(As of 12/16/2009)
Up in the Air|
In George Clooney's 3rd and final film of 2009, he hits a home run with Reitman's hilarious, yet realistic script. The guy is on fire, starting off with the not-so-funny Men Who Stare at Goats and then moving on to Wes Anderson's masterpiece, Fantastic Mr. Fox. Now, he stars in Jason Reitman's 3rd and best film, Up in the Air, playing a corporate guy who flies around the country firing people. His sole job is to walk into a company he has never seen before and fire an employee so that the company doesn't have to do it themselves.
Reitman's script is so clever, hilarious yet is still able to drive home a realistic story about a man that essentially goes through a mid-life crisis. Clooney plays Ryan Bingham, a guy who has pretty much written off a "normal" life and lives in a very sheltered existence. This existence is a bit ironic though, considering that he is flying from city to city each week. His idea of success is reaching 10 million frequent flier miles. Only a select few people in the world have reached this goal and he feels this would be a major accomplishment. So much, that he has pretty much disregarded his family and friends. When he actually does go home, his apartment is very bleak and empty, as if no one actually lives there. It might as well be another hotel he is staying in. He would much rather be in an airport or in a city he's never heard of. He barely keeps in touch with his sister Julie (Melanie Lynskey), who calls him often, but now she is getting married to a man named Jim (Danny McBride), whom he hardly knows. They have a quirk of their own and have Ryan carrying a cardboard cut out of the two around the country to take pictures in front of famous landmarks.
Bingham has pretty much turned off any type of emotion towards another human being but his life is completely changed when a new woman enters his company by the name of Natalie Keener (Anna Kendrick). Keener has an idea that the company should start firing employees via the Internet which would pretty much keep Bingham from being up in the air. He would have to sit in a cubicle for hours during the day firing people on a computer screen. He obviously doesn't feel this is right and takes Keener out on the road with him to show her how his job works. While out, he falls in love with a woman named Alex (Vera Farmiga) who flies around the country as much as he does, creating drama throughout the film. Natalie, being a younger woman, eventually becomes someone that Ryan can talk to. She seems like a person that can finally make him realize that he doesn't need to be alone. He needs to be with people.
Up in the Air contains some of the most classic dialogue I have seen in a film in a long while. Reitman co-wrote the script with Sheldon Turner (who has actually written some duds, i.e. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning, The Longest Yard, which is a different turn from adapting Diablo Cody's Juno to the screen two years ago. He mentioned in a press conference that he had been working on this script before Thank You for Smoking and that directing this film at a later time in his life worked out for the better because he now has a kid, a home and a mortgage. That makes perfect sense considering the films focus on this character who seemed so content in this lonely life. He totally lost the reality of what it was like to have family and friends. He also joked in the press conference that his dad and producer of the film, Ivan Reitman, wrote the best line in the film. You will know it when you hear it. (hint: it has something to do with texting).
Though Clooney was great, Anna Kendrick stole the entire film. What's funny is that I saw this movie over a month ago and I lost my notes because my phone had to be reset. Though, I still remember everything I wanted to say about it because I haven't gone a day without thinking about the movie. Kendrick's performance was so quirky, cute and hilarious at the same time. Her best scenes are when Clooney's character puts her to the test and actually lets her fire people in real life. You could feel her nervousness. Even though I have yet to experience the feeling of firing a person, I felt that was as close to reality as it gets. If you have ever fired anyone and see this movie, shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org to let me know if it was realistic. You will see some great cameo performances during the firing scenes; Sam Ellion, J.K. Simmons and Zack Galafianakis.
The movie always has this clever feel throughout, while also portraying this serious story about this lonely man. Reitman perfectly balances that out for the audience so you are able to have a good time with the movie, yet walk away feeling like you saw a realistic story as opposed to the same Hollywood garbage we always see. The characters are very easy to relate to and you could put yourself in any of their shoes.
This film receives a 5 out of 5 and I promise you won't stop thinking about it after you see it. It has been over 4 weeks and I think about it everyday.
(500) Days of Summer|
500 Days of Summer is my favorite film of 2009 and is love at first sight. I fell in love with this film during the first frame. First time film director, Marc Webb, starts the film off perfectly and takes you through a wonderfully funny and true-to-life story about two normal people. Webb, who has directed pretty much every music video known to man (N’Sync, Backstreet Boys, Hatebreed and Green Day’s latest "21 Guns"), uses old school techniques such as old animation and split screen effects to bring the viewer into this amazing world which seems so real. I am so in love with this movie right now that I am having a hard time expressing my words. It is always the best experience when you can relate to a character in such a way that it brings up questions and decisions you have made in your life. I just found myself slapping my knee and saying, "I've Done That!"
As the narrator tells you in the beginning of the film, this is a story about boy (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) meets girl (Zooey Deschannel). Tom (Gordon-Levitt) works for a greeting cards company where he sits around all day thinking of emotional cards to produce. He has always believed in true love and that one day the girl of his dreams would come around. Summer (Deschanel) is the lead boss' new assistant at the greeting cards company. She is essentially the perfect girl but the film's narrator would describe her as a normal girl with special features. She does not believe in true love and feels that there is no fate and that everything happens for a reason. She hates the idea of being tied down to one person. When Tom meets Summer for the first time, he immediately falls in love and thus begins the "500 Days of Summer." Throughout the film, director Marc Webb takes us on a journey through these 500 days, where we go back and forth between the good and the bad times of Summer and Tom's relationship. We flip through the days via an animation that tells us what day of the Summer/Tom "relationship" we are on.
