Marter's Reviews

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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Movie Martyr on Fri Jan 21, 2011 11:32 pm

Furburt wrote: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.
It was just dull and quite boring. Just go with Mad Max, or my personal favourite post-apocalyptic film, Doomsday.

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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Movie Martyr on Sat Jan 22, 2011 10:47 pm

Transformers
When you've never actually been a fan of a series, and then you watch an adaptation of it, you don't have the same bias that fans of the series already have. No, I was never a fan of the Transformers series, so hearing that there was a live-action adaptation of it didn't really matter to me. I did, however, expect that it would be an entertaining action film, if nothing else.

After watching it, yeah, that's basically what it ended up being. For once, my expectations were pretty much matched. Everything I hoped to see, I did, and everything that I figured would be a problem, was. There wasn't anything that surprised me, both in the story, or in what is presented during the story.

The plot is fairly simple, as it should be. There is something called the "All Spark" that is on Earth. Years ago, Megatron, the leader of the evil robots named "Decepticons", came to Earth in an attempt to find it. Megatron doesn't succeed, and ends up trapped in the Arctic Circle. This all happened over 100 years ago.

Fast-forward to present day, when Sam Witwicky (Shia LeBeouf) is just a normal kid in high school. He gets his first car, and is finally starting to learn how to talk with girls. His primary fixation is Mikaela Banes (Megan Fox), with him ending up driving her home one night. They become closer when Sam's car gets stolen, and she follows him in Sam's attempt to get it back.

It turns out that his car wasn't actually stolen though, instead turning into a robot. It's okay though, because Sam's car is a good robot, being called an "Autobot". The Autobots want the All Spark as well, and require Sam's, (and by extension, Mikaela's), help in retrieving it.

And then a lot of grand-scale, visually entertaining action scenes happen. After the basic plot and characters are established, the story basically just steps aside so that robots can do what robots do best, fight other robots in various environments, mostly in cities and other urban landscapes.

That is just about all the final third consists of, in fact. We are given the main characters' reason to participate in this battle, meaning that it actually serves more of a purpose than just eye-candy.

But, the visuals in the film are a sight to behold. I know some people complain about Michael Bay butchering the original designs of the robots, and while this might be true, it isn't something I had a problem with. It's his own adaptation of the source material, and if he wants to alter what the robots look like, I think that's his prerogative.

The robots do look nice though, with the robots having a great size and impressive scale, especially when compared to our human characters. They are easily 7 times larger than the humans--at least, I'm not great at telling size--and you get a good sense of this size when the humans and robots stand near one another.

The humans are the worst part of the film, however, with the story arc between Sam and Mikalea being the film's major problem. In a film like this, you want to see robots blowing up other robots, not two teenagers having an awkward romantic life. This isn't helped by the fact that neither of the human leads give a good acting performance.

This is most obvious in one scene, where Megan Fox had the completely wrong facial expression for one of her lines, and then, at the last moment, realizes this and changes her complete expression. She does this a few times, but it is really noticeable in one scene in particular. Shia Labeouf isn't much better, but at least seems to know the type of emotion that his character is supposed to be feeling.

I guess I did lie earlier on. There was one thing that surprised me with Transformers. It was funnier than I thought it would be. I figured there would be some small bits of attempted humour thrown in every now and then, but this wasn't the case. There were many, not some, and it was actually fairly successful at generating laughter.

The only other main problem that the film has is its length. It is just too long to keep attention all the way through. Quite a bit could've been cut off the beginning, as the little character development we get at this point doesn't actually help us learn about the characters, especially because we don't end up caring much about them anyway. All we really want to see are the robots, and while they do take up a large portion of the second half, the first is dominated by the humans we'd rather ignore.

In my eyes, Transformers isn't a bad movie, but it's one that could easily have done with stronger human characters and some cuts in the runtime. The transformers themselves look nice, and the action scenes do entertain, but unfortunately there are too many dull parts to make it an excellent film. It's definitely entertaining though, and if you can look past the changes to the robot designs, you'll likely enjoy yourself while watching it.
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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Movie Martyr on Mon Jan 24, 2011 12:26 am

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
I enjoyed the first Transformers movie, I'm not going to lie. It had its problems, sure, but I felt that these problems didn't really matter all that much, because the film was still entertaining. For an action film like it was, being an entertaining piece was just about all it needed to be.

Two years later, a sequel to Transformers came out, titled Revenge of the Fallen. These two years have also gone by in the movie universe, with the Autobots now working with the government protecting the Earth. The Decepticons are still around as well, and they are causing havoc--looking for something. Some of the humans don't like working with the Autobots, and they are hoping that sooner or later the Autobots will leave Earth for good.

Meanwhile, Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf) is heading to college. He and his girlfriend Mikaela (Megan Fox) are having some relationship issues, but it never really feels like their relationship is in jeopardy, even though she isn't accompanying him to college. After touching a fragment of the All Spark, Sam is seeing signs in his head. The Decepticons don't like this, and attempt to hunt him down. Sam once again teams up with Optimus Prime and the Autobots in an attempt to stop them.

And...that's when things start to go downhill. Unlike the first film, there isn't any real character development. I suppose that this means that director Michael Bay assumes that you've seen the first film, and are already involved in the story of the characters. While I'll agree that you should have seen Transformers before seeing Revenge of the Fallen, I can't exactly say that I cared about the characters.

As a matter of fact, the human characters were one of the worst parts of the first film. Not getting any development, despite the fact that they are focused heavily upon, doesn't help their case. We follow Sam and Mikaela for the majority of the film, and their story just isn't something that I ended up caring about.

This time around, we also get to see different robots, all with unique personalities. Some of them are interesting, others are just really annoying. Two bots in particular are so annoying that they made me want to hit the screen every time they appeared. There is no possible explanation for why they speak the way they do, except to make the audience be able to differentiate between the different robot designs--something we can do anyway.

Similar to the first movie, the robots still do look really impressive. Their designs are clean, while the CGI doesn't take make you feel like it is blatant CGI. It looks like the robots could be real, even though we know they aren't. What I'm trying to say is that the CGI isn't distracting, and it is used in a beneficial way.

The action scenes are just as impressive, managing to keep my attention. They are entertaining, even if I think that robots fighting other robots is something that is really hard to make boring.

Other than how good the film looks, and how entertaining the action scenes are though, the film doesn't hold up as well as Transformers does. The majority of the problems that the first film had end up being in Revenge of the Fallen, and they seem to be more present. The first film's story wasn't all that important, it was too long, and the characters didn't matter much.

All of these problems occur in this film. I've already talked about how the characters still fail to matter, but I haven't touched upon how the film feels overlong. At least in Transformers, there was an attempt to make us care for the characters. These moments are what made the film too long.

Revenge of the Fallen, conversely, doesn't make any attempt to give character depth, instead, it tries to make us care about its story. The film ends up going about as long as the first one, and doesn't end up being as entertaining. After about half way through, I started becoming really bored. Even when things were blowing up, I was no longer caring, making the final portion of the film means nothing to me.

When compared to the first film, Revenge of the Fallen is much worse. When compared to other summer blockbuster action films, it's also not all that great. It's too long, without any interesting characters, trying to make us care for a story that doesn't matter. The film is boring, for the most part, and while the transformers themselves still look good, I found myself not caring by film's end.
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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by ggggggggggg on Mon Jan 24, 2011 7:27 pm

I saw one of the Transformer films on TV - not sure which one - and it was... annoying. I won't bother go in detail since you've covered it in your review, but two things that stuck out for me were the 'teal & orange' colour correction and the terrible camera work.

