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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Movie Martyr on Wed Jan 05, 2011 2:07 am

Hubilub wrote:snip
You know what, for the most part, I'll agree with you. Thank you for the constructive feedback.

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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Hubilub on Wed Jan 05, 2011 2:08 am

Marter wrote:
Hubilub wrote:snip
You know what, for the most part, I'll agree with you. Thank you for the constructive feedback.
No problem mate, keep making those reviews. They're a good read, and this section of the forum needs more meat on its bones

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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Movie Martyr on Wed Jan 05, 2011 2:57 pm

(500) Days of Summer
Does hearing Zooey Deschanel play the "Penis Game" constitute watching an entire film? That's about where I am with (500) Days of Summer, a film that was nowhere near as funny as I anticipated, and one that I didn't really enjoy all that much. I had heard almost unrelenting praise regarding the film, and almost all that praise didn't seem to have much backing behind it after actually watching it.

There is only one main problem with the film, but that issue ends up hampering it enough to stop the film from being enjoyable. The misfortune of (500) Days of Summer is that it just isn't funny enough to maintain the sense that it is a comedy. It definitely had its moments, like the aforementioned penis game, but these parts are too few and far between to keep interest in the film as a whole.

Told in a mostly non-linear narrative, (500) Days of Summer tells the beginning, middle and conclusion of a relationship between two people. Actually beginning with the relationship already over, we then learn what led up to the break up, and get to experience some of the nice moments within it.

Tom Hansen (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) believes that he won't ever find love. One day, while at his job, his boss' new assistant walks into the office. Her name is Summer (Zooey Deschanel), and Tom instantly becomes obsessed with her. She's apparently not looking for a boyfriend, or so she tells him, but after time passes, they eventually become something closely resembling a couple, although neither will admit that they are together.

Their relationship does feel real, having highs and lows, just like in real life. This isn't a fantasy for either character, and this quickly becomes apparent. Everyone has problems, issues that they have to overcome in order for the relationship to work out.

But wait just one second! We already know that their relationship doesn't work out, What does it matter if they have problems? Well, not all of the film does take place in flashbacks. Or, at least, it didn't seem like it. Near the end, once Tom has looked back on the past few months he spent, (or didn't spend), with Summer, he comes to some sort of realization. Will he continue to try to get back with her, or will he move on with his life?

Thankfully, we do get an answer to this, and the conclusion he comes to is derived from things he figures out while reliving his relationship with Summer. In one night of thinking about what they've been though, Tom progresses as a character. He also changes throughout the flashbacks, switching from happy to depressed many times. See, the story switches back and forth between pre and post break up, offering a differing perspective of events that are somewhat similar.

This is the basic story, but unfortunately, it isn't all that entertaining. Since real life relationships often times aren't, why would an attempted adaptation of them be all that entertaining? The answer: it isn't. The attempts to interject humor to the situations is cute at first, but quickly becomes tiring, with only a few bright moments. Most often, nothing important happens.

For a film that has a narrator stating that it isn't a love story, (500) Days of Summer most definitely is. Or at least, it is an attempted love story, with Tom hoping to get, and stay, together with a woman who is obviously out of his league. He thinks this, his friends think this, and it even seems like this is what Summer believes. And yet, he tries, and initially succeeds in getting her.

His reasoning for this is because he believes that it is destiny. There is no logical reason for him to pursue her, and yet he does. This made me feel disconnected to him right off the bat, as that is something that I personally don't believe is a good idea. Logic is something that the film doesn't seem to utilize much, and that turns me off. It isn't a fantasy film, but one that is trying to be realistic, meaning that it should have a logical core.

(500) Days of Summer actually did get off to quite a good start. It was funny, gave depth to its characters, and was quite entertaining. Then, about 10 minutes after it opens, it loses all of its steam. It tries to regain it later on, but doesn't, only giving intermittent laughs. The characters aren't all that interesting, and neither is their relationship. The story is told in an inventive way, yet still stays easy to follow. It's just not a story that is fun or entertaining to watch. But hey, Zooey Deschanel yells "penis" at the top of her lungs, so not all is lost, right?
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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Furburt on Wed Jan 05, 2011 6:47 pm

I actually wanted to like 500 days of Summer, but it made me incredibly angry.

I cannot stand films that are that pretentious about themselves. The scene where Tom stands up in the middle of a meeting and starts his inspirational speech actually made me cringe because of how fucking up its own arse it was.

Not to mention the fact that Zooey Deschanel does her cute shtick that all the hipsters love, and literally nothing else.

And I really, really hate the way it keeps playing alternative songs all the time just to win favour with the indie crowd. Seriously, who sings the fucking Pixies at karaoke?

Anyway, good review, although I can tell you enjoyed it a lot more than I did.

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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by MilkyFresh on Wed Jan 05, 2011 8:32 pm

Furburt wrote:...who sings the fucking Pixies at karaoke?
Yeah, I'll be avoiding that movie. Poor Pixies.

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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Hubilub on Wed Jan 05, 2011 9:42 pm

Furburt wrote: Seriously, who sings the fucking Pixies at karaoke?
My ex

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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Furburt on Thu Jan 06, 2011 12:29 am

Hubilub wrote:
Furburt wrote: Seriously, who sings the fucking Pixies at karaoke?
My ex

I'm sorry for you.

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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Hubilub on Thu Jan 06, 2011 2:32 pm

Furburt wrote:
Hubilub wrote:
Furburt wrote: Seriously, who sings the fucking Pixies at karaoke?
My ex

I'm sorry for you.
She's my ex for a reason after all

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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Movie Martyr on Fri Jan 07, 2011 3:49 am

The Box
A box shows up on your doorstep. The box has a button on it. If you press the button, two things happen. Firstly, you will receive one million dollars, tax-free. Secondly, someone who you don't know will die. What will you do with the box? Could you live with the fact that you caused someone else's death?

This is the situation that our leads in The Box are faced with. Norma and Arthur Lewis (Cameron Diaz and James Marsden respectively) are a couple struggling to get by in life. They live paycheck to paycheck, and they constantly worry about their finances. The offer they are given is a blessing, should they choose to press the button. What does it matter if some random person dies anyway?

I don't believe telling you that they push the button is a spoiler, considering the film would be short and uninteresting if they didn't. They do press the button, and they receive their payment. This isn't the end of things though. The couple begins to question if they are being stalked by the man who gave them the box, Arlington Steward (Frank Langella), and if they will suffer any repercussions from pushing the button.

The Box is a film that I almost wish to spoil, just so that I can discuss a second moral choice that comes up late in the film, and why, to me, it didn't even seem like a decision that required thinking about. I'll say this: the couple's son is put in danger, and Arthur has to make a choice between his son and his wife. The reason that this isn't a hard decision is that the son is such an incredibly annoying person, while Norma is a nice character.

The characterization in The Box is kind of odd. Norma and Arthur are good people, down on their luck. The couple's son is the worst character, not listening to his parents, always being nosy and just generally being an unlikable character. The main villain, played wonderfully by Frank Langella, is a polite businessman. He offers them a choice, one that, as we are told, has severe ramifications in regards the entirety of the human race.

It quickly becomes apparent that Steward isn't exactly who he says he is--not that he says much. He has both employees and employers, with us only getting to see the people who fall into the latter category. In fact, his employers don't really matter, despite the film's attempts to convince us otherwise.

There is an entire subplot/mystery that deals with who is really behind "the box", and the job that is assigned to Steward. The film makes us wonder if aliens are involved, or if an advanced civilization is behind it. We don't get to find out, but the likely explanation is aliens. There are many hints pointing in this direction throughout the film, but the thing is, it doesn't really matter, as there is no conclusion to this story, nor is there really any point to it.

That happens with a couple of other side plots as well. There is something wrong with Norma's right foot; her doctor left the x-ray machine on for too long and four of her toes had to be amputated. Arthur spends a great deal of time creating something to make it easier for her to walk. Then he gives it to her, and she is happy, and that's about the end of it. It happens, and is done with, not furthering the story or characters, except to make us continue to realize that they aren't bad people.

Having a lot of plot points go nowhere ends up contributing to its biggest problem, its length. The film is just too long to hold total interest. It starts off slow, but ends up kicking it into high gear before too long. It keeps up this pacing for the first hour, but starts slowing down way before it was ready to end. There are too many points that didn't matter in the end, and the film just ended up being too long and boring when the initial mystery surrounding the box was over.

Performance-wise, we've got a mixed bag. Frank Langella plays the bad guy, and he is really good. He gives off a really creepy feeling, despite being charming at the same time. Diaz, on the other hand, gives a melodramatic performance, always seeming sad, whether or not the situation actually calls for that emotion. Marsden is fine, playing his character just about how he should be played.

The Box isn't a great film, but it isn't terrible either. It has some good moments, and it is, for the most part, entertaining. It does run a bit too long, having plot points that don't matter, but the concept is intriguing, to say the least. The main villain is really fun to watch, but the rest of the characters are quite odd. It's not a great watch, but it's a film that can be entertaining enough to warrant one.
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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Dead Herald on Fri Jan 07, 2011 4:07 am

I don't suppose you're ever going to review something that I might have the slightest bit of interest in?

