Monday, February 23, 2009

Into the Wild - Directed by Sean Penn

Okay. There's going to be alot less profanity in my reviews from this day forth, as my blog is now being used to review movies and write essays and other things of that nature for my Media Studies class at school.
Anyway, I'll start my review now.
Into the Wild was released in 2007, based on a non-fiction book written by Jon Krakauer in 1996 (which I didn't know until the end of the movie) about a huge adventure by a 22 year old man named Christopher McCandless. The film takes place over two years in which he hikes into the wilderness on a journey to Alaska. After graduating from University (that's college for all the americans) he donates $24,000 of the $47,000 given to him by his family to charity and sets off on a long tramp to search out a life of peace and solitude under his new self-given name; "Alexander Supertramp". This is mainly due to his parents, and their domestic violence and the pain they had caused him as a child. Later on it explains something that "changed his life around, and made him feel as though his entire childhood was fiction (and some nice metaphors also)". He meets many interesting people and does alot of things that most people would NEVER think of doing for fun.

The most negative thing that I can say about this movie is the opening title. The opening title saying "INTO THE WILD" looks quite child-like, and looks like it has been inserted with windows movie maker. The beginning shows graphics in the form of a letter that Chris wrote to somebody that he met on his travels. Everything is perfect up until when the writing that says "INTO THE WILD" changes from it's simple good looking lettering and expands and turns green and blocky. The green-ness and largeness may be symbolism of some sort to describe clean green land and it's vastness (represented by the growing) but I doubt it very much...I doubt whether alot of so-called symbolism in movies these days is put in deliberately unless it's very obvious. Okay I shall stop ranting about that now. The film begins in Alaska, where Chris starts tramping through the snow and finds an empty bus, which he calls "The Magic Bus". Throughout the movie it flicks backwards and forwards to his time at the magic bus and his journey that began 2 years before he finds it. The book begins very differently, in the same way that the movie ends, but I can't spoil the ending for you. I will in the next paragraph though, so it might be an idea to skip it.

SPOILER ALERT! (scroll down)

After eating a poisonous plant that looks similar to an edible plant that he was searching for, he dies. His body and a book he had been writing on his travels were discovered by moose hunters, along with a self portrait (which is now famous) undeveloped inside his camera. The make-up and hair artists did a great job in making Emile Hirsch look like the real Chris McCandless. In the end he forgives his parents for his childhood, and goes with a smile on his face. This was an extremely powerful ending.

Alright, enough spoilers. The imagery in this movie is great, as the landscape and the environment that Chris travels through is so amazing looking and wild and so far away from civilisation. The shots taken from a helicopter are incredible and show some amazing american views that you almost never see on TV. This movie shows that America really is a beautiful country.

All in all, this movie has quite an original and interesting story which is enhanced by the fact that it was based on real events in Chris's life. It is a drama movie with quite a bit of adventure, so you can't expect to see alot of action in it. Alot of people might just turn it off in the first five minute from being bored, but that's because they don't know what to expect from films within this genre. One thing that hooked me in was the great soundtrack by Eddie Vedder (the lead singer of Pearl Jam). This made me enjoy the movie a whole lot more, and had me humming for half of the movie (which probably annoyed some people). The fact that the way the movie is presented could scare away younger people stopped me from marking this movie with an 8.5/10, because everyone is always looking for action and comedy. I give this film an 8/10 (and I do remind you that I still mark conservatively) for it's emotion-inducing factor, the memorable and informative dialogue, and the character of Chris McCandless, who is so likeable throughout the full 2 hours.

If you like a nice and meaningful story with lots of incredible scenes of nature and wildlife, I would definitely recommend this movie for you.

I am barely ever seeing original movies like this anymore. The industry needs some more fresh ideas and this was just the thing, even though it was based on a book. That discovery made me lose a little bit of the extreme respect I had for the director after seeing this movie...If it was a completely original fiction then it's score would have had to have been a 9/10 from me.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