Now, shaky cam can have it's place, but when it's used excessively for no goddamn reason it's just annoying and painful to watch. And the camera constantly cutting between shots is the same - good when used right, but often abused. I mean, it's as if the action scenes in this were filmed by someone running through the battlefield with a camera tied to their head. Everything's always off centre in a bad way and everything is so fucking blurry. I know it's supposed to go for that documentary feel, but it seemed overly excessive to me. I couldn't tell what was happening most of the time.

Anyways, good reviews.

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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Movie Martyr on Tue Jan 25, 2011 1:03 am

Hot Rod
Hot Rod, or "hey, there was totally just something playing on the screen a second ago", is a comedy, as well as a coming of age story. The character that has to grow up is named Rod Kimble (Andy Samberg). He's a wannabe stuntman, who, after crash after crash, doesn't give up. He continues to reach for the stars, seemingly with his only motivation being that his late father was also a stuntman.

But, alas, his father is dead, replaced with another man named Frank (Ian McShane). Frank constantly beats Rod down, and tells him that until Rod can beat him in a fight, Rod will never be a real man. These constant beat-downs become even more downing on Rod's self-esteem when he, and by extension, the audience, learns that Frank's heart is giving out on him. He needs a heart transplant that will cost a "conveniently priced" sum of $50,000.

Rod wants to raise this money, not because he cares whether or not Frank lives or dies, but because he feels the need to earn his respect. You can't very well fight a man lying on the couch dying, can you? That's what Rod believes as well, so he devises a plan to raise the money. He will jump over a grand total of 15 busses, (one more than Evel Knievel did), and hope that people will donate to his cause.

We've already seen Rod fail though; he can't even jump over a pool. He needs to get in to top physical and mental condition if he's going to pull this stunt off. He enlists the help of his crew to do this, and here is where the film actually begins doing something noteworthy.

It's odd though, because even though the plot picks up from this point, the film doesn't exactly become "funny". There weren't many moments where I was laughing or even chuckling. I mean, they even re-hash the way a character pronounces words beginning in "wh" from Family Guy. If that doesn't say "trying too hard", then I'm not really sure what does.

This is the most unfortunate thing about Hot Rod. It just isn't all that funny, meaning that if you go in expecting to have a lot of laughs, you will likely leave disappointed. I didn't, because I enjoyed other aspects of it, and also because I know I don't have the sense of humor that the film was trying to appease, maybe it will make other people laugh, I don't know.

What I did come to appreciate was the plot and the characters involved within it. The story is simple enough, with a clear target at the end for the characters to aim for. And yet, even with the simple story, there are multiple subplots and character arcs for us to follow, so that we won't get bored with the one, clear-cut goal.

The characters throughout the film are also interesting enough to hold our attention. There is a mix of completely over-the-top characters and down to Earth ones, each interesting by themselves. We want to get to know them throughout the course of the film, and the film delivers on this desire. We get enough of the supporting cast to satisfy this want, while still focusing on the lead character more than enough so that we can relate with him on a personal level.

I wish I could say a lot more about the film, but that's about all there is to say. It's a bare-bones film, not having much depth or humor, instead relying more on its plot and characters to keep the audience's attention. Or maybe that's just me. Humor, of course, is something very difficult to peg down, because everyone will find different things funny. I didn't find much in Hot Rod funny, but I know people who thought it was the funniest movie ever. For me, the charactehrs and plot were interesting enough to make me continue to watch the film, and I ended up having a decent enough time. I wish I would have laughed more, but it's fine that I didn't. The humor just wasn't for me.
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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Movie Martyr on Wed Jan 26, 2011 6:35 am

Mean Girls
I need some reassurance here. I need someone to tell me that, for girls, Mean Girls isn't an accurate depiction of how things work in high school. If it is, then my eyes have certainly been opened. Somehow, I doubt this is the case though, because the events within the film just seem a slight bit too exaggerated to be completely realistic.

Either way, Mean Girls centers on one high school student in particular. Her name is Cady (Lindsay Lohan), and she is just now entering her first year of public school. Up until her current age of 16, she had been homeschooled by her parents. Having never adjusted to the social situation that comes from the school system, she is thrust into the violent world of high school.

And what a violent world it is. Insults are thrown left and right, characters' interactions with one another are superficial beyond all belief, and nobody treats each other with any bit of dignity or respect. Think, for a second, about the absolute worst experience you had in high school. Then, imagine how bad you felt during that time and project that sorrow onto every part of high school. This is a pretty good idea of how Cady initially feels when she enters this new environment.

Eventually, Cady begins to adjust and make friends. At first, she is singled out by two slightly off-beat characters. They befriend her, even if they aren't 'popular' in the high school setting. After this, she is befriended by the popular students, led by a girl named Regina (Rachel McAdams). The so-called "Mean Girls" from the title refers to the popular students, or at least, does at the beginning.

See, the two people who Cady initially befriends don't like Regina or her party. They decide to use Cady as a double agent, finding out things about Regina, while also using the trust that she gains to destroy Regina's popularity and hold over the students of the school.

Cady starts to like doing this, while also growing to like the way Regina acts. She begins to enjoy acting like Regina--pushing people around, being manipulative--and this starts to alienate her from the friends she made earlier, the same friends who, with her help, planned to destroy Regina's life.

Cady's inner conflict and desires drive the second half of the film. Despite having a plan, and for the most part, sticking to it, we aren't really sure what she's going to do in each scene. Even in ones that begin with her own narration, her actions sometimes go against her thoughts. The film keeps us on-edge, just because we want to see what Cady will do next.

The film also keeps our attention through the different characters it presents us with. All of the characters are interesting, and, for better or worse, you will care what happens to them. Whether you want to see Cady succeed in, well, doing whatever it is she wants to do, or if you want to see Regina's smile get wiped off her face, you will want to see the story through to the end.

Mean Girls was written by Tina Fey, who also co-stars in it as Cady's mathematics teacher. I don't think Fey quite understands the way teenagers communicate with one another, as the film's dialogue doesn't come across as realistic. At least, some of the scenes seemed fake. There weren't many happy or polite scenes within the film, showing high school life in the most negative light possible.

Now, this may just be me and my own view of the world, but high school just isn't quite as bad as the film portrays it. Now, I'm sure there are some high schools where life is rough, and there are very few happy moments, but the school that the characters go to in Mean Girls just didn't give off that kind of vibe. The school seemed well-off and the characters weren't struggling along in life. It seemed that their only real problems did happen in high school, and compared to some things that could be happening to them, their issues with one another seemed trivial.

Apart from the fact that the negative portrayal of high school seemed to be a little bit too extreme for me, the only other problem that the film has was the lack of humor it had in its middle act. The film starts off quite humorous, but loses that focus part way through. It picks it up later on, yes, but there aren't a lot of laughs in the middle part of the film. The film has to rely on its story and characters, and thankfully, they manage to carry the load.

I liked Mean Girls. I liked it far more than I thought I would. The film ended up being very interesting. While I don't believe it was, or even really tried to be, an accurate representation of high school life, the setting made it something that almost everyone could relate to. The characters were interesting, and you want to see the story conclude, meaning you will see it through to the end. It wasn't incredibly funny, but it was humorous enough to give out a few laughs. Mean Girls is a solid film, one that I would recommend watching.
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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Movie Martyr on Thu Jan 27, 2011 1:45 am

Batman Begins
Promised to be a dark and gritty iteration of the Batman series, director Christopher Nolan rebooted it in 2005 with Batman Begins. This is what was promised, and this is more or less what was delivered to us. If nothing else, Batman Begins is a wonderful way to reboot the franchise, taking it in a different direction from previous installments.

