Friday, May 29, 2009

Coming Soon

I've watched all of these, but haven't had the time to review them yet. I will get them up as soon as possible. I've decided to add TV shows on here, but only when I watch the entire season at once, so True Blood: season one will be on here first and soon I'll have my thoughts on Battlestar Gallactica: season one.

Thursday, May 28, 2009


Sabrina (1954)
Originally uploaded by ARARAR
It is no secret that Billy Wilder is my favorite director, but I can say that of all his films Sabrina is not one of my favorites.

In the film, Sabrina Fairchild is the daughter of the chauffer to the powerful Larabee family; growing up adjacent to the Larabee house has made young Sabrina become infatuated with the youngest Larabee son, David. The problem is that David doesn’t even know Sabrina exists, he is far too caught up in chasing after the daughters of the socialites in his circle. Sabrina’s father decides the best course of action to get Sabrina over David is to send her to cooking school in Paris; while in Paris Sabrina is absolutely miserable, until she meets a friend that helps her begin to mature into the sophisticated Parisian woman she can be. Upon graduation Sabrina returns to the Larabee estate and decides to use her newfound feminine charms to win the newly engaged David. In order to keep David from ruining his engagement (and therefore the plastics deal the Larabee’s are working towards) older brother Linus does his best to occupy Sabrina’s time.

I can’t name anything large or specific that makes Sabrina mark low on my list of Billy Wilder films. One of the key elements for me is that it tonally just feels very different from all of his previous films; Sabrina was made after some of his best - Double Indemnity, The Lost Weekend, Sunset Blvd. and Ace in the Hole - and Sabrina is just borderline bland next to those.

I also have to say that I don’t know if I enjoy Humphrey Bogart in the role of Linus. Call me ageist but to me he is just too old to be playing Hepburn’s love interest. The tow also don’t seem to be performing towards each other; Hepburn is interacting with Bogart, but Bogart doesn’t seem to be responding to her.

I still enjoy this movie and think Wilder is a film god, I just think he made such astronomically great movies that this one just being “good” seems sub-par.

Director: Billy Wilder
Writer: Billy Wilder, Samuel Taylor & Ernest Lehman
Linus Larabee: Humphrey Bogart
Sabrina Fairchild: Audrey Hepburn
David Larabee: William Holden

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Terminator Salvation

Baba ile Oğul
Originally uploaded by terminatorizm
Yes, yes. I saw Terminator Salvation two times in a row. What was I supposed to do? A friend wanted to go and so I went. It was fun.

I actually enjoyed seeing the film more on the second viewing and I have to day that is probably because through my entire first viewing I was constantly tense…I was waiting for the other shoe to drop. I was on pins and needles most of the film the first time because I love the first two films so much that I didn’t see any way that another installment of Terminator could add to the franchise after the disaster that was T3. Thank goodness my faith in McG paid off. I’d heard him speak so passionately about Terminator at last years Comic-Con and begun to get a sense that he of all people could make a worthy follow-up to Cameron’s visionary story. McG exceeded.

One of my favorite things in Terminator Salvation is that though the film has switched entirely to John Connor and away from Sarah we still get Sarah Connor in the film. Those that have followed the Connor’s since Terminator know that she recorded a series of tapes for John to prepare him for the future to come, the war with the machines and how he came to be. Now a grown man without his mother by his side to fight with him, John uses those tapes constantly in an effort to stay on top of the machines and the war to come.

As much as I loved McG’s vision of the future I still miss James Cameron at the helm. However, I hope that since Cameron isn’t there McG can perhaps get Linda Hamilton to reprise her iconic role if the story dictates it…

Marcus Wright: What day is it? What year?
Kyle Reese: 2018.
Marcus Wright: What happened here?
Kyle Reese: Judgment Day happened.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Terminator Salvation

Ölümcül Dövüş
Originally uploaded by terminatorizm
In Terminator Salvation we are finally in the post-Judgment Day war, but we are early in it – the resistance is still learning to fight against the machines, and the machines are still fighting against John Connor. John Connor is finally dealing with the future his mother warned him about, the one he lived his life preparing for. He thought he was prepared for it until Marcus Wright arrives and shocks John completely – Marcus is a terminator but believes he is human. I have to say that no Terminator film will ever match Cameron’s original films, but this one is a good addition to the series.

