Marter's Reviews

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Marter's Reviews

Post by Movie Martyr on Tue Dec 21, 2010 4:45 am

So...I'm here, and ready to completely flood this board with my reviews. I will be nice though, and keep them all in one thread. Comment if you wish, feedback is always appreciated. If you have a request, I shall accept it, although it will not be high on my list. (It will get done sometime though.) Also, the formatting here is kind of bad, or at least, I haven't figured out how to make the pictures go inline, so ugly formatting is how it'll have to be. so I will only post text from now on. :p

I hope you will enjoy these, I certainly enjoy writing them.

Splice



It's sometimes a shame when movie trailers--or posters, for that matter, ruin the majority of a movie. With Splice, this isn't such a big problem, but it does remove some of the tension from early on in the film. The trailer of the film more or less gave away the first hour of the movie, which means that you already know, up to a certain point, what happens to the scientific experiment known as Dren.


Dren starts out looking like this.


Dren (portrayed in the later stages of her life by Delphine Chanéac) is the creation of two scientists. Clive and Elsa (Adrien Brody and Sarah Polley) are smart people, and begin the film with the ability to create brand new organisms by splicing DNA from many different species together. After being told they have to stop doing this, they decide to create a side-project, this time adding human DNA into the mix.

The result is a rapidly growing creature, one whose entire lifespan is predicted to last no more than a few weeks. It gets named Dren, an inversion of the company name that the pair works for. It grows quickly, and somehow learns words before we see it learn to read. It ends up being able to understand English, at least partially, as well as being highly intelligent. Emotionally immature, however, this creature displays emotions at a primitive level, often fluctuating between them rapidly, and not being able to hide them.

Or maybe she can hide them, and we just don't get to find out. The most interesting character in the film, by far, is Dren, but we don't get to find out enough about her to fully realize what she is feeling. She doesn't get to speak, so we can only rely on her action to tell us about her. She can display emotions, and is quite smart, but that's about all we get. Is it possible that she is feeling something completely different from how she acts? Is she just masking these true emotions to fit better with Clive and Elsa? We never get to find out.


They can't believe what they've created.


Instead, the film focuses on the problems that the two humans face, giving them the most characterization. Their problems range from relationship turmoil to caring for Dren. They have to keep their experiment a secret, otherwise the corporation might gain control of her. At one point in the film, a bond is created between each "parent" and Dren. These bonds are created at different times though, meaning that the already-present relationship problems between our leads become exacerbated.

Those issues stem from one thing, something that works as the first bit of foreshadowing that Splice gives us. Clive wants a child, at some point in the future anyway. Elsa doesn't ever want one. He asks her why, and she says that she doesn't want it coming out of her. This isn't the entire truth, as we find out later. It does set up the way that Elsa treats Dren though, ending up acting more like a mother would to a child than a scientist would to an experiment.

There's one more clever choice of foreshadowing used, but touching upon it would be spoiling more of the film than the trailers have. It's blatant, sure, but it fits into the way that the film develops. I suppose mentioning that Dren shares similar characteristics to the other synthetic organisms isn't too much of a stretch, considering that the same technology is used to create each one of them.


She looks kind of sinister here, doesn't she?


The technology involved is something else that is interesting about Splice. It's likely that you won't fully understand how everything works, unless you went to university to study biology. Fortunately, this doesn't matter that much. There is a large number of scientific terminologies near the beginning, but after that, the film turns into a characters study mixed with a monster film.

It's near the end, when it degenerates into a full-fledged horror film when Splice falls flat. Before this point, there are teases at what's to come, especially in terms of it trying out "horror", but it never goes all the way until the final act. It is at this point in time when Splice stopped interesting me. All of the characters were interesting, but having them run around terrified doesn't bring their personalities forward. It tries to be scary but fails.

This isn't due to a lack of trying though; Splice wants to freak you out. It does accomplish this, in some respects, due to how well the special effects are implemented. Dren can be terrifying, when she wants to be, and this is mostly due to how odd she looks. It doesn't look fake either. Dren could be a real creature, that's how impressive the CGI is in the film.


Sadly, there is some cruel animal treatment in this film. ;_;


I've heard many varying opinions on Splice. All of these opinions have one thing in common, regardless of whether or not the person liked the movie. They were always completely sure why they felt the way they did. This signals a slight success for the film, because it means that people will discuss it a great lengths. They can argue about it for a long time, because it has enough depth to make it a good topic of conversation.

Would undergoing this kind of experiment be ethical? Clive and Elsa initially wish to just see if they can create this life form, and then intend to put it down. Their own morals stop them, would your own stop yours? These kinds of questions can be talked about for hours by people. Even the final scene bares significant conversation topics, topics which I cannot discuss, as they would give away the final plot twist of the film.

"Unique" would be a good word to describe Splice in a nutshell. Even if it isn't the greatest film out there, it is interesting enough to hold the audience's attention. Dren is a scientific masterpiece, and while we don't get to learn how she thinks or feels, we see her impact on our two human leads. They have problems themselves, and Dren serves to bring those problems forward. Splice is more of a character study than a true horror film, and succeeds primarily when that is where its focus lies. Not great, but far from terrible, Splice is a film that warrants a watch, just so you can say that you've seen what it has to offer.


Last edited by Marter on Sun Jun 05, 2011 5:27 am; edited 3 times in total
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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Movie Martyr on Tue Dec 21, 2010 4:57 pm

Casino Royale


2006's Casino Royale marked a reboot for the James Bond franchise. Not connected plot-wise to any of the previous Bond films, Casino Royale allowed for a recreation of Bond as a character, and allowed another chance to witness an inexperienced 007. He doesn't even begin the film as a "double-0 agent". This is how early in Bond's career we start off with.


Meet the new Bond.


He quickly gains double-0 status however, despite almost losing it minutes later following one of the most action-packed chase sequences I can remember. He messes up during this scene though, potentially compromising both himself and the organization that he works for. While on a forced vacation, Bond (played this time by Daniel Craig) discovers a man who was working with a well-known criminal, Le Chiffre (Mads Mikkelsen). Things go wrong after tailing this man, and Bond is soon forced to stop an attempted bombing of a brand new model of aircraft.

After this frantic action scene, we learn that in order to stop Le Chiffre, Bond must enter into a high-stakes poker game. Bond's organization doesn't want Le Chiffre dead, but instead want him to lose his money, and then come to them to get protection. This plan all banks on one thing though, Bond needs to win the poker game.

The actual poker game ends up having the most tension of the entire movie. Broken up by action scenes, (this is a Bond film after all), when the cards are dealt, the film goes silent. Hand after hand is played, and you can feel the impact of every single one of them. Don't worry if you don't know how to play poker, the movie explains everything important that is happening through its secondary characters. One of them apparently doesn't know how to play poker, while the other seems to understand it just as well as Bond does. He ends up explaining every important play, meaning the audience won't get lost if they aren't poker-savvy.


Yes, this is the most suspenseful part of the film.


With Casino Royale being a reboot, some things from previous Bond films have been removed. Instead of the often silly situations that Bond gets himself into, Casino Royale plays everything realistic and gritty. Bond acts more human than ever before--superhuman strength, durability and accuracy aside--and is a character that grows on you. Is Craig the best Bond ever? That's definitely still up for debate, but he certainly gives a fresh and different performance from previous portrayals of the character.

James Bond, the character, is still learning throughout the film. We can see his immaturity in the field as it opens, and despite being highly talented, we do question whether or not he deserves to be a double-0 agent. We also see him improve as he makes mistakes; he's going to be sure that they don't get made a second time. With the added realism, we do lose the charm that made the Bond films different from say, the Bourne series, and yet, I think this is a step in the right direction.

Prior to Casino Royale, the Bond series didn't take itself all that seriously. The actors playing Bond were suave, sex-driven individuals who made audience members, males in particular, want to be like them. They didn't have to work very hard to do anything, but this also made the films predictable and slightly boring. Casino Royale goes away from this monotony, and brings a new angle to a somewhat-tired franchise.


While *this* isn't entirely removed, it gets less of a focus.


Something else fresh with the series is the much improved action scenes. The aforementioned chase scene that takes place at the beginning is filmed in about as realistic manner as possible. Yes, there are tricks to hide how implausible the events are, but the point is that director Martin Campbell tried to make it seem as real as possible. The chase is a man who has extensively trained in parkour--free running, overcoming all obstacles that the person meets. Bond may not have such training, plowing through objects instead of avoiding them, but he manages to stay close enough to his target throughout the chase to make it an entertaining one.

Seeing this chase scene again after watching the rest of the movie makes it have an even greater impact. Casino Royale has characters that you sympathize with, Bond included. Seeing a more human Bond doing these amazing stunts certainly leaves its mark on the audience. He gets sufficiently beat up throughout the film, and since he does a good job making himself available to the audience, we don't like to see him in such a state.

Casino Royale is a solid film, whether or not it is part of the James Bond franchise. Daniel Craig's portrayal of the lead is cold, calculating and most importantly, real. The film feels fresh when compared to the previous installments, and it is an excellent way to reboot the franchise. It has emotional connections, explosive and entertaining action scenes, as well as one of the most suspenseful poker games I've seen, real or not.
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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Movie Martyr on Wed Dec 22, 2010 8:33 pm

This is the sequel to Casino Royale, and as such, there will be spoilers about Casino Royale in this review.


Quantum of Solace


When the James Bond franchise was rebooted in 2006 with Casino Royale, the main thing it had going for it was its fresh take on the series. It was more serious, and told more of a "man on a mission" story than before. It also featured great action sequences and one of the most human-like James Bond portrayal ever. It felt new, and this is one of the main reasons it was such a success.


Craig still makes a great Bond.


With Quantum of Solace, it doesn't have that freshness factor working in its favor. We've now met Bond (Daniel Craig), and we know what to expect from the rebooted franchise. It'll be gritty, it won't feature crazy, over-the-top action sequences, and it will attempt to hit a deep emotional core in its audience. While Quantum of Solace does do all of this, it just doesn't do it as well as its predecessor did.

It's too bad that it had to follow-up Casino Royale, because if it didn't have that, and the Bond series name attached to it, it would be a very good action film. You can't look at it in that light, however, because it is a sequel. A direct sequel, no less, Quantum of Solace directly follows the events of Casino Royale. After Vesper had her life ended in the previous film, Bond is hell-bent on avenging her death. We saw a bit of this in the last film, with Bond finishing the film off hunting down Mr. White.

We begin Quantum of Solace with White captured, and Bond driving like a madman trying to get him back to M16 headquarters. There, he is interrogated by M (Judi Dench, who assumes a bigger role in this film), and we learn that there is a secret organization out there, one that M16 knows next to nothing about. "We have people everywhere", White says, before M's personal bodyguard turns on the organization. In an attempt to duplicate the amazing chase scene that began Casino Royale, M's bodyguard flees and Bond has to chase him.


Judi Dench is one of the highlights of the film.


This turns out to be largely unimportant, except to tell us that there is indeed an evil organization out there, but serves as a good way to kick off the film. The main story focuses on Bond going after Dominic Greene (Mathieu Amalric), a leader of an organization that has some plans to disrupt the way natural resources are distributed in Bolivia. The organization is called Quantum, and is also the one responsible for having Vesper killed.

Along the way, Bond meets Camille (Olga Kurylenko), who also wants to get to Greene. She doesn't have much beef with him personally, but instead wants to kill the man that he is dealing with. We learn that the man murdered her family and left her with burn marks when she was just a child. We also learn this far too late in the film for it to make much difference. That is why I am telling it to you now.

One of the key changes made in Casino Royale was the emotional backdrop of its characters. They made the audience care for them, and made it quite clear why we should. In Quantum of Solace, we get that with Bond, but Camille doesn't come across as anything other than a self-centered character, one not deserving of our sympathy. Knowing why she is this way gives a better understanding of her condition, which is why I feel no guilt in revealing this revelation into her character.


They also completely wreck a car. Sad


Unfortunately, a key component missing from Quantum of Solace was the tension that was present in the first film. In Casino Royale, everything was suspenseful. From the action scenes to the poker game, you were always on the edge of your seat. In Quantum of Solace, this doesn't happen. There are a couple of action scenes where your heart will be pounding, for the most part, they won't have any doubt that the characters will pull through.