This movie will have you laughing, feeling extremely emotional and keep you entertained the entire time. From the first frame with the "Authors Note" to the very end, you are engaged in this anti cliché romantic film that is just absolutely thought-provoking and hilarious. I was shocked considering one of the writers wrote the screenplay for The Pink Panther 2, which I thought was one of the worst films I have ever seen. The fact that he went from that to this film is astonishing. The writing is original and very natural.
Webb's direction is beautiful. I just loved all of the techniques he used to create this realistic world. There is one particular scene where Tom's character is going to see Summer and Webb splits the screen into two separate events. On the left side of the screen, we have the "expectations" side. Considering that Tom is in love with Summer, he expects to see her and for them to have a great time with each other. So that side takes us through the good times they would share. On the right side is the "reality" section. This is what is really occurring between the two characters. It was just such a unique perspective and it was stunning to watch because as a guy, you always expect things to go differently with women. Though, generally, they turn out to be the complete opposite.
Zooey Deschanel and Joseph Gordon-Levitt could not have been more perfect for these parts. You just immediately fall in love with Zooey's character. The narrator even explains why she is so special through a great montage sequence that points out all of her unique features. It is tough not to want to fall in love with her. I almost feel that Gordon-Levitt was not acting. He probably fell in love with her eyes immediately.
This is my favorite film of 2009 as of today and I am really hoping for a Juno-type effect where the film opens on 27 screens and then expands all across the country. This is the type of film that should be on 4,000 screens. The flick is refreshing, original and just downright honest. Please go and see this film immediately, hence the 5 BDK rating. Considering the times we are in, this is the perfect film to add a little light to your day.
"I think this might be my masterpiece," says Brad Pitt's character at some point in the film. I wonder if that was Quentin Tarantino talking through Brad Pitt. Now, I would not necessarily call this Tarantino's best film, but it ranks up there with Pulp Fiction and Reservoir Dogs. Considering the classic sense of those two films, that is a rather bold statement on my part. Speaking of bold statements, roughly two years ago, writer/director Quentin Tarantino did an interview with the morning show that I do movie reviews for. In this interview, I asked him whether or not he thought he could write a better monologue than the scene he wrote between Christopher Walken and Dennis Hopper in True Romance. He said, "You're a pretty good critic...Here's the thing...That so far, I'm really proud of my monologues, that so far is the monologue that I've written to beat. Alright. That so far the best one I've done. I am writing a World War 2 thing called "Inglourious Basterds" and I think I've finally matched." Now, if I had to guess the scene he was referring to, I would say it is the beginning scene with Christoph Waltz talking to the French family on the dairy farm. If you see the film, watch that scene and tell me what you think. I hate to say this but I do not feel he topped that monologue, even though it is a great scene.
Inglourious Basterds stars Brad Pitt, Christoph Waltz (who is an Austrian actor that completely steals the film), Eli Roth (director of Hostel, Cabin Fever), Diane Kruger (National Treasure), Melanie Laurent (French Actress), B.J. Novak ("The Office"), Daniel Bruhl, Til Schweiger and Jacky Ido. There are also bit parts from Mike Meyers, Harvey Keitel and a short narration by Samuel L. Jackson.
The film is split into five chapters, which surprisingly was edited together in a linear fashion. Usually, Tarantino shuffles the stories around, i.e. Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, Kill Bill. He went for a straight shot here and it was very refreshing. He still kept his signature Tarantino style with his brilliant choices of music, brilliant camera angles and odd and offbeat humor. He is the master of making you laugh at horrific violence. There is a scene at the end of the film that was so horrifically violent, that you can't help but laugh. I don't want to give away much of the plot but I will just give a basic idea of the main story line.
(DO NOT READ THIS PLOT LINE IF YOU ARE AFRAID OF SPOILERS. I TRIED TO KEEP IT AS SIMPLE AS POSSIBLE).
The film obviously takes place during WW2. As of 1941, the Nazi's have occupied France and part of their mission is to clear the Jewish people out. Col. Hans Landa (Waltz), also known as "The Jew Hunter" arrives at the home of a nice French family one morning. He happens to be on the hunt for a Jewish family that he believes is hiding in their basement. Moving ahead so that I don't ruin anything, one of the Jewish family members, Shosanna Dreyfus (Laurent), escapes from Landa and his men. She moves to Paris, France and begins to operate a German cinema. At this point she has changed her name and has fake papers that she can show to the Germans if she happens to get stopped. Meanwhile, the U.S. has set up a crew of men to be dropped into Nazi Occupied France to kill Nazis. This group is called the Basterds and they are headed by Lt. Aldo Raine (Pitt). Their mission is to enter France in civilian clothes and each take 100 Nazi scalps to give to Lt. Raine. They will eventually cross paths with Dreyfus because at Dreyfus' theater, the Nazis are going to hold a movie premier for a film called "Nation's Pride," in which many German officials and soldiers will be in attendance. One of which, is Col. Landa, who happened to murder Dreyfus' family. She wants her revenge. It also helps that the Basterds have also been put on a mission to take out the movie theater. As a side note, Eli Roth and his brother Gabriel directed this film within the film.
The film is over two hours and a half, yet it went by so quickly. A lot of that had to do with Tarantino's genius writing as well as the chapter story telling, much like Kill Bill. There were a lot of similarities to Kill Bill, i.e. music, direction and the way the story is told via narration at times. Tarantino was on Letterman the other night and he said this movie was supposed to have that "spaghetti western" feel to it, considering he was using Ennio Morriconi-type music. Morriconi did the very famous score for The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.