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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Movie Martyr on Fri Jan 07, 2011 4:09 am

SJTNK wrote:I don't suppose you're ever going to review something that I might have the slightest bit of interest in?
Give me some recommendations, then maybe I will! =D

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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Hubilub on Fri Jan 07, 2011 4:10 am

Waltz with Bashir.

DO EET

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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Dead Herald on Fri Jan 07, 2011 4:20 am

Marter wrote:
SJTNK wrote:I don't suppose you're ever going to review something that I might have the slightest bit of interest in?
Give me some recommendations, then maybe I will! =D

Not reviewing arthouse slop would help. True Grit was a good choice but I don't really need a review to tell me to go see that. Well, how about Pineapple Express, that's more something I'd enjoy. I know it's a couple years old, but so is Italian Job.

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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Hubilub on Fri Jan 07, 2011 4:42 am

Or go the polar opposite and review more hardcore arthouse stuff! Shit that wouldn't touch Hollywood with a ten-foot pole!

Like Kitanooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo(finger got stuck on the o as I jizzed from thinking about him. GLORY TO TAKESHI)

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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Movie Martyr on Fri Jan 07, 2011 4:49 am

Hubilub wrote:Waltz with Bashir.
It is now on my list of films to watch.
SJTNK wrote:Not reviewing arthouse slop would help. True Grit was a good choice but I don't really need a review to tell me to go see that. Well, how about Pineapple Express, that's more something I'd enjoy. I know it's a couple years old, but so is Italian Job.
Te majority of the films I've reviewed have been Hollywood films. The only true "arthouse" film was The Tracey Fragments. Others were kind of a mix, or full on Hollywood films.

With that said, Pineapple Express is one that is on my list, I just haven't found it yet.

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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Dead Herald on Fri Jan 07, 2011 8:05 am

Just do me a favor and never, ever review Scott Pilgrim.

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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by MilkyFresh on Fri Jan 07, 2011 11:19 am

Toxic Avenger! Toxic Avenger!

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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Movie Martyr on Fri Jan 07, 2011 2:51 pm

SJTNK wrote:Just do me a favor and never, ever review Scott Pilgrim.
Luckily for you, I already have, and won't be posting it here. :p

MilkyFresh wrote:Toxic Avenger! Toxic Avenger!
Added to my list.

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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Movie Martyr on Sat Jan 08, 2011 1:35 am

Law Abiding Citizen
Ten years after a man's wife and daughter are murdered, one of the murderers is finally about to be put to death. The death penalty is being put to use in this case, and now justice being served. However, what was supposed to be a painless death, turns into a horrific scene. The chemicals used to put the man to sleep have been switched. Who's the prime suspect? The man who had his family murdered right in front of his own face.

There was another man who murdered this man's wife and child, and because of a plea bargain taken ten years prior, he went to jail for a short time, and was released. This man is contacted, and is then kidnapped. The kidnapper is the same person who is the prime suspect in the death row murder. This man is Clyde Shelton (Gerard Butler).

He's got a motive, as the plea bargain wasn't his idea. It was his lawyer's, Nick Rice (Jamie Foxx). He is still upset about the one man getting off scott-free, and has decided to do something about it. We see him do this, but when he is arrested, there is no evidence tying him to either crime. He tells them he'll cut a deal with them: if they bring him a nice bed for his prison cell, he'll confess to the crimes.

These games continue throughout the film, with different deals being cut for different crimes. Shelton seems to have people outside the prison, meaning he can continue to threaten the safety of the public, and governement officials, despite being held in prison. He's a real threat, and he's also the character that director F. Gary Gray (The Italian Job) wants us to sympathize with.

The film opens up with us witnessing the mudrder of Shelton's immediate family. We are put into his corner right off the bat, and despite the fact that the majority of the film frames him as the bad guy--not Rice--we still want to root for him. This technique works well in giving us a different perspective from the clear-cut good and bad presented in many films.

Also different from many films is the gruesome portrayal of violence. Apart from one scene that gets cut away from right before anything happens--and later gets described in great detail anyway--the film shows its murder scenes in unflinching glory. They are difficult to watch, and each one is felt by the audience.

Not in this film's favor is how implausible the entire plot is. While I can't give away why it is implausible, for fear of spoiling some of the odd things that occur later on in the film, I'll say that a great deal of suspending your belief has to occur in order for you to get full enjoyment out of Law Abiding Citizen.

Thankfully, not paying close enough attention to the various plot holes is easy enough to do. The film is enjoyable, with enough edge-of-your-seat action to keep you from thinking too hard about the plot. At its very core, it is quite an entertaining film, one that will keep you fixated on it, regardless of whether or not it makes complete sense.

If it does have a major problem, it's the fact that it loses severe steam towards its finale. Law Abiding Citizen starts off strong, really strong in fact. The first 40 or so minutes were fabulous. Where the plot was going to take us was a mystery. Then things started slowing down, and the next hour was spent trying to figure out a way to kill the film.

And kill it is something that the filmmakers do. The final scenes of the film make it really apparent that they couldn't figure out a proper way to conclude. The ending feels like a cop-out, one that really disappointed me. It worked in only one way: to let the last bit of air out of the slowly leaking balloon.

Performance-wise, there is good and bad. The good comes from the supporting cast, but this is sadly overshadowed by the bad. Butler, (who I'm convinced cannot do an American accent), doesn't show the kind of emotion one would expect by a man who had such a terrible thing happen to him. Foxx isn't much better, also showing little emotion, despite having many of his collegues murdered right in front of him. He doesn't seem mad, upset or frustrated, and is only focused on doing his job.

Law Abiding Citizen is a film that has fun with what it does. Its plot is not all that plausible, having a few plot holes that are quite noticeable. Despite this, its a film that wants you to enjoy yourself while watching it. The acting isn't great, but it doesn't really need to be. The film will keep you on the edge of your seat, with the film staying interesting throughout. Not having clear-cut good and bad characters works well, and if the ending hadn't felt like such a cop-out, it would be a film recommended without thought. As it is, Law Abiding Citizen is a fun film that will keep you engaged, and that's about all you can ask of it.
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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Hubilub on Sat Jan 08, 2011 5:23 pm

Oh man, the ending to that film sucked ass!

"Look, there's a bomb there!"

"We can't disarm it, if we do he'll see us through cameras and blow it up"

"... let's take it"

"But then he'll see us through cameras and blow it up!"

"NO THROUGH PLOT CONVENIENCE!"

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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Dead Herald on Sat Jan 08, 2011 7:01 pm

I take it back, Marter. It's not that you're reviewing shit, it's that Hollywood produces so much shit it's hard to find anything good.

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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Movie Martyr on Sat Jan 08, 2011 9:58 pm

The Runaways
There are some films that I consider undeniably good, despite not being a particular fan of them. These are films that I'll watch once, possibly giving a second look down the road, but never really having a strong desire to watch them over and over again. The Runaways is one of these films.

The reason why I didn't fall in love with the film was largely due to the fact that I don't care all that much for the music involved in it. See, the music plays a large part of the film, given the fact that it is a biopic on the band "The Runaways", and to be honest, that distanced the film from me. Despite this, the film wasn't bad, I can see this even without being a big fan of it.

The main reason that the film doesn't end up being a failure is due to its lead actresses, (who actually performed their own vocal tracks for the film). The Runaways was a rock band formed in the 1970's, and had many members. The two most prominently featured members, if the film is to believed, were Joan Jett and Cherie Currie. Jett is played by Kristen Stewart, and is a rebellious teenager. She plays guitar and performs backing vocals. The lead singer is Currie (Dakota Fanning).

Fanning's performance is definitely the most memorable thing to remember about The Runaways, and is definitely the highlight of the film. Her performance is almost too mature for words, with her giving her character far more depth than is required, or even demanded by the screenplay.

The main problem with the film is that it doesn't really get all that deep into the band. It is more of an overview of the band's history, rather than an in-depth character piece. The characters are interesting, we get that much, but we don't get to learn enough about them to feel completely satisfied by the end of the movie.

While they are interesting, they are anything but likable characters. This actually works out, but is something I feel like mentioning. Characters--all teenagers or "young adults"--smoke, drink and do drugs, cussing at anyone who angers them. This does help to make them interesting, and acts as a good contrast with how teenagers are expected to act.

But that's kind of the point, is it not? The Runaways were rebels, and it is only fitting that they are portrayed as such. It is a biopic after all. I expect that The Runaways is at least mostly true to the real story of their creation, career and destruction. While I'm sure some liberties in the story were taken, but the story still seemed to be true enough, at least for me to believe.

Also to be praised are the vocal performances by Stewart and Fanning. They sung their own songs, (except for one song where Fanning lip-syncs to David Bowie), and they are actually quite good. The real Joan Jett apparently heard Stewart singing, and believed it was her. The duo is good on stage together, and are also quite convincing off-stage.