What was so great to me about Terminator Salvation is how McG has explored the mythos of Judgment Day and John Connor. By placing the audience early in the war we get to see the continued journey of how John Connor becomes the leader of the resistance. You see when we come into the movie John is not the leader. John is high in the resistance but there is a central command that does not accept him as leader. The writers and McG have explored a very simple concept of John Connor as savior; because of Sarah, John has the knowledge of the machines and the war, and knows that he is who can end it all but while a great many people accept Johns story there is another group of people that think he is what amounts to a false prophet. John has to fight for his position as leader of the resistance.

This is the first Terminator movie that has not had a plot directly related to time travel. However, as the core of the films deal with time travel it does come up in this film. The primary thing that John Connor has to deal with is not only pushing forward to beat down Skynet, but finding his father Kyle Reese. At this point in time Kyle is actually younger than John, but John must find him, protect him and shepard him into the soldier that he will send back in time to protect his mother without Kyle ever knowing that this is what is happening. And after a lifetime of growing up never knowing his father, John Connor will finally meet him.

What I am still weighing in my mind is the character of Marcus Wright. I can’t say that I disliked the character, and I think that upon further viewing I will in fact like him more, but the character was a bit odd to me. I think my only reasoning is that never before has a main character entirely taken focus off one of the Connor’s. However, his character served a great purpose in the film and was pretty dang interesting so I can’t complain. I do however wish that Kate Connor was further explored as it felt like there should have been more to her in the movie.

Terminator Salvation has gotten a lot of crap, and I have to say that most of it is probably coming from people that still won’t accept McG as a credible director. However, he seems to be on a string of well done movies, it began with We Are Marshall and if it continues past Terminator Salvation I’d say I can safely call McG a dang good director. I’d take him over Michael Bay any day.

Director: McG
Writers: John D. Brancato & Michael Ferris
John Connor: Christian Bale
Marcus Wright: Sam Worthington
Blair Williams: Moon Bloodgood
Dr. Serena Kogan: Helena Bonham Carter
Kyle Reese: Anton Yelchin
Kate Connor: Bryce Dallas Howard
General Ashdown: Michael Ironside

John Connor: We've been fighting a long time. We are out numbered by machines. Working around the clock,without quit. Humans have a strength that cannot be measured. This is John Connor. If you are listening to this,you are the resistance.

Superman Doomsday

Originally uploaded by comicfan
Superman Doomsday is the straight to DVD release, animated adaptation of the Death of Superman series that made waves in the 1990’s in the DC universe. In it slowly, painfully Superman takes on an alien being who has been unleashed on Metroplois and Superman takes him on. He manages to defeat Doomsday, but in the process he is killed. The following weeks the world had to deal with the fact that their super man had died and how to cope.

While Superman Doomsday is an adequate representation of the comic book story arch, like all Superman projects to make it to film it is deeply flawed, and it’s flawed in ways that are entirely artificial – they weren’t in the comic book.

First, Lois is dating Superman. That’s right, not Clark Kent, but Superman. BY the time Doomsday rolled around Lois and Clark were engaged. The writers of the animated film wrote themselves into a corner – everyone knows Lois has a thing for Superman, by dati ng him and not Clark he has opened Lois up as a target and painted a huge red arrow over Clark’s head if he reveals his identity to her and they begin to date.

They don’t cover at all that the citizens of Metropolis take on the protection of the city themselves. Several upstanding people decide to try and make themselves like Supes. Even Brainiac gets in on the action. In Superman Doomsday only Lex counters by creating a Superman clone. However, this animated production does a lot better job than Smallville of handling Doomsday…and Superman in general.

Superman Doomsday is not a bad Superman project. However, if you are familiar with the Superman universe in the comics it may not be what you are looking for.