Most people had a problem with Tarantino's last film, Death Proof, calling it too dialogue heavy. That is what he is good at! He found a perfect balance with this film where he was able to perfectly balance out the absurd violence with the genius dialogue. Just when you think the movie might be getting a little too talkative, he throws in a sick shoot out. I, personally, am a sucker for his dialogue so I can never get enough of it. There is a great "Mexican standoff" in this film that could be comparable to the classic ending of Restervoir Dogs. I wish I could get Inglourious Basterds on DVD so that I could watch this one particular bar scene in slow motion.
The film absolutely shows no mercy and is easily his best film since Pulp Fiction. Tarantino has just proven again that he is the greatest director of this time. The performances he pulls out of these actors, particularly from Christoph Waltz and Melanie Laurent, were just brilliant. If I could compare Waltz's character to anyone, it would be Javier Bardem/'s character in No Country for Old Men. He just had that same type of calm attitude but he could be completely menacing at anytime. What a brilliant performance that was!
If I may point out the violent scenes in the film and say that they are just completely bad-ass. You will literally want to get out of your seat and scream during some of these scenes because they just make you feel explosive. It was just great to see the Jewish people fighting back in a film. You just sit there as a viewer wanting these Nazis to die which creates almost a sickening moral feeling for you as you sit there and fist-pump. Tarantino really just struck a nerve and as you watch the last five minutes of the film, you will feel something you have never felt before. The slow motion of this one shot with Eli Roth almost put me to tears.
Please, I am begging you, go see this movie IMMEDIATELY, hence the 6 BDK rating! It is by far the best film of 2009 as of yet. I would go as far as to say that this is a perfect movie. I will be seeing it again, two or three more times, this weekend and if I find any flaws, I will report back.
District 9 contains some of the most innovative film making and brilliant acting ever caught on film, considering the low budget and first time actor. This is a truly original film and one of the best science fiction films in years. Neill Blomkamp has created one of the most realistic interactions between a CGI character and a human being. The same thing could be said about the first Transformers flick but that was made for over $200 million. District 9 had a small budget of $30 million. How the hell did he get these aliens to look so realistic while interacting with the humans? There were times where it looked so real that I thought it could have been someone in a suit but based on the alien's body structure, it would have been in impossible. Turns out, after interviewing the star of the film, Sharlto Copley, that he improvised pretty much all of his lines and during the scenes where he was interacting with an alien, he was talking to a man in a gray suit. In post-production, they added the aliens into the film. Based on that little nugget, this movie will change science fiction films for a long time to come. The best part is that, much like earlier films this year like The Hurt Locker, there are no big stars and therefore you are able to watch the movie without thinking of who the actor is. Like I said in my review of The Hurt Locker, it just adds to the realism of the film and helps you suspend your disbelief much more.
To quote Peter Griffen, what really grinds my gears, are the articles coming out right about this film; specifically in Entertainment Weekly. Even if you just see the cover of this magazine, it contains a major spoiler. My advice is to stay as far away as possible from articles and trailers. To give producer Peter Jackson and director Neill Blomkamp credit, they did a hell of a job with the trailers. Even if you just watch the teaser or the two minute theatrical trailer, they barely give away any information on the plot. Much like the trailers, this plot synopsis will contain no spoilers.
Twenty-eight years ago, an alien spaceship randomly landed just over Johannesburg, South Africa. Currently, 1.8 million aliens live directly underneath that ship, which has not moved in over 20 years. These 1.8 million aliens live in District 9, which is a blocked off area and they are completely separate from the humans, except for the Nigerians who live within the fences. As we saw in the teaser trailer, the aliens accidentally landed there and they do not want to hurt the humans. One day though, it is decided that it would be a good idea to move the 1.8 million aliens to a tighter location, much like a concentration camp. A military based operation called MNU puts the order out and they begin to serve the evictions to the aliens. The MNU appoint an employee named Wikus (played by Sharlto Copley) to head head the mission but when he discovers something along the way, his life and the rest of the movie take a huge turn. Let's just say the aliens are not to happy with MNU and let the drama ensue. As a little side note, the movie is shot like a documentary with documentary style interviews and sometimes a very shaky camera. This all adds to the realistic effect.
As I write this review, I am still baffled as to how the hell Blomkamp created these realistic aliens. They are 100% flawless looking and the interaction is dead-on. To sum up this movie in two words; bad ass. When the last twenty minutes of this film hit me, I almost got out of my seat and started screaming because I couldn't handle the intensity and mind blowing feeling of the action that Blomkamp created. It is rather astonishing to see a film that cost $30 million, but looks like it cost ten times that amount.
Sharlto Copley deserves and Academy Award nomination for his performance in this film, which according to him was highly improvised. I was reading the Entertainment Weekly article and apparently he hired director Neill Blomkamp as a computer engineer years back and then Blomkamp wanted to return the favor by letting him try out for the film. Copley mentioned in the interview that he was also being used for test footage to help Neill figure out how he was going to shoot the film. Then, Neill just decided to hire him as the lead. This obviously turned out to be a great move because he did not have to hire major star power, which added to the realism.
One of the really cool experiences you take away from the film is the emotional ride. When you initially see the teaser trailer, you feel bad for the aliens because of how terrible the humans are treating them. Throughout the film, your emotions do change about the aliens, as do the main characters of the film. Trust me, this movie is much more than explosions and special effects. There are really dark themes and messages about humanity. It's rather genius if I may say so.