The film is loaded with action scenes, although they too fail to create the same amount of entertainment as they did in the previous film. This might be attributed to director Marc Forster (Stay, Stranger than Fiction), a director who isn't well-known for capturing exciting action scenes. They aren't bad by any means, but they failed to entertain like the ones in Casino Royale did. They aren't terribly inventive, and they don't feel all that realistic.

Quantum of Solace isn't as good as Casino Royale, but it certainly isn't bad. None of the elements involved are as good as they were in the previous Bond installment, but they add up to something that is still, for the most part, entertaining. While the action scenes lack tension, the characters have enough emotional depth to make you care for them. It's a mixed bag, for sure, but is still an action film that is enjoyable.
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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by MilkyFresh on Wed Dec 22, 2010 11:09 pm

I might rent out Splice when I get home, it sounds pretty interesting. Nice job Marter, looking forward to reading some more.

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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Movie Martyr on Thu Dec 23, 2010 11:06 pm

Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children


I think that in order to fully understand and appreciate Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children, you already have to have accepted and fallen in love with the Playstation 1 game Final Fantasy VII. I feel this way, partly because I have never played the games, and therefore would not get many of the inside references, but also because the styles of both mediums are complimentary to one another.


This...thing can talk?


To put it really simply, Advent Children feels a lot like a cutscene from a video game. A really well-made cutscene that looks amazing and plays out in an exciting way, but a cutscene nonetheless. It made me want to control the characters that were performing the amazing stunts within it, but instead, I was forced to watch as characters jumped from building to building or had incredibly long, drawn-out sword fights. All of which looked great, and yet didn't amount to anything of substance.

Without having a decent knowledge of the universe or characters, the plot failed to keep me interested in the film, especially after the first half. We begin with a short explanation of the world, and why things are the way they are, before jumping right into the action. We meet Cloud, (one of the only characters I knew about prior to watching the film), who is told he should find out the cause of "Geostigma", a virus that is wiping out a city's population.

It seems that we are already expected to both like and care about the other characters we meet throughout the course of the film, as it doesn't make any attempt to make us feel for the characters. Not playing the game beforehand, I didn't care about Cloud, Vincent, Tifa, or any of the other people we meet. They were empty, and they didn't get any characterization throughout the film. I suppose that I should have learned about them by playing the game first, making Advent Children more of a sequel to Final Fantasy VII than anything else.

In fact, if I hadn't read about it beforehand, Advent Children could have easily passed itself off as a cutscene within Final Fantasy VII. The story picks up quickly, and feels like it finishes just as fast. This is mostly due to the fact that the story is actually not all that deep or interesting. The plot serves mostly as a reason to have many large-scale, physics-breaking fight scenes.


This is the most impressive fight scene in the movie.


These scenes are when I had hoped the film would get interesting, but apart from a couple of them, Advent Children still felt kind of boring. The fight sequences looked good overall--the animations were well done--but they just weren't that entertaining. I'm not even sure why, although it likely has something to do with the fact that I felt absolutely no relation to the characters. Things get far less entertaining when you have no attachment to what is involved, and that is what Advent Children's action scenes felt like to me.

The only real emotion I felt towards the characters was one of jealousy. The characters in the film all looked like they were having so much fun, while I was forced to just sit there and watch them. Since it felt like a gigantic cutscene, I kept hoping I would be able to take control and jump hundreds of feet in the air or take part in a fun hand-to-hand combat sequence. No luck, unfortunately, and instead, I was forced to sit back and watch, not taking any part in the film.

The one highlight of Advent Children comes from its visuals. The film looks amazing, and you can really tell where the majority of the film's budget went into. While it looks like a cutscene, it doesn't look at all like it could be from the Playstation 1 era, instead looking better than most Playstation 3 games look. It is graphically stunning, and is almost worth a watch just to admire it visually,


Meet Cloud


The same type of admiration cannot be had when listening to the film. While the musical score isn't terrible, it sometimes doesn't fit what is happening on the screen. Maybe this is used as a form of contrast, having melodic pieces synced up with large fight scenes. While this is likely the reason, it is distracting in a way that a soundtrack shouldn't be. Taken on their own, the pieces sound nice, but they don't often fit with the mood of the film.

In terms of audio, the voice acting was a mixed bag. I'll admit that I watched it in English, as I didn't feel like reading the subtitles. Maybe this was the wrong choice, and that the original audio would have been better, but what I ended up hearing was somewhat disappointing. I had heard praise for the English voice acting, but I don't think such praise is warranted. Emotional responses were rare, and some of the characters' voices didn't seem to fit the character model they were portraying. Again, maybe it would be easier to accept this if I had played Final Fantasy VII first.

I wouldn't recommend Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children to people who are not already a fan of the series, and most importantly, Final Fantasy VII. The film will not make you care for the characters, nor will it give you an interesting story to watch. It is beautiful to look at, and the action scenes are usually inventive enough to keep you entertained. There just isn't enough there to bring in non-fans, meaning it isn't a success in bringing in new people to the series. People who are already fans likely don't need a recommendation to go see Advent Children, and if they do, then I would urge caution when choosing to watch it.
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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Movie Martyr on Sun Dec 26, 2010 6:19 am

Spoiler:
A note before we begin: I'm tired of having to re-format these reviews, so from now on, all you get is text. It's just too much additional work for me. I am sorry.


Resident Evil Degeneration

Unlike the live-action Resident Evil films, Degeneration actually follows something closely resembling the Resident Evil games' storyline. It actually is part of the game series' canon, with it sliding in between the fourth and fifth entries in the series. It features characters from the games, and has a similar, albeit better, animation style.

On paper, it also looks like it should be a successful film. The plot has numerous twists throughout, the characters, familiar as they are, get characterization and development, and it helps tie together two related but disjointed stories. As most sports fans know, things on paper rarely go the way they should, and Degeneration is no exception to this philosophy. The film just doesn't quite work out the way that it should, and instead ends up being a somewhat boring experience for both Resident Evil fans and people who have no experience with the games.

I can see how Degeneration could make someone interested in the video games though, as if it does nothing else, it makes you want to play a game where you get to shoot zombies. It doesn't even have to be a Resident Evil game, just something that you can use to let out some of the energy that the film builds up inside of you. It's possible that someone watching Degeneration could want to go and pick up Resident Evil 4 and 5, if they had never played them, so that they could both discover the stories that surround this one, as well as have some fun shooting zombies.

Unlike potential players, the characters in Degeneration don't seem to be having a lot of fun with their current situation. Leading a group of survivors following a zombie assault on an airport, Leon Kennedy (voiced by Paul Mercier) must help them escape. The group has Claire Redfield (Alyson Court) in it, who, as fans of the game series know, can handle herself fairly well. She is now working for TerraSave, an organization dedicated to search and rescue missions involving chemical attacks.

Leon is a special agent, who is tasked with evacuating Claire and co. After getting them out of the airport, (possibly with fewer people than he initially found), the story takes a sharp right into "contrived and confusing" territory, with the audience never getting the full story, until the very end where one character explains everything that happened throughout the movie.

While the story is complex, that doesn't necessarily make it that interesting. It's not as boring as some stories are, but it only barely held my interest, and I think it only did that because the characters were actually interesting. Even though the fan base surrounding the series is already familiar with the characters, the film does explain where the characters come from, their relation to one another, and why they act the way they do.

This is good for both fans of the series, who instantly regain the connection they had with the characters in the games, as well as for newcomers, who get to begin feeling for the characters. Falling into the latter category, you won't get a full bond with the characters, but it will begin. I guess you can chalk that up as another reason to play the games, if you haven't already.

Unfortunately, the characters and plot are about as good as Degeneration gets, as the film surrounding them doesn't work all that well. This is apparent right off the bat, as we are first introduced to the setting of the film. We can notice right away that the animations aren't all that well done, and that the faces especially need work. Most of the time, the faces look lifeless, and the animations, which were all motion captured, look clunky. The lip syncing actually wasn't all that bad though, and in terms of graphical quality, is definitely the best part.

The action scenes, plentiful as they are, also don't work all that well. In the beginning, as we start witnessing how accurate a shot Leon is, they work. It's later on, especially with the final action scene--which I'd like to point out lasts approximately 30 minutes--way too long. The final one especially ends up being silly. They are incredibly over-the-top, unrealistic, and downright silly, even for a Resident Evil movie. They capture attention, but only in a "look at how silly that is" kind of way.

Resident Evil: Degeneration failed to be a great movie, but it did make me want to play more of the Resident Evil games--a series I had only dabbled in previously. It made me want to do this, as the story was interesting and the characters grew on me. The action scenes were humorous, but not in a good way. The animations were poor, despite being motion captured, and while the lip-voice synchronization was good, the faces as a whole felt lifeless. The film as a whole was moderately entertaining, if nothing more than a way for Capcom to bridge the gap between Resident Evil 4 and 5.
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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Movie Martyr on Sun Dec 26, 2010 6:19 am

Brothers

Hitting emotional highs and lows, Brothers is a film that deals with a family's ability to cope with the loss of one of their own. After being deployed to Afghanistan, Sam (Tobey Maguire) and his crew end up being gunned down while in their helicopter. Presumed dead, the story shifts to Sam's wife Grace (Natalie Portman) and brother, Tommy (Jake Gyllenhaal). Tommy is on parole, and is trying to put his life back together. Sam's presumed death ends up being a driving force in allowing him to do this.

Little does Sam's family know, but Sam actually survived the crash, and was captured by local militia. He is captured along with one other member of his crew. Sam is a leader, guiding his crew member along, always pleading with him not to give their captors anything that could be used against them. He continues fighting and hoping that one day he will be able to return home to his wife, children and brother.

Right off the bat, we begin to see tension in the family. Sam actually returns home, and we have a family dinner, with Sam, Tommy, Grace and Sam's parents. Sam's parents, especially his father, don't seem to like Tommy all that much, always looking down on him. Tommy is inferior to his brother, they believe, and they begin fighting almost right as the film opens.

Giving the characters depth from the get-go works incredibly well in Brothers, We begin caring for all of the characters, despite their easily apparent problems, and want to see them all make it through. Even though it is obvious that Sam will come out alive from the helicopter crash, it is still a tense moment in the film. We don't want to see him die, and even though we don't think he will, there is a lingering thought in the back of your mind, wondering what would happen if he did.

We actually do get to find this out, as all of the characters believe that Sam died. Life moves on, Tommy begins getting back on his feet, helping out Grace, and the two adults become close friends. Tommy's life is improving daily, he starts having a strong connection to Grace's children. Everything seems to be working out for the best. All the while, Sam is fighting back to get back to America.

Brothers really captures the essence of family relationships, in both its highs and lows. It opens up with problems, and slowly solves them as the film progresses. Once the problems are solved, it throws more into the mix. It keeps this cycle going throughout its runtime, and stays incredibly tense.

Most surprisingly to me is the fact that the part of the story focusing on Grace, Tommy and the children is the most entertaining, and also the one filled with the most tension. Maybe it is because those characters get the most development, but I really became emotionally invested in that story. You want to see Grace recover from her husband's death, and you want to see Tommy come back from his jail sentence.

Sam's story is less interesting, despite there being an ever-present threat to his life. At any moment, he could be shot, never to be heard from again. He doesn't seem to fear death though, and almost seems to welcome it. He explains early on that being a marine makes him feel like home, maybe he believes that is where he should die. We don't get to find out if that is what he truly believes.

Despite the gravity of the story, often delving into the deep, dark crevices of human relations, it balances this with hope, joy and humor. There are some incredibly touching moments scattered throughout, always used to break up the heavy tone that is usually present. It's a dark film, but is also one that can give the viewer a sense of hope. It also has many moments where it will make you laugh, placed almost at what seems like the perfect moment.

Brothers is heavily dialogue driven, and thankfully, the writing was very good. Characters spoke in a believable manner, and their lines all felt natural, like something someone in their situations would actually say. There is passion behind each line of dialogue, and they were all delivered in a natural way.

Performance-wise, the entire cast did a great job. While we don't actually see all that much from Tobey Maguire, he still does a great job with the role he was given. Jake Gyllenhaal was the most surprising performance, actually carrying the majority of the film by himself. Even Sam's children were believable in their role, and their characters were given surprising amounts of depth.

