted into the Rizzo household by Garcia's character. However, perhaps the most memorable of all the characters is Vinny Rizzo, the smart mouth teenage son played by Ezra Miller, who brings the most comic relief to this movie.

The script is not assertive and the audience is not bogged down in too much drama, giving this film a lighter feel which makes for a good dramedy. This movie is light-hearted and the actors definitely create a comedic atmosphere that lasts throughout the movie; however, this film is not a laugh riot. This is a story about these characters and not so much about getting a laugh out of the audience, but it does find a nice balance.

Though there wasn't anything special about the direction and the camerawork, writer-director Raymond De Felitta has brough something special to the big screen: A kind-hearted film with a good lesson and lovable characters brought to life by talented actors; a perfect blend that makes this movie very much enjoyable.

Highly recommended.