The film opens up with Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale), not yet Batman, in a prison camp. He gets into a fight with another inmate, and is taken to solitary confinement. It is here that he meets Henri Ducard (Liam Neeson), who takes him away from the prison. He trains Wayne in the martial art of ninjutsu, before offering an invitation to join the "League of Shadows".

The initiation to join, as Wayne finds out, is to kill a man whom the League has already captured. The man is a murderer, or so we are led to believe, but even so, Wayne doesn't want to kill him. As such, he refuses the League's offer, instead, deciding to light their temple on fire and run away back to Gotham City.

It is here, in Gotham, where the rest of the story takes place. After we get to learn about Bruce Wayne, find out how he became capable of being Batman and his motivation behind doing so, things really start to kick into high-gear.

Or at least, something interesting happens. While I'm sure that some people, particularly people who care about Batman's origins, who will enjoy the first 45 minutes or so of the film a lot, but it wasn't really for me. I came into the film wanting Batman, and in the first portion, not much resembling Batman actually occurred. There were even a couple of long, drawn out sword fights, which don't even foreshadow a fight later on in the film; Batman doesn't use swords after all. The back-story is necessary, I'll admit, and throwing us right into the fray of Batman's life would have been an even worse decision. I just wasn't all that entertained by his origins, that's all.

Now, once we do finally reach Gotham, things become interesting. We get to see Bruce Wayne become Batman, and witness his first shots at fighting crime. He starts off actually doing quite well, making a small, but noticeable difference. He helps out Sgt. James Gordon (Gary Oldman), one of the only non-corrupt police officers still working. He helps bring down a mob boss, and everything seems to be working out for the best. Batman is a symbol, one that is helping to clean up Gotham.

Unfortunately, I just gave away a large portion of the plot for Batman Begins. I did this, because I'm sure that by now, you can gather that a film about Batman ultimately allows Batman to become a central character. At this point in the film, the real conflict starts taking place, and the true story can actually begin.

The actual story isn't one that I can actually disclose, because it involves a couple of character twists that would have to be spoiled. I'll say that it does involve poisonous hallucinogens potentially being deployed across all of Gotham City, and Batman's attempts to stop this from occurring.

The city itself is a wonderfully eerie place, and Nolan really does go all the way in making this the grittiest Batman film to date. You, the viewer, wouldn't want to live in Gotham, as it has so many issues that you wouldn't want to have to deal with. Granted, you do view it only from the perspectives of characters who don't believe it is a good place to live, meaning that you are only getting one side of the story. Who knows, maybe it is just a fine city. It isn't portrayed as one in the film though.

Batman Begins actually does feature an excellent cast, who all give great performances. Supporting roles go to Liam Neeson, Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine, Gary Oldman and Cillian Murphy, all of which who do an excellent job with the roles they are given. And, come on, Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman and Liam Neeson, doesn't that just make you want to listen to the film, if nothing else? Christian Bale makes a really good Batman, especially given the grittiness that Christopher Nolan was going for.

Batman Begins serves as a very good way to reboot the Batman film franchise. Nolan was aiming for a darker take on the series, and he nailed it. Thankfully, the way Bruce Wayne does become Batman is now taken care of, meaning that any future installments will focus squarely on his adventures as Batman. The acting is great, the story is interesting once it gets going, and the film is entertaining. It's definitely a successful film.
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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Movie Martyr on Thu Jan 27, 2011 5:35 pm

The Dark Knight
Even though The Dark Knight is a sequel to Batman Begins, you don't actually need to have seen the first film in order to appreciate this one. That's what happened when I first watched The Dark Knight in theatres back in 2008. I hadn't seen Batman Begins, but still decided to go and see The Dark Knight.

That's part of the reason I've put off reviewing The Dark Knight for so long. It was still too fresh in my mind; I had already seen the film before, and I wanted to not watch it for a while, before going back and watching it to review it. After watching it on DVD many times, yet still not seeing Batman Begins, I've come to realize--after finally seeing Begins--that I didn't even appreciate The Dark Knight as much as I thought I did.

I did enjoy The Dark Knight without seeing Batman Begins. I enjoyed it a lot, as a matter of fact. I thought it was wonderfully made, and incredibly entertaining. Now, looking at it, I still think that, but also enjoy all of the subtleties that you notice after watching its predecessor.

In The Dark Knight, the character of Batman is already established, meaning we don't have 45+ minutes of back-story to wade through before kicking off the main portion of the story. In fact, the story begins with the Joker (Heath Ledger) and a hired crew robbing a bank. We get a primary villain established right off the bat, something that I was very thankful for. The villain actually appears throughout the course of the film. The Joker is a constant threat to Batman and the other characters, unlike what happens in Begins

Anyway, yes, Batman (still played by Christian Bale) is now an established character. He's starting to get followers, copycats if you will, and he doesn't like this. These "fake Batmans" don't actually end up playing much of a role, except to make Bruce Wayne consider whether or not Batman is actually still needed in Gotham City. He's still popular with the citizens, everyone knows about him, and he has the mob running scared. The mob think that eliminating him would be a good idea, and as such decide to enlist the help of the Joker, an anarchist who apparently never has a plan, to eliminate Batman.

Joker not having a plan doesn't really seem to be the case, despite his protests to the contrary. He does have a plan, more than one as a matter of fact. He's got several different methods that he will try to utilize in order to corrupt and kill Gotham's dark knight. This is what the rest of the film focuses on--Joker's attempts to kill Batman, as well as Batman trying to stop him from reeking havoc on Gotham City.

Speaking of Gotham, and this might just be an observation that doesn't have much basis behind it, but the city itself seems to be less of a factor in The Dark Knight. In Batman Begins, it was intimidating--you didn't want to live there. This time around, it seems to be just like any other large American city, not particularly dark or terrifying. Has Batman done such a good job cleaning up the streets that it no longer should feel dark?

At least, it doesn't seem like it's all that bad judging by the cast of good characters that appear throughout. There's a new district attorney, Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart), his assistant, Rachel Dawes (Maggie Gyllenhaal replaced Katie Holmes in this role), as well as Jim Gordon (Gary Oldman). All of these people, as well as Batman, obviously, are there to fight crime and help make Gotham a better place. With this many people fighting crime, you'd think the city itself would feel more, I don't know, menacing.

While the city doesn't feel dark, the villains do feel threatening. At least when we zoom in on them, instead of the city, we get the darker feel that was present in Begins. The Joker is no longer a character to laugh or poke fun at, he's an incredibly dark character. The other villains, or should I say villain, (who I won't reveal, as he only appears about half way through), is also similarly cruel, and the character's contrast to that of Batman is something that plays out incredibly well.

Something that did disappoint me was a cameo role played by Scarecrow. Scarecrow was an important character in the last film, but here he gets maybe a minute of total screen time, before disappearing for the rest of the film. This also comes right at the beginning, which almost seems like a way to misguide the audience into thinking that he would play a bigger role.

Apart from the Gotham City not looking particularly dark, and Scarecrow's far too minor of a role, I don't really have anything but praise for The Dark Knight. The story kicks into high-gear right at the beginning of the film, and it holds interest for its entirety. The times when there is more action than plot are entertaining, and I had difficulty looking away from the screen, even after seeing the film many times.