Brothers is a film that I can say will stick with you. It features good actors playing interesting and deep characters well, telling an interesting and engaging story. The writing is believable, the acting is great and the story will keep you fascinated. You will become emotionally invested in its characters, and you will want to see them make it through to the end. Brothers balances emotional highs and lows properly, and is a rewarding viewing experience.
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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Hubilub on Sun Dec 26, 2010 11:52 am

Now review something upside down.

(We're not the most supportive site when it comes to reviews, no)

Everything else I will read when I have watched the films you've reviewed.

URDIT: Oh wait, shit, I've watched the Bond films. I MUST READ THEN.

*readreadreadread*

Exquisite writing my good sir, I must say. I tip my hat to you.

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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Movie Martyr on Sun Dec 26, 2010 11:20 pm

Hubilub wrote:*readreadreadread*

Exquisite writing my good sir, I must say. I tip my hat to you.
Thanks! See, I can fit in here. Maybe. Probably not. Sad

Anyway...

Secret Window
"You know, the only thing that matters is the ending. It's the most important part of the story, the ending." If this is to be believed, then Secret Window fails in its narrative department. The ending to the film is a big let-down, even when it had no reason to be that way. If it had ended 3 minutes earlier, then it would have been successful. Unfortunately, it doesn't, and this ends up hurting the overall, finished film.

One day, while working on a novel, writer Mort Rainey (Johnny Depp) has a man appear at his doorstep. The man (John Turturro), who introduces himself as John Shooter, claims that Mort stole his story, and published it under his own name. Shooter even brings Mort a copy of the story. Initially dismissing the man has an extortionist, Mort soon is forced to seriously consider the man as a threat, especially after the man begins taking action.

The man's threats end up becoming serious and Mort seeks help in dealing with him. Mort goes to the sheriff and a private investigator, men who he soon begins to wonder if he can trust. He thinks that there may be a conspiracy of some sort against him, with one thing after another going wrong. Mort is also in the process of getting a divorce from his wife (Maria Bello). The film actually opens with a flashback of Mort finding his wife cheating on him.

Mort doesn't seem to want to finalize the divorce though, despite the papers having been drawn up months before. Mort still wants to reconcile with her, a plot point that doesn't really go anywhere. She even phones him up at one point and questions why things ended. "If the baby had survived, would things have been different?" She questions this, but it goes nowhere. Mort was too lost in his writing, we find out. She didn't feel like she was important to him, but she still brings this point up. "Why?" is the question I end up asking.

I suppose the answer is to give us a reason to care for both her and Mort. Losing a child is a terrible thing, I'm sure, but even given the fact that they lost theirs, I couldn't bring myself to care about them. Mort is a lazy person, more of a bum than a real writer, and he doesn't make much effort to make us care about him. Even when his life is being threatened, it doesn't seem like it would matter if he were to die. His life doesn't seem to mean much, he doesn't have anything to live for. He could die, and nobody would know or care.

Despite this, it's hard to knock Depp's portrayal of the character. Even if he isn't a character we necessarily like, he is still interesting. The little nuances that he has make him this way, and he is actually quite the funny character. There are some laughs scattered throughout, and they help to liven the mood. All of them come from Depp, whose comedic timing is perhaps the one reason the jokes work.

For thriller, however, the film doesn't quite hold up. There are certainly moments of brilliance, especially near the conclusion, but the middle portion of the film gets kind of boring. The story, the one of a man wanting revenge for the plagiarism of his story, ends up being more boring than it should be, never having the suspense required to continue viewing or caring about it.

If you get through to the last 20 or so minutes though, the film does take off. The final act, sans the very end, are great. It has intensity, emotional depth and have been foreshadowed enough to make the audience feel like they should have seen it coming. You won't though, or at least, not entirely.

The film's twist is one that will surprise, yet not startle. It changes your perspective on the previous events, but also feels familiar in a way. It's like you could have seen it coming, but didn't because you didn't want to. There's an odd feeling that I got after the film concluded--or where I believe it should have concluded. It wasn't a feeling of sorrow, hope or confusion, but more one of "I can't believe I didn't see that coming".

Secret Window is a watchable film that ends up falling flat right near the end. The part where I think the film should have ended would have left a great sense of mystery surrounding what had happened earlier in the film. Sometimes, you don't need everything blatantly explained to you, something that happens in the film's actual ending. I wish that the additional scene would have been removed, because the film's conclusion might have felt satisfactory if it has. As it is, it was disappointing.

If you can get past the second act of Secret Window, the last 20 minutes or so will be quite a thrill ride. It's just too bad that it takes too long to get to this point, riddled with plot points that you won't care about. The characters are interesting, yet unlikable, and the ending is an incredible disappointment. It's watchable, and it can give some entertainment, but there are definitely better thrillers out there. Depp is a good actor giving his character lots of life, and the final plot twist is a good one, so if that is all you need in a thriller, then go ahead and watch Secret Window. You might be glad you did.
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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by MilkyFresh on Mon Dec 27, 2010 3:06 am

I started watching Secret Window with a friend once, but for some reason never watched the end. I was enjoying it, can't remember what happened. Oh well.

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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Movie Martyr on Mon Dec 27, 2010 4:09 pm

The World's Fastest Indian
The World's Fastest Indian tells the story of Burt Munro, an elderly gentleman from New Zealand who's life's dream is to break a land speed record. To do this, he must go to America, where there is a patch of land that is perfect for this attempt. However, this isn't what the actual film is about, but more of a backdrop to tell the story of an incredibly determined man on a mission, as well as his attempts to fit in with American culture.

Burt Munro was a real person, and the film is loosely based around the latter part of his life. Already in his mid-60's, Burt (Anthony Hopkins) finally gathers up enough money to travel to the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah. He wants to set a speed record for motorcycles with less than 1000 cc engines. The film is set in the 60's, but Burt's bike is from the 1920's. He's spent over 20 years customizing it, allowing it to now exceed its previous 55 MPH limit.

There are a few problems that Burt has to overcome. His age is slowly becoming a factor. With his arteries tightening, he is forced to take pills to cope. He is warned that he should take it easy and not take any more risks. He blows off this advice. Now, travelling to America with little money, he has to make it to the racing grounds through whatever means necessary.

Burt doesn't fit in with American culture either. In America, as the film portrays, everyone is business-like at all times. Burt offers his hand and name at every greeting, but is rarely offered the same in return. People want his money, something he doesn't have a lot of. He does meet some good people though, and these interactions are positive.

Burt's character is a sympathetic one, but also one who can stand up for himself. He doesn't require the audience's sympathy, despite how much we wish to give it to him. He's a tough old man, but also one filled with compassion for other people. He can be mean, if required, but is almost always cheerful, even when being, (figuratively), spit upon.

Hopkins' portrayal of the character is also wonderful, giving the character life that the actual person may or may not have had, but translates much better to film. While his accent might not have been spot-on, his mannerisms and general nature helped give the character a unique persona.

Interestingly enough, director Roger Davidson has made two separate tributes to Burt Munro's life. Being from New Zealand himself, Davidson's life has clearly been touched by Burt's story. In 1971, while he was still alive, a short documentary titled Burt Munro: Offerings to the God of Speed was created. Fast forward more than 20 years, and Davidson directed this film, his second tribute to Burt Munro.

It is fitting that Burt receive such a tribute, as, if the film is to be believed, he certainly deserves it. His life story, or at least, the parts that matter, make him an extraordinary man. His perseverance is something to be admired, with him not giving up, despite everything that happens to him. Many people would have given up, but Burt doesn't. He is depicted as a class act, and I do like to believe that he was like this while he was still alive. Even if the story is exaggerated, as it likely is, it seems believable enough to have happened.

This helps make the story and interesting and engaging watch. It is believable enough to draw you in, and entertaining enough to make you keep watching it. Whether it be Burt himself, or just wanting to see a motorcycle go really fast, you won't leave disappointed.

Something that plays well in the film's favor is the fact that it is a feel-good, heartwarming story. It will make you feel good while watching it, as well as after its conclusion. It's a film that'll make you feel like you can take on the world, just like Burt. You will become attached to him, and you will feel just like him, despite there being a good chance you are much younger than he.

The age of Burt is something interesting to explore, and becomes a primary focus later on in the film. He doesn't act like someone in his mid 60's, and instead comes off as someone much younger. The primary concern you have for him is when you wonder whether or not his body will hold out until he gets his record-breaking attempt. We already know he has a heart condition, and question whether or not it'll get worse. This concern grows and grows until the film draws to a close. It helps keep your focus, as well as make you feel even more strongly towards Burt.

The World's Fastest Indian is an impressive film. It's touching in a sweet way, and tells a story that supposedly actually happened. Exaggerated or not, the story of Burt Munro is one that I now care about. The film also manages to make you feel better about your own life, as seeing the perseverance of Burt makes you feel like you can take on the world. Hopkins is great in the lead role, and the story is engaging enough to keep interest.
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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Movie Martyr on Tue Dec 28, 2010 12:42 am

Orphan
I've often been told that there is no such thing as good child acting. When people bring up this notion to me, I point them in the direction of one movie. That movie is Orphan, which stars Isabelle Fuhrman. Fuhrman absolutely makes this movie, and without her excellent performance, the movie likely could have fallen apart.

Orphan tells the story of one family, and in particular, the parents. John and Kate (get it?) have recently failed to have a successful birth; the baby died inside the mother's womb. Unhappy with this result, they decide to adopt an older child, hoping to give their love to someone who really could use it.

At the Orphanage, they meet Esther (Fuhrman). She's nine years old, but already far more mature than the other children. She and John (Peter Sarsgaard) have an instant connection, and she ends up being the child that the couple decides to adopt. "Where'd they get her from, the retard camp?" This is a question that a child asks of her when Esther first arrives at school. Despite being rather intelligent, the way Esther dresses apparently bugs some children. Don't worry though, this person will receive their just desserts.

As we find out, (before the family does, I might add), Esther isn't just an intelligent little girl. She is violent, manipulative and actually quite scary. She has the ability to taunt, torment and even murder people who she singles out. She's also polite as can be to those that she holds no grudge against, like the shrink that John and Kate end up taking her to. The shrink finds nothing wrong, but instead questions the relationship between Esther and Kate (Vera Farmiga).

Kate has her own problems. She is a former alcoholic, and is always on her toes with the people around her. She never feels like she can be trusted, especially after a certain incident near a pond where one of her children almost died. John also has his own set of problems, cheating on Kate 10 years past, but only filling her in 2 years ago. These problems, combined with a series of "accidents" that the couple believe may or may not involve their newest child, result in a rocky relationship between the two. By the end of the film, we hope that all of these issues are resolved, and that the couple will end up living a happy life together.

Orphan is, at its core, more of a slasher film than anything else. In this case, the thing hiding in the closet is a 9-year-old girl, and the victims are everyone she doesn't like, She is given reasons for not liking them as well, switching up the "kill everyone" mentality to one of "kill everyone who upsets you". This allows us to be slightly more sympathetic towards Esther than classic slasher "monsters" like Freddy Krueger or Jason Voorhees, as we actually understand why Esther feels the way she does.

In fact, it's possible that you will feel more sympathy towards Esther than John or Kate, just because the latter couple don't make as much of an effort to make you care for them. Kate blames Esther for everything that happens--rightly so, but John doesn't know it--and she treats Esther poorly, She becomes suspicious way too quickly for his liking, and due to her past alcohol abuse, she doesn't have his complete trust.

John on the other hand, is unlikable for a different reason. This is in part due to how Sarsgaard plays his character, an almost entirely emotionally inept character, but also due to the way he is written. He is passive towards everything, never really taking a side in any feud. He's indecisive, and it would definitely have been nice to see him actually take action within the film, instead of relying on other characters to move things along.

I mentioned earlier that the film might have fallen apart had Fuhrman's performance not been outstanding, and I definitely do believe that. Fuhrman is convincing in every possible way, from her near-perfect Russian accent to the way she treats every other character. Her emotional responses are shocking, and some of the things she has to do with the character are surprising, and at times, cringe-worthy.

There are times in Orphan where you will want to turn away. At these times, it is okay to do so--that was the intention. Take, for example, a scene where a character places their arm in a vice and turns the handle until their arm is broken. Taken out of context, that means nothing, I know, but just picture that for a second. What you are picturing is likely similar in terms of what director Jaume Collet-Serra's vision is, and he shows it to you in unblinking clarity.