The pair of Stewart and Fanning have a lot of chemistry together, and when they appear on-screen together, the film brightens up. Not in tone, but in terms of excitement. They bring something special to the screen, and it is enjoyable watching them together. It would have been nice to see them get a better script to work with, as their characters don't get enough development, or at least, not as much as I would have liked to see.

I'll admit that the film did give me an interest into The Runaways as a band. By the end of the film, my interest piqued for both the band and their music. It started to grow on me, and I was getting into the musical performances near the middle of the film. The film did give me enough about the characters to make me want to learn more about the band, and if that was its goal, it accomplished that.

The story is one that, despite not seeing many films based on bands, isn't all that hard to predict. The band comes together, things are good. They rise to fame, but soon begin to fall out with one another. Even if this was the real story, it didn't feel original at all. Maybe other films were influenced by The Runaways' story, and that's why this one didn't feel original? I don't, but it felt really predictable to me.

As a film, The Runaways doesn't do anything special, except featuring excellent acting by two young actresses in particular. Their performances lift it to an above average film, biopic or not. The vocal performances are great, and the characters are interesting, despite us not getting enough of them. The film felt more like an overview than an in-depth look into the band, and the characters get less development as a result. Still, The Runaways is a good film, and while it isn't a film I fell in love with, it was still one that I can appreciate.
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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Movie Martyr on Sun Jan 09, 2011 5:28 pm

Spawn
The series of "Spawn" was created by renowned comic book writer and cartoonist Todd McFarlane. First appearing in 1992, the character of Spawn has become quite well-known in the world of comics, and even by some people outside of them. He even got a cameo appearance in the Xbox version of Soulcalibur II. Yes, he is a fun character, and in 1997, he got his first live-action film adaptation.

Spawn is a very visually dynamic film. Its plot isn't actually all that important, and stripped away from the fantasy setting, (if it actually is fantasy), then the plot is closer to your standard revenge film. Man is betrayed by someone in a higher power than him, and wants revenge. This is how these types of films work, and the plot more or less follows this format to a tee.

The man who is betrayed is named Al Simmons (Michael Jai White). He's a military assassin who gets sent on one final mission. Little does he know, his employer, Jason Wynn (Marin Sheen) means this quite literally. He has sent another assassin to kill Simmons during this mission. Instead of a simple bullet to the face, Simmons is burned to death.

Then, five years later, he comes back to life, disfigured from the burning, but otherwise seemingly unphased. Despite the fact that his body seems to be completely in ruins, he is able to move quite well. See, Spawn actually went to Hell, with The Devil keeping him there for those five years. The Devil wants Simmons to return to Earth to kill the man who betrayed him, and then lead Hell's army to defeat Heaven's army.

Al Simmons doesn't seem too sure about the idea, but with the promise of being able to see his wife again, he reluctantly accepts. He becomes Spawn, and goes on a quest to murder Jason Wynn. He gets help from The Devil's voice on earth, a clown called "The Violator" (played wonderfully by John Leguizamo). His quest takes him to many different locations, has a few fun action scenes and is quite a bit of fun.

But like I said, the plot of Spawn doesn't really matter. The importance--if there is importance, which I think there is--is in the film's visual direction. Despite coming out in '97, there are some parts of the film's visual style that hold up even today. An example of this is in the way Spawn transforms from his disfigured, scarred body to his costumed attire. The transformation still holds up, and to me at least, that is impressive.

Unfortunately, some of the film's visual techniques do feel really dated, and in these cases, it is really apparent. The Devil himself looks terrible, almost looking like he was ripped directly from an old video game. He shows himself as a dragon-like thing, one whose voiceover work doesn't match his mouth movement at all. But it doesn't look like they even tried to do that. The dragon itself was menacing enough, and back in '97, it definitely did its job. It just doesn't look any good now, and does take you out of the film somewhat.

Something that may go unappreciated, but was a successful experiment, was the way scene transitions were handled. When a scene transition occurs, the previous one appears to melt, revealing the next one. It's a little touch that goes a long way in adding some more depth to the visual style of the film.

Also looking good is Spawn himself, with his costume translating nicely to live-action. His cape flows beautifully through the air, and everything about him is detailed enough to make it seem somewhat realistic, despite the fantasy setting. The setting is also something that is worth mentioning, with the city Simmons lives in being shown as a dark place, with the only brightness coming from the home that he used to share with his wife.

Spawn does feel a lot like a B-movie, in many regards. The acting is completely over the top, the action sequences are loud, overly violent and incredibly explosive, and the film has an overall cheesy feel to it. This might actually make it more enjoyable, because if it was taken seriously, and if it did have a gritty, semi-realistic feel to it, it might not have been fun. That's what the film really is, it is fun to watch.

Spawn may not the most memorable film, but is certainly an enjoyable one to sit down and watch for an hour and a half. It's a fun film. It won't make you think particularly hard, but it'll keep you entertained. The visual style and effects used, for the most part, still stand up on their own, and they help give the audience more reasons to watch the movie. The action is fast and fun, John Leguizamo's "The Violator" is hilarious, and the film is just an entertaining watch. Nothing more, but it doesn't need to be. It accomplishes its goal to entertain the audience and bring its titular character into the public consciousness of mainstream Hollywood audiences.
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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Movie Martyr on Mon Jan 10, 2011 8:35 pm

300
300 is a film adapted from Frank Miller's graphic novel of the same name. Miller has had a few successful graphic novels, such as Sin City, Daredevil and the already mentioned 300. Miller's comics, particularly Sin City and 300, are incredibly violent, gory and visually stunning. The films share these common traits. Unfortunately, one thing is missing from the film adaptation of 300, and that is in the characters.

Now, I'm not going to claim that the graphic novel had much better characters than the film does, as I haven't read enough of the comic to know that for a fact. (Although, having read some of Miller's other graphic novels, I would think this to be the case). However, in the film, there isn't much characterization at all, and that's the main problem.

There are times in which emotional scenes are taking place, but it is really hard to care about the characters involved, as they've been given no depth. In fact, almost the entire film could be taken at an emotional level. There are certainly enough scenes to make it one, but instead, the violence and incredible visuals overshadow the character development.

And yes, the film does look amazing. The landscape is impressive, the way that the live action and CGI are combined looks very nice, and the battles are bloody and fun to watch. It's unique in a way, and this is the film's biggest strength. It does come off as odd to begin with, but soon your eyes will adjust and become immersed in the visual direction the film takes--assuming you don't become too bored with what is happening on-screen.

I say that, because for a lot of 300, I was kind of bored. It wasn't a total boredom that made me think about turning the film off, but more of me questioning why I was watching it. For entertainment, certainly, but that seemed to be about it. I wasn't emotionally invested in any of the characters or their situations, I wasn't learning anything, and there wasn't much of a point. 300 came off as more or less a brainless action film.

I'm not going to come out and say that brainless action films can't be enjoyed or be great entertainment, because they most certainly can be. The thing is, when that's all you have going for you, you have to really make the action scenes count. 300 doesn't quite do this.

Yes, there are some fun action scenes in the film, and the blood and gore flying around can be entertaining. Unfortunately--and I think this is the main problem with the action scenes--slow motion technology is employed far too often. Showing 300 without any slow motion, and it might be 20-30 minutes shorter. I'm quite serious about that, although maybe with slight exaggeration. The slow motion used is...excessive, to put it lightly. This is one of the better examples that come to mind of the wrong way to use slow motion capture technology. Some of it works, but it bogs down the film as a whole, especially during those already overlong and over-stylized action sequences.

While the action scenes are still impressive, visually at least, the story is lackluster in comparison. Basically, the plot involves three hundred Spartans preparing for, and eventually partaking in, a battle against the Persians, who are much greater in number. They are led by Leonidas (Gerard Butler), who's most memorable line "This is Sparta!"--something that has by now gone through the cycle of becoming an internet meme and disappearing--sounds good in a trailer, but doesn't actually feel all that great when thrown into a semi-serious film. Or maybe the film isn't supposed to be taken seriously at all, and instead should be taken lightly, despite all of the "mature" things happening on-screen.

I don't believe this to be the case though. The actors seem to be taking it seriously, and so does whoever wrote the screenplay. Lines are rarely spoken, but they are shouted, often to dozens of other people. Characters don't show any emotion other than anger, (okay, some of them do show emotion, but it comes off flat). The film also seems to want to be more mature that it really is, throwing in as much blood and gore as director Zack Snyder probably thought he could get away with. Yes, this is likely the case in the comic, and in fact, the comic is possibly filled with more gore, but sometimes things need to be altered when their medium is changed. This is one of them in my eyes.

Look, if you want a brainless action film set in the past, where shields, swords and spears were still used in a large capacity, 300 isn't the worst film you can watch. I didn't necessarily find it all that fun, as it wasn't engaging enough to keep me interested, but I can see how some people would definitely find it enjoyable. The plot and characters ultimately don't matter, as the film is all the visuals. Everything looks nice, and the action scenes are well-done, but the excessive use of slow motion really put me off. All in all, it's a decent action film, and if that's what you're looking for, 300 won't disappoint.
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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Movie Martyr on Wed Jan 12, 2011 2:52 am

Hot Tub Time Machine
I think I owe someone an apology. Maybe it should be directed at director Steve Pink, or maybe it should just be towards anyone who was a part of making Hot Tub Time Machine. I believe they deserve an apology, because I've been unfairly criticizing the film since before its release. I'm not even sure why I continued to make fun of it. Maybe it was because it looked incredibly foolish and childish, and this was unfair.