I've also got to mention how great the acting is. Before the film was released, there was a lot of debate as to whether or not Heath Ledger could play the Joker. After seeing the film, it seems that this debate turned into a one-sided praising of his portrayal. He was amazing. His Joker is incredible, having both depth and the certain amount of craziness that is required with the role. Everyone else plays their role well, with Aaron Eckhart giving a very solid performance as the D.A. Harvey Dent, as well as Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman reprising their roles from the previous film.

Look, when I'm criticizing the city for not being dark enough, and stating that something that is essentially nothing more than a cameo role should have been changed, and that's all I can complain about, you know you've got a solid movie on your hands. I really enjoyed The Dark Knight, even after seeing it a half-dozen times. Heath Ledger completely owns in his role, the action scenes are entertaining, and the story keeps you fixated on everything that is happening. I had to grasp at straws just to find something to critique, and that's saying something.
Audio Version of the Review:
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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by reg42 on Thu Jan 27, 2011 6:46 pm

Audio review was a nice touch, though I couldn't heard most of it; too quiet.

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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Furburt on Sat Jan 29, 2011 4:47 am

Man, I'm motherfucking hungry, get me some of that goddamned Diddley Duck.

MAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAN

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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Movie Martyr on Sat Jan 29, 2011 5:54 am

Mean Girls 2
When films are released as straight-to-video, expectations generally have to be lowered. This becomes very difficult when the film is released as a sequel to a film that was already incredibly popular just a few years ago. This is the case with Mean Girls 2, the follow-up to 2004's Mean Girls.

Yet again, the story focuses on a high school student moving to a new school. This time, the girl's name is Jo Mitchell (Meaghan Jette Martin), and she's a bit of a loner, so she tells us with her opening voice-over. She is welcomed to the school by Abby (Jennifer Stone), a girl who we can quickly acknowledge as the girl who gets beaten up in school. She's one of those unpopular students, the ones that the 'cool' people wouldn't be caught dead with. Naturally, Jo befriends her.

She has good reason to though, Abby's father pays her. No really, he offers her $50 000 to be Abby's friend for the rest of the year. Although this isn't why Jo does this, she ends accepting the money. Jo wants to go to college after all, and her father's business isn't going as well as it used to. She needs to accept the money, otherwise she'll have to go to a college close to home, and that just wouldn't do.

Anyway, back at school, Abby's life, and by extension, Jo's own, is beginning to take a turn for the worst. "The Plastics" are back, reincarnated, I suppose, for the newer generation. They are led by Mandi (Maiara Walsh), a girl so incredibly evil that she marks the top of her "i" with a heart instead of the usual dot. That's not exactly fair, Mandi and her group is fairly mean, even going so far as to destroy the motor of the car her father was fixing up.

Jo swears revenge upon the new group of evil popular children, and that's what the rest of the film centers on. Over the course of Mean Girls 2, many jokes from the original are re-hashed, usually far less effectively than before, and the plot takes almost the same path that it took in Mean Girls. Things do happen differently, but the end result is just about exactly the same.

The thing is, this time anyway, we don't care at all about any of the characters involved. In Mean Girls, we got significant depth into Cady, and we wanted to see her take the Plastics down. In this one, Jo acts just as, if not more, evil as they do, and when things turn around upon her, we can't feel sorry for her, as the film seems to want us to. Even near the beginning, when she is clearly fighting back against the Plastics, she is still deceiving her "friend" by taking the money from Abby's father.

It's funny, but for a film that does bill itself as a sequel, it does feel like more of a rip-off than anything else. There is one character that reprises their role from the previous film, and that is the character of the principal, played by Tim Meadows. Apart from that, nothing from the original film returns, except for the slightly altered plot, now even thinner and less believable than it was before.

If there was one main problem that Mean Girls had, it was that it felt like the events happening within it were just a bit too farfetched to actually be happening. I'm sure some of it could and does happen in school, but sometimes it just seemed too unbelievable. In Mean Girls 2, almost all of the major plot events are like this. For example, do you really think people would paintball someone's car? How about gluing the seat of someone's moped so that they become stuck to it?

What's worse, the Plastics in this film have even less reason to make Abby and Jo's lives miserable. For Abby, they don't like her before the film begins, and it's just because Abby is richer than Mandi. For ruining Jo's life, it seems to be based purely on jealousy, even if Mandi stays popular even after Jo appears at the school. The so-called jealousy doesn't even have much backing behind it, let alone letting it drive an entire character throughout the story.

Okay, so it has got a weak plot with weak characters, at least it has a humorous script, right? Nope. It doesn't, sorry. It has a couple of moments that will give you a chuckle, but for the most part, no, it just isn't that funny. The funniest parts, for me at least, were when the lower budget really came through in the filmmaking.

For example, there's one shot when Jo receives a college application letter, stating that she was accepted. There is a shot that lasts for about a second that actually shows the letter. Said letter wasn't even grammatically correct, and if you pay close, or even somewhat close, attention, you will notice this. I laughed loud at this, and while it wasn't the only moment of the lower budget coming through, it was the most memorable.

Something else showing the lower budget was the actors hired for the film. The main cast, Jo, Abby and Mandi, are all former Disney stars. This doesn't bode well for them to begin with, and we begin to notice in a feature-length film that they aren't the greatest actors in the world. They're not terrible, no, but they have about as emotional a performance as a brick wall. Yes, if allow paint to drip down it, you can make it look like it's crying, and that's about how the actors in the film felt like.

I swear that Jo's love interest (Diego González) looked like a teenage Jake Gyllenhaal, but maybe that was just me. I will say that it was enjoyable hearing the Disney stars cursing and talking somewhat like real teenagers for once though. If nothing else, that made me respect them a bit, finally taking part in a project that doesn't unrealistically idealize teenage years.

For all the complaining about the film I've done, I can't say that the film was a complete waste. For some reason, I didn't absolutely hate it. It stayed somewhat entertaining throughout, maybe for the "so bad it's good" factor, I'm not really sure. Maybe I kept hoping that it would improve, even if it did keep getting worse as the film progressed. There were some humorous parts, and the story does at least have enough twists in it that if you haven't seen Mean Girls, you'll be surprised by them.

Basically, there isn't any reason to see Mean Girls 2, because Mean Girls still exists. Until all of the copies of the original are destroyed, you have no reason to watch this low-budget sequel/rip-off. The characters have little depth and almost no motivation, the story isn't surprising if you've seen the original, and most of the jokes are replays of the ones seen in the first film. The acting isn't all that good, and while it was nice to see some Disney stars taking on more mature and realistic roles, the film didn't feel at all believable, as the entire drama of high school felt way too over-the-top. There isn't much reason for this film to exist, except cash-in on the Mean Girls name. Don't let it draw you in.
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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Movie Martyr on Sun Jan 30, 2011 2:25 am

The Aviator
The Aviator got off to a great start. I was enjoying myself, I was having fun. I wanted to learn more about Howard Hughes (Leonardo DiCaprio), and I wanted to see the rest of the film. It opened off wonderfully, as a matter of fact, and it did a great job of drawing me in to the world that it created.

Said world begins in 1927 with Howard Hughes directing the film Hell's Angels. He is seemingly a perfectionist, requiring over two-dozen cameras just to film one scene. He's a rich man, and is able to spend over $4 million on the final picture. He even re-films the entire movie after realizing that silent pictures are out of style. He becomes completely obsessed with making the best film he can.

Unfortunately, the filmmaking aspect that dominates this first part is more or less forgotten about later on. Hughes begins designing airplanes, and taking a large interest in the aviation business. I suppose that's where the title "The Aviator" comes from. For me, anyway, this aspect of the film was far less interesting, especially with how much I enjoyed the first part.