Superman: Adam Baldwin
Lois Lane: Anne heche
Lex Luthor: James Marsters
Martha Kent: Swoosie Kurtz

Grumpy Man: Yeah, like we really needed him to bust up the mechanical spider, right? Lame!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

12 Angry Men

Originally uploaded by gatoconbotas_fc
12 jurors have just sat through a grueling murder trial where an 18 year old boy has been accused of murdering his father and they are tasked with convicting him. Upon entering the jury room 11 of the men are convinced the boy is guilty, but juror 8 is not sure, and for a conviction it must be unanimous. The fight begins with the 11 men trying to convince juror 8 he is wrong, but 8’s conviction never wavers – he insists not that the boy is innocent but that there is enough room for reasonable doubt that the boy didn’t do it and was an unfortunate victim of the system. At first the men are upset because to them the case was open and shut, but 8’s conviction and questions soon start to sway more of the men who realize that they need to truly consider what they are about to become – the boys executioner.

12 Angry Men is one of the classic cinema gems that I had very high expectations for and shockingly it exceeded them. I did not expect 12 men arguing in one room for 90 minutes to be that timeless and invigorating, I knew it could be done because “simple” movies can be amazing, but 12 Angry Men is phenomenal.

I’ve never really considered myself a Henry Fonda fan, it’s not that I don’t like him I just never through about him as an actor. Fonda was phenomenal in this film; he has to stand out as the man against everyone without being bigoted, pushy or anything that would make him unsympathetic to the audience and he excels as the juror who genuinely wants to do what’s right. He wants to do what he was tasked to do, leave all his prejudices and predispositions at the door and simply think about the murder case as an objective outsider.

What is fascinating about 12 Angry Men is that each character is so well defined. They may have numbers instead of names but through the course of the film their personalities become incredibly obvious and Lumet created the film in such a way that each character has their moment as the center of attention. This not only is great for the actors, but incredibly wonderful for the audience as a large ensemble in a cramped space could have been very confusing for the audience. Lumets choice of shots, edits and the level of performance he got out of all of his actors is a thing of beauty and what makes 12 Angry Men an essential film to anyone that claims to have good taste in movies. If you want to make movies I think it’s even more important as it will teach you that a good movie doesn’t need to be big – it just needs to be well made.

Director: Sidney Lumet
Writer: Reginald Rose
Juror 1: Martin Balsam
Juror 2: John Fiedler
Juror 3: Lee J. Cobb
Juror 4: E.G. Marshall
Juror 5: Jack Klugman
Juror 6: Ed Binns
Juror 7: Jack Warden
Juror 8: Henry Fonda
Juror 9: Joseph Sweeny
Juror 10: Ed Begley
Juror 11: George Voskovec
Juror 12: Robert Webber

Juror #8: It's always difficult to keep personal prejudice out of a thing like this. And wherever you run into it, prejudice always obscures the truth. I don't really know what the truth is. I don't suppose anybody will ever really know. Nine of us now seem to feel that the defendant is innocent, but we're just gambling on probabilities - we may be wrong. We may be trying to let a guilty man go free, I don't know. Nobody really can. But we have a reasonable doubt, and that's something that's very valuable in our system. No jury can declare a man guilty unless it's SURE. We nine can't understand how you three are still so sure. Maybe you can tell us.

Star Trek

star trek xi poster 09
Originally uploaded by gjrmoonchild
Honestly, the true test of how much I genuinely love a movie is how often I watch it or talk about it. Last year I genuinely fell in love with Iron Man and I am relatively sure it’s landing on the list of my all-time favorite films. This year I am falling head over heels for Star Trek and if the love affair continues it could also end up on my favorite films list.

What was so great about this viewing was that I got to watch Star Trek with an original Trekkie – my grandmother. My grandmother has followed the Trek universe since the first episode of the original series premiered and has been a faithful fan ever since. I considered this a true test of how the film would hold up against a real fan, someone who fell in love with the series because of William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, and Gene Roddenberry. She filled my childhood head with the world of the Federation, always had the coolest collectibles and would call foul when she saw the shows do something stupid; if there was anyone that I would genuinely listen to if they cried foul over Abrams updated Trek it would be her.