Even more surprising is how much darker the original script is. You'd be surprised at some of the cut content, and while this doesn't have any real effect on the final product, it is a testament to how disturbing the story both is, and could have been. Also changed from the script was the season the film takes place in. It was originally supposed to take place in the fall, near Halloween. Unfortunately, a large snowfall took place right before filming commenced, and as such, the story was changed to fit a winter setting. I can only imagine how much scarier the film could have been had it involved Halloween.

If there is one knock against Orphan, it is the fact that, for a horror flick, it isn't all that scary. There is a technique used throughout that falls flat almost every time. There are scenes where you are expecting a jump scene, and then nothing is there. These false jump scenes can work out well if they are used intermittently, but in Orphan, they are used far more frequently than actual jump scenes. The whole premise is frightening though, and it can definitely scare people, especially those who are thinking about adopting a child.

Orphan is a fascinating thriller, one which will hopefully convince you that there is such a thing as good child acting. Isabelle Fuhrman is excellent in her role as Esther, and brings the character to life. Her character, as well as the characters of her adoptive parents, is interesting, and there are enough issues with each one to make you care for them. You hope to see them make it through to the end, even if you don't see a way that they will. Orphan is a really great film, a gem when it comes to these kinds of films, and I recommend it to fans of horror, thrillers and good acting.
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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by PayJ on Tue Dec 28, 2010 1:02 am

I may have to check out the orphan then...

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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Movie Martyr on Tue Dec 28, 2010 4:45 pm

PayJ567 wrote:I may have to check out the orphan then...

I definitely recommend it. Smile

Marley & Me
I'm still not quite sure what Marley & Me was trying to accomplish. If it was trying to make me want a dog, it failed. If it wanted to bring out an emotional response other than boredom, it failed. If it wanted to make me laugh, well, it only mostly failed. And yet, despite this, it isn't a terrible film. I can't say it was awful, because it wasn't, but I don't see what really make it good, or what its goal was.

The story is adapted from an autobiographical book by John Grogan. In the film, John is played by Owen Wilson, certainly showing that he is a decent actor this time around. The movie deceptively wants you to believe that the story centers on a small, misbehaving dog, Marley (played by 22 different dogs throughout the film). The dog will grow up, and we will get to see it either continue to misbehave, (the comedy aspect of the film), or grow up, (the heartwarming, drama aspect).

I say "deceptively" because that isn't really what the film is about. Yes, there is a dog, and yes, we do get to see his life progress. At the beginning of the film, he is the center of attention. He doesn't stay that way for long though. John and his wife Jen (Jennifer Aniston) have lives of their own separate from their dog, and it quickly becomes clear that we are actually watching their lives progress more than the dog's.

This is too bad, because when the story focuses on the dog and his shenanigans, Marley & Me is actually quite entertaining. The first 40 or so minutes were quite good, and I was thoroughly enjoying myself. And then the film shifted from Marley's progression through life to the maturation of John and Jen. They want children, a bigger house and a better career. All admirable goals, but when the film is a lot more entertaining when we get to look at a dog, this jarring shift in focus is off-putting, and also quite boring.

When there is a dog, there is an automatic "d'aww" factor involved. You want to look at the dog, because it is so cute. When the couple goes to a farm to adopt the puppies, you could almost hear the filmmakers "d'awwing" through the screen, just because of how cute the puppies were. John and Jen pick the runt of the litter, as it instantly bonds with them.

Once he is brought home, Marley starts causing mayhem. Just in his first night, he destroys half of the garage. After he is brought inside, things get worse. Marley destroys furniture, carpets, and anything else he can get is teeth into. This is funny. This is the kind of thing you want to see, especially when the film was promoted as a film where the sole focus was on the dog and his hilarious antics.

Once the dog grows older, the film's focus shifts, and things stop being funny or exciting. I didn't care that Jen and John had marital, job or any other kind of problems. I just wanted the film to switch its attention back on the dog, something it didn't do right up until the very end. Jen and John bored me, and while their relationship did feel real, it didn't make any difference as to whether or not their segments were any fun to watch.

The main problem that Marley & Me has is that it was just too long. Cut out most of the parts that deal with Jen and John's relationship and you've got a solid movie. I understand that it was an adaptation of a book, and that cutting that out probably wasn't something that they could legitimately do, but the inclusion of those segments hurt the final product.

Honestly, cut the film down to 90 minutes, most of that focusing on Marley and you've got a really solid film. Sprinkle in enough of Jen and John to bring a little bit of humanity into the film, and you've now created a film that won't be boring, but will also have just as much of an emotional impact.

The emotional core of Marley & Me is another problem that it has. It tries too hard, particularly at the end, to stir emotions. It didn't work. I didn't feel anything from beginning to end. No joy, no sorrow, nothing. Maybe that makes me a bad person, but when the couple is quite unintelligent, and the dog is the only thing that makes the film lively, I found it really hard to care.

The final issue the film has is its couple. I'm really surprised that this was based on a true story, and that the author was okay with himself being portrayed in this way, because he and his wife come off as incredibly stupid. Any sane person would have taken this dog back, or given it away. People don't put up with that much, only to get nothing back. That just isn't how it works. There isn't much believability when it comes to the couple keeping the dog, and while giving it away would have not made a good movie, not doing so made it hard to believe in the story. Maybe tone down the antics of Marley, and then we might have an easier time believing that they would keep him.

If you want a story about a cute dog causing trouble, Marley & Me isn't for you. Don't be fooled, because the dog doesn't become the primary focus of the film. Instead, we get to watch a couple begin to raise a family, and deal with all of the problems that arise in this task. The film tries to hit hard emotionally, but it fails to do so. The dog is cute, and the parts of the film that focus on it are fun, but the rest of the film is too boring and long to bother with. It's not terrible, but it isn't great either.
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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Furburt on Tue Dec 28, 2010 6:45 pm

Well, I'm too tired to comment on any of the reviews directly, but from what I've read, they're very well written, and a good, easy to read length.

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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Movie Martyr on Wed Dec 29, 2010 5:44 pm

Furburt wrote:Well, I'm too tired to comment on any of the reviews directly, but from what I've read, they're very well written, and a good, easy to read length.

Glad to have you around!
Thank you very much! Glad to be here. Smile

The Tracey Fragments
Even if The Tracey Fragments was a failure of a movie, it is one I would still feel compelled to recommend. There are only two reasons for this, one being the fact that Ellen Page is a really good actress, and the other is the unique style the film is made in. If it was a terrible film, I would have to make the decision whether or not to recommend watching it just because you won't see anything like it again.

Fortunately, this dilemma won't come up, because The Tracey Fragments is actually a really good film. It's not incredible or mind-blowing, but it is one of those films that you should watch to experience its unique style, but want to watch again because it was actually a good watch.

It isn't a fun watch though, and I could see many people not liking it because of that. There are a few reasons as to why it can be difficult, but the first, and most prevalent, is in its unique style that I have, and will continue to, praise. While the film was shot in just 14 days, it took 9 months to edit. These 9 months were spent splitting the picture into little bits and pieces. It's like watching TV with picture-in-picture on, except there can be up to 10 different things going on at once. It's hard to explain exactly what it looks like, just like I can see it being hard to watch.

This part wasn't that bad for me, but I have heard others complain that they got headaches from it. It's a unique style, to say the least, and while it does serve a purpose, it could be off-putting. It takes a little while to get used to it, but if you do manage to adjust, it no longer becomes a burden, but instead becomes a way to enhance the viewing experience. As Tracey becomes more emotional and confused, the screen splits into more parts, giving us an instant connection with her. It helps us understand our protagonist, and does so in an ingenious way.

Our lead is 15-year-old Tracey Berkowitz (Ellen Page), just a "normal girl who hates herself". We meet her on a city bus, and we stay there for the rest of the film, only taken off it for flashbacks telling us what led up to her current situation. She's fled from her house, looking for her 9-year-old brother Sonny. Sonny is missing, and nobody knows where he is. Tracey is grounded, but leaves anyway. She hates her home life.

We don't get much story to begin with, or even much truth. Tracey is an unreliable narrator, at least to begin with, and there are some situations that are shown many times. Each time they are show, we get closer to the finding out the truth. The fragmented screen is also one of deception, showing the current event in different lights, angles and endings. One portion of the screen could show Tracey smiling and waving at someone, while the one right beside it could show her sitting there looking depressed. Which one really happened? We don't necessarily need to find out.

Why doesn't it matter? Well, the plot of The Tracey Fragments is actually one of the least important parts of the film. It is actually all about the audience getting to know Tracey herself, as well as attempt to understand everything she is going through. She is bullied, depressed, has a terrible home life, and her brother believes that he's a dog. She has a lot of problems, and a lot of the film is her attempting to work through them.

In fact, The Tracey Fragments is more of a coming of age story than anything else. She has to learn how to grow up, as well as how to deal with her new responsibilities. There are a lot of symbols within the film to back this point up, from the forthcoming blizzard to her brother and his situation.

Tracey is an interesting protagonist, in which she isn't one that we want to like, but can't help feeling for her. She's rude, crude and disrespectful, but we can relate with her. There are reasons behind her attitude, and we get to know her through the copious amounts of flashbacks throughout the film. She's a character that most people can relate to, as almost everyone, (and everyone who is watching it, given its R rating, right?), has gone through the same feelings that she has. Beaten up by the world and everything in it, not feeling like you belong anywhere? That's Tracey's life.

As most people know by now, Ellen Page is a very good actress. She carries The Tracey Fragments, and needs to. If her performance wasn't as good as it is, the film could have easily felt like a film relying on a single gimmick. She is great though, and gives quite an incredible performance. We feel for her and her character, and she seemed to nail every emotional scene that she was in.

The Tracey Fragments isn't a film for the general audience, I can admit that easily. The non-linear storytelling, as well as the split-screen technique, can be quite off-putting and hard to follow. That's the intention though; you are supposed to be confused, just like Tracey. Ellen Page is wonderful, and the character of Tracey is one you will care about, like it or not. You might not end up liking The Tracey Fragments, but it's a film you won't see anything like any time soon, and is worth watching just for that experience.
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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Movie Martyr on Thu Dec 30, 2010 1:06 am

Run Fatboy Run
If I were to use one word to describe Run Fatboy Run, it would be "formulaic". I suppose one could say that about most romantic comedies--something that this film definitely is--but that is still something that ends up hurting it in the end. It's unfortunate that it is so predictable, because if that wasn't the case, it would be a really solid film.

It's certainly not terrible by any stretch of the imagination. It's often funny, heartwarming and inspirational. Apart from the fact that once a scene starts, you're going to know how it ends, the film does offer a lot to its viewer.

I think that there is one other problem, apart from its predictable nature, and that is in the direction it has. While being a British film, it was actually directed by American David Schwimmer. Schwimmer is best known for starring in Friends, one of the most popular sitcoms ever. Here, he directs a cast of European actors, most notably Simon Pegg.

The problem comes from the fact that British and American humor is often quite different. It's a cultural thing; different cultures just find different things funny. The fact that the film takes place in Britain, stars primarily British actors, but is directed by an American ends up creating an interesting situation. I don't know if Schwimmer quite gets British humor, and his directing style tends to gear more towards the American side. Simon Pegg, the film's star, attempts to inject his own unique brand of humor, which is geared towards the British side.

What results is a film that doesn't quite know what it wants to do, despite the fact that its story is formulaic, to say the least. The little quips between characters are humorous, and easily the best part of the film, but the rest of the film isn't nearly as entertaining. There are some funny situations, but not enough to carry the lackluster plot.

The story of the film is as follows. Dennis Doyle (Pegg) left his pregnant girlfriend, Libby (Thandie Newton) on their wedding day five years ago. He's now a security guard for a woman's clothing store, and is out of shape. Libby has a boyfriend now, and Whit (Hank Azaria) seems to be the perfect guy. Dennis still has feelings for her, and to prove that he can get out of his slacker lifestyle, he is going to run a marathon. After this decision is made, the rest of the film focuses on Dennis' preparation for, and the duration of, the race.

Simon Pegg is a good comedic actor, and he really does shine in Run Fatboy Run. He injects his own humor into the film, and it is during these parts that it gets much better. I laughed far more from the dialogue exchanges between Pegg and other actors than I did during any of the situations that occurred throughout the film. While this does make an odd combination of humor, it, for the most part, works well enough.