I believe issuing an apology would be the right thing to do, because I actually quite enjoyed watching Hot Tub Time Machine. It was enjoyable because it was really funny, something that I didn't really expect. See, I had heard this film compared to The Hangover, a film which I really disliked. I also have no adoration for the 80's, nor was I around during that time, and because of this, I didn't think I would get most of the humor. So, going into this film, I had absolutely no expectations regarding it. Thankfully, Hot Tub Time Machine easily ended up being quite funny, and not at all requiring an extensive knowledge of the 1980's.

The story revolves around a group of friends, one of which just had a suicide attempt, who decide to go on a vacation in order to help this one person out. They want to make him happy, so they go to a place they had fun at 20+ years ago. Unfortunately for them, this place has become run-down; shops are out of business, and not many people are around anymore. The vacation seems to be a dud, so the guys decide the best way to spend the night would be to get drunk and jump into a hot tub.

Apparently this hot tub is very special, and after the control panel is splashed with some form of Russian energy drink, and sends the group back in time to 1986. They don't know it at first, but they quickly realize that this is the case. They initially decide that they shouldn't do anything differently from the first time they lived that night, but ultimately decide that they should change the past in order to guarantee a better future for themselves.

See, all four of the people in the group have issues of their own in the present: Adam Yates (John Cusack) has just had his wife leave him, Nick Webber (Craig Robinson) gave up his singing career and is now generally unsuccessful, Jacob (Clark Duke) is a stereotypical nerd living in Adam's basement, and finally Lou Dorchen (Rob Corddry) who is an alcoholic, who possibly attempts suicide right at the beginning of the film.

Something that Hot Tub Time Machine does wonderfully, and why I think the film ends up working as well as it does, is because the characters it presents us with are likable and well-developed right off the bat. We see their faults, and we want them to overcome these difficulties. In a sense, the film is a coming of age story, despite the fact that three of the main characters are already either in, or nearing, their 40's.

The characters begin the film immature, mostly in how they handle themselves. Reliving the events of a single night end up helping them overcome the struggles that they face in the present. They also become closer as a group, even if that doesn't always seem like the case. There is a lot of "male bonding", as the film likes to call it, and this gives you a good sense of how each member of the group feels about the next, and also gives you a good sense of each character's nuances and small details.

The different parts to each character are also brought across wonderfully by the actors involved. Cusack is great, Duke and Robinson are fun to watch and Corddry is amazing, and easily gets the most laughs. His character is the most over-the-top, with the other characters grounded in reality, but he is also the one that gets to have the most fun. Despite being an alcoholic--or at least, that's what we are told early on--he seems to hold himself together quite well once the group goes back in time. He gets to have a lot of fun, and progresses far as a character.

There is also a couple of problems that the characters have to deal with once they are sent back to the past. For one, the time machine is broken, so they cannot return right away. The repair man, who, for reasons that go unexplained knows about the time travelling, says he can fix it, but also explains that they need to return before dawn. The energy drink that made it work the first time is also required to allow them to traverse time from the past, but unfortunately this drink was confiscated by one of ski patrol officers. And, because that isn't enough, Jacob keeps flickering in and out of existence, because he wasn't even born in 1986.

So, the characters have motivation, danger and development. What else is needed? Well, given the fact that Hot Tub Time Machine is a comedy, the film needs to be funny. It is. The jokes make you laugh, the situations are often bizarre enough to confuse you before you decide to just go with it and enjoy the ride, and the entire production will leave you feeling good about yourself. The film also ends on a nice note, being uplifting, meaning that even if you didn't find it all that humorous, you will feel good by the end.

Hot Tub Time Machine is one of the most surprising films I've watched. It had almost everything that I wanted from a very good comedy, and its problems--few as they are--can easily be ignored because of that. It's funny, its characters have depth and development, and the premise itself is interesting. I really enjoyed myself while watching it, and would definitely say to give it a look if you initially passed it over like I did.
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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Movie Martyr on Wed Jan 12, 2011 11:30 pm

Avatar
For a film to last for over 160 minutes, and still be entertaining for its audience, it needs to do many things right. One of the most important of these things, in my mind, is to immerse the audience in both the story, and in the world the narrative takes place in.

If you didn't know, James Cameron's Avatar does last over 160 minutes. It also accomplishes this immersion, just like the narrative forces its main character Jake Sully (Sam Worthington). In the film, he takes place in a program called the "Avatar Program", allowing the paraplegic former marine a chance to move around freely once again. He is to become a Na'vi (the name of the humanoid species native to the planet of Pandora) and get to know them. He must learn to act just like one, and become accepted into their group. Only then will he let them know what his ulterior motives are.

See, the Avatar Program is something that humans have created to get to know the Na'vi. This is true, but the why they want to do this is what is interesting. There is a resource on Pandora that the humans want; a deposit of it is under the Na'vi's home. The humans want someone to get to know the Na'vi, so that he can convince them to leave. If this doesn't happen, an all-out war will commence, something that the humans don't want. Bad press is something that they seemingly don't want, and killing off natives is certainly bad press.

Oh yeah, did I forget to mention that Avatar is a sci-fi film, taking place far away from Earth? Set in 2154, Avatar does take place entirely away from our current home planet. Earth has apparently not been doing well, and the humans are looking elsewhere for resources. The resource found on Pandora apparently sells for a large amount of money, (something like $20 million per kilogram).

The first half or so of Avatar focuses on Jake's attempts to fit in with the Na'vi, and become engrossed in their culture. We do the same, and it feels like his avatar could just as easily be ours. We learn how the Na'vi culture acts, what rituals they have, and how much they actually know about the humans. They have their own language--although they speak English to varying degrees--and we get to learn parts of it. They are smart, and aside from minor native traditions that they have, they could easily be human.

Jake sees this too, and quickly bonds with the first Na'vi that he meets. Her name is Neytiri, (motion captured and voiced by Zoe Saldana), and she is the one who ends up finding Jake. She and Jake end up having a positive relationship, (for the most part, nothing's perfect), and the two become close, with her teaching him all of the Na'vi's traditions and nuances.

This eats up about an hour and a half. The part of the film deals with the humans finally growing tired of waiting and deciding to wage full-on war with the Na'vi. This ultimately ends in a grand battle, filled with miniature dragons, mechs, airplanes and incredible amounts of death on both sides.

For those who pay close attention, yes, I did just give away the majority of Avatar's story. Despite this, I haven't really told you anything important about it. It's something that you can't just read about and really understand, instead, it is something you want to experience. It's a simple story, but one that is really well-told, and has enough depth to keep you interested throughout.

However, there are times in which you will stop caring about it, and in these cases, the visuals of the film take up the reigns. Avatar is visually stunning, with almost every scene that takes place in the forest on Pandora ready to make your jaw drop. In fact, some scenes seem to bank solely on this fact, having little to do with story, but only included to make you wish you could visit Pandora.

The scenery looks great, and so do the Na'vi. In this regard, Cameron shows us that motion capture technology can be incredibly realistic, and that it all depends on how long you take on making the final product. In the past, there has been some shoddy motion capture scenes, (see Resident Evil: Degeneration for a good example of this), but here, the Na'vi look and feel life-like. It's almost like they could exist, despite being blue and standing approximately 10 feet tall.

The reason that they feel so realistic--even more so than because of the excellent animation job--is because of the world that James Cameron built for the film. The Na'vi have their own language, Pandora has its own feel, and everything looks like it could exist, even if it looks completely different and farfetched from what we see on Earth. The level of detail put in is phenomenal, and because of this work, Pandora feels real.

There are only two main problems that Avatar has. The first comes in its finale. With about 15 minutes left, things start to go from "slightly over-the-top" to "absurd". I found myself laughing at almost everything that happened, from ever-growing number of coincidences to the way that the main villain, (who I won't disclose), just doesn't seem to want to die. It was laughable, and didn't accomplish the emotional depth that the scene wanted to. Things are not pleasant, but having this hilarity thrown in makes it hard to feel sad for the events going around it. I wanted to care, but then I watched what was happening on-screen, instead of thinking about what was happening off it, and I just started to laugh.

The second issue comes from a lack of fear that I had for the characters. Even if situations appeared perilous, there was always a feeling that things would fix themselves by the end of the scene. While this wasn't always the case--things don't work out a few times, in fact--that feeling was still there. I still didn't feel like there was any fear to be had, even when there most certainly was. It's an odd feeling to have, and was unlikely the one that the Avatar was trying to make me feel.