My grandmother loved Star Trek. A original Trekkie to the core, she told me that she thought Abrams understood the series perfectly and it was a great movie, her favorite Star Trek movie in years.

I challenge anyone out there that thinks Abrams defiled Star Trek to take on my grandmother. She knows her stuff better than most of the haters out there, and above all else since she’s been around the series since its inception she remembers that the series is supposed to be about the characters, the explorations and most of all the adventures – science always took a back seat when Rodenberry was at the wheel.

McCoy: Permission to speak freely, sir?
Spock: I welcome it.
McCoy: Do you? OK, then. Are you out of your Vulcan mind? Are you making a logical choice, sending Kirk away? Probably. But, the right one? You know, back home we have a saying: "If you wanna ride in the Kentucky Derby, you don't leave your prized stallion in the stable."

Monday, May 18, 2009

The Princess Diaries 2: A Royal Engagement

Originally uploaded by Hot Rod Homepage
Picking up 5 years after the conclusion of The Princess Diaries Mia is now the crown princess of Genovia, and now that she is 21 she is preparing to take over as Queen from her Grandmother Clarisse. However, Mia’s American heritage is unacceptable to Viscount Mabrey and he challenges Mia’s right o inherit the throne by dredging up a law that states no Queen can be unmarried and his Nephew Nicholas would be the rightful heir if Mia cannot marry. This forces Mia to pursue an arranged marriage in 30 days, and Clarisse invites Nicholas to stay at the palace while Mia plans her wedding to Andrew so that she can keep an eye on any mischief the Viscount may be planning. As usual, Mia manages to cause a lot of trouble, the biggest matter being that she and Nicholas’ tormented relationship slowly beings to become something more as the two fall for each other complicating both her engagement and the plans of the Viscount.

It may be true that since Pretty Woman Gary Marshall uses the same jokes over and over again, but I still find The Princess Diaries 2 to be adorable and charming. It probably helps that Grey’s Anatomy creater Shonda Rhimes wrote the screenplay and while Grey’s may have gone down the tubes, the woman can write great comedic women. I do adore this screenplay and think it is the perfect blend of a traditional Disney film and a romantic comedy.

One of the reasons I have always loved The Princess Diaries is because of the female leads – Anne Hathaway & Julie Andrews. I don’t think you could better match two actresses from different generations. Anne is grace, poise, talent and beauty - exactly what Julie Andrews is. The two play off each other so flawlessly that you would assume that they could possibly be related. Hathaway is perfect for the role of the unassuming princess and at this point in her career I do consider her the heir to the likes of Julies Andrews or Audrey Hepburn.

I do have to say that from the first time I saw this movie one of the big selling points for me was Chris Pine. I liked him before he was Captain Kirk. Pine plays Nicholas as the perfect romantic foil to Mia and I am glad he has gone on since to continue getting progressively larger roles. I cannot wait to see where his career takes him.

The Princess Diaries 2 is actually a film that I enjoy better than the first. Perhaps it’s because I grew up along the same lines as Mia’s character did, in the sense that in 2004 I was only a little older than Mia, and having grown up with Cinderella stories Mia meeting her prince charming did manage to resonate with me. Regardless, the film is funny, well made and an entertaining watch.

Director: Gary Marshall
Writers: Shonda Rhimes
Mia: Anne Hathaway
Queen Clarisse: Julie Andrews
Joe: Hector Elizondo
Viscount Mabrey: John Rhys-Davies
Lily Moscovitz: Heather Matarazzo
Nicholas: Chris Pine
Andrew Jacoby: Callum Blue

Mia Thermopolis: Oh, by the way, I'm getting married!
Lilly Moscovitz: To who?
Mia Thermopolis: I don't know.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Star Trek

Leonard Nimoy as Spock
Originally uploaded by popomohaha
I saw Star Trek with my Mother on Mother’s Day. I have to say that while the surprise factor was gone, the film was still as fresh, exciting and funny as I remembered it to be. In fact, this time I caught more because I wasn’t laughing so hard at some of the jokes. This is a well written film. It really does balance character, mythology, humor and suspense throughout the entire length of the film. One of the most enjoyable things about it for me is that from the opening frames the film hit the ground running and continues at a break neck pace until it’s conclusion. This is incredibly hard to do and most films that have done it usually sacrifice the film quality or plot to get it done, but Abrams and his writers managed to pull it off so well it seems effortless.