Other actors did a great job as well, particularly the supporting jobs done by Dylan Moran as Dennis' best friend, as well as Harish Patel as his landlord. They end up becoming his trainers, and provide really interesting moments. Moran especially has excellent comedic timing, and, apart from Pegg, gives the audience the most laughs.

And that is what the most important feature of a comedy film is. It needs to be funny, and Run Fatboy Run is. It has a large number of humorous moments, but it doesn't have many laugh out loud moments. The laughter it generates is more quick chuckles than large-scale laughter. You might appreciate the humor more than if it did try to make you laugh loudly, or you might not. Humor is even harder to gauge than how you'll react to the overall film.

Run Fatboy Run is funny, but also extremely predictable. As soon as a scene starts, you know how it will conclude. The same can be true about the entire film. That doesn't matter much though, because the journey is what is important. Pegg and Moran are quite funny, although their brand of humor didn't always mesh with Schwimmer's directing style. It's a funny film, but not one that necessarily requires viewing. It's a decent film to watch if time is in need of wasting, but not one that you will ultimately remember or care about.
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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Movie Martyr on Thu Dec 30, 2010 5:11 pm

Kick-Ass
There's a reason people don't go around playing "masked vigilante" on normal days. Halloween excluded, running around in a costume, pretending that you are a superhero is a good way to get yourself beaten up. Dave Lizewski (Aaron Johnson) finds this out after he dawns a costume and becomes "Kick-Ass". He gets beaten up, and is taken to the hospital. Not deterred, and now having significant nerve damage, he continues fighting crime.

He gets beaten up again, but this time, there were witnesses. Instead of calling the police like Dave wanted, the bystanders grabbed their camera phones and videotaped the assault. Kick-Ass becomes an internet phenomenon, garnering more than 22 million views on YouTube. Even Craig Ferguson is talking about him. "Kick-Ass" has become a household name.

This means that he needs both friends and enemies. His friends come in the form of Big Daddy (Nicolas Cage) and Hit Girl (Chloë Moretz). They are other superheroes, who are far better prepared for dealing with criminals than Dave is. They have guns, knives and armored costumes. They meet up with Dave a few times, and tell him that if he needs help, they will be there for him.

The "bad guy" of the film is Frank D'Amico (Mark Strong). He's a drug dealer, and the head of a criminal organization. His son (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) is initially unaware of his father's criminal involvement, and doesn't question how they became and stay as wealthy as they do. Eventually, he acquires a costumed persona as well, and meets with Kick-Ass. To do what, I'm not telling. Go watch the film and find out for yourself.

I suppose that last sentence gave it away, but Kick-Ass is a film that is worth seeing. Adapted from Mark Millar's comic of the same title, the film plays out as more of a parody of modern superhero films than it does as a straight film itself. It doesn't shy away from showing the violent nature that would actually take place if superheroes were real, and it should be applauded for that. Kick-Ass feels real, or at least, as real as something like this is going to get.

The characters throughout the film, apart from Hit Girl, all feel like they could be your next door neighbor. They feel real, they act real and they get beat up just like a real person was. There aren't any quickly healing injuries or the like. People get hurt, and you can feel almost every blow they take.

Hit Girl, on the other hand, doesn't feel real; she feels like a character in a movie. Whether it be the fact that she doesn't seem to take much damage, shows no emotion when killing dozens of other people, or because she has the capability to kill all of those people, she doesn't feel like a plausible character. While her action scenes are still the highlight of the film, the times when director Matthew Vaughn tries to make us feel sympathetic towards her, it falls flat. We can't care much about a character that has no emotions herself, and who treats everyone else like they aren't a human.

The other characters, on the other hand, are all people who you care about. When Dave is getting beaten up, you wish to help him. The film does find a good balance between emotional highs and lows, and also stays consistently humorous throughout. There is a real heart behind what it is trying to do, and this comes through in the final product.

Also coming through in the film is the care that went into the action sequences. They are imaginative, entertaining and fun to watch. At least, they are for the most part. There is one at the end that didn't quite work out like it should have. I think it's because they tried to go with a large-scale fight for the finale, and something made this fail. Maybe it was the relatively small budget, or maybe it was a lack of creativity, but it didn't quite gel.

This is actually true about the entire film. When it went for larger scenes, it became less entertaining. There is also a problem of conclusion that the film has. The end of the film is weaker than the beginning, as is the ending to the sub plots scattered throughout the film. Take, for example, Dave's special "friend". He has a crush on her, but she thinks he's gay. He spends time trying to gather up the courage to tell her, all the while becoming closer to her. Then, one event happens, and their story is concluded. It just happened too fast to feel realistic.

Kick-Ass is a very good action film. It has heart behind it, driving it forward, and has some imaginative and entertaining action scenes. The characters are, for the most part, realistic enough to make it feel like the story could be happening in real life. Hit Girl is fun to watch but her character makes the film seem more unrealistic than it strives for. It has emotional spots, both high and low, and balances them out with comedic points. The journey is more fun than the conclusion, but that doesn't stop Kick-Ass from being a fun action film to watch.
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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Movie Martyr on Fri Dec 31, 2010 5:23 am

The Italian Job
Here is how a heist film works: Characters are established, each with their own specialty; they come up with a plan to steal something valuable; they attempt to execute the plan, but they have issues in doing so; they either overcome the problems or they fail. There are many plot twists throughout, often times a partner will switch sides, betraying the main cast. The villain will figure out the scheme mid-way through, leaving the "heroes" in a spot of trouble that they will likely persevere through.

Heist movies are notorious for being easy to figure out. If there isn't a plot twist around each corner, or if they characters performing the heist have an easy time with their job, then the film is actually considered original. Originality is something that the 2003 remake of The Italian Job does not have a lot of. It follows practically every cliché of the heist film genre to a tee, but executes them with a certain style that still allows it to be watchable.

That's about as far as my praise for the film would go, however, because besides the fact that it makes for a somewhat entertaining watch, it doesn't have much else going for it. Its characters don't develop much, the plot twists are predictable and the action scenes, while not boring, aren't original in the least. The story also doesn't end up mattering much, as it is just there to give the characters are reason to become thieves.

The film opens up with John Bridger (Donald Sutherland) talking to his daughter Stella (Charlize Theron) on the phone. He has decided to take one more job before he retires from the heist business for good. (The "One Last Heist" is also another cliché in the genre.) He enlists the help of a few other people, who will become more important later on. After a brief series if events, the heist is successful. The group steals of 35 million dollars worth of gold. After getting away with the heist, they are betrayed by one of their group members, Steve (Edward Norton), while John is killed. Steve believes everyone else dies too, but they live.

Meeting up a year later, the group Steve believed to have killed has found him. They have decided to steal back the gold that was taken from them. Charlie (Mark Wahlberg) is the brains of the operation, Stella is to break into the safe, "Handsome" Rob (Jason Statham) is the getaway driver, Lyle (Seth Green) is the technical wizard, and "Left Ear" (Mos Def) is the explosives engineer. Everything is planned, and the heist should go off without a hitch.

If, at this point in the review, you are wondering if the heist is pulled off cleanly and easily, you should just go and watch The Italian Job. You clearly have not seen enough heist films, and therefore will genuinely be surprised when the plot goes further than what I have already described. If you already know the answer, then you don't really have much reason to watch the film, as there won't be much in it for you.

The only thing that you could possibly get out of the film would be some entertainment from various action sequences. However, if that is your only reason for watching the film, then you might as well just watch a pure action film, one that wouldn't be bogged down with the details that come from a heist film.

If you are watching it just for some of the actors involved, then I suppose you have a valid reason for watching it, and I would hope not to deter you from doing so. All of the actors are compatible with their characters, no one seemed out-of-place, and there weren't any poor performances. No great performances either, but in a film like this, settling for "good" is just fine. There isn't any reason to raise the bar, because people watching for great characters aren't watching the correct film.

No, character development isn't the strength of The Italian Job. In fact, there is almost no development of the characters, and the only characterization we get is when the characters are introduced to us. We could start to care about them, as we are given enough reasons to, but for some reason, we don't. The primary motivation in their heist is revenge, and yet, it doesn't feel like they cared enough about Bridger's death to feel the need to avenge it.

The Italian Job is a heist film, and with that genre, comes clichés that almost always apply. They do apply in this film, and they make the film very predictable. There are some fun action sequences, and if you are a fan of the actors, it isn't a total waste, but you can do far better in terms of heist films or action scenes. It's not terrible but it isn't all that good either.
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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Movie Martyr on Fri Dec 31, 2010 3:46 pm

Fair Game
There are two parts in Fair Game, one of which lasts far longer than the other. This part is how the film opens, and despite being humorous and light in tone, it isn't anywhere near as entertaining as I was hoping the film would be. After surviving the first part of the film, I got to the second, and was thrilled to finally get some excitement from the film.

That isn't to say the first half is bad, it just wasn't anything like I was expecting. Marketed, (although barely marketed at all), as a political thriller, the majority of the film isn't that at all. I'll admit that setting up the scenario and characters is nice, but doing it in a somewhat confusing and overlong way hurt the finished product.

The first part of the film does a decent enough job at setting up the story. We meet our two leads, our antagonist(s), but we don't get much in terms of thrills. We find out that Valerie Plame (Naomi Watts) is a CIA agent, and that she is far more ruthless than she first appears. She knows how to get the information that she wants, and she utilizes this technique whenever it is required.

We also meet her husband, Joseph Wilson (Sean Penn), who is, or was, an ambassador from the United States. He is sent to Niger, (not to be confused with Nigeria, as the film tells us), to find out if it was possible that Iraq was buying things that would make them able to build a nuclear weapon. He discovers that it wasn't, and returns home with his report. Valerie is doing her own research regarding this, and talks with many different people in Iraq, promising them safety in return for information.

What I just explained takes well over an hour for the film to show, and that's a shame, because it does feel like it drags on for too long. The second part involves deceit on the part of the government, and Joseph's attempts to clear his family's name. The government decides to completely disregard Joseph's report, and declare that Valerie is in the CIA--something that is apparently not good when said agent is undercover.

It is in the second half, with Joseph fighting for his family's freedom, the tension created from a lying government and the emotional changes in the characters we have gotten to know, when the film starts kicking into high gear. Prior to this point, there is some amusement in the light-hearted nature of the film. There are jokes, (particularly humorous was one regarding the Toronto Maple Leafs), but there isn't much actually going on.

Once the second half begins, things really start to spiral out of control for Valerie and Joseph. Their marriage starts coming apart, they are receiving death threats daily; the entire country seems to have turned against them. Things are going wrong, and since there was such a large build-up to this point of the film, we care about what is happening to our characters. When things start heading south, we are saddened by it.

This is also helped out by great performances by Watts and Penn, who are appearing together in their third film. (The previous films being 21 Grams and The Assassination of Richard Nixon). Watts plays her character incredibly seriously, and it works shockingly well. She means business, and it is apparent right away. Penn is more relaxed, despite having the weight of the world on his shoulders for some of the film.

The story is actually based on real events, detailed in Valerie Plame's memoir, Fair Game: My Life as a Spy, My Betrayal by the White House. How true the movie stays to what actually happens, I'm not so sure. It would likely be best to not assume that the film is entirely truthful, as with most films, liberties have to be taken to make the film compelling for the audience. It would be ignorant to believe that the film is entirely truthful, so if you decide to watch Fair Game, keep that in mind.

Not being entirely familiar with politics, American politics in particular, I'm not sure as to how much it defaces one side or the other, but there is certainly some badmouthing going on. I would almost think that having a film based almost entirely on American politics would make the film less interesting for those not knowledgeable about the subject, but thankfully, this doesn't happen. The film is still overall fairly enjoyable, even if politics aren't your forte.

Had it not been for a slow and somewhat confusing opening hour, Fair Game would have been an excellent film. The beginning is its only real problem, with everything else being top-notch. The acting performances are great, the story is interesting once it gets going, and you do begin to care about the characters. The set-up does its job, establishing the characters and setting, but it isn't engaging enough to keep the audience's attention. Push past it though, and you'll get a great final act with tension, suspense and, most importantly, entertainment.
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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Movie Martyr on Fri Dec 31, 2010 9:37 pm

The Marine
The Marine was one of the first films to be solely produced by WWE Studios, (after See No Evil), and it features one of the WWE's biggest stars John Cena. In an effort to cash-in on Cena's popularity, they decided to have him attempt to act in a loud, obnoxious, silly action film. The result is likely just about what you'd expect.