Now, this isn't to say that there isn't a lot to like or enjoy for the majority of the film, as the drama was still interesting, even if the subject matter wasn't. The character of Hughes is still one you'll want to follow, as he undergoes a series of changes throughout. Part of the film focuses on his increasing OCD, which is fascinating to bear witness to.

Part of the reason that Hughes is a character that we want to watch is because of the performance given by Leonardo DiCaprio. He does a great job in his role, playing the slightly crazy and paranoid character wonderfully. While he doesn't show much emotional depth, his character didn't often call for much emotion, that's part of his personality.

The supporting cast, large as it is, all play their parts well too. They don't give the same type of scene-stealing performance that DiCaprio does, but they play their roles just fine. Nothing incredibly memorable or noteworthy, but that's a good thing, I believe. It means that all of our focus goes on Howard Hughes, and not towards any of the secondary characters.

While we will come to care about Hughes, there are some scenes within The Aviator that are incredibly dull and boring. It's an odd case, because there are some moments where you will not be able to take your eyes off the screen while others where you will want to turn the film off. At least, that was what happened when I was watching.

Near the middle of the film, when not all that much is going on, I was bored. I was hoping that the film was almost over, because I was growing tired of everything that was happening. Then I checked, and found out that only about an hour an a half had passed. Then, a turning point occurred, and it was the first scene in a while that I really enjoyed.

There is a scene where Howard Hughes and his fiancé, Katharine Hepburn (Cate Blanchett), are going to her parent's house. While eating their meal, there are many dialogue exchanges, ones that overlap and become somewhat hard to follow. Despite that, I was intrigued, and that is when the film began to pick up again. For that, I was glad, as I was once again enjoying myself.

But, this enjoyment didn't last forever. Near the film's conclusion, I was once again bored. The film seemed to be toying with me, constantly switching between allowing me to enjoy it, and making me want to switch it off. Some scenes made me sleepy, while others kept me engrossed, holding my attention like they should.

I think the main problem the film has is its length, which is just short of 170 minutes. Had some of the scenes that were boring been cut, it would have been able to both keep my attention and also been a better film. It just isn't involving enough to be considered a great film, because if there are times where I considered switching it off so that I wouldn't have to endure any more of it, I can't consider it to be a great success, even if many of its parts were quite good.

Even though it got off to a great start, The Aviator ended up being a very inconsistent film. It had really great, involving and exhilarating scenes, but also ones that bored me enough to think about halting my viewing of it. The acting was great, particularly on the part of DiCaprio, and the story was on the whole well told and interesting, especially with the mental degeneration of Howard Hughes. The film wasn't a complete success, but not a bust either; it was just too long to be an incredibly great watch.
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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Movie Martyr on Mon Jan 31, 2011 4:49 am

Hoot
Oh, Hoot. How many jokes do you think I make at your expense? You know what? I'll stick with one that relates to almost all of the film. "I don't give a hoot about ____" with the blank being filled in by almost any important part of a film that you can think of just about sums up my opinion of Hoot. It also makes me chuckle every time I say it, so I think I'll begin the majority of the paragraphs in this review with a variation of the phrase.

I don't give a hoot about the story, although in order to remain somewhat professional, I will still describe how the plot sets up. The film revolves around a teenager named Roy (Logan Lerman), who has just moved to Florida, coming all the way from Montana. His family moves a lot, and he isn't happy about it. They don't care, and move again anyway.

I don't give a hoot about Roy. Here is a child who complains about not being able to make friends, a kid who we see bullied on the very first day, but also one that we are supposed to root for. Despite his complaining, he does find friends, two good ones, as a matter of fact. They are the ones who are going to be his companions when the film's actual plot begins taking place, and also far more interesting than our lead character.

I do give a hoot about the supporting cast. Roy's friends are named Beatrice "The Bear" (Brie Larson) and "Mullet Fingers" (Cody Linley). That's right, both of the supporting members or Roy's group get nicknames. There's also an odd casting choice with Luke Wilson playing an incompetent police officer working in the town. It's an odd casting, because he's actually the biggest name attached to the project, yet plays a fairly minor and insignificant role.

The title of "Hoot" refers to burrowing owls, creatures which happen to like living in the town the film takes place in. Unfortunately for them, there is a construction crew on their way to destroy the owls' habitat, a crew whose director knows the owls are living there, yet doesn't care about them,

Here is where the teenagers come in. They want to halt the construction crew, and save the owls' habitat. So, yes, the film carries an environmental message with it. I don't have a problem with that. With a film marketed primarily towards younger children, (something I do have a problem with--I'll explain why later), a pro-environment message is a good idea. It also is a feel-good movie, making kids feel empowered, like they can do anything, by the film's conclusion.

I don't give a hoot about the film's script though, and this is the biggest issue I take with the film. While it is market towards children, keeping a PG rating, some of the dialogue was incredibly awkward and unrealistic. It's like the script was written with a PG-13 rating in mind, and then all the potential curse words were cut and replaced by milder terms. At least, that's what is sounded like when listening to the useless words coming out of the actor’s mouths.

Speaking of the cast, I didn't give a hoot about many of them either. Now, I'll admit that the main reason I watched this was to see if Brie Larson could actually handle a larger role in a movie. I didn't really get my answer, as I'm still not sure. Out of the lead cast, she definitely handled herself the best, but then again, the owls did a better acting job than the protagonist. I really did not like him or his performance, which is too bad, because he has to carry the film. He doesn't show any emotion, or even act like the awkward teenage boy he is written to be. He's just there, delivering lines that don't matter.

In an odd twist of fate, I didn't even give a hoot about the owls in Hoot, despite the fact that their potential death drives the primary characters into action. The owls didn't get much screen time, and since the main cast failed to allow me to care, the owls not appearing made it hard to care whether or not the bulldozer crushed them all beneath it. Not caring about the thing that all of the characters believe matters a great deal means losing interest in the film happens far too easily and quickly, even if something interesting is happening like the far too few times when Jimmy Buffett, (who did the majority of the soundtrack and also produced the film), appears on-screen as the kids' teacher.

Actually, if there is one positive to take from Hoot, it's the soundtrack, which features a bunch of licensed songs by semi-famous bands, as well as some tracks re-recorded by Jimmy Buffett himself. The soundtrack will help keep you awake and interested, even when nothing on the screen does. It's a peaceful track, but it's by and away more entertaining than the film is.

I didn't give a hoot about Hoot, especially by the end. The characters didn't make me care, the story bored me, and even the owls, whose survival is the driving force behind the majority of the story, left me disinterested. The acting was poor, and the only real redeeming part of the film was the soundtrack. For younger audiences, it does preach a solid message, so if that's something that appeals to parents or babysitters, then put Hoot on and then go do something more interesting for a while.
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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Movie Martyr on Tue Feb 01, 2011 3:39 am

Alexander: Revisited
In 2004, director Oliver Stone released the theatrical version of Alexander. Totalling 175 minutes total runtime, the film was a box office failure, domestically at least. Shot on a budget of $155 million, it made back just over $34 million. Critics panned it, and audiences didn't go to see it. It was a failure.

For the DVD release, Stone decided to re-cut the film, making the total runtime 167 minutes. That's not much shorter, but it helped with pacing issues that the theatrical version had. The director's cut, along with the theatrical cut, sold 3.5 million copies in the United States. Apparently, Oliver Stone took this as a hint that audiences wanted another, longer cut of Alexander.