But these two issues don't really matter all that much to me. In my mind, Avatar was definitely worth a watch, possibly even another in the very near future. Its story isn't complex, but it doesn't really need to be. The film is all about its visuals, which are stunning. Even when nothing much is happening on-screen, you will still want to look just because of how beautiful the scenery is. Also impressive is how well the Na'vi are animated, proving that good motion capture is now only limited by time commitment, not by technology. Avatar is a really solid film, one which kept me entertained despite having a slightly overlong runtime. If you are one of the few, (like I was), who have yet to see Avatar, do yourself a favor and do so. You'll likely be glad you did.
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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Movie Martyr on Fri Jan 14, 2011 1:13 am

Garfield: The Movie
I've finally found a film where the source material that it is based on is one that I know. "Garfield" is a comic series that I'm actually quite fond of, or at least, I was at one point in my life. Finally seeing a film adaptation of "Garfield" feels weird. It also seems like it came at the wrong time. Seriously, back in 2004, did anyone really care about "Garfield" anymore? I know that my friends at the time didn't.

So, luckily for them, if they watched Garfield: The Movie, they wouldn't notice all of the changes from the comic strip. Unfortunately for me, I did notice them. Liz (Jennifer Love Hewitt) actually has affection for Jon (Breckin Meyer) right off the bat. Nermal is no longer a small kitty, but is instead a fully grown cat. Garfield has been changed as well, retaining his rather large physique, but changing in personality.

Garfield is no longer a lazy cat, but instead has the energy to stage impromptu dance contests, walk all the way down to the city, and is also seemingly not impaired by his size at all. But you know what? That's fine. The film is separate from the comic strip; it's creating its own canon, its own universe, and it will abide by those rules. I can overlook these deviations, and I will look at and judge the film by its own merits, as well as take into consideration its target audience.

That target audience is not me, or at least, not me now. It's a film created for, and meant to be enjoyed almost exclusively by, children, and younger children at that. However, I think that it actually can be enjoyed by older audiences as well, as it actually wasn't all that bad a film--deviating from the comics aside.

The film opens, and focuses on for a large amount of its runtime, with Garfield (voiced by Bill Murray) and Jon hanging out around their house. It's at these moments, where we get to learn about the characters and why we should care about them. There actually isn't much conflict until after half way through the film, which means we get plenty of time to get to know our characters.

Of course, people who are familiar with the comic series will already know these characters, so this brings up the question as to whether or not the large amount of character development is required. Well, the answer to this question is a resounding "yes", and only given the target audience.

See, the people who this film is for, (people of an age lower than, say, 12), likely don't have an extensive knowledge of Garfield. They might not have read the newspaper often, if at all, and they may not have had any interest in the comics section. This is the belief that I believe the filmmakers of this film had, and why they chose to give us so much time with the characters before anything important happened.

Eventually, the plot does get going when Odie, (who is given to Jon by Liz), gets captured by Happy Chapman (Stephen Tobolowsky). Apparently Odie is a special dog, and Chapman wants to take him and make him famous as a show dog. The rest of the film focuses on Garfield's attempt to rescue Odie, as well as Jon and Liz's attempts to find both Garfield and Odie.

That is the basic plot of Garfield: The Movie. Yes, it is fairly basic, but it was likely kept that way in order to not confuse its target audience. As well, the plot actually is okay. It's not spectacular, but it does its job in making you keep watching. There aren't many twists or turns in the story, but it's solid and if you can accept talking cats, dogs and mice, then it'll keep you entertained enough.

I bet that directing a film that primarily features animals is something that would be difficult. That's probably why director Peter Hewitt decided to make Garfield completely CGI. Or maybe that was just because they couldn't get a fat enough cat that could still be as agile as Garfield needs to be for the stunts he pulls within the film.

Why Garfield is completely CGI is ultimately irrelevant, and instead what should be looked at is how well the CGI is. Well, it isn't terrible, but it isn't great either. Garfield's animations are well-done, but he doesn't look like he really belongs in the real world. Bill Murray's voice acting does give him a certain charm though, making the character appealing to everyone, not just the young ones.

If there is one thing that the filmmakers did right, it was capture the personality of Garfield. Even though physically he might not be right, Garfield is still the smug, yet lovable character that fans of the comic strip love. The movie might not get everything, or even most things from comic right, but it nailed that aspect. The plot of the film is basic, and there is certainly a childish tone throughout, but it isn't a film to be enjoyed strictly by children, but instead, one that is potentially charming to all audiences, young or old.
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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Movie Martyr on Sat Jan 15, 2011 6:04 am

Garfield: A Tail of Two Kitties
I have a problem here that I'm not exactly sure how to remedy. Reviewing Garfield: A Tail of Two Kitties is something that is going to be very difficult, because the film incredibly similar to the first Garfield film. In fact, they are similar enough that they might as well be the same cat--err, review.

Funnily enough, Garfield (Bill Murray) does get a twin in the sequel to Garfield: The Movie. The twin is called Prince (Tim Curry), and looks exactly the same as Garfield does. Their personalities are nothing alike, and they live in separate parts of the world. So why does this matter? Well, unlike the first film, conflict occurs earlier on in the film, rather than waiting until 2/3 of it is finished.

Liz and Jon are now a couple. Jon (Breckin Meyer) is thinking about proposing to her. When Liz (Jennifer Love Hewitt) comes over, she tells Jon that she is leaving for London. Jon decides to follow her, as he believes that London will be a good place to propose. Garfield and Odie decide to stow away in Jon's luggage and come to England as well.

Once arriving in London, we diverge from the humans in order to see the animals take over. Garfield escapes the hotel that Jon is staying at and roams around the streets of London. Prince, who has just inherited his late owner's estate, has been thrown out of his castle by a man named Lord Dargis (Billy Connolly). Effectively, after some time, the two cats switch places, and take turns living the life of the other.

Well, that seems like an improvement right away, doesn't it? Since the previous film spent enough time establishing characters, we don't have to take that kind of time again. Instead, director Tim Hill hopes that you've already seen Garfield: The Movie, so that you will be all caught up when beginning A Tail of Two Kitties.

The plot is actually more complicated this time around, perhaps in hoping that the children who watched the first film will be able to grasp something slightly more complicated now that they've aged two years. Having two different perspectives--splitting focus between Garfield and Prince--creates an interesting juxtaposition between the characters. While both cats look identical, and are indistinguishable by the humans, we get to listen to them speak. Their personalities are something we get to learn about right off the bat: Garfield is the smug cat with the big heart and stomach, while Prince is the royal cat, who must always have something to keep him entertained. The cats are doppelgänger of one another, and having two differing personalities certainly makes the film more interesting, for a while anyway.

Because we don't get a lot of character development, it makes it hard to care for the characters within the film. Not with the American cast of Garfield, Odie, Jon and Liz, no, they're fine. I'm talking primarily at the characters from England. In the first film, we got too much development, or at least, we spent to long focusing on development. Here, we get almost no development to begin with, and only minimal development after the initial series of events takes place. As a result, we get bored with characters not ever-changing, even when that's exactly what you would expect.

Take, for example, Prince. He's finds himself no longer in royal quarters, and you would expect that he'd have to adapt to Jon's way of life. Here is the big development that occurs while he's away from home: he finds out that he likes lasagna. Garfield also doesn't change at all, and stays the same cat he's always been, just with better room service.

Another thing that hasn't changed in two years is the CGI work, except it's even more apparent this time around. It looks exactly the same as it did in the first film, only this time, we have two Garfield models to stare at throughout the film. The animations are still fine, but the pseudo-realistic look that they attempted doesn't look real enough to work.

Still to be praised is the voice work, this time with many more talking animals. Bill Murray still fits the character of Garfield almost perfectly, while Tim Curry plays Prince well too. The supporting cast of animals, (and there are a lot of them), all have solid voices as well, even if the dialogue isn't intelligent or insightful in any way.

As before, you need to take the target audience into account when looking at the film. The script isn't any good, but it isn't supposed to make you question anything. The film is there strictly to entertain younger audience members, and maybe give their parents something that will keep them awake. It does this.

Garfield: A Tail of Two Kitties is just about identical to the film preceding it. It improves in one area, its pacing, while regressing in terms of overall story. Since we don't care much about the overseas cast, that storyline falls apart more than one featuring just Garfield, a character that we have grown to love not just because the first film gave us so much time with him, but also because of the already-established comic strip. On the whole, it'll entertain the children, and might also entertain their parents.
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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Movie Martyr on Sat Jan 15, 2011 8:18 pm

Twelve Monkeys

Movies that are boring are the ones that I dislike the most. Even if they are well-made, well-acted, visually dynamic, or anything else that speaks to the film's quality, if I am bored while watching it, I tend to not care as much about these factors. When a lot of effort has been put into a film, and yet, it doesn't quite work the way it should, I feel disappointed.

Coincidentally, this is what I'm feeling about Twelve Monkeys, a film that does enough right to possibly warrant a watch, but because it didn't captivate me, I can't say that it was a great or even good watch. Films usually need to be entertaining, along with having high production values, and Twelve Monkeys just isn't entertaining.

This is a shame, because, like I implied earlier, there are a lot of good things to be seen. The acting is what immediately stands out, and even if the characters are ones that you won't end up caring about, the actors portraying them still did a great job.