If you have six minutes to spare before heading to the theaters to see one of the best films of the year, head on over to Youtube and type in "Alive in Joburg" to watch Blomkamp's short 6 minute movie that he made back in 2006. District 9 is a follow up to that short flick and when you see the special effects in that movie, multiply those amazing effects by 100 and you get the new film’s effects.
This is my 3rd 5 out of 5 BDK rating of the year and it is an extreme, must-see film. I promise you that the last twenty minutes of the movie will just blow you away and you may even shed a tear at the last couple of minutes.
The effects, direction and film score were so beautiful that it made a grown man cry. That grown man would be me. Abrams created a Star Trek film for everyone. There are two kinds of people in the world: Trekkies and the "others." An "other" could be anyone from a casual fan to a person who just completely hates the series. Here is the complete review of this film. I, not being a huge Star Trek fan, enjoyed the film on many levels; i.e. special effects, acting, story and overall vision of the universe. My buddy sitting next to me, being the biggest Star Trek fan I have ever met left the theatre clapping and skipping with glee. So, what director/producer J.J. Abrams has created is a film that both Star Trek fans and non Star Trek fans can enjoy. Has that been done before? Yes, with a little flick called Star Trek II: Wrath of Khan. Until I saw that film, I had nothing but negative things to say about Star Trek. That film opened my eyes and bridged that gap for me, as it does for a lot of people. Most people you meet will say that film is what made them enjoy the series.
Abrams has proved himself yet again with this phenomenal science fiction epic, which ironically featured a monster which looked almost exactly like the monster from Cloverfield. Many people have a misconception that Abrams directed Cloverfield. They would obviously be wrong, considering Star Trek is Abrams' second directed film; his first being Mission Impossible 3. Is it blasphemous that I think MI:3 is the best in the series?
I am going to keep this plot description brief because I don't want to ruin any of the surprises. At the beginning of the film, we meet and quickly learn of Captain James T. Kirk's father who died on the U.S.S. Kelvin, saving 800 lives while being attacked by a Romulan (Alien) ship ran by Captain Nero (Eric Bana). One of the survivors was Kirk's wife who was carrying James T. Kirk. Fast forward twenty-five years and we have Kirk as he is about to join the Star Fleet. This is the Kirk you remember from the original film. He is a smart*** who loves to prove himself right. To make a long story short, this is the beginning of the story. We are learning how Leonard McCoy, Spock and Kirk all came together. Spock, who is a Vulcan, rebelled against his kind (considering his mother (Winona Ryder) was a human and his dad a Vulcan) to work with the Starfleet. Kirk and McCoy both went to the Star Fleet academy together and on one particular day, they are all three forced into a situation aboard the U.S.S. Enterprise. Little did they know that this event would change their lives forever. Yes, all of the classic people are on board; Sulu (played by John Cho from Harold and Kumar), Pavel Checkov (played by Charlie Bartlett himself Anton Yelchin) and Uhura (played by Zoe Saldana).
The real stars of the film are Zachary Quinto (who plays Spock) and Chris Pine (who plays Kirk). These guys are nobodies! I understand that Quinto plays a huge role on Heroes but nobody knows his real name, but they are going to know it now. Could you imagine J.J. Abrams coming to you with this type of a gig? I am actually still having a hard time grasping how everything came together. I watched an interview the other day with Abrams on the Charlie Rose show where he discussed how he was not originally supposed to direct the movie. Once he read the amazing script, he said that he would be "jealous" of the guy who could direct this.
The special effects are mind blowing, but in an interview that I did with John Cho recently, Cho stated that Abrams did not want to use a lot of CGI. Minus the obvious CGI during the battles, a lot of the platforms and gadgets were real. There is a particular scene where Sulu and Kirk are parachuting down to the Vulcan planet. The sounds and effects that Abrams used were so realistic and epic that it felt real. Abrams did a great job at making the entire film seem realistic, even though it was dealing with futuristic time travel, etc. The movie had a vibe of realism.
Here is what makes J.J. Abrams such a genius. The utter use of the beautiful score accompanied by Abrams' spectacularly shot film come together like two people making love. They could not have complimented each other better. The best scenes of the film were when there was no sound except for the score. It added an epic sense to the film and literally made me teary eyed. I will say that there was particular scene in the film when a tingle went up my spine. It has to do with the ending so I will not be giving that way.
The realism comes mainly in the form of acting. Zachary Quinto, who plays Spock in the film, perfectly captured the essence of the character, while also making it is own performance. I am sure Leonard Nimoy would be pleased. Spock is the center of the whole story and his facial expressions were perfect. Considering that Vulcans carry little emotion on the surface, Spock reminded me of the Terminator. His face was practically dead as he delivered his lines. It was kind of spooky to be honest.
My biggest problem with the film was the villain, Captain Nero. Eric Bana just didn't seem villainous enough for my taste. I kept thinking of Khan from the second Star Trek film. He looked scary and the tattoos and make-up were great but I didn't feel that villain presence on screen. You be the judge though.
I would say this is a great sci-fi action flick and deserves to be seen in theatres regardless if you are a Star Trek fan or not, hence the 4.5 BDK rating. The adventure and special effects alone are worth the 12 bucks. One thing I kept thinking that I wish Abrams did better was show how EPIC everything was. For example, if a planet is destroyed, I would have liked to have felt more emotion about it. Regardless of the film's flaws, Abrams still delivers an entertaining, breathtaking and completely fun experience.