Cena plays John Triton, a Marine, who begins the film on a mission. Ignoring a direct order to hold back, Triton rushes head-first into a combat zone, and frees prisoners who were about to be executed. His reward is a swift discharge from the Marine Corps. Not being able to cope with his home-life, he and his wife (Kelly Carlson) decide to pack their things and leave. Where do they want to go? It doesn't matter.

His wife is quickly captured while John is inside of a gas station. She waits in the car, and as criminals pull up, led by a man named Rome (Robert Patrick), a police car also pulls up. The criminals feel threatened, and they disable the officers inside, and steal John's girl. They also blow up the gas station for good measure, but John manages to survive the explosion and begin chasing them.

This is what the rest of the film consists of: explosions and chase sequences. John is now a man on a mission, as he loves his wife, and will stop at nothing to rescue her. He survives countless encounters with the criminals, and doesn't sustain any serious damage at any point of the film. This ends up being one of the film's many problems.

Action films don't exactly have a history of being anywhere close to realistic, and The Marine is no exception. One of the things that separates, say, Die Hard, from The Marine, is the way their heroes actually feel the effects of the action scenes they are in. If John McClane is thrown to the ground, or punched in the face, he feels is. Conversely, John Triton doesn't seem to feel anything. Even an explosion, set off almost directly beside him, doesn't faze him. He's seemingly impervious to any real damage, and it makes it really hard to make it empathize with him.

The other problem the film has is in its hand-to-hand combat scenes. They use a fast-cut type of editing, meaning that with every punch, the camera shifts or shakes. You don't get to see much of the actual fisticuffs, and this seems odd for a film starring a professional wrestler. If there's one thing Cena should be able to do--as he certainly isn't a good actor--it should be that he can fight, or at least fake it. He's used to throwing punches at people, and this type of editing is completely unnecessary, unless of course the fight scenes looked terrible without it.

If nothing else, at least The Marine can say it doesn't take itself too seriously. Or, at least, its secondary cast doesn't. John Cena thinks this is the most serious project ever made, and is determined to keep a serious face throughout the film. The other actors, the ones who are actually film actors, all seemed to know what the film was--a joke made to quickly make money off John Cena's success.

Even the dialogue of the film makes it seem like it is trying to be as silly as possible. In the opening scene, after Cena rescues a trapped soldier, they come across a group of terrorists. The soldier asks John how they are going to get around the terrorists. John replies with the incredibly predictable and cheesy, "We don't. We go through them." There are many more moments in the film like this, where, even if you haven't seen the film, you will be able to predict the next line of dialogue. It's like it was all written as quickly as possible, with the writers attempting to see how many hilarious lines they could get away with.

Unfortunately, The Marine doesn't quite venture into the "so bad it's good" territory. That was the only hope it had at being a watchable film, and it didn't quite make it that far. It comes close, and seemingly made a valiant effort, but it just wasn't quite bad enough to be a riot while watching it. You can't laugh at all of it, largely because of how serious Cena plays his role, and it loses a lot of its potential fun at this point.

For a film that's sole purpose was to give wrestling fans a 90 minute film of John Cena blowing things up, I suppose that The Marine served its purpose. As a film taken out of that context, it is quite bad. The plot is simplified, the acting is poor and the action scenes are not all that well-made. It's not a bad enough film to provide constant laughter, but it's also not entertaining enough for non-WWE fans to get enjoyment out of it. Hardcore John Cena fans are the target audience, and they're also the only ones that are likely to get entertainment from The Marine. And even then, I'm not so sure.
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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Movie Martyr on Sat Jan 01, 2011 4:51 am

Black Swan

Like many great films, Black Swan uses something basic--something simple enough for the audience to grasp, to explore its characters in an interesting way. It uses this basic concept or idea as a backdrop, not focusing on it, and instead giving us a deep look at its characters. In Darren Aronofsky's Black Swan, this basic idea is the ballet, and more specifically, Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake.

Chosen to play the lead role in the play is Nina Sayers (Natalie Portman), a woman far more obsessed with her career than anything else in life. She has to fight just to get the role, as the director of the ballet (Vincent Cassel) feels that she doesn't perform well as the Black Swan. This role requires freedom of body, something Nina doesn't have. She fits the role of the White Swan perfectly, having near-perfect technique. She practices whenever she has free time, always pushing herself harder and harder.

She has taken over the role from Beth (Winona Ryder), who is retiring shortly. There is also a new dancer arriving. Her name is Lily (Mila Kunis). Nina soon becomes paranoid that Lily is there only to steal her part in the ballet. Lily seems friendly enough, but Nina doesn't trust her. At least, she doesn't right away.

Nina has issues herself; paranoia is seemingly the last of her worries. She wakes up one morning with a rash, one that gets worse as the film progresses. She also suffer from hallucinations, or maybe they aren't actually hallucinations. We can't be sure, and neither can she.

Unfortunately, the psychological issues that Nina faces and has to overcome are actually the worst parts of Black Swan. The relationships between Nina and her mother Barbara Hershey, Lily and the ballet director are actually far more fascinating than any problems Nina has. Sure, the things going wrong in her head and with her body end up making these relationships more exciting, but when the film focuses solely on these obstacles, it gets less engaging.

As I said, the relationships are the most entertaining parts of Black Swan, and this is likely due to the mystery surrounding the supporting cast. Nina is a character we get to know quite well, and we can sympathize with her. This is good, but when you combine this with the fact that you don't know the other characters much, if at all, the contrast between them makes their relationships the most entertaining part of the film.

Nina's mother is overbearing and overprotective. She treats Nina like she is 12 years old. (Nina actually mentions this at one point in the film). Nina's mother used to be a dancer, but for reasons we never find out, she gave up on that dream. She is now devoted to Nina's career, viewing it as she wanted to view her own. This brings into question if Nina was forced into ballet, of if it was her own choice. Is Nina as dedicated as she is to please herself, or to please her mother?

Lily is kept the most mysterious, and she works in direct contrast to Nina. If this was Swan Lake, Nina would be the White Swan, and Lily would be the Black Swan. Nina's pure, Lily isn't. Lily loosens up easily, Nina's uptight. Surprisingly, opposites don't really attract in this relationship, and the two, despite Lily's best effort, don't gel well.

If there is one thing that can be said about Black Swan, it's that the acting is great. Natalie Portman does an amazing job in her self-determined role. Reportedly training for more than six months, both Portman and Kunis are great. They both seem to be good dancers, and we already know that both can act. Their roles are demanding, and you can tell the dedication that both actresses had to their roles.

Also requiring mention is the musical score composed by Clint Mansell. Mansell altered Tchaikovsky's original music into something more twisted and fitting to the nature of the film. The soundtrack brings more depth to the feature, and enhances the emotions that are felt within it. It isn't distracting, but it is noticeable. This ends up working fine though, as the soundtrack itself stirs emotions, and ends up setting the tone of the film.

Black Swan functions well as a companion to Aronofsky's 2008 film The Wrestler. Both films are about one person so dedicated to their art that they are willing to sacrifice everything else in their life. The leads in both films wish to become perfect in their field. The cost of this is an imperfect rest of their life. Both films are similar in theme, with the only real difference being the fantasy aspect of Black Swan.

Black Swan is a film that deserves a viewing. The contrast between Nina, a character who is pure at heart, and the rest of the cast is striking, and the relationship between each of the characters is intriguing and entertaining. The issues Nina has to cope with are actually one of the least interesting parts of the film, yet still serve an important purpose. The performances are amazing, the soundtrack is nice to listen to and the film is emotionally engaging. All in all, it's a stunning film that will amaze and affect you both during, and after you watch it.
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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Movie Martyr on Sat Jan 01, 2011 7:19 pm

Twilight
I'm going to open this review by saying something clear about my thoughts regarding Twilight. It is not as bad as a lot of people say it is. That's not to say that it is anywhere close to being great, but it isn't terrible. Not by a long shot. A lot of people seem to hate it despite never seeing it, or for reasons that don't make a whole lot of sense, and I'm here to say that it isn't that bad.

Of course, I'm sure this will draw the ire of people who do hate it with a passion, and I'm okay with that. If people are that certain that Twilight is absolutely awful, then I won't change their mind anyway. People dead-set in their opinion on something aren't going to change regardless of the information they are presented with. Fine, whatever, this review isn't target at them anyway.

If you aren't aware, the Twilight series is easily one of the biggest franchises in recent memory. Targeted at teenage girls, mostly, Stephanie Meyer's series has become a worldwide phenomenon. It has also drawn the attention of many people not in its target audience, who dismiss it as just about what it is: a shallow book with shallow characters not doing anything all that important. That's fine as well, because these people aren't in the series' target audience.

In order to understand the appeal of Twilight, you do need to be in the age group that Meyer is targeting, or at least be able to understand that group. I'm not going to claim that I can do this well, but I can sort of see where Twilight's fans are coming from. The story and characters aren't particularly interesting to me, but others, I've been told, find it fascinating.

The story of Twilight, (the film, and presumably the book as well), centers on Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart), who has just moved to the town of Forks, Washington to live with her father. Bella, seemingly the palest girl to live in Arizona, is giving her mother and stepfather a chance to travel. Her relationship with her father hasn't been great, with Bella not seeing him for a couple of years. He's happy to have her though, even buying her a used truck as a "homecoming present".

Bella still has to go to school, and after exchanging glances with Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson), she becomes fixated on him. He also seems love-struck, but there is something different about him. He's dark and mysterious, and apparently "no girl is good enough for him". Apparently Bella is.

But Edward stays away from Bella, at first anyway. He tells her it would be best if they weren't friends, but Bella doesn't buy that. Shortly after, Bella is almost hit by a car, saved at the last second by Edward, who jumped in front of the potential impact zone, stopping the car with one hand. "I had an adrenaline rush. It's very common. You can Google it." Right, Edward. Like Bella's going to believe that.

She doesn't of course, and after doing research, she concludes something that the audience already knows: Edward is a vampire. So that's why he didn't want to be close to her! Edward's family is different though, only hunting animals for the blood they need to live. He apparently really wants Bella's blood though, describing it as his own "personal heroin".

"Where does the tension come from?" is a question you might ask at this point. Well, there are "bad" vampires as well, who are shown early on killing humans at intermittent points in the plot. They eventually find out that Edward and Bella are friends, and decide it would be good fun to hunt Bella. This happens for the last half-hour or so of the film, and is the only time when there is an actual threat in the story.

For the first hour and a half, all we get is the film setting up the setting and characters. Some of the scenes are completely unnecessary, and it would have been nice for them to be cut. The film does feel boring in some places, especially when nothing much is going on. The relationship between Bella and her father is kind of interesting, but it doesn't get developed much. We mostly just get Bella and Edward talking, stalking or sulking.

No, Twilight doesn't pride itself on having an amazing plot, filled with twists. Its strength, if you can call it that, is the way that its characters do develop throughout the story. Bella starts off as a shut-in character, one that is fearful of the scary world around her. (Despite the fact that Forks only has about 3,000 people). Edward begins the film as a gloomy person as well, but does open up once he gets the chance to interact openly with Bella.

One of the main criticisms I've heard about Twilight is the fact that the vampires within it sparkle in the sunlight, instead of the traditional "burning up". While this does seem odd at first, I must question why this is a real criticism. Vampires don't exist, we made them up. Why is there one set of rules that all vampires must adhere to? If Meyer wants to change up what the word "vampire" means, why shouldn't she be able to do this? The series sticks to its own rules, and in its universe, vampires sparkle. If some vampires burned, while others sparkled, then I'd have a problem with it. Luckily, this isn't the case.

The best criticism that you can have about the film is in its acting. Stewart and Pattison don't have any chemistry together, and each actor gives an emotionally flat performance. The supporting cast isn't quite as bad, but they don't get enough screen time to develop their personalities. I've heard one character in particular, Jacob (Taylor Lautner), ends up becoming part of the principal cast in the remaining installments. Maybe it would have been a good idea to use him more often in this one.