A very sweet sick day- The Life Aquatic

I've been ill for the last few days, starting the day before my first ever review. As nobody is reading this blog yet I don't mind too much about the quality of my reviews. One plus side comes out of being sick; I get to lie in bed and watch a bunch of movies.
Right now the credits are rolling for the film "The Life Aquatic", which recently I saw a photoshopped picture of an advertisement saying "You'll see this movie because Bill Murray is in it" and I can't believe somebody would say that about such a good movie. I think it's one of the sweetest recent films(I say recent as in a movie that wasn't made in 2000), seeing as it came out in 2004 and is a potential classic. Although there's a bit of adult humour, and some humour that most people won't understand I think it could almost be one of those family movies that everybody watches and loves, unlike every other movie that has been put in the "family" genre except home alone 1 and 2....none of the other horrible sequels. Home Alone 3 sucked donkey balls and John Williams didn't even do the music for it...Home Alone isn't Home Alone without Kevin and John Williams.
The movie runs for almost 2 hours and is entertaining pretty much the whole way through if you're in the right mood. If you don't want to take in some different humour then maybe watch some shitty american show like 2 and a half men or darma and greg or some shit.
I for one, laughed every time I saw the token black man playing David Bowie songs on his acoustic guitar and singing them in a different language, and how he seemed oblivious to everything else goign on around him. Not only was this a cool adventurous plot with witty humour, I was suprised when a firefight scene popped up in the middle of nowhere. It was FREAKIN AWESOME in my opinion. I don't want to rant so long as to ruin the whole film, so I say that if you like a good laugh and occasionally a bit of action and adventure, get this movie out from your video store or if you ever go along to your girlfriend's DVD nights then get this one out. For a movie coming out these days, it was a freakin masterpiece. 8/10

Thursday, January 22, 2009

What happened to our film industry?

This post is for anybody who remembers those great movies from the Tremors series (excluding that prequel...that wasn't that great).
Recently I was christmas shopping and I saw one of my favourite childhood films in the bargain bin of JB Hifi. Tremors 1, 2, and 3. FOR 20 BUCKS!
I couldn't believe it, as the Star Wars prequels still sell in the pack of 3 for about 60-80 bucks these days. Tremors was a classic and I can't believe it has been forgotten so easily by the world. While I loved buying them for such a good price I was dissappointed seeing a pre-owned dvd version of the godfather (the don's edition) for $90. While I'm not complaining and the godfather was a fucking awesome film, we're forgetting that all of the recent classics are disappearing into the bargain bins and trash cans. The last truly epic amazing film I saw was the Dark Knight. The majority of new films just follow the same formula and lack all of the X factor that only seemed to exist before the turn of the century. The X-files was a classic example. When I saw that I thought it was going to be another great film along Spiderman or Batman begins, bringing back all the mysterious goodness of the old X-files, but no. It was crap to be completely honest about my opinion.
Anyways, let's hope the recession doesn't stop any memorable films from being made in the future. I for one am very excited about the release of the new Transformers film. Hopefully it will be just as good as the first one, and that Shia Labeouf will say "stop" or "no" instead of saying "nononononononono" really fast like he seems to do in every movie I've seen him in so far. I'm pondering whether the director tells him to do something that feels natural or if he tells him to say no many times... but his films are by different directors so I'm beginning to think he might end up being another Hugh Grant, who always seems to be the same character in every film he stars in. Mr. Labeouf may be a good actor, but he always seems to be the bumbling anti-lady's man with an exception of Indiana Jones, but then again in that film there are no good looking girls for him to chase. Anyway, I hope people enjoyed or were entertained by this tengental rant about films and actors.

Max Payne -Directed by John Moore

This movie was hard to review, as since I'm such a huge fan of the game I'm always being constantly critical of the small details, such as characters. The only character that has been done in the same way as the game and the graphic novel is Max himself (which was a very good performance by Mark Wahlberg, considering as I know him mainly as that dude from The Happening).
Okay. The plot concerns a bunch of murders taking place, and Max ending up being looked at as responsible for them from shoddy evidence. He doesn't exactly help this because he acts guilty as hell to anybody besides his mentor BB Hensley (played by Beau Bridges).
After I got over the fact that the plot is nothing like the game at all I started to like it a little more. The movie was completely serious and lacked any type of comic relief, but that's alright in this case. It lacks any type of action for the first hour. I was a little bit disappointed when i found out that it was just one of those films that has a long stretch of talking with only one obstacle involved and little action.
Before you read on, I may have to say that the next part of my review contains spoilers.

Anyway, by the time Max finds out that the murders are related to the past killing of his wife and baby he comes to a conclusion that he just has to avenge them. Quite sad because after I saw the ending I realised that he didn't really avenge his family, because he didn't destroy the drug that is corrupting the streets of New York, and he didn't kill the C.E.O of the "ruthless corporation" that is mentioned in the blurb of the film.
I do have to say, the music in the film is very well done and it does create a very emotional mood at the end of the movie.