Bruce Willis is our lead, playing a criminal convicted of...something, who is sent back in time in order to gather information about a virus that wiped out 99% of the human population. Apparently 5 billion people was 99% of us back in 1995. Anyway, we're in the future, where convicted criminals are sent back in time, as they are expendable. Time travel is easy enough to do, so there aren't any reservations about sending people in order to study the past.

Or maybe time travel isn't all that easy. The first time Willis' character is sent back, the ones controlling the machine miss the mark by six years. Instead of going back to 1996--the time right before the virus began eliminating the human population--he winds up in 1990. It is here where we meet our secondary characters. People in 1990 don't believe that Willis comes from the future, and they take him to a mental institute.

He meets two characters there that end up mattering by the film's finale. The first is his psychiatrist, played by Madeleine Stowe. He also meets a patient played by Brad Pitt, who's mentally ill character ends up stealing each scene that he is in. He's insane enough to keep you interested, while still being played believably enough to make it seem somewhat realistic.

The rest of the story is one that I'm not going to describe. It has many twists, and is just convoluted enough to be somewhat interesting to watch. Describing anything after this point would ruin the mystery surrounding the virus, characters and the mysterious "Army of the Twelve Monkeys".

For some reason though, despite the acting being good and the story being somewhat interesting, the film just doesn't stay entertaining. The bleak imagery lends itself nicely to this, with the bland, gray aesthetic mirroring my own enthusiasm regarding my viewing of Twelve Monkeys. I almost felt defeated by the film, having been almost put to sleep during my viewing of it.

For an older science fiction film, I was impressed by how well it has aged. Since most of the film takes place in the 1990's, it was easy enough for director Terry Gilliam to be lax on the special effects. The technology used to send Willis back in time actually still looked fine, and it was nice to see that the film wouldn't be hampered by outdated special effects.

And...that's about all I really have to say about Twelve Monkeys. I just wasn't really feeling it all that much. The plot was interesting, the characters were well-acted, even if you won't really care about them, and the future technology still holds up many years later. Despite this, I was bored, really bored in fact. Yes, it was a well made film, but if I'm bored while watching it, I'm going to stop caring about the good parts. Twelve Monkeys wasn't for me. I know many people did like it, and wasn't a poorly made film by any stretch of the imagination, it was just one that didn't interest me all that much.
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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by MilkyFresh on Sat Jan 15, 2011 8:23 pm

Eh.
I'm disagreeing with most everything you write about anything I've seen, but that's alright. Gives me more to think about when the films I love aren't being showered with praise. Really well written reviews anyway, keep them coming.

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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Movie Martyr on Sat Jan 15, 2011 8:34 pm

MilkyFresh wrote:Eh.
I'm disagreeing with most everything you write about anything I've seen, but that's alright. Gives me more to think about when the films I love aren't being showered with praise. Really well written reviews anyway, keep them coming.
Thanks for that. Smile

Shame we aren't agreeing on much though. :/

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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Movie Martyr on Sun Jan 16, 2011 8:12 pm

Robots
When you think of computer animated films, there are likely two studios that come to mind. The first is Pixar, who have yet to make a critically unsuccessful movie. Second to them is DreamWorks, likely best known for the Shrek franchise. Other studios tend to turn out a couple of movies, but never reach the status that a Pixar or DreamWorks does.

Blue Sky Studios doesn't actually follow this trend. It has its own primary franchise, Ice Age, a series that is still being created, and still making way more money than it likely should. Apart from the Ice Age films, they have produced two other full length films, Horton Hears a Who and Robots. They also have a few films currently in production, including, yes, another Ice Age film.

The point is, they are a successful studio that just isn't given the same type of recognition that the larger studios are given. That's okay though, because it means when they produce a film like, say, Robots, and it turns out to be really good, you get a very pleasant surprise. The studio doesn't have the weight of having to blow the audience's mind at every turn, and instead, they can focus on just making a really entertaining film.

In fact, if its story was just a tad more interesting, Robots might just be up to par with Pixar films, and in fact, does seem to take inspiration from them. The lead is a male character, and we see the world from his eyes. His name is Rodney Copperbottom (Ewan McGregor), and he is an aspiring inventor. After not finding success in his hometown, he decides to head to a place called Robot City, where he hopes to show his inventions to a man called Bigweld (Mel Brooks). Bigweld owns the robot repair company, and Rodney hopes that he will get hired and be able to work for Bigweld.

Unfortunately, after arriving in Robot City, Rodney learns that Bigweld is nowhere to be found. His replacement, Ratchet (Greg Kinnear), has decided to scrap the idea of replacement parts and is replacing them with upgrades. Upgrades, as anyone who has upgraded something in the past will know, are more expensive than a simple replacement. Many robots are unable to afford these upgrades, and this is something that Ratchet and his mother are counting on.

They are the main villains, and they want two things. Firstly, robots that can afford these upgrades will be paying way more than they should have to, meaning the pair makes money. The second thing involves the robots that cannot afford the upgrades; they become scrap metal, used to create whatever Ratchet and his mother want.

Rodney doesn't like this plan though, and spends the rest of the film ether gathering support or trying to find Bigweld, all in the hope to bring down Ratchet and save hundreds of robots in the process. He's a good character with a strong will, and despite not being a human, he, and the other robots in the film, all exhibit many human characteristics.

Even if the robots designs were all scrapped and replaced with human models, not much of the story would change. Yes, some of the events would have to be altered in order to make it possible for humans to accomplish some of the tasks throughout, but the emotional responses and the charm exhibited by the characters would all still be there. The robots all have distinct personalities, and they are brought out around every corner. We get to know about all of these characters, and we don't want to see them get shipped to the scrap yard.

However, the story that these characters are a part of is fairly weak, even for a film aimed primarily at children. Unlike what Pixar usually does--create complex and compelling stories despite making the film approachable to younger audiences--the story that Robots tells is all too predictable and lacking in substance to really carry the film. There are fun set-pieces, and some hilarious moments, but the overall plot is just weak.

The animations, as well as the robots themselves, are very well-done though. You can tell that a lot of effort was put into them. Each robot is detailed and different from each other. They all have their different parts, and they are all animated wonderfully. Even when there is a shot where there are a lot of robots in it, you won't find duplicate robots anywhere. The film is polished, and that speaks to how much Blue Sky cared about the production.

There is one other thing that I've been meaning to address, and since it is something that comes at the end of the film, I think it's fitting for me to include it near the end of the review. This will involve spoilers though, so people who haven't seen the film, and don't want to know how the final acts sets up should skip the paragraph and just read the conclusion. The spoiler isn't big, and doesn't even give away what happens during the final act, but it does give away some things that happen earlier on in the film.

Okay, so, there is a bit early on in the film that has Bigweld stating that "You can shine no matter what you're made of". This is a running theme throughout the film, and we are basically told throughout that upgrading--that is, changing--yourself isn't required in order to be successful. That's a good lesson to be teaching children, and I have no problem with that. What I do have an issue with is that before the climactic battle at the end of the film, Rodney and his pals all decide to upgrade themselves. This seems completely contradictory to what the rest of the film is preaching. It came out of left field, and while seeing them beat on nameless drones with new parts does make it more exciting, it completely negates what the rest of the film says. Maybe it's just me that takes issue with this, but man, that really left me feeling disappointed by the ending.

On the whole, Robots is a really solid film. The characters are ones that we get to know and care about, the comedic exchanges do their job, and the set-pieces are entertaining. The story isn't involving, at least, not to older audiences, but the film around the story allows it to not be too much of a hindrance. Robots is a very good film, one that comes very close to the excellence of rival studio Pixar.
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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Movie Martyr on Tue Jan 18, 2011 12:48 am

The Cheetah Girls: One World
Because the first two films in the Cheetah Girls film series were so successful, a third one was made. This one, titled One World, doesn't even feature the most prominent actress from the previous two films, Raven Symoné. Symoné dropped out so that she could spend her time recording another album, as well as to film College Road Trip.

Now, without its biggest star and a $25 million budget, The Cheetah Girls: One World got made. Yet again, it was a made-for-TV movie that was put out by Disney. The other three stars, Adrienne Bailon, Sabrina Bryan, Kiely Williams all return. This time, the Cheetahs head to India to star in a Bollywood movie. The catch being that the producer of the film only wants one of them, meaning the other two have to head home, despite the fact that the director told them that they all could appear.

So, we have conflict right off the bat. This is about the most positive thing that I can say about One World. The characters actually have reasons for acting the way that they do. This is good, because it means we can, at the very least, figure out why everything that is happening does occur.

Or, at least we can see the motivation behind the character's actions. Some of the events, on the other hand, have no rhyme or reason behind them. The most obvious and up-front example of this is the numerous musical numbers throughout. If you weren't aware--and hadn't seen the previous two Cheetah Girl films--the films are musicals.