The Hurt Locker|
Are we 100% positive that this film is not real footage from the Iraq war? After seeing this film, I now feel that I can say that I have an idea of what it's like over in Iraq. Most people will say, "You don't know what it's like!" Well, The Hurt Locker is one of the most intense, realistic and through-provoking films I have ever seen. I personally have never been to war but we have all seen footage on television and heard war stories so we probably have a small 1% inkling of what it's like over there. Luckily, we have a film maker like Kathryn Bigelow to bring that realistic experience right to the screen so we don't have to go. Bigelow shot this film much like a documentary, which gives it that realistic feel that you are watching actual footage from the war. To be completely honest, there were times where I felt that I was watching someone's home video footage of their tour in Iraq. According to IMDB, Bigelow shot the film on a 16mm camera, which gives it that really gritty and dirty film look. It also helps that the film was shot in the Middle East in a city called Amman, Jordan. Adding to the realistic look of the film, Bigelow also chose to shoot the film on an aspect ratio of 100:1, which according to IMDB.COM was used a lot by Francis Ford Coppola during the filming of Apocalypse Now. To this day, that is the most grueling depiction of the Vietnam war. All of the scenes where Martin Sheen is floating in the boat or even the famous T.S. Elliot recital by Marlon Brando about "The Horror", were just beautifully shot.
Bigelow, who is married to Sir. James Cameron (Terminator films, Avatar (2009)), cast a group of relatively small-named actors for this film. That turned out to be a great choice because if she went for the big names, it would have taken away from the realism of the film. The actors she chose are basically just coming up and their status would not take you away from the film. For example, if she cast Brad Pitt in the role, it would take away from the realistic documentary film style. The film does have a couple of big names that pop up for a couple of minutes here and there but the main stars are Jeremy Renner (S.W.A.T. , Lords of Dogtown), Anthony Mackie (We Are Marshall, Notorious), Brian Geraghty (Jarhead, We Are Marshall). You will see small appearances by Guy Pearce (Memento) and Ralph Fiennes.
The film takes place in 2004 and tells the story of an EOD (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) squad in Baghdad, Iraq. The squad is part of the U.S. Army and their job is to locate and disarm IED's (Improvised Explosive Device). These are bombs that can be set off via cell phone or trigger from distances far away. They are placed in hiding usually on roads or in cars and are mostly used to kill large numbers of people. The squad consists of Sanborn (Mackie), Ellridge (Geraghty) and the bomb tech Staff Sergeant William James (Renner). Throughout the film, they go out during the day/night to locations where IED's may be hidden. Sergeant James is the guy who literally has to walk up to the bomb wearing a special suit and has to try his best to disarm it. Sanborn and Ellridge communicate back and forth with him and cover him while he is doing his job. The movie contains numerous realistic scenes involving disarming IED's. (*full definition of IED and EOD came from Wikipedia.com).
From the film's opening eight minutes to the last shot of the movie, you are just thrown into a world beyond your imagination. I know that is a cliché thing to say but there is no other word to describe it. I would rather be any other place on earth than where these guys were. If this movie does one thing, it will make you appreciate your life. Bigelow, using her documentary-style shooting, has created an environment that could not have been more realistic.
There are just so many scenes to talk about and I am not going to give anything away. I do want to bring up my new appreciation for Capri-Sun's and bugs. There is a particular sniper scene in the film, which is my favorite scene in the entire movie, where the three main characters are out in the dessert sniping terrorists from 850 meters away. As the scene goes on, you can tell it is getting hotter and they are getting thirsty. Their lips are cracking and bugs are flying all over their faces and hands. As they clean their bloody bullets for the next shot, they could care less about anything else. Sergeant James eventually gets a Capri-Sun for himself and Sanborn. As Sanborn is drinking his Capri-Sun, I immediately felt refreshed. That is how realistic this film is.
The Hurt Locker is a film you have to see in theaters. At the beginning of the film, Bigelow inserts a very important quote and she even highlights the most important part for you, "War is a Drug." Remember that quote as you are watching the last five minutes of this film. It will perfectly explain to you what these characters are going through, specifically Sergeant James. Jeremy Renner's performance as Sgt. James is just beyond real. He became a soldier and you never see past his character. At first, he is this completely emotionless guy but as the film goes on, you see how the war breaks him down. It is pretty wild to see his character development as he becomes the star of the film.
The acting, direction and writing were all superb. I would say my only complaint with the film is that it is a little long and it does become a bit monotonous at times. That is just me nit picking. The movie is one to see in theaters and it will be 100% worth your money, hence the 4.5 BDK rating. This is easily one of the best films of the year.
The flick is brilliant, brutal, beautiful, thought provoking, phenomenal, genius, violent, sexual and just overall completely bad-ass! WOW, I want to go see this movie again right now. The movie is just beyond belief and has a great story while still being visually pleasing. I have never seen anything like it and have never felt my emotions manipulated in such a way. My buddy Brandon Fibbs was right when he said you know a movie is good when you see a film that is two hours and 45 minutes and then you walk out wanting to see it again. I was pumped for another round right after it was over. I wanted them to start the movie over again right away. One question I have been getting from a lot of people is whether this film is better than Iron Man and The Dark Knight. Here is the short and to the point answer; YES it is better than Iron Man based on the substance factor and NO, it is not better than The Dark Knight but it's definitely up there! The one line that put me over the top was when one of the villains in Watchmen is about to do something catastrophic and he is being questioned by the heroes. The villain (who will remain nameless) basically says that he is not your typical comic book villain. There is a reason why he says this and you shall see.