In 2007, we got this cut, titled "Alexander: Revisited - The Final Cut". Totaling 3 hours and 34 minutes runtime, Stone really went all out with this version of his film. He has called this cut the "clearest interpretation [he] can offer". So, with this knowledge in mind, this is the version of Alexander that I decided to watch. I regret this choice wholeheartedly.

I'll give you some advice before I even begin saying why Alexander: Revisited isn't worth your time. If you decide to watch Alexander, the version you want is the director's cut. You might end up missing out on a lot of content--40 minutes worth, as a matter of fact--but I think that you won't find that mattering all that much. You do not want to waste three and a half hours on this film, trust me.

I don't typically like historical films to begin with, because they always seem like they want to teach me something about the period or the characters within it. Alexander is no different. It's somewhat of a biographical film, detailing the life of Alexander the Great (Colin Farrell). Already I'm curious about it. Why cast Farrell, an Irishman, in the role of Greek? Will he be able to disguise his accent enough to make him believable as Alexander?

Well, no, he can't. He still sounds quite Irish to me. Although I guess that doesn't matter, as I don't actually know what the Greeks sounded like back around 330 BC. Regardless, Farrell didn't sell me on his role as a great man, especially one like Alexander. He didn't come across as that incredible, to be honest, even if he is pretty handy with a sword.

Although we don't even get to see him in battle very often, as there isn't all that much fighting in the film. Actually though, for a film based around war, it's more of a character drama than anything else. And this would be okay, except that you won't grow to like or care about any of the characters within the film.

I think this happens for two reasons. For one, the acting isn't any good. None of the actors showed much emotion, and nobody seemed to really be into their roles. The second reason is because of how poorly the characters are written. They aren't given any reason to appeal to the audience, unless of course you are already familiar with the story of Alexander the Great, in which case, you have no reason to see the movie anyway.

See, if you already know the story, then sitting through 3+ hours just to hear another re-telling of it doesn't make much sense. I mean, sure, you could enjoy watching attractive actors playing parts that you already know quite well, but since the film isn't entertaining, then I think you'd just be wasting your time.

The fact that it is boring, and incredibly overlong, is the biggest quibble I have with Alexander. Had it been, I don't know, half its final runtime, then it might have actually been quite good. See, all of the time when the film is focusing on characters we don’t' care about, it could have instead had these moments cut, allowing us to get to the parts of the movie we want to see--the battles.

I don't have much to say about the battles except that they don't occur often enough. They're entertaining enough, seemingly realistic, and they are the best parts of Alexander. Unfortunately, they are too few and far between to really make a big impact on the film's total quality. For example, in the first two hours of the film, there is one fight scene, and it appears very close to the beginning. We then have to listen to characters talk and not accomplish much of anything for the rest of this time.

With a runtime of three and a half hours, I can't recommend Alexander at all. Maybe the director's cut is better, I really cannot say. I do know that Revisited wasn't enjoyable, and felt like a big waste. I didn't care about the characters or the story, the acting wasn't any good, and I just wanted to sleep for the majority of the time it was on my TV.
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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Movie Martyr on Wed Feb 02, 2011 2:53 am

The King's Speech
"The King's Speech" refers to the climax of the film, when King George VI is forced to deliver a speech to a large portion of the world. He has to tell everyone that his country is now at war with Germany, and that everything will be okay. Oh yes, he also has a problem speaking, having a stammering problem that he has just spent 90 minutes attempting to overcome.

There, I just gave away the majority of The King's Speech. It's okay though, because the title already did that, I just contextualized it for you. Now all there is to do is find out how well this speech goes, and what happens to the characters after he delivers it. And you'll likely also want to look back on the last hour and a half of film that you just watched and think for a moment about what you've just seen.

That is to say that you'll likely really enjoy yourself while watching it, and also come to appreciate it after it concludes. There aren't really a lot of plot points that will surprise you, nor are there any that intend to do that. The story is single-minded in nature, and this simplicity helps the film hold the attention of its audience.

The majority of The King's Speech centers on The Duke of York (Colin Firth), soon to be King attempting to deal with his stammering problem. It's been an issue he's had to deal with since around the age of 4, and it has recently been hampering him in his public engagements. His wife (Helena Bonham Carter) finds a speech therapist, Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush), who claims that he'll be able to help the Duke.

This is what the majority of the film centers around--the Duke's constant problems with his stammering, the therapist's attempts to cure him--and there isn't a whole lot else going on. Everything that occurs leads up to the final, climactic speech that is to be broadcast worldwide. So, yes, it is about a man overcoming an obstacle in his life, and that's just about all the film is about.

Yes, there are some sub plots, but they generally don't matter. The Duke has a brother, who is actually first to inherit the throne, but for reasons that I'll leave as a surprise, ends up passing the job onto his younger brother. Lionely Louge also has children, who mock his failed acting career, something else that doesn't actually end up being important.

In fact, everything that wasn't focused on propelling and furthering along the main story can actually be ignored, because it holds no bearing on the finale. One could argue that these side points help develop the characters, but I didn't see that. The characters do get significant development, I saw that, but it wasn't at these moments.

No, when characters did change and show depth, it was during moments where they would have intimate interactions with one another. The dialogue exchanges and the actions that the characters perform say more about them than anything else, and are especially telling in moments that actually advance the plot.

The script is incredibly well-written and well performed by the actors. Most surprising about the film for me was how funny it ended up being. There was more genuine laughter in The King's Speech than many other comedies I've seen, and I'm very grateful for that. While the plot was interesting, integrating humor into it kept my eyes transfixed upon the screen with even greater intent.

Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush both do an amazing job with their roles. I wonder how difficult it is to play a stammering politician, but Firth does a great job with the role. Rush seemingly makes things way too easy, both stealing every scene he's in, while also somehow fitting in perfectly with the rest of the cast. He stands out and is noticeable, but also blends in. I'm still not quite sure how that works, but that's what happens. Helena Bonham Carter also does a good job, but in a far smaller role, not actually appearing in the film all that much.

Despite not liking history much myself, films like this are incredibly enjoyable, because they focus on a single part in time, and don't try to make me learn about the history behind it. They make you feel like you are there, in the time period they are set in, and draw you in. The story is simple, but captivating, the acting is great, and you will care for the characters by the end. The King's Speech was really enjoyable, and most surprisingly, incredibly funny. It has made me re-think my top 10 films from 2010, and I'm glad it did that, as it means that I really enjoyed myself.
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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Movie Martyr on Thu Feb 03, 2011 6:17 am

Public Enemies
I didn't think I'd have much difficulty recalling what happened in Public Enemies. Normally, I try to write these reviews directly after watching the movie, so I can get my raw thoughts about it jotted down instantly. I decided to wait this time around, typing this up the following morning. And I can't remember much about the film--not a good sign.

It's an even stranger occurrence, because I did quite enjoy myself while watching the film. It was entertaining, action-packed, and had good actors playing interesting roles. That's practically all that I wanted from it, and it delivered. So, why am I struggling to remember it in the morning?

I think one of the reasons was because of how much information there is to take in while watching Public Enemies. There is a lot of things going on and a lot of things you have to take note of, even though the plot itself is fairly straightforward. There is a large quantity of facts and events that are jammed into the 143 minute runtime, and while this means the film rarely gets boring, it also means that keeping track of everything can be a struggle.

At least, I certainly hope this is the reason, and that it isn't my memory finally failing me badly. Regardless of why it happened, not being a memorable movie is my biggest problem with Public Enemies. I enjoyed the majority of the ride while it was happening, but after I had given it some time, I couldn't really remember the experience. That kind of sucks, because I was really enjoying Public Enemies.