In One World, the musical numbers often times seem out-of-place. In a good musical, they are integrated properly so that it makes sense as to why characters are singing, and you hardly even notice the shift. That doesn't happen in this film, and instead, it is really apparent when songs begin. Sometimes, this is covered up by the context in which they take place within. The Cheetahs, as I understand it, are a singing group, and having them audition multiple times gives them a reason to sing.

However, there are times where they, and the people around them, will burst into song and dance, seemingly without cause. There is even one audition scene where the people auditioning the Cheetahs join in part way through, and then they just stop after a while, while the Cheetahs continued. It's an odd situation, and it is a jarring transition from the attempted drama that the rest of the film revolves around.

And this begins the second problem with One World, the interactions between the characters. To begin with, their relationships all seem shallow; even the relationships that the Cheetah Girls have with one another don't seem to be all that strong. They seem more than willing to ditch one another to either get a boyfriend or win the part in the film, making me question their commitment to the group.

Something else I question is why we should be rooting for these people. They're all unlikable, spoiled characters who act like they rule the world. Their dialogue all comes off like they don't actually care about anyone else in the film, and are only worried about themselves. These are characters that I really would never want to meet, let alone cheer for in a film.

The story also seemed very predictable, never actually surprising me. Once a scene started, it wasn't hard to figure out how it would end. Nothing will shock you, but nothing will make you think either. It's an empty film, both in content and depth of content. There isn't anything that will make you think, and there isn't really much there to keep you entertained.

This leads me to the biggest problem with One World. The film is just too boring to be worth a watch. Maybe if I had cared about and seen the previous films I might have had a larger interest in this one. This film didn't make me care though, even if the story is largely unrelated from the previous two. I can only assume that any character development would have already taken place, as there wasn't any in this film. Even the songs, which should be entertaining, weren't. Even if it isn't your type of music, good musicals will still entertain you with their songs. One World doesn't.

I do realize that I'm not in the target demographic for this film, and I also realize that not seeing the first two movies in the Cheetah Girls series likely already put me at a disadvantage when it comes to watching One World. Regardless, the film didn't impress me. It was boring, the music often didn't fit into the context of what was happening on-screen, and none of the characters made me care about them. It's a waste of time to watch this film, and the only reason to watch it is if you plan on mocking it with friends.
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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Movie Martyr on Wed Jan 19, 2011 1:42 am

Billy Elliot
I cheered and laughed at some inappropriate moments during Billy Elliot, I'll admit that. Maybe these parts of the film tried to make me laugh and cheer, so that later on, I would feel bad about it, beucase that is certainly what happened. The first of these moments came when little Billy Elliot (Jamie Bell) is in a boxing ring and gets knocked down by one punch.

I probably shouldn't have laughed at this, especially not as hard as I did. But I did laugh, and I cheered for Billy's opponent to go in and beat him like MMA fighters do nowadays. You know, knock your opponent down, and then keep pounding on them until the referee tells you to stop. That is what I hoped for.

By the time I finished Billy Elliot, I felt bad about feeling this way, which leads me to believe that not having the audience root for the lead character right off the bat was the intention of director Stephen Daldry. It means that as the film progresses, and we learn more about Billy, we begin to root for him. He wins us over with his story, and we want to see him succeed.

The story takes place in the mid 1980's, and, for the most part, focuses on our title character. Initially someone training in boxing, a dance class begins to inhabit the gym he trains at, and being the curious 11-year-old that he is, Billy decides to give the ballet a shot. He falls in love with it, enough to want to quit boxing. His new dance teacher (Julie Walters) thinks he has potential, and even offers to teach him free of charge.

Billy's father (Gary Lewis), on the other hand, is not a fan of of the ballet, and instists that his son partake in activities better suited to his gender, like football, boxing or even wrestling. Billy just wants to dance though, and will stop at nothing in order to fulfill this desire.

Literally nothing, not even the possible degeneration of his family or social persecution will stop this kid. He is as determined as any other character in any movie you will see, and this constant perserverance will win you over. You'll want to see him succeed, get his way, and become one of the top dancers in the world, even if those hopes are above his own aspirations.

See, despite loving dance, and wanting to pursue it as a career, Billy doesn't really know how to go about this. He gets a shot late in the film to audition for a ballet school, in hopes of getting admittance. He doesn't seem to have any idea of why this is as important as it his, or what he will do after getting to, or graduating from, this school. Al lhe knows is that he wants to dance.

This lack of knowledge gives him a certain charm of innocence that helps his character out, even if he doesn't act much like a sweet and innocent 11-year-old. He curses, disrespects adults and other classmates, and isn't really all the pleasant a character. Despite this, we can't help but feel for him, as it doesn't seem to be his fault, and instead, the blame should be placed on his upbringing.

Billy hasn't had an easy time in life before the movie begins, and it doesn't exactly get easy afterwards. He had many issues to overcome throughout the film, bringing tension, heartbreak and emotion to the movie. Billy Elliot is an incredibly emotionally involved film. You care about the characters and the situations they find themselves in, and the film also does a good job of balancing the high and low points.

Most surprising to me about Billy Elliot was how humorous it was. Small quips between characters allow the mood to stay light in between the heavier moments. The funny parts of the film almost perfectly break up the darl mood that encompasses the majority of the film, meaning that the film won't leave you feeling sad.

As a matter of fact, if it would be described as anything, Billy Elliot could be called a feel-good film. Even with all of its dark parts, the film will leave you feeling good about yourself. Despite its heartwretching parts, these are balanced with moments of real triumph on the part of almost all of its characters.

And these characters are wonderfully acted. Jamie Bell gives a triumphant performace, and is the driving emotional force of the film. Gary Lewis delivers a more subtle performace, bringing more depth to his character than anyone else in the film. You never quite know what to expect from him and trying to figure out what is going through his character's head was part of the fun of the film for me.

I wasn't sure what to expect with Billy Elliot, but I got out of it more than I had hoped for. It was a charming film, full of emotional highs and lows, brought out by some excellent acting. It's far funnier than I thought it would be, and these comedic moments help drive home the emotional depth the rest of the film has. It's an inspiring story of an 11-year-old child and his love of dance, one that will leave you feeling good about life.
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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by MilkyFresh on Wed Jan 19, 2011 1:45 am

^

There's something we agree on. Loved that movie.

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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Movie Martyr on Wed Jan 19, 2011 2:01 am

MilkyFresh wrote:^

There's something we agree on. Loved that movie.
Finally! ^_^

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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Movie Martyr on Thu Jan 20, 2011 2:50 am

Cop Out
Cop Out comes to us from director Kevin Smith, for the first time not writing the screenplay to a film he is directing. He did sign on to direct Cop Out though--originally titled "A Couple of Dicks", although the title was changed due to negative reaction--and he has actually made a competent buddy cop film. It's not the greatest film and there likely wasn't much need for one to be made, but Cop Out is a solid film.

But then I remember that there was another buddy cop film that cam out in 2010. Yes, The Other Guys was another film in the genre, showing itself off as a spoof of the buddy cop genre. Both films were supposed to be funny, wacky and paying somewhat of an homage to the film in the 80's that directly inspired them.

Unfortunately, I didn't like The Other Guys. It wasn't funny, the action scenes were boring, and the majority of the film just didn't work for me. Then I looked at the reviews for it, and was shocked. Critics and audiences both liked it, while the earlier buddy cop film, Cop Out, was panned by both.

After finally getting around to watching Cop Out, I'm quite surprised by this, because I found the two films to be quite the opposite of what the general consensus stated. I didn't like The Other Guys, but Cop Out ended up really surprising me. It was funny, really funny in fact, and it kept me far more entertained than the aforementioned other buddy cop film.

Cop Out stars Bruce Willis and Tracey Morgan as pair of New York Police Detectives, who, after failing to capture a bolting suspect, are given a month-long suspension from the department. They don't get paid during this time, something that is really disappointing for Jimmy Monroe (Willis). His daughter has a wedding coming up, and he needs his paycheck in order to pay for the wedding. Not getting paid forces him to sell a rare and prized baseball card.

Unfortunately, before Jimmy is able to sell the card, he is mugged, with the card stolen. Since the card is that important, he and his partner Paul Hodges (Morgan) go on a quest in order to get the card back. They encounter drug dealers, other cops and more drug dealers. No, variety is not strength of Cop Out.

What is a strength is just how funny the film is. I was laughing with great regularity as the film was playing. I was enjoying myself, and for a comedy, especially one that doesn't give you a great deal to think about, enjoying yourself while watching it is the most important part. The jokes were funny, most of the random dialogue exchanges between to partners were hilarious, and Seann William Scott's character will keep you laughing every time he is on-screen.

On top of the film being really funny, the characters that we get to meet throughout the film develop, and they are likable. Willis' character has reason to get sympathy from the audience, having to compete with his ex-wife's husband, and we get a good sense of why we should root for him. He also undergoes changes throughout the film, becoming a different person at the film's finale.

Morgan's character doesn't quite have the same type of motivation that Willis' character does, but he also develops throughout the film. His character is a direct contrast to Willis--who is the 'serious' cop--with Morgan being the funny cop. He plays almost everything for laughs, having few serious moments scattered throughout.