It is also my personal opinion that this Trek film was influenced hugely in its technique and execution by Firefly. While I may not have been too big a fan of things like the lens flares Abrams uses in Star Trek I was a fan of the way he shot space. You’ll notice that there is very little fire in space when ships explode, sound is gone unless it’s coming from an oxygenated environment, and they also use the fast/messy digital zooms that Firefly used constantly in its space shots. The similarities are pretty obvious to anyone that calls themselves a Browncoat and frankly the film is better for it. Firefly helped realistically define how to create space for film and television and I am glad that other people have taken notice of that short lived show.

I also have to say that I am impressed at how seamlessly the filmmakers integrated Leonard Nimoy into the film. When I first found out Nimoy was going to be in Star Trek I was actually worried that he would be used in some artificial, stick-out-like-a-sore-thumb kind of way, or he’d bookend the film and just be superfluous. Instead, Nimoy’s Spock was just as important to the film as any other character and I have to say I am so incredibly glad I got to hear Nimoy’s version of Spock say “Live long and prosper” once more time on screen.

Christopher Pike: Your father was captain of a starship for twelve minutes. He saved 800 lives, including yours. I dare you to do better. Enlist in Starfleet.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

The Muppet Movie

Kermit is a talented frog who is happy living his life in his swamp until a Hollywood agent gets lost in the swamp and recommends that Kermit get into show biz. Realizing that his would allow him to make millions of people happy, Kermit embarks on a road trip to Hollywood. Along the way he meets Fozzie the bear, Gonzo, Miss Piggy and other Muppets and they all decide to accompany him to California. However, he also has a fun-in with Doc Hopper, the owner of Doc Hoppers Fried Frog Legs restaurants who begins to chase Kermit because he wants him as a spokesfrog.

I love this movie, Jim Henson is an absolute genius and The Muppet Movie is a film that can be enjoyed by an audience of any age. It is a family film not a kids movie, and Henson and crew worked hard to put humor for kids and adults in there; it’s the kind of jokes that kids find funny because they are silly and delivered engagingly but adults get the actual joke. This is something that too few people make any more, even the rest of the Muppet films lost it over the past decades.

Re-watching this film has made me realize that it may have started my love for movies about movies. The Muppet Movie begins at a movie studio where the Muppets are attending a premier of The Muppet Movie which tells the tale of how the Muppets were founded. The audience throws things, talks to each other, waits impatiently and then when the movie finally starts the 4ths wall exists even less as the characters (in Muppet tradition) talk to the audience. These are all characters that know they are in a movie and keep pointing that out to the viewers. At one point Kermit & Fozzie even give the script to Dr. Teeth so that they do not have to have exposition that will “bore the audience”.

The Muppets are also known for their guest stars and the movie does not disappoint. It has Orson Welles, Dom DeLuise, Steve Martin, Bob Hope, Mel Brooks, Madeline Kahn, Carol Kane, Richard Pryor & so many more. My stand out favorites would have to be Steve Martin as the bitter waiter & Mel Brooks as the crazy German scientist.

Another Muppet film is about to enter into production and it has been promised that it will ring of the mentality of the old films. I can only hope that it will be able to be loved as much as The Muppet Movie.

Director: James Frawley
Writers: Jack Burns & Jerry Juhl

Robin the Frog: Uncle Kermit, is this how the Muppets *really* got started?
Kermit: Well, it's sort of approximately how it happened.

The Last Starfighter

Originally uploaded by jessewillis
I actually watched this movie in April but just realized that I did not review it. I felt the need to correct that now.

Alex Rogan is wants out of his life, he wants to be away at college and gone from the trailer park he helps his mother maintain. His one escape is a video game called Starfighter. On a particularly trying day Alex beats the game and gets his highest score; that night Centauri appears and takes Alex into space where they rendezvous with an alien battle fleet that is working on protecting the galaxy and through the video game Alex is the new recruit. Alex must decide if he wants the prestigious position as a starfighter or if he should go home to his family and mundane life.