The plot revolves around two men, one good and one bad. The good character is played by Christian Bale. His name is Melvin Purvis, and he's a police officer. His task throughout the film is to hunt down a man named John Dillinger, who is played by Johnny Depp. Dillinger is a bank robber--a really good one, as a matter of fact--who is also a decent human being and somewhat of a public hero. He doesn't steal from customers, and has a good relationship with the common man. He's also wanted by most law enforcement agencies in America, "Dead or dead".

So, yes, Dillinger robs banks. Rather efficiently too, apparently being able to go through an entire bank in "1 minute, 40 seconds, flat". That's quite impressive, and we do get to see his skills in action a few times throughout the movie. Unfortunately, every bank robbery feels the same. The first one is really exciting; we aren't sure what's going on yet. Then we watch him pull off the robbery masterfully, without any issues whatsoever. Over the course of the film, the actual robbery part happens a couple of more times, and it almost feels like they used the same footage from the first one, only actually having differences in the ending of the theft. They feel like carbon-copies of one another for the most part, without any creativity exhibited on any of the following robberies.

The other action-oriented scenes consist of large-scale shootouts from the police and Dillinger's friends. These are loud and exciting, waking up any audience members who decided to fall asleep during the quieter parts. They are exciting beyond all belief, and certainly a strength of director Michael Mann. It is sometimes distracting how obvious it is that the guns aren't actually firing though. It is easily apparent, even for people not looking for it, that the guns aren't firing, with the added in "gunfire" effects not looking all that realistic.

The acting is probably the best part of the film, particularly on the part of Johnny Depp. He brings Dillinger to life, having certain cockiness to him, while also being elegant and a real gentleman. Even though he's a criminal, we want to cheer for him, almost solely because of how great Depp is in the role. Bale plays more of a supporting role, getting far less screen time, but does his job well too. He gets the less showboating role, but seems content to just stay in the background for most of the film.

Public Enemies is a film I enjoyed at the time--quite a lot as a matter of fact--but a day later was one that I had difficulty remembering. Certain parts remained clear, but the production as a whole was foggy at best. Maybe that speaks to the film's quality, maybe it doesn't, I'm not sure. The acting was great, the action sequences were fun and loud, and the plot was kept about as basic as it could be. I got more or less what I expected out of the film, and was happy with its conclusion. In fact, because of how much I enjoyed it, I think I'll give it another watch quite soon, something that rarely happens with me.
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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Movie Martyr on Fri Feb 04, 2011 6:33 am

Moon
I wish I could tell you a lot about the plot of Moon. I really do. It would make things a whole lot easier for me, but would also spoil a big portion of the surprise that the film has to offer, and that wouldn't be fair. In fact, I can only get into about the first 25 minutes or so, because there is a plot twist at this point that sets up what happens for the majority of the movie's runtime.

Sam Bell (Sam Rockwell) is just about to finish his tour of duty on a space station on the Moon. This has so far lasted approximately 2 years and 50 weeks, so it's certainly time for Sam to be finished. He is told that he will be allowed to leave after 3 years--it is to believe that some sort of contract is involved in this timeframe--and we first meet him about two weeks before said contract is about to end.

Now, Sam's job is actually quite an easy one, apart from being isolated from the world for three years. All he has to do is perform repairs and maintenance. He's up there to make sure that the drilling for Helium-3, the substance that is meant to supply 70% of the Earth's energy, goes smoothly. He is accompanied by a computer named Gerty (voiced by Kevin Spacey), and that's about the only interaction he gets with anyone else. He gets the occasional message from someone on Earth, but is more or less isolated on the Moon.

At one point, he gets into a crash, and wakes up in the infirmary, being taken care of by Gerty. This is where I will depart from describing the plot, because once he awakens, he finds some things out that he wasn't supposed to. Hopefully this intrigues you enough to watch Moon, as it definitely deserves to be watched.

I will say that the stress of being alone for approximately three years has finally begun to catch up with Sam, both mentally and physically, and we begin to wonder how reliable a narrator he is. Not just because he has what seem to be hallucinations, but also due to a couple sloppy edits near the beginning of Moon. At least, they seemed sloppy to me--easily detectable--and they definitely did not seem to be there intentionally, because as the film goes on, the poor edits did not.

One thing that Moon does really well is build up its lead character. While I won't reveal the plot that comes with this characterization, I will say that by the end of the film, Sam Bell will be a different man. He will also be a character that you just might shed a tear for, as there are some truly touching scenes throughout. And if you think you now know how this film ends, wait for just one moment, because you do not.

There aren't really a lot of twists in the plot of Moon, but there don't need to be many in my eyes. The story is kept simple so we can get an emotional attachment with our lead, as well as to allow us to question the ethics of the almost everything that goes on in the film. Is it morally right to have a man live on the Moon, alone, for three months? Would drilling on the Moon solve our potential energy crisis? Other questions would involve spoiling part of the film, but they will go through your mind.

In fact, what Moon does best is leave you thinking. Things that aren't explained will make you wonder, while explanations given will not necessarily satisfy your curiosity. You will ponder many situations in the film, and even think about how you would react in them. Sam Rockwell manages to, at points, become an empty vessel for you to embody with your own thoughts, yet still makes you care for his character, due to the bond you feel with him.

Apart from the editing issues, which I'm guessing were due to the film's smaller budget, there aren't many problems with Moon. Some of the scenes do look like they are fake, or more old than they should be. It's still a surprise to find out that the film only took $5 million to create, and that is impressive. Even though there are problems created by the low-budget, it usually does overcome them in the way that it keeps you focused on its characters, rather than its scenery. Even though the majority of the film takes place on the Moon, you won't focus on it. Impressive!

Despite being hampered by its low-budget, Moon stays incredibly compelling and entertaining to watch. The scenery doesn't look as great as it likely could, but that fails to matter much when you are so intrigued by the main character you are presented with. Sam Bell develops throughout and is acted out wonderfully by Sam Rockwell. You will grow to care about this character, through good times and bad. Moon is a great science fiction film, one that will keep you fixated on the screen.
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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Furburt on Fri Feb 04, 2011 1:49 pm

Marter wrote:
In fact, everything that wasn't focused on propelling and furthering along the main story can actually be ignored, because it holds no bearing on the finale. One could argue that these side points help develop the characters, but I didn't see that. The characters do get significant development, I saw that, but it wasn't at these moments.

Yeah, but you've got to remember, those moments were based on real events. The subplot of Edward abdicating was one of the most significant royal crises for centuries. I thought they were great actually, I've always appreciated little side details that don't do anything but add a bit of colour to the world depicted in the film. I think that when you're doing a drama, it's important to have more than one thing for the audience to focus on.

I thought it was a great little movie though. Very well paced, and sort of an unlikely feelgood film as well.

Anyway, I'm off to see Barney's Version.

EDIT: Hub really likes the phrase FUCKBALLSSHIT doesn't he?


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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Movie Martyr on Sat Feb 05, 2011 7:08 am

Zombieland
Zombieland marks the second movie I've seen where a second viewing drastically changed my opinion on it. Wanted was the first example of this--a movie that I initially disliked a lot, but ended up ultimately enjoying it after watching it another time. I have no theories as to why this happens, (well, I do, but I won't bore you with them), but I do know that I did enjoy Zombieland after giving it two chances.