Overall I wouldn't say that this movie is bad, just disappointing for whoever is a fan of the game, as the plot in the game is amazing, with alot more drama and conspiracy. The plot of this film is watered down and when I thought about it hard I found that it was just lame. But for everybody who is not a fan of the game or graphic novel, this movie would be a good way to kill some time on a rainy day or see if you want to see a bit of on-screen violence and insane junkies.
I give this film a 5.5/10 because I'm so sick of anticipated films ending up having a lack of any x-factor or just plain amounts of action scenes or clever parts used to execute the plot. Very little tension was felt by me throughout the movie which was a bit of a disappointment (the credits were very overdone for a movie such as this though, as though it wanted to be a James Bond movie). I would love to say "A for effort, Mr. Moore" but I think this was just a chance for them to make money without coming up with their own ideas, because it's much easier to twist around somebody elses plot. Everyone knows that.

Yes Man

A new Jim Carrey flick. This excited me alot when I heard about it, as I've idolised Jim Carrey since I was a little kid. Recently I've realised he often over-acts, but I guess that's just his style. He is still an amazing actor (especially in the drama movies e.g. The Truman Show, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, the Number 23).
In this film he stars as a man named Carl, who never does anything with his friends and stays inside his apartment for most of his time even though his friends are constantly trying to get him out to have fun. His life is eventually changed when a man visits him in his work and tells him about a ceminar hosted by a man who promotes the use of the word "YES". After Carl realises that he is becoming a very lonely person he goes to this ceminar, and ends up having to say yes to anything that is asked of him.
At this point I was strongly reminded of Liar Liar, but I let that slide because the dialogue was so witty and the characters were so likeable. His boss Norman (played by NZ actor from the series "Flight of the Conchords" Rhys Darby) is pretty much a typical nerd-douche type character, who in spite of his obvious socially rejected character is always jolly and quite over the top with everything he does. He provides many a laugh thoughout the movie, particularly when he is so amazed that somebody called him "Norm" ("could that be my nickname? CAR? That could be your nickname Carl!").
Another main character is the love interest that finds it's way into Carl's life, played by Zooey Deschanel. She is an out-there, strange and spontaneous character, who is the complete opposite of how Carl was before he turned his life around. She is introduced as a wierd scooter riding plastic bag wearing stranger. She drives the plot further and into more witty humour as the movie goes on.

Overall, I give this movie a 7/10 (and I mark quite conservatively). This is a great comedy with good morale fibre and is a great choice if you like Jim Carrey's crazy antics in his films.

First Review ever- Star Wars, the Clone Wars

Most of the people who actually know anything about Star Wars and actually will honestly say they are a fan rather than pretending that they just feel it's "average" so that they won't be shunned by the "POPULAR" kids or the superficial whiners who control the social status in their school or workplace will maybe agree with this review. Maybe.
Everybody knows that the majority of real fans will always favour the old star wars movies over those prequels which are packed with excessive amounts of un-nessecary CG and bad dialogue.
Don't get me wrong, I have never hated a Star Wars movie in my life. I grew up with them and have always been proud as a Star Wars nerd as seen by anybody who knows me. UNTIL this brand new CG abonimation of Hollywood BULLSHIT appeared. To be completely honest, I don't consider this a Star Wars movie. While the plot is bland and uninteresting, not really affecting anything to do with the clone wars on a large scale, the title "The Clone Wars" doesn't really do it justice. It's plot is pretty much based around the gangster Jabba the Hutt (the hutts pretty much the intergalactic mafia) and his son being kidnapped by Count Dooku. The Jedi are asked to rescue his son and in doing that, gain a treaty from them so that they will be able to help with the war effort against the seperatists (which is pretty wierd seeing as if the republic knew about the government turning to mafia gangsters, they would denounce the move, and the republic in the third movie completely trusts the chancellor). So this doesn't really show much of the actual battles of the clone wars, it's more just a small event that happened to take place in the time. OKAY enough about that.