WHERE DID ZACK SNYDER COME FROM? Who is this guy? First, he remakes Dawn of the Dead and arguably makes it better than George A. Romero's version. Then, he makes an amazing flick that changed the face of action called 300. Now, he might have created his masterpiece with Watchmen. I don't understand what Alan Moore is thinking. Moore is the creator of the comic books for Watchmen as well as V for Vendetta and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. V for Vendetta was excellent but Watchmen is just RIDICULOUSLY good. I really hope he gets to see this movie even though he removed himself from the film and his name does not even appear in the credits. See, I understand why he would be mad at film adaptations for his movies, considering how bad The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen was but the last two adaptations were very good.
Now, let me say one thing before I continue on with this review. I have NOT read the graphic novel for this flick. I know that it was a series of comic books before it was turned into a graphic novel. It is sitting on my desk and I have glanced over it. So this review comes from someone who has yet to read that. I did speak with people after the film and they were saying the adaptation is perfect and couldn't have been better. Apparently, the ending was changed and there are some minor parts left out but it stays pretty much true to the comic. When Snyder was asked about the ending changing during an interview, he said that it wasn't really the ending that changed, just the device used! Once you see the film and read the novel, you will understand what that means.
You will find an interesting group of actors in this movie, none of which are huge names, which made it really interesting. You have Patrick Wilson (Hard Candy, Little Children), Matthew Goode (Matchpoint), Carla Gugino (Sin City, Spy Kids), Jackie Earle Haley (Little Children), Jeffrey Dean Morgan (Denny from "Grey's Anatomy"), Billy Crudup (Almost Famous, Big Fish) and Malin Akerman (The Heartbreak Kid, 27 Dresses).
The story, to be honest, is not that complicated. There is a lot going on and it is a very deep storyline but it is not hard to follow at all. Essentially, the film takes place during the Cold War and Richard Nixon's term in office. For the movie's purposes, Nixon's term is spread out over five terms. Back in the 60's, a group was formed to fight crime called "The Watchmen." They were just a group of normal people who wore masks and fought crime but they were just really good at it. The film takes place in the mid 1980's and all of the "Watchmen" are done fighting crime. Some of them are dead and some of them have gone to unmask themselves and become rich individuals. We meet Walter Kovacs (also known as Rorschach) (played by Jackie Earle Haley) early in the film. He pretty much plays as the film's narrator. We learn through him and the beginning of the film that someone kills The Comedian (played by Jeffrey Dead Morgan). The Comedian was one of the Watchmen who was a little on the crazy side. This sparks Rorschach's interest in the fact that someone is taking down the team. Someone wants to kill all of the Watchmen. He makes it a point to meet up with the remaining Watchmen to warn them. One of which he meets up with is Dan Dreiberg AKA Night Owl (played by Patrick Wilson). He then warns the rest of the crew who are still alive. One of which, Adrian Veidt, is a multi-billionaire. He is one of the two Watchmen who have come out to the public. While all of this is going on, The U.S. and The Russians are on the brink of Nuclear War and everyone in the world is relying on Dr. Manhattan (Billy Crudup) to save the day. Dr. Manhattan used to be Jon Osterman until an experiment went wrong and he essentially became a God-Like superhero who could do anything. He is the only member of the Watchmen who actually has super hero powers. Wrapped around all of this are love triangles and just bad-ass fight scenes. I don't want to spoil any of the surprises.
Overall, this is a film you MUST SEE! It has everything you could want in an action film including a plot. I heard someone mention The Matrix as we were walking out. It does have that same level of depth to it. The overall themes around the movie are pretty wild and deal a lot with humanity. A lot of it has to do with showing how we act as people and how all of the bad things that come about (i.e. war, death) are brought on by out human's actions and not a higher power, i.e. God. It isn't God that makes terrible things happen. We do a lot to ourselves. (Again, that is what the movie is stating).
The special effects and fight scenes are just GENIUS. They are perfectly graphic and just dead on. I honestly just kept shouting out during the movie because I couldn't believe what I was seeing. You have all of these great action scenes plus a great and in-depth story. It is the perfect balance. I will say that the violence is beyond belief.
The film is just short of genius and definitely Zack Snyder's masterpiece. I am not sure he will ever top this movie. The flick is 2 hours and 45 minutes and I wanted more and apparently I will get more in July when the DVD comes out with the 3 hour and 10 minute version. For a filmmaker to have made so few films, it is pretty amazing what he has done so far.
If I had to criticize stuff, I would say that I didn't like the casting of Malin Akerman. She felt a little out of place. I kept thinking of her part in The Heartbreak Kid. Also, the ending dragged a little bit. They could have done without the last scene of the film. They could have ended it right after an encounter between Dr. Manhattan and Rorschach.
Please, do yourself a favor and go see this movie. EVEN THE MUSIC IS AMAZING. The 5 minute credit sequence in the beginning is just absurdly good! They use so many great classic songs for the movie and they all fit perfectly. Go see this now. It is my first 5 BDK rated film of the year. For those of you wondering if Dr. Manhattan is nude throughout the movie, the answer is yes. There is a ton of blue penis throughout. Haha.
Normally, when you read a good review of a film, the critic may say that it left them "speechless." Well, as I sat in this crowded auditorium at the London Film Festival, I could not wait until the film reached its credit sequence so that I could look over at the guy next to me and blurt out my feelings. Never before had I been speechless and at the same time, had so much to say. Much of what I was saying did not make any sense because I was so overcome by emotions and happiness.