Look, Twilight, the first film anyway, isn't worth hating. Yes, the acting was bad, and the story wasn't all that entertaining, but the film as a whole wasn't terrible. The characters develop, and the final act was actually exciting. It'll definitely please fans of the novel, and in the end, that is all it needs to do. Sometimes a film has a specific target audience, and that's all it is trying to please. Twilight is one of those movies, and does its job admirably.
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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Movie Martyr on Sun Jan 02, 2011 6:02 pm

True Grit
Mattie Ross' (Hailee Steinfeld) father has been murdered. She wants the man who killed him, Tom Chaney (Josh Brolin) to be shot dead. To do this, she enlists the help of Deputy Marshal Rooster Cogburn (Jeff Bridges).Cogburn is a barely functioning alcoholic, but still mighty good with a gun. He accepts her offer of $100 to hunt down the man who killed her father. He is joined by a Texas Ranger named La Boeuf (Matt Damon). Mattie accompanies them on their hunt, because she doesn't trust either of them.

The rest of the story is the group's exploits in attempting to find the man who killed Mattie's father. That is just about it. There isn't a twist, there isn't a lot on the film's mind, and it's just a well-told adventure story in a western setting. Since this is a Coen brothers film, that also means that the adventure will be compelling and the characters will be interesting. The movie will also be of high quality, this we can almost be sure of before even viewing it.

True Grit is adapted from the 1968 novel of the same name. The novel had already been made into a film one year later in 1969. That film starred John Wayne, and won him the Academy Award for Best Actor. The Coen brothers have stated that they wanted their film to be more faithful to the novel than the 1969 film, and that they were not just reimagining that film.

Whether or not their claim is true or not is something that is hard to discern. The story doesn't really have much to alter about it, and the genre is already set in stone. In fact, this is really the first time that the Coen brothers have stuck to their genre so rigorously. They adhere to most of the standards of the Western genre, not pushing any boundaries or taking any risks.

There are only two things that actually make True Grit stand out from the other quality movies that are out nowadays, or the great Westerns that were made years past. The first way is differentiates itself is in the humor that it contains. The way that the Coen brothers have written their adaptation makes it humorous, while keeping a fairly dark tone. There are many funny situations and moments in dialogue, breaking up the dark moments with ones of humor.

The second way that it is different is the fact that it is a Western. There haven't been many of those lately, so having one come out automatically makes True Grit stand out. The last big Western film to come out was 2007's 3:10 to Yuma, itself a critical success. Having a lack of competition will certainly help True Grit at the box office.

Also helping it out is the fact that it features great acting performances. Despite the big names included in the cast like Jeff Bridges and Matt Damon, the lead of the film is actually 14-year-old Hailee Steinfeld. The story is told from her point of view, and she does a good job of carrying it. Selected from more than 15 000 auditions, Steinfeld won the role. This must have been created some anxiety from the filmmakers, as she hadn't starred in any large-scale production before. Nonetheless, the risk paid off, and she delivers an impressive performance. Her character is far more mature than many you would expect, being able to negotiate with several businessmen and get her way.

Also great are the performances by Bridges and Damon. While they don't get as much attention as Steinfeld, they are perfect for their roles. Bridges job as an alcoholic, half-functioning U.S. Marshal is always entertaining, and Damon always seems like he's having fun, no matter what is happening in the story at the time.

The story mixes a mystery with adventure, finding a good balance between the two. Characters have to look for clues regarding Chaney's whereabouts. They ride horses everywhere, and engage in shootouts. Characters travel great distances across the Wild West. There is a good sense of adventure that is given, and there is enough action to keep the audience's attention.

The characters all have depth and they develop throughout True Grit. We are given reason to care about Mattie right away, as her character is one to be empathized with. Her father's murder gives her motivation. We also end up caring about the other characters, especially that of Cogburn. We want to see him overcome all of his issues by the end of the film. We have that hope throughout, and it helps keep our attention during the slower moments.

True Grit is a good film that will get attention mostly because it is a new Western film, something that there have been few of as of late. It has an interesting story, great acting and the Coen brothers' unique style of humor. It's genuinely funny, and stays entertaining throughout. True Grit is a well-made film that may inspire similar films to be made in the near future. It's a great Western film, something we haven't had much of lately, and that will allow it to be a success. It's definitely worth a watch, so give it one.
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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by MilkyFresh on Sun Jan 02, 2011 9:48 pm

I was wondering what True Grit was, hadn't heard anything about it prior to it appearing on the front page of the Escapist. Coen Brothers, Jeff Bridges... I'll definitely by looking into this.

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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Movie Martyr on Mon Jan 03, 2011 5:12 pm

American Psycho
There is one good thing to take from American Psycho. That one good thing is Christian Bale's performance. Everything else, from the story, to the supposed message--none of it matters or is in any way worth watching the film for. If you feel the need to watch the film, watch it for the right reason. Watch it for Christian Bale.

Bale really does feel like the sole highlight of the film, and the only reason I didn't feel like watching it was a complete waste of my time. He plays Patrick Bateman, a cold, unrelenting serial killer. His mannerisms reflect the tone of the entire picture, one of greed and emotional detachment. He kills, often times ruthlessly, and he enjoys it. Bale seems to be enjoying playing the role as well.

And he deserves that enjoyment. American Psycho was the first of many "transformations of Bale", which he has now become known for. Bale is an actor that puts incredible strain on their body in order to fit their role. He worked out for several months prior to filming, and this was without the direction of a trainer. After doing this, he got a trainer, and worked out more. He deserves praise for both his commitment to the role, and his portrayal as the life-less serial killer.

He also narrates part of the film, particularly the opening and beginning. He sounds like he is narrating a point-and-click adventure game on the computer, describing every action that he does. And then, after this is used for a while, it is forgotten about until the very end of the film. We no longer get to be inside the head of a killer, and instead just have to watch him perform his murders, with no form of motivation or insight given. Yawn.

This ends up being the film's first problem. It is just too boring to hold the attention of its audience. Or maybe it was just my own attention that was waning throughout. Maybe some people will enjoy watching woman after woman being murdered in various ways. I don't know, I'm not them.

"But wait," I can hear you saying, "The murders are used to relay a message to the viewer, a message about greed and shallowness regarding life of a corporate businessman in the 1980's." I don't know how to respond to that, to be honest, because that message didn't come across very clearly to me. Maybe it was my own disinterest in everything that was going on, not caring about Bateman or his victims, but I just didn't see it. Greed didn't seem to have anything to do with the murders, or really anything else in the story. Yes, some characters were greedy. So what?

What's more? Apparently American Psycho is supposed to be a satire. Really now, a satire? A satire of what? Slasher films in general? To be honest, it felt more like a bad slasher film than a satire of one. Yes, I can sort of see how it could be considered a "satire" when we get to meet detective Donald Kimball (Willem Dafoe), who adds in a slight bit of humor, but his storyline doesn't really go anywhere either. He talks with Bateman a few times, and then nothing. Well, what a waste of time those encounters were then.

I don't know how accurate of a job director/writer Mary Harron and her co-writer Guinevere Turner did in adapting American Psycho. The original novel was controversial both prior to and after it was released. It was graphic in both its violent and sexual content. The film is graphic as well, but for no real reason. Yes, some of the scenes are somewhat disturbing, and the entire film is dark, but it doesn't serve a purpose. The book either didn't adapt well, or shouldn't have been adapted in the first place; one of the two, take your pick.

I've just realized that I've practically ignored talking about the plot up until this point. The thing is, the plot doesn't really exist, at least, not in a conventional manner. I wouldn't even call it a story. I'd rather call it a series of loosely connected events involving a serial killer seducing or "purchasing" the services of women, before murdering them. That just about accurately describes the important parts of American Psycho.

There was one aspect of the film that really set me off, one technique that made me want to call the film completely ridiculous. There are a few times in the film where Bateman outright admits to being a killer, in one way or another. The other characters pass this off, don't here him, or mishear him. One time, I could see this happening. But four times? That's unacceptable, and made me almost lose respect for the entire production. There wasn't even any reason to include these, except to make us wonder if Bateman wanted to be caught. If he did, he surely didn't go about it the right way.

American Psycho actually managed to stir up one emotion inside of me: anger. Not at the characters and their stupid decisions, or at the silly plot, but at the film as a whole. It was almost a complete waste of time to sit through it, and if not for Bale's performance, I would have called it one of the worst films I've seen. Even with Bale being the sole highlight, the film is still not worth your time to sit through, unless you enjoy watching random characters being murdered with axes, nail guns or chainsaws. Actually, even if you enjoy that, there are better films to watch. Avoid American Psycho.
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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by MilkyFresh on Mon Jan 03, 2011 11:03 pm

Eh, to each his own. American Psycho is one of my favourite books, I thought it was fucking incredible, but I guess it's not for everyone. The movie adaption was reasonably good, as good as film adaptions of books ever are anyway. I strongly disagree with it being a slasher movie, but I guess it's the kind of thing that either appeals to you or it doesn't, and if it doesn't I can see why it wouldn't seem like much. I got a hell of a lot out of the book anyway, and came away after reading it (in one sitting) with a weird, kind of disturbed feeling that I've never got from any other author. And the satire is not slasher movies so much as society, it's a social satire.

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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by GrinningManiac on Tue Jan 04, 2011 10:41 am

Why not just watch the original, proper Psycho film?

Meh

True Grit looks interesting, and I wholeheartedly agree with your review of the Fastest Indian - it's a lovely film and feels warm.

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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by MilkyFresh on Tue Jan 04, 2011 12:04 pm

GrinningManiac wrote:Why not just watch the original, proper Psycho film?
Well they're different movies, just Bateman's name was inspired by the original. Totally different.

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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Movie Martyr on Tue Jan 04, 2011 3:06 pm

GrinningManiac wrote:Why not just watch the original, proper Psycho film?
American Psycho is not to be confused with Psycho (1998), starring Vince Vaughn.

In Bruges

In Bruges ends. That saddens me. I was enjoying the ride I was on, and was very disappointed when the film ended. Of course, this is praise in its favor. I was enjoying the black humor, the witty dialogue and the way everyone played everything straight. It was so fun while it was still playing, and when it ended, I was sad.

There's a certain charm that In Bruges had that I don't think I can do justice in written text. It's a film that you have to watch in order to fully understand and appreciate. The mixture between the quirky characters, humorous situations and witty dialogue ended up working far better than I thought it would, and ended up being an incredibly enjoyable experience.

The story revolves around a pair of hitmen. Their employer Henry (Ralph Fiennes) has sent them to Bruges, Belgium. They are to go sight-seeing, and just lay low until he calls them. The first man is named Ray (Colin Farrell), and he has killed a child. He feels guilty about this, and is not "loving life" at the moment. His partner Ken (Brendan Gleeson) is more mature, and is perfectly content to take in the scenery of Bruges. Ray hates it in the city.

At one point in the film, Ken receives a call from their employer. Because of Ray's "accident", when the child died, Henry orders Ken to kill Ray. This is when the film gets more interesting, because it takes a darker tone, while still not neglecting the philosophical ideas it brought up earlier.

When Ken and Ray are touring Bruges, the film is still light in nature. There are conversations that take place between the duo that bring up the way they view life and death. The afterlife is brought up, as is the way that they act. Despite the fact that they are hit men, are they really bad people? The people they kill are usually "bad", so does that justify their killing?

These types of questions are brought up, particularly in one conversation between the two, and then they keep getting touched upon. They aren't often directly addressed, but they get brought up enough so that we don't forget they exist. Then, when touched upon directly, we remember back to earlier, and we see how characters progress, and how these questions are answered.

Character development is something that In Bruges handles wonderfully. Characters begin the film one way, and finish as completely different entities, at least, in some regards. The characters are still the ones we have grown to like, but they've progressed for the better or worse, thanks to the events during the film. You get satisfaction at the end, knowing that the journey the characters went on actually had an effect on them.

What you don't get satisfaction from is the ending itself. Now, I'm not someone who dislikes inconclusive endings just because they don't give closure, but In Bruges is a film I wanted closure from. Not getting it was sad, and while the ending probably was as fitting as it could be, I still felt disappointed by it. That was likely the intention, or at least, it felt like it, so I can't knock it for doing that. It was just a little disheartening for the film to finish the way it did.

The thing that is most important about a comedy is whether or not it is funny. In Bruges is funny, at least, it was to me. The humor is European, and may not be appreciated by everyone. It's more subtle than up-front, and its strengths are in the dialogue between the characters, rather than the situations they find themselves in. There are many jokes made at the expense of other characters, and their features, race, and things like that. The humor is borderline offensive at the best of times, and if you are easily offended, there's a good chance you might end up disliking the film because of that.