Probably the first thing that leaps out to me about The Last Starfighter is that it is very much a product of 1980’s cinema. Not only is it dated, but it smacks of Star Wars, Superman, and Back to the Future. Like Luke Skywalker, Alex wants a life far away from home and the main space ship itself looks straight out of the George Lucas handbook of alien crafts. Like Superman you have the protagonist that wants an exciting life and discovers a set of “powers” he wasn’t aware of, the main credits of the film also look shockingly similar to the Richard Donner credits. Finally, from the sense of humor, Centuri’s car, etc. all smack of Back to the Future. None of this makes The Last Starfighter a bad movie, but it is unsettling for a little while if you are familiar with the other films.

There have been rumors floating around that the studio wants to remake The Last Starfighter and I have to say it is one remake I would probably be a fan of. While this is a good movie, technology has improved so much that taking another pass at the film and updating it to look less pre-CGI and 1980’s would be a great thing.

I remember liking this movie as a child and I have to say that I still like it today.

Director:Nick Castle
Writer: Jonathan R. Betuel
Alex Rogan: Lance Guest
Maggie: Catherine Mary Stewart
Centauri: Robert Preston

Centauri: The amusing thing about this, it's all a big mistake. That particular Starfighter game was supposed to be delivered to Vegas, not some fleaspeck trailer park in the middle of tumbleweeds and tarantulas. So it must be fate, destiny, blind chance, luck even, that brings us together. And as the poet said, the rest is history.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Star Trek

Star Trek Trailer
Originally uploaded by AsceticMonk
In this Trek universe James Kirk has grown up rebellious and fatherless because the day he was born his father died saving the lives of the U.S.S. Kelvin crew as it was being attacked by a futuristic Romulan ship captained by Nero. Meanwhile, Spock grows up on Vulcan experiencing a different kind of emotional rift as he is half-Vulcan/half-human and must decide which lifestyle he should choose. Spock enters Star Fleet and rises through the ranks, but Kirk shuns Star Fleet until he is shamed and challenged by Capt. Pike. Three years into the academy Vulcan sends a distress call and Star Fleet sends all of the cadets into active duty allowing Kirk, Bones, & Uhura to join the rest of the Enterprise crew. Once nearing Vulcan Kirk realizes that the disaster Vulcan is experiencing isn’t natural, but the same thing that attacked the Kelvin 25 years before.

Star Trek is unlike any Trek movie I have ever seen and it is all the better for it. JJ Abrams and his writers truly dug into the roots of Star Trek and decided to bring the series back to its core with the original characters, and they returned the original adventurous attitude as well. This is Star Fleet without rules, the impulsive space adventure we all truly want and we get the added bonus of having a Federation universe that is not at peace, it is still at war with the Klingons, Romulans and doesn’t have all the answers.

What is so remarkable about this film is the characters are perfectly acted and written so that they are instantly identified with the originals we know and love without being charicatures or far too predictable. Zoe Saldana is sultry and attitude driven as Uhura; Simon Pegg is hysterical & lovable as Scotty; Anton Yelchin is young, excitable & overzealous as Chekov; John Cho is the perfect blend of cocky & naive as Sulu. On top of that Zarchary Quinto & Chris Pine are beyond perfect representations of Spock & Kirk for a new generation. Not only do they really understand the core of these characters but they understand their relationship and how each man begins to inform the other.

That being said, the single show stealing actor is Karl Urban. Urban was born to play McCoy. From the moment you first hear him, before he ever walks on screen you know that Bones is coming and he captures your attention. He is filled with attitude, heart and that biting wit that always made McCoy a crowd favorite. This may be a bit of Trek heresy but I think that Urban is a better McCoy than Deforest Kelly. Urban is so good that you forget that the other actors are doing phenomenally as well.