This may sound a bit contradictory, but the film has the most cliché, yet anti-cliche, ending I have seen. Without explaining exactly what that is, they end the film in such a way that yes, it may be typical, but the way it is done is very original. After talking with star Carey Mulligan and Nick Hornby, they stated that the ending was not originally like that in the script and that they came up with how to shoot it while on set. They wanted the ending to not be a typical Hollywood ending.
I'll be the first to admit, much to people's dislike, that I am a young lad in this business. I have only been doing movie reviews since 2005 here in Washington D.C. This next statement could not be more true in my eyes, as I have thought about it for the past couple of weeks. The performance given in this film by Carey Mulligan is, hands down, the best performance by an actress I have seen in my career. Not for one second in the entire ninety-five minute film, did I ever feel that she broke character. She became the character of Jenny and lived her life as a 16-year old school girl getting three different educations. This is a performance of a life time and she will win the best actress award at the Oscars in 2009.
To be a bit of a hack, the film truly is an education; well actually three educations. The film has so many layers and so many messages that it can teach any person, no matter what stage of their lives they may be in, a decent life lesson. Jenny (Mulligan) is your normal sixteen year old high school student in London, where her grades are remarkable and she is on her way to an education at Oxford University. Her mother and father (played by Aflred Molina) are very strict on her and are constantly on her back on her Latin homework. They want to keep her away from her love of Paris, as her father is always complaining when Jenny listens to French music. One day after band practice at school, Jenny is waiting at the bus stop in the pouring rain, when a rich gentlemen in his 40's rolls up in a nice looking car, offering her a ride. At first she is very reluctant but he works his magical charm and eventually she gets in the car and they have the most wonderful conversation. You have to keep in mind that Jenny thinks she is completely mature for her age.
This is the beginning of a two year relationship between the two, where David essentially convinces Jenny's parents that he should take her places like Paris for the weekend. This would be for strictly educational purposes, of course. David and Jenny are always hanging around another couple; Danny (Dominic West) and Helen (Rosamund Pike). Danny is David's business partner and they deal in a very shady way. Jenny begins to care less and less about school and more about living her life. She feels that this life she lives with David is fun and how it should be. That is where she becomes really immature. When problems arise though, she will get her most useful education. I want to point out two other brilliant performances in the film; Olivia Williams (who plays Miss Stepps) and Emma Thompson (who plays Jenny's principal).
Why is Carey Mulligan's performance so good? Naturalism. It is the most realistic performance I have seen in long time. Every mannerism, smile, laugh and line of dialogue was said as if she was really Jenny. This made her the easiest character in the world to fall in love with.
Most critics will not be able to experience this next part, so please take my word on this as it pertains to how amazing Mulligan's performance really was. I attended a press conference after the film with Carey Mulligan, Nick Hornby, Scott Hicks and Dominic Cooper. As I arrived at the conference, in my mind, I was hoping I would see Jenny and not Carey Mulligan. The actress could not be more different from the character she played and it is pretty much a 180, which kind of saddened me because I loved her character so much. This goes to show you how good Mulligan is at getting into character.
The film is brilliantly shot by director Lone Sherfig who perfectly captures the 60's. This is a film that everyone should see and is one of the best of 2009. Every performance and every line of dialogue were amazing. One of my favorite dynamics was Mulligan and Molina. There is a wonderful scene towards the end of the film where Molina is trying to console his daughter and the entire scene happens while Mulligan is in her bedroom and he is at the door. It was truly one of the more heartfelt scenes I have seen in a film in a long. The kicker was that the two characters were not even in the same room. Please go see this film immediately, hence the 4.5 BDK rating.
If I had enough money, I would be willing to pay anyone back in the world if they saw this movie and did not like it. That is how funny, smart and well-written this film is. Director Todd Phillips has another comedic masterpiece on his hands here and he knows it, considering the film has already been green lit for a sequel. If you are not familiar with Phillips' work, let me refresh your memory with Old School or Road Trip. This guy is no stranger and when you see The Hangover you will totally understand why. The great thing about this movie is that I can judge it as a comedy, drama or action flick. The film has everything you could want in a comedy, plus Mike Tyson. I almost wish the filmmakers did not ruin the Mike Tyson bit in the trailers. That would be been a pleasant surprise.
The Hangover tells the story of four friends who go to Las Vegas for a bachelor party two days before the wedding. Doug (Justin Bartha) is due to be married and his best friends Stu (Ed Helms) and Phil (Bradley Cooper) want to show him a good time. Doug decides to bring his fiance's brother, Alan (Zack Galafianakis), along as well to have some family bonding. Without giving anything away, they go take the road trip to Vegas and grab a sweet villa at Caesar's Palace. They start the night off on the roof drinking some Jagermeister shots and that is the last we see of that night. As you have seen in the trailers, Phil, Alan and Stu wake up the next morning in their hotel room with a tiger, a baby, chickens and a destroyed room. The biggest problem is that their friend Doug is missing and they do not remember one thing about the night. The rest of the movie is the three guys looking around Vegas and using any clues they can possibly find to try to locate Doug.
The comedy comes from the problems they run into while strolling around Vegas. Let's just say that they got into some pretty heavy stuff that night. If you have seen the trailers then you pretty much know everything I just told you. I will say that the Mike Tyson bit is longer in the film and way more in depth so don't consider that to be 100% ruined. The film also stars Heather Graham as a stripper/escort, Mike Epps as a guy named Doug and a hilariously vulgar performance from Ken Jeong, who practically steals the entire film. Prepare to see lots of unnecessary penis.