Although, that seems to be true of the entire film. There aren't many serious moments, but when they do come around, they are actually fairly touching, mostly because you will grow to like the characters in the movie. There is one particularly moving scene at the film's conclusion that really touched me up, just because it felt like the perfect conclusion to what was overall a really enjoyable experience.

If you haven't already written Cop Out off as a poor buddy cop film, I can only hope that I've convinced you to give it a look. It's a really funny film that, like Morgan's character, pays homage to other films. It takes direct inspiration from 80's buddy cop films, but uses that inspiration to make an incredibly enjoyable film. The characters are likable and develop throughout, and when the film goes for an emotional response, it achieves it! I had fun while watching Cop Out, and with a comedy like this, that's the most important part.
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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Movie Martyr on Thu Jan 20, 2011 5:54 pm

Letters to Juliet
Apparently Letters to Juliet is a romantic comedy. Let's nip that in the butt right now and say that it isn't one. This film is strictly speaking a romantic drama, with very little, if any, humor thrown in throughout. If you look at it as a romantic comedy, then it fails, and as such, I will not look at it in that regard; it just didn't seem to try to be funny, and I don't believe judging it as so is fair.

Now that we've come to the conclusion that Letters to Juliet is not attempting to be a comedy, let's look at it as a drama. Here, it garners mixed results instead of being a complete failure. On one hand, it does do a good job at stirring up emotions, particularly in its final act. On the other though, the acting is on the weak side, the story is clichéd and the main character is moronic. Yes, I believe calling it a mixed bag is fair.

I don't normally directly attack characters, their personalities or decisions, but in the case of Sophie (Amanda Seyfried), I feel this is more than reasonable. Her character, even after we learn about her redeeming qualities, is one that angered me. When things seem perfect, she ignores them, and conversely, when things seem wrong, she jumps head first in and embraces these situations.

This becomes clear right at the beginning of the film, when we meet Sophie and her fiancé, Victor (Gael García Bernal). They seem to be in love, and are planning a "pre-honeymoon" trip to Verona, Italy. After arriving, things don't go the way that Sophie planned, as she is taken to wine tastings, cheese samplings, and other things that are beneficial to the chef that she is planning to marry. He is more engrossed by his work than with his future wife, making you question right away why she is with him.

Eventually, he even leaves her to go to a wine auction, allowing her to do whatever she wants around the city. She visits a wall where people leave letters to Shakespeare's character Juliet, and at the end of the day, witnesses someone taking down the letters. She follows this person, and learns of the "secretaries of Juliet". These people sit around a table all day, and answer the letters that people write.

Sophie befriends these people, and eventually gets to answer letters herself. She finds one letter that was put up 50 years prior, and being the incredibly sincere person that she is, she writes this person back a letter. Arriving just over a week later is the person that wrote the initial letter. Claire (Vanessa Redgrave) is her name, and she is now a grandmother, who shows up with her arrogant son, Charlie (Chris Egan).

Claire has come to Verona in hopes to find a man she fell in love with 50 years earlier. The film then splits apart, focusing on two things. The first, is Claire's attempts and failures in finding the man she still loves, and the other is the relationship between Sophie and Charlie, which starts out as rocky, but the two quickly make up and become friends.

If what I've divulged about the plot up until this point makes you want to see Letters to Juliet, then go ahead and watch it, as you'll likely enjoy it. If I haven't piqued your interest, go on the internet, and watch the trailer. It will tell you almost everything that happens in the film, and takes out the majority of the filler that occurs during the first two-thirds of the film.

The truth of the matter is, I was fairly bored through the majority of the film. Despite this, I think this period of boredom is actually the reason why the final act works so well. As the characters go on their journey to find Claire's long, lost lover, we get to know the characters. Claire is a character we can root for, as all she wants is to find love. We also begin to care about the other two characters. However, during the first two-thirds, there is very little emotional connection that we feel towards them.

But then the final act begins, and emotions begin to fly. Almost every scene in the last half hour has real emotional significance and importance, while still managing to be incredibly touching. Even though you'll likely guess exactly how it ends, you may still tear up as the film concludes.

In terms of acting, Vanessa Redgrave is the only actor in the film that actually does a good job. Her performance is more subtle than everyone else, but she stands out by being the only quality actor in the film. Her subtlety is overshadowed by the rambunctious performance by Chris Egan, who takes every opportunity he can to put on an over-the-top accent that is incredibly easy to detect that he is putting it on. Seyfried and Egan also seem to have no chemistry together, making their budding relationship seem even less realistic than the script shows us.

While I wouldn't say that the dialogue is all that poorly written, some of the lines that characters say to one another do feel out-of-place, and not much like a real person would talk. Seyfried seems to want to make it feel more realistic by adding random stutters to her performance. This doesn't work, and instead just makes certain scenes drag on more than they should.

My thoughts about Letters to Juliet are mixed, but lean more towards the positive side of the "good-bad spectrum". Yes, it is predictable and clichéd, but it also stirs enough of an emotional response to be rewarding by its conclusion. The first hour drags on, and the lead character doesn't seem to be the smartest character ever, but I did end up caring about everyone involved. If you want, you can basically watch the entire film in the trailer anyway, although you will miss out on the emotions involved in the final act. I'd say give it a look if you are looking for a romance film set in Italy.
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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Movie Martyr on Fri Jan 21, 2011 8:38 pm

The Book of Eli
Part way through The Book of Eli, a second random fight broke out. It was at this point where I realized just how silly the film was. I wasn't particularly enjoying myself beforehand, but when a second random fight began, I really found myself laughing at the film; it just takes itself too seriously for its own good, I'm afraid, especially when you factor in everything that happens after this "pivotal" point in the film.

Taking place thirty years after an unexplained apocalypse, we meet a man named Eli. He is wandering west, and has been doing so for a long time. That is his mission; he wants to reach the west coast. That's about all that matters in regards to his motivation throughout the film. Oh yeah, Eli (Denzel Washington) is also a very, very tough character.

Eli, despite being fairly old, malnourished and not seemingly all that capable of a fighter, is able to slaughter entire groups of people at one time in hand to hand combat. Actually, this isn't even half of it, as he is also better with guns than everyone else in the film. It seems to be impossible to actually hit him with a bullet, or with a sword. All weapons seem to miss him or be blocked by his surprising speed and strength.

And here lies the first problem with The Book of Eli. Eli is not a character that we can relate with, nor is he particularly believable in his role. He appears to be in his mid-50's, and yet is more agile than characters in their 30's. He also doesn't appear to have the supplies that would allow him to have this much energy, but somehow he can jump into battles whenever he feels the need.

Now, I'll give the filmmakers credit, all of this is explained at the end of the film. It's just a bit of a shame--actually, quite a large shame--that this final reveal feels like a cop-out. Maybe it was intended all along, and in fact, I'm sure it was, but it feels like it was thrown in last-minute, because the feeling was that telling the story as it was didn't quite work out. So, they decided to throw in as many twists right at the end of the film just to make it more interesting.

What results is something that doesn't quite work and almost feels like a cheap move in regards to the rest of the film. Up until the end, while the film doesn't really feel like much is happening, we can at least admire Eli's perseverance in not giving up. He is chased by lots of people throughout, eventually led by the main villain named Carnegie (Gary Oldman). He is determined, and we can at least see this in him.

And then, by the end, we find out why he was so determined. We learn fairly early on that he is carrying a book, one that is apparently really important to Carnegie, and to Eli. Only referred to as "the book" throughout the majority of the film, we don't actually learn what it is, and why it is important until near the end.

In case you haven't gathered yet, no, I am not a big fan of the way The Book of Eli ended. Nor was I really that big of a fan of what came before the ending, but at least they made perfect sense, and didn't feel like a cheat. This cannot be said about the finale, which, like the book is called in the movie, will not be given away in this review.

I still can't say that I would have enjoyed The Book of Eli even if the twists at the end hadn't ruined it. The reason for this was that I wasn't really having fun while watching it to begin with, as it was fairly boring. Despite the numerous action scenes--some of them seemingly having nothing to do with the rest of the film--I was bored. I didn't care about Eli, and it didn't, for the most part, feel like he could be harmed in any way, so I had trouble becoming invested in him and his story.

While I didn't really care about Eli, or anyone else for that matter, I can say that the acting in the film was pretty good. Washington is great in his role, making Eli the badass that he needs to be. Oldman is really entertaining, even if his character is extremely derivative of many other post-apocalyptic villains.

I can't recommend The Book of Eli, because, to me, it wasn't an enjoyable experience. Without giving away the twists at the end, (I haven't yet), I can say that they turn the film from mediocre to bad. They did destroy the film for me, and they made me very upset after the film ended. While the acting was overall solid, the story and characters weren't, not allowing me to become involved in the story.
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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Furburt on Fri Jan 21, 2011 10:08 pm

Shame, I was hoping that would be enjoyable in a Mad Max sort of way.

Before I write it off, is it silly enough that you can watch it with friends and happily make fun of it, or is it just mediocre and dull?

Because if the former, some good marijuana and some good buddies might make it a fun nights viewing.

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