What was so great about the writing for these characters is that the writers thought about how to get what the fans would expect in there without making it seem out of place or smack of cliché. Each character has their signature line thrown into the movie, but it happens so naturally that you wouldn’t realize those lines are important unless you are a fan, and eve in you are a Trekkie you might miss them on first viewing.

This movie did the impossible. Abrams has managed to reinvent the Star Trek wheel without throwing the car out of alignment. He pays enough homage to the original films that hard core Trekkies can appreciate it (if they get over their grudges and get to the theatre) but change the timeline so the original films can still be valid. Trek now exists in an alternate timeline. As if that weren’t enough, Abrams has opened Trek up, and people that are completely unfamiliar with the world of the Federation can discover it in an incredibly approachable way.

Go see this movie.

Director: JJ Abrams
Writers: Roberto Orci & Alex Kurtzman
James T. Kirk: Chris Pine
Spock: Zachary Quinto
Old Spock: Leonard Nimoy
Nero: Eric Bana
Capt. Pike: Bruce Greenwood
Leonard McCoy: Karl Urban
Uhura: Zoe Saldana
Scotty: Simon Pegg
Sulu: John Cho
Chekov: Anton Yelchin
Sarek: Ben Cross
Amanda Grayson: Winona Ryder

Nero: James T. Kirk was a great man... but that was another life.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009


Originally uploaded by ivanovash
Young siblings Danny, Walter & Lisa are learning to cope with their newly divorced parents; like any typical teen Lisa is very self-involved and doesn’t want anything to do with her siblings or parents, but Danny & Walter are not coping with the divorce well. On a trip to Dad’s the boys vie for their father’s attention and this causes them to argue the whole time. When their dad has to leave for a meeting Danny tries everything he can to get Walter to pay attention to him and he finds Zathura, an ancient board game in the house. Danny starts the game and the house and the three siblings are pulled into a space adventure that cannot stop until they reach the end of the game.

I loved Jumanji when I was a teen and when Zathura hit the theatres I refused to see it because I couldn’t understand why the films were so similar – why make the movie twice. Little did I know that four years down the line I’d be a huge fan of Jon Favreau & Zathura would be on my list of films I had to see.

Zathura was the film Favreau directed right before getting Iron Man and I must say the film had to teach him a lot of the skills he needed for Iron Man. This is an effect driven picture with explosions, aliens, stunts and on top of that it’s a character driven piece. Favreau managed to take a film which should have been about the effects and make it a film about his characters, the same thing he did with Iron Man.

What had to be the toughest thing about this movie is the fact that all the lead characters are children; this puts so many restrictions on what you can and can’t do that it becomes a nightmare to shoot. On top of that a lot of child actors are difficult to work with. Watching Zathura you never see any of the difficulty. Perhaps this is because Favreau is an actor and a father so he could relate to the kids as actors, or perhaps he’s just that good.

Zathura pleasantly surprised me. I did not expect to enjoy the film, but was very glad to find that not only is it as good as Jumanji but it’s an enjoyable film in its own right.

Director: Jon Favreau
Writers: David Koepp & John Kamps
Danny: Jonah Bobo
Walter: Josh Hutcherson
Artronaut: Dax Shepard
Lisa: Kristen Stewart
Dad: Tim Robbins

Walter: Zathura. Attention space adventurers, Zathura awaits. Do you have what it takes to navigate the galaxy? It's not for the faint of heart, for once you embark upon your journey there's no turning back until Zathura's reached. Pieces reset at the end of each game. Play again and again for differnt adventures.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009


X-Men is a tale everyone is pretty familiar with now. In a near future mutants have started to become a part of society and like any deviation from the standard this has begun to make the public uncomfortable; the mutants are viewed as “others” that cannot be controlled and are probably dangerous. The government is working to pass legislation that will force mutants to register, and this makes mutant leader Magneto and his minions take action against the public. The only ones who can stop them are the X-men, the students of another mutant Professor Charles Xavier.

When X-Men was released it was truly the beginning of the contemporary comic book film. We would not have The Dark Knight, Spider Man, or Iron Man the way we have them now if it wasn’t for this film and the film is an excellent movie. That being said, X-Men is nowhere near the level of comic book movie that the fans expect nowadays it is not nearly faithful enough to the source material. I won’t bore you all with the details but the major issues are Rouge being a teen and the absence of mutants like Gambit & most importantly Beast.