Exhibit B. Characters. Let me start with Anakin. While everyone generally hates this character because of his annoying puberty, he is kind of likeable in this film, besides that fact that he looks incredibly old and has an overly american accent. The worst thing, however, is an event that occurs- He gets a padawan, and gets referred to as "Master Anakin", who if anyone ever pays attention would know that he gets pissy as hell because he gets put on the Jedi council without being made a master. And since his padawan doesn't die in this film, it brings to question WTF happened to his abomination of an apprentice? Another loose end is Jabba's son...what happened to him? Another mystery.
This brings us to our second character screw up. The padawan herself. To be honest I was so busy trying to find the good in this movie that I didn't catch her name. But it's not really important. From the look of her, she is meant to be a twi'liek (I hope I spelt that right, otherwise I just lost soooo much Star Wars reviewer cred). These are creatures with wierd tentacle type things coming out of the back of their head. Which is alright. But this one happens to be orange. I know this isn't a huge messup for most people, but the twi'liek are almost always blue. I think there are a couple of red ones thoughout the prequels in the background. This one has 3 square-shaped tentacles white with zebra-like stripes (the twi'liek have 2 in every other situation). The squareness along with her wierd nose and orange skin make her look like some sort of wierd egyptian wall heiroglyph. Okay, that's her appearance sorted. NOW for her lightsabre technique. While no characters have any lightsabre style at all in this film, she is by far the worst. She holds it pretty much the whole time like a gangster holds a knife to stab somebody. Never have I seen such a butchery of the art of lightsabre fighting. This brings me to Count Dooku (and his Sith apprentice...but she shouldn't be there, as there are always only two sith lords as stated by both the emperor in the book the rise of Darth Vader and Yoda in episode 1. This little anomaly was from that god awful cartoon series). His character is still quite well done, although he has no style at all, even though he is known to be the most styley lightsabre fighter of all freakin time, along with Qui Gon Jinn (who was based around the same style). In this film he just hits at whoever he's attacking as though he's an angry kid with a baseball bat. I was very dissappointed. I think the only good thing about his character was that Christopher Lee did his voice, which gives it some sort of authenticity(while his dialogue sucks, but that's not his fault. Most of the dialogue sucks in this movie). BUT I have to say, one character who sucks beyond measure in this movie is the great YODA. He looks like a little kiddie's plush toy with big beady eyes and is a a bit too small, but thats just me thinking too hard. His dialogue is terrible. I know people say that "it's just the way he talks" when I say he flips his sentences around too much, but seriously, watch the old movies and you will notice he only does it at random times. The new movies he flipped everything around at every possible moment. In all his CG anti-glory in attack of the clones and revenge of the sith you can hear this horrible talk aswell. People might think he looks "more real" because he's not a puppet anymore, but he was better as a puppet because he was ACTUALLY A REAL THING being filmed, not some CG image, and his facial expressions while having some seriousness also brought in his oh so famous comic relief element. In all of the prequels (while he has some kick ass fight scenes) he is nothing but an abomination. The only main CGI character I have ever seen that actually does a film justice is Gollum/Smeagle of Lord of the Rings.
Okay, to end my rant about characters I want to bring in the fact about the clones. Whoever voiced them over was not Temuera Morrison. The voice sounds Australian for the entire movie, which is easily noticable, and it's a shame that they didn't just get him in to do the voice. Another voice fuckup is with the language. Everybody knows Jabba's tendency to say "poodoo" which means fodder. At a point when he is angry at the jedi he says "JEDI POODOO!" to Count Dooku to express his anger. If anybody was smart they would have heard him say "Bantha Poodoo" which means Bantha Fodder (fodder meaning food). So saying JEDI FOOD to show anger was a thing that pissed me off immensly. Language was one of the fibres that made Star Wars a classic.

Overall, This movie should never have been made. The only good thing I can say is that John Williams made the music great, besides the fact that they destroyed the tradition of having the Star Wars closing theme playing in the credits, something that made me want to go to George Lucas and ask him why he must milk something that was so great for all it's worth and turn it into something that is going to be ridiculed by future generations of children. The beginning doesn't even have the traditional scene setting writing flying through space in the intro which has been so well known.

Overall, as a reviewer I will rate this film out of 10 (though I don't really want to dignify it with that honour). Essentially, this is a kids movie, and I give it a 2/10. It is a disgrace to Star Wars and anybody who is a true fan will agree with me or just not see the movie. It destroys all of the politics, action, and amazing plot that has been held up through Star Wars for so long (although only just held up in the prequels). This film is not worthy to be called "Star Wars".