The best part about this film is that we the audience, like the characters, have no clue what happen that night. We are detectives as well, searching out clues throughout Vegas to find out what could have possibly happened to their friend Doug who is supposed to get married in one day now. This creates a great intensity for the audience and Phillips perfectly tops that off with great comedy bits and complete absurdity.
Hats off to the writers of the film, Jon Lucas and Scott Moore. Looking at their resume, which consists of Four Christmases and Ghost of Girlfriends Past, you would think they would not be able to pull of something this funny. It is like they have been holding back this script for just the right time. The comedy timing was absolutely perfect. I would say the only issue with the film was that the beginning dragged a little bit. Other than that, the jokes all hit perfectly and the picture was casted brilliantly. Ed Helms is seriously going to be a huge star. Can anyone tell me how they heck they made his missing tooth look so real? There were scenes where he was putting his finger through the area where the tooth was missing.
Director Todd Phillips finally figured out a way to get Bradley Cooper into the limelight. This guy has been in so many flicks recently; including his great role in The Wedding Crashers. Until this movie, he has always been "That Guy." This time, he has taken the bull by the horns and this will be the film he will be remembered for. He was the perfect "a-hole" type character that also had a ton of heart.
There really is not much to say about this film except for the fact that it is funny as all hell. There are so many insane moments and parts that will go down in history as classic comedy bits. You know how everyone talks about scenes from Animal House and Caddyshack? People will be talking about scenes from this film for years. I promise that.
Please stay and watch the credits of the movie. You will not be disappointed. I want to point out that there is one particular scene in the credits that I am completely shocked about. There is absolutely no way I have ever seen this particular thing in a major motion picture before. Please send me at email at email@example.com if you want to know what I am talking about. This film receives a 4.5 BDK rating out of 5 only because the beginning is a little slow. You have heard all of the hype for this movie. Believe it!
Drag Me To Hell|
When I walked out of the theater, the publicist asked me if I was the little girl screaming in the front row and I answered them honestly with; 'Yes.' Writer/director Sam Raimi is back with one of the scariest horror films in years. Raimi hasn't directed a horror flick since Evil Dead 2 (22 years ago) and has been off directing big budget super hero flicks (Spider-Man 1,2,3). When the trailer initially came out, we saw that Raimi was trying to get back into the horror directing chair but when I saw the PG-13 rating, I started to get a little worried. Raimi completely shoved that worry aside with a horror flick that did not rely on blood and gore. The scares come from his genius use sounds and canted camera angles. Raimi is just a genius of creating a very intense and eerie feeling. He keeps all of the scares very unpredictable and just goes completely off the charts with the intensity. In an interview Sam Raimi did with my movie show on CBS Radio, he said that he knew where the audience expects the scares to be. He wanted to create these intense moments and then wait an extra "beat" before delivering the climatic scare. The best part is that you are also laughing as much as you are screaming. I felt bad because I was screaming out obscenities during the movie because I was so scared. The critics next to me were probably getting a little irritated.
The film tells the story of Christine Brown (played by Allison Lohman), who is a loan officer that keeps getting disrespected every day. She has been trying for months to get promoted to an assistant management position at the bank. You can just tell that she feels her boss is more in favor of her co-worker Stu because he is a complete suck up and always does everything right. The one thing her boss tells Christine is that she is not aggressive enough and pretty much gives out too many loans. Shocker, that morning, a creepy old woman comes to the bank to ask for a 3rd extension on her home because she is at risk of losing her house to the bank. Christine wants to help her but she knows it will look bad upon her. As Sam Raimi explained in my interview, Christine commits the sin of greed and decides not to give her the loan and this drives the woman insane to the point where she puts a curse on Christine. In three days, Christine will go to hell and within these three days, she will be tortured by an evil spirit called "The Black Goat." She tries looking for help from her boyfriend, played by Justin Long and a local psychic but in the end, she is just going to have fight this demon herself.
I understand that the plot line may sound ridiculous but this is truly one of the most frightening and scary films I have seen in years. Raimi is able to make you laugh and scream all at the same time, which is not an easy thing to do. His use of sounds, shadows and canted angles are just masterfully done and create a perfect environment for you to be scared. As I said above, he is able to find moments where you least expect to be scared. As Sam Raimi said in the interview, people are used to being scared at a certain moment. So he basically used all of the horror films that have come in the past five years or so to his advantage and tries to scare people at different moments.
The lead actress, Allison Lhoman, puts on a phenomenal performance, carrying an extremely secure leading role. She knew her stuff and really came at this role with all she had. Female leads are not the easiest characters to write, but Raimi nailed and it almost made her come off as strong as Bruce Campbell in all of the Evil Dead films. Now, I am not saying she is Bruce, but she had a very similar vibe in a lot of the scenes.
The PG-13 rating does not effect the movie one bit. He was able to scare the crap out of you regardless. That to me is genius film making. If you can scare an audience using pure ambiance, you have your stuff together. There were little references to all of the Evil Dead films all over this flick. Even little things like the lady's handkerchief, reminded of the moving hand in Evil Dead 2.
If you are looking for a movie that is worth all of your money, this is the one. This is officially the second 5 BDK movie I have given this year. The first one was Watchmen. I can't imagine or think of a better film to see in theaters. With the loud sound effects and just unbelievably scary faces and noises, this is the movie you will walk out of completely freaking out. I am not kidding about the publicist asking me that question about me screaming like a little girl. I was literally screaming at the top of my lungs. This is the movie to see this summer and you will not be let down.