What is great about this movie is Bryan Singer. Singer gets X-Men on top of being a fantastic director; many people have speculated that because Singer is an “other” himself he could identify with these characters. Singer himself has admitted that he doesn’t know or read comic books; this didn’t seem to be a problem when he directed his X-Men movies, but it did become a problem when he made Superman Returns.

Director: Bryan Singer
Writer: Tom DeSanto
Wolderine: Hugh Jackman
Professor X: Patrick Stewart
Magneto: Ian McKellen
Jean Grey: Famke Janssen
Cyclops: James marsden
Storm: Halle Berry
Rogue: Anna Paquin

Dr. Jean Grey: Ladies and gentlemen, we are now seeing the beginnings of another stage of human evolution. These mutations manifest at puberty, and are often triggered by periods of heightened emotional stress.
Senator Kelly: Thank you, Miss Grey! That was-quite educational. However it fails to address the issue which is the focus of this hearing. Three words: are mutants dangerous

Friday, May 1, 2009

X-Men Origins: Wolverine

wolverine movie pic
Originally uploaded by pinoy.stoner
Any X-Men junkie knows the basic origins of Wolverine. Logan was born decades ago and his mutant healing powers make is so that he does not age; he’s lived through numerous wars and along the line begins to work for an elite unit of the government with Striker. Finally, Wolverine volunteers to be part of a medical experiment and have adamantium grafted with his skeletal structure and becomes pretty much indestructible. Logan also loses his memory and is hunted by Striker without ever knowing why. This is pretty much the story in X-Men Origins: Wolverine but it is not clearly or concisely told. What could have been a very high energy, dramatic origins story was instead badly written and sloppily directed.

The best way to describe the direction of this movie is leading; Gavin Hood seems to be afraid to try anything atmospheric or to let the audience notice what is in his shots. Instead, he inserts coverage for everything he wants to make sure you see, and all of the shots are the basic master, double, close-up for each scene. However, even this would be forgivable if the writing weren’t so lazy.

Wolverine is the classic example of a screenplay where A leads to B which leads to C without any motivation or means of tying incidents together. Characters do not have motivation for anything, and relationships are very forced. Perhaps the best example of sloppy writing was the first time Wolverine is called “Logan”; it comes in the last act of the film and no one has ever called him that before – it seems like a character just makes the name up. There is also the issue of inaccuricies with the comic book; perhaps the biggest in this film is what happens to Deadpool’s character in the last act of the film. Not only does this break with the actual character of Deadpool but it’s just stupid.

What was great about this movie was for fantastic actors: Hugh Jackman, Liev Schreiber, Ryan Reynolds & Taylor Kitsch. As Wolverine Jackman was phenomenal as usual and you could tell he put his all into this film. Schreiber is perhaps the best embodiment of Sabertooh that I could imagine and he is well paired with Jackman. Somehow he just exhudes an animal nature in a way I didn’t know he could. I have always loved Ryan Reynolds and the wise-crackign nature of Deadpool fits him perfectly; I was very upset that Reynolds wasn’t utilized further. Finally, Taylor Kitsch was chosen to portray the most anticipated character of the series so far as Gambit. Not only was he perfect as the souther-boy card shark, but he was the wonderful charismatic character I always remember Gambit being. I was glad that with all the films other fault we did get a sizeable portion of Gambit.

Wolverine is the kind of film that you’ll probably watch and enjoy once, but I doubt it will be a film that the real fanboys want to analyze and watch repeatedly. The ladies will love the man-candy that is all over this film too.

Director: Gavin Hood
Writers: David Benioff & Skip Woods
Wolverine: Hugh Jackman
Sabertooth: Liev Schreiber
Stryker: Danny Huston
Gambit: Taylor Kitsch
Deadpool: Ryan Reynolds

Victor Creed: Do you even know how to kill me?
Logan: I'm gonna cut your God damn head off. See if that works.