In Bruges is a very good comedy. It has interesting characters that progress and develop throughout, it has humor that doesn't grow old, and it has an interesting and well-told story. All in all, it's a solid comedy, one that is borderline offensive at times, but stays fresh and interesting as long as it is playing. In Bruges is fun, and doesn't linger, making it a comedy well worth your time.
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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Dead Herald on Tue Jan 04, 2011 3:06 pm

No, Twilight isn't as bad as people think... IT'S MUCH, MUCH WORSE! I'd rather be strapped to a chair for 2 weeks with my eyelids taped open watching Beautician and the Beast than sit through Twilight again for even five freaking minutes. I was practically forced to watch the thing and I managed to escape at the two-thirds point, thus avoiding permanent brain damage.

And no, I'm not making this up. Twilight is really as god awful as you've heard, more so if you actually have to watch it.

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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Pararaptor on Tue Jan 04, 2011 3:22 pm

GrinningManiac wrote:Why not just watch the original, proper Psycho film?
...
Did you even read the review?
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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Movie Martyr on Tue Jan 04, 2011 3:37 pm

SJTNK wrote:No, Twilight isn't as bad as people think... IT'S MUCH, MUCH WORSE! I'd rather be strapped to a chair for 2 weeks with my eyelids taped open watching Beautician and the Beast than sit through Twilight again for even five freaking minutes. I was practically forced to watch the thing and I managed to escape at the two-thirds point, thus avoiding permanent brain damage.

And no, I'm not making this up. Twilight is really as god awful as you've heard, more so if you actually have to watch it.
...I did actually watch it, and it wasn't terrible at all, IMO.

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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by GrinningManiac on Tue Jan 04, 2011 4:44 pm

MilkyFresh wrote:
GrinningManiac wrote:Why not just watch the original, proper Psycho film?
Well they're different movies, just Bateman's name was inspired by the original. Totally different.

Marter wrote:
GrinningManiac wrote:Why not just watch the original, proper Psycho film?
American Psycho is not to be confused with Psycho (1998), starring Vince Vaughn.


Pararaptor wrote:
GrinningManiac wrote:Why not just watch the original, proper Psycho film?
...
Did you even read the review?

Bit of confusion here -

I meant thus - "Why would anyone WANT to watch American Psycho in the first place, given that the story was already perfected in Psycho. Thus - why did they make this film and why did people watch it? Of course it was going to be inferior - Psycho is one of the most famous films of all time"

I didn't mean "hurr derp dey already done this story derp", I wondered aloud why they bothered remaking it - it wasn't exactly screaming for a "re-imagining" was it?

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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by MilkyFresh on Tue Jan 04, 2011 4:46 pm

GrinningManiac wrote:
MilkyFresh wrote:
GrinningManiac wrote:Why not just watch the original, proper Psycho film?
Well they're different movies, just Bateman's name was inspired by the original. Totally different.

Marter wrote:
GrinningManiac wrote:Why not just watch the original, proper Psycho film?
American Psycho is not to be confused with Psycho (1998), starring Vince Vaughn.


Pararaptor wrote:
GrinningManiac wrote:Why not just watch the original, proper Psycho film?
...
Did you even read the review?

Bit of confusion here -

I meant thus - "Why would anyone WANT to watch American Psycho in the first place, given that the story was already perfected in Psycho. Thus - why did they make this film and why did people watch it? Of course it was going to be inferior - Psycho is one of the most famous films of all time"

I didn't mean "hurr derp dey already done this story derp", I wondered aloud why they bothered remaking it - it wasn't exactly screaming for a "re-imagining" was it?
No dude, it wasn't a re-imagining of any kind... It was actually a totally different movie, with no relation beyond the word "psycho" being in the name. The plots bears absolutely no resemblance to Psycho and was never meant to, because they are unrelated. Hehehe.

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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Hubilub on Tue Jan 04, 2011 5:46 pm

In response to your Twilight review:

You know, I really don't like it when reviewers come of as treating their subjective opinions as fact. The fact that you start of your review by saying how people who outright hate Twilight are overexaggerating is a very clear example of this, and I immediately feel like you're patronizing me.

Not only that, but after having undermined the opinions of those who hate Twilight, you try and embrace the polar opposite: the people who love it. You say that you must see it from their perspective to enjoy it. Not only does that promote bias, but the fact that you neglect seeing it from the haters perspective and not the lovers shows the bias you yourself possess. It doesn't matter if you failed to see it the same way people who love it do, you still tried, which is more than can be said about your treatment of the hater's opinions.

I get it, a lot of people hate Twilight and you don't see it. That doesn't mean that your perspective is the be all end all way to view Twilight, nor does it mean that your perspective is on the same level of theirs in terms of analysis.

In response to your In Bruges review: It's a dark comedy. You should have mentioned that at least once. And no, saying that it has offensive jokes is not even close to that.

In response to your True Grit review: "Whether or not their claim is true or not is something that is hard to discern." How is it hard to discern? The two films are different both in terms of tone and narrative, as well as some plot points. It's hardly difficult to notice, and if it is, it should be mentioned in more detailed ways than just one or two sentences.

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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Dead Herald on Tue Jan 04, 2011 11:29 pm

Marter wrote:
SJTNK wrote:No, Twilight isn't as bad as people think... IT'S MUCH, MUCH WORSE! I'd rather be strapped to a chair for 2 weeks with my eyelids taped open watching Beautician and the Beast than sit through Twilight again for even five freaking minutes. I was practically forced to watch the thing and I managed to escape at the two-thirds point, thus avoiding permanent brain damage.

And no, I'm not making this up. Twilight is really as god awful as you've heard, more so if you actually have to watch it.
...I did actually watch it, and it wasn't terrible at all, IMO.

I did actually watch it, and it was as terrible as I have conveyed. You know I never walk out on a movie, but...bleaugh...

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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Hubilub on Tue Jan 04, 2011 11:31 pm

SJTNK wrote:
Marter wrote:
SJTNK wrote:No, Twilight isn't as bad as people think... IT'S MUCH, MUCH WORSE! I'd rather be strapped to a chair for 2 weeks with my eyelids taped open watching Beautician and the Beast than sit through Twilight again for even five freaking minutes. I was practically forced to watch the thing and I managed to escape at the two-thirds point, thus avoiding permanent brain damage.

And no, I'm not making this up. Twilight is really as god awful as you've heard, more so if you actually have to watch it.
...I did actually watch it, and it wasn't terrible at all, IMO.

I did actually watch it, and it was as terrible as I have conveyed. You know I never walk out on a movie, but...bleaugh...
I managed to sit through Twilight. New Moon was fucking hilarious in how bad it was, so I was delighted to watch it.

Eclipse however... I didn't last an hour

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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Movie Martyr on Wed Jan 05, 2011 12:24 am

Hubilub wrote:In response to your Twilight review:

You know, I really don't like it when reviewers come of as treating their subjective opinions as fact. The fact that you start of your review by saying how people who outright hate Twilight are overexaggerating is a very clear example of this, and I immediately feel like you're patronizing me.

Not only that, but after having undermined the opinions of those who hate Twilight, you try and embrace the polar opposite: the people who love it. You say that you must see it from their perspective to enjoy it. Not only does that promote bias, but the fact that you neglect seeing it from the haters perspective and not the lovers shows the bias you yourself possess. It doesn't matter if you failed to see it the same way people who love it do, you still tried, which is more than can be said about your treatment of the hater's opinions.

I get it, a lot of people hate Twilight and you don't see it. That doesn't mean that your perspective is the be all end all way to view Twilight, nor does it mean that your perspective is on the same level of theirs in terms of analysis.
Actually, I opened off with saying, "I'm going to open this review by saying something clear about my thoughts regarding Twilight." As in, my opinion, not fact. However, when reading a review, you should be aware that everything, apart from actual facts, (directors, actors, etc), is opinion, and you should take it as such. If I began every sentence with "I think", it would really ruin it, non?

In response to your In Bruges review: It's a dark comedy. You should have mentioned that at least once. And no, saying that it has offensive jokes is not even close to that.
To me, comedic genre doesn't really matter. If I hadn't looked it up, I wouldn't have known what type of comedic genre it is. It was just funny, and I didn't think it mattered if I explicitly said "In Bruges is a black comedy."

In response to your True Grit review: "Whether or not their claim is true or not is something that is hard to discern." How is it hard to discern? The two films are different both in terms of tone and narrative, as well as some plot points. It's hardly difficult to notice, and if it is, it should be mentioned in more detailed ways than just one or two sentences.
The movies are pretty darn similar in my eyes. That's why. Maybe I just don't remember the original all that well, (it's been many years), but they seemed really close together in terms of plot, tone, etc.

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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Hubilub on Wed Jan 05, 2011 12:51 am

Marter wrote:
Hubilub wrote:In response to your Twilight review:

You know, I really don't like it when reviewers come of as treating their subjective opinions as fact. The fact that you start of your review by saying how people who outright hate Twilight are overexaggerating is a very clear example of this, and I immediately feel like you're patronizing me.

Not only that, but after having undermined the opinions of those who hate Twilight, you try and embrace the polar opposite: the people who love it. You say that you must see it from their perspective to enjoy it. Not only does that promote bias, but the fact that you neglect seeing it from the haters perspective and not the lovers shows the bias you yourself possess. It doesn't matter if you failed to see it the same way people who love it do, you still tried, which is more than can be said about your treatment of the hater's opinions.

I get it, a lot of people hate Twilight and you don't see it. That doesn't mean that your perspective is the be all end all way to view Twilight, nor does it mean that your perspective is on the same level of theirs in terms of analysis.
Actually, I opened off with saying, "I'm going to open this review by saying something clear about my thoughts regarding Twilight." As in, my opinion, not fact. However, when reading a review, you should be aware that everything, apart from actual facts, (directors, actors, etc), is opinion, and you should take it as such. If I began every sentence with "I think", it would really ruin it, non?
Saying "This is my opinion" isn't a very good way to defend yourself when what you're defending is your inability to write a review without being condescending towards those who do not agree with your opinion. Having to say something in the way of "These are my thoughts" even once ruins it, because a review shouldn't have to state subjectivity as it is the job of the language in the review as a whole to give out a tone of subjectivity.

In response to your In Bruges review: It's a dark comedy. You should have mentioned that at least once. And no, saying that it has offensive jokes is not even close to that.
To me, comedic genre doesn't really matter. If I hadn't looked it up, I wouldn't have known what type of comedic genre it is. It was just funny, and I didn't think it mattered if I explicitly said "In Bruges is a black comedy."
It matters a great deal to mention that In Bruges is a dark comedy. Some people don't like dark comedies. They like lukewarm films with standard slapstick humor. Other people might love dark comedies, but hate the kind of films Ben Stiller has been making the past 5 years.

To give you perspective, try to forget that you ever saw In Bruges and watch one of the trailers for it. Looks like a standard American comedy with slapsticks and slightly edgy jokes, no? The faults of marketing gives the movie going public false preconceptions about the film, and it's your job as a reviewer to shatter those false preconceptions and let them know exactly what kind of film it is. Reviewers can't afford to be vague about things like genre, or even sub-genre.


In response to your True Grit review: "Whether or not their claim is true or not is something that is hard to discern." How is it hard to discern? The two films are different both in terms of tone and narrative, as well as some plot points. It's hardly difficult to notice, and if it is, it should be mentioned in more detailed ways than just one or two sentences.
The movies are pretty darn similar in my eyes. That's why. Maybe I just don't remember the original all that well, (it's been many years), but they seemed really close together in terms of plot, tone, etc.
You seem to forget that there's also the case of having to read the book, then comparing the book to both films. Otherwise, you can't make a proper comparison between which film is more faithful, and if you can't do that then bringing up doubt about the Coen brother's claims to be more close to the novel shouldn't have been made to begin with. It might sound unnecessary to read the book if you're in the mindset that it will be enough to compare both films and see what one has that the other lacks, but if you haven't read the book then you don't know what to look for. The only proper way to analyze if the new film has more similarities to the book is to first read the book, then watch the first film and take note of all the things it changes from the novel, then watch the latest film and see if some things are brought back.

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Re: Marter's Reviews

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