I only actually decided to watch it again because I hadn't seen it for over a year, and I only had about 90 minutes of free time. That time ended up going to good use, and also passing by seemingly instantaneously. I didn't think that I was anywhere close to the finale of the film, but it turned out that I was. My free time was all but gone, yet I was still happy to have used it on watching this film. I was never bored, and ended up ecstatic that I decided to give Zombieland a second chance.

Set in the "United States of Zombieland", the film opens up with, and continues to have throughout its duration, narration by Jesse Eisenberg. He is playing a nerdy character, (what else is new?), who has rules that he created in order to survive the zombie apocalypse. Not having much of a real family or circle of friends helped him out as well. He doesn't trust anyone, so he claims, and therefore won't be taken advantage of or be put in situations where he is vulnerable to a zombie attack. He is travelling east to Columbus Ohio, where his family was located before the apocalypse.

They way that most of the characters are named is based on where they are headed or from. Eisenberg's character is called "Columbus" as a result. After crashing his car while escaping from zombies, he runs into his parallel, a man who only gets referred to as Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson). Tallahassee is headed east as well, and agrees to let Columbus tag along until they need to split ways due to travelling to different places. Columbus wants to go to Ohio, Tallahassee wants to find the last remaining Twinkies on Earth. Different motivations, each one drives their character forward.

Along the way, they meet two other survivors, sister, named Wichita and Little Rock (Emma Stone and Abigail Breslin respectively). There are issues between the two groups throughout the course of the film; some are resolved while others do not. Zombieland takes a turn about mid-way, becoming more of a road movie than anything else. At least, it does until the group reaches Hollywood, where a cameo takes place that, if you haven't already heard who shows up, will surprise you.

This cameo is the one part of my opinion that didn't change about the film. My thoughts initially regarding it were as follows: "Wow, that was pretty stupid. It wasn't funny, and it was an unnecessary interlude that broke up the good pacing of the rest of the film." That is still my opinion, and I'm sticking to it. The cameo itself isn't funny, the person doing the cameo has no real impact on the story, and it felt like it was thrown in just because they could, which is very rarely a good reason to do something.

Although, I would like to point out that the character of Tallahassee does some things for no reason, and they end up being both funny and beneficial to the characters. His character is the most enjoyable to watch, with Woody Harrelson playing him for laughs. He seems to have an incredibly fun time with the role, and when he's enjoying himself, so are we. This is when Zombieland works the best, and luckily for it, this happens for a large potion of the film's (too short) runtime.

The pacing of Zombieland is something that is to be admired, as I was never bored. Even during the cameo scenes, which I felt were the worst part of the film, I was still entertained. Maybe in a different way, as I wasn't chuckling throughout it, but I still was having fun. That's what Zombieland is, a fun film. You will likely have fun while watching it, both because its characters enjoy themselves, but also because the main villains are zombies, creatures that don't pose much of a threat.

I'm not actually sure if this is a problem or the reason that the film ends up working. See, there is only one part when there is actually tension, and that occurs in the last twenty minutes. The rest of the movie consists of humor and zombie destruction. There are dozens of zombies slaughtered throughout the film, with only one or two even coming close to biting our lead characters. I realize that a lot of the film wasn't played straight, but I struggle to figure out if this was for the best. Maybe if more parts did incorporate horror and anxiety, then we could take the zombies as a greater threat. By were we really supposed to take them seriously? I'm not really sure.

Before today, I never would have given Zombieland a recommendation; I would have said to stay away from it, despite the critical praise it did receive. Now, I have a different take on it. I enjoyed myself while watching it. It's not a deep film, but it's entertaining and funny, while having some fun zombie deaths scattered throughout. The cameo that was highly talked about didn't impress me all that much though, so don't go in expecting it to be hilarious--I didn't find it funny at all. Still, Zombieland was an enjoyable film that kept me thoroughly involved for 90 minutes, so I am quite thankful for that.
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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Movie Martyr on Sun Feb 06, 2011 6:21 am

The Invention of Lying
Taking place in an alternate reality, The Invention of Lying centers on one man, named Matt Bellison (Ricky Gervais). Down on his luck, fired from his job and unable to pay his rent, Matt goes to the bank in order to empty his bank account. The bank servers are down though, so the teller just asks him how much is in his account. He tells her $800. The server comes online at this point, and states there's only $300 in the account. The teller notes that this must be a banking error, and gives Matt his money. This is the first lie told on Earth.

Apparently nobody in this story has the capacity or ability to tell or spot a lie. That is, until that one lie that Matt tells. He then gains the ability to lie to anyone, whenever he wants. And since the people being lied to are unable to detect it, everyone believes him, even, at one point, stating that his word comes directly from a higher power.

He uses this to his advantage, shaping the world around him with his deceit. Initially, he helps people out, improving the lives of everyone he encounters. This is done through a montage of sorts, with accompanying music playing over whatever he says to everyone, meaning we don't get to hear all of the fun little lies that he comes up with. Why this is done, I am not sure.

Anyway, eventually he realizes that instead of improving other people's lives, he can begin to fix his own. This starts off innocently enough, with him just trying to get his job back and begin acquiring money again. As with many lies though, things escalate to something beyond his control, and he needs to continue lying in order to cover his own trail.

Oh yeah, and there's also this girl that he wants to marry. Her name is Anna, and she is played by Jennifer Garner, who shows us that she doesn't know how to time lines properly, even in a comedy where awkward timing could help make it more humorous. Surprisingly, Matt doesn't use his powers of persuasion as much on her as one might initially think he would, as that would apparently go against his morals. Lying to everyone else at every opportune moment however, isn't. He's a strange character.

Unfortunately, he isn't a character that we want to root for, or feel any affection towards. There are two moments in the film where I took a step back (metaphorically) and asked the TV (literally) if I was supposed to feel sorry for him. I honestly couldn't tell if I was supposed to feel emotional, because I didn't, even if Ricky Gervais' fake tears were oh so convincing. (That last line was sarcasm, Gervais didn't look the least bit upset).

This poses a secondary problem for the film to overcome. The Invention of Lying tries to mix in somewhat heavy drama/romance into its plot, instead of focusing solely on how Matt is going to abuse his powers of deception. Matt spends a great deal of time trying to woo his lady friend, with her rejections being as bluntly put as everything else said by each character in the film not played by Ricky Gervais.

And yes, I'll admit that there are many, many parts of the film that are funny. There are some moments where you'll chuckle, but also some parts where you will actually laugh out loud. I was surprised at how humorous the film was overall, even if it had it's boring moments, most of them occurring when too much emphasis is placed on the romantic aspect of the film.

Here's something that did bug me though. None of the characters except for Matt are able to lie. The film makes this very, very clear. There is one scene where Garner's character is talking to Matt on the phone. He asks her something that is uncomfortable, and she responds with "I gotta go". She doesn't; she's sitting on her bed reading a magazine. This should constitute a lie, shouldn't it? But no, apparently that's okay, just because the filmmakers decided so.

The acting isn't something to praise, but it's primarily a comedy, so great, deep acting performances aren't to be expected. Gervais can't show much emotion and Garner doesn't time her lines well. The supporting cast was fine, and with comedians such as Louis C. K, Tina Fey and Jonah Hill at your disposal, there are plenty of opportunities to make a humorous film.

In the end, I enjoyed The Invention of Lying, but not as much as I hoped I would. Yes, there were plenty of funny parts, but the forced romance between Matt and Anna slowed the film down, and was also boring. These parts lacked emotion and humor, dragging the rest of the picture down. The rest of the film was funny though, and I found myself laughing or chuckling more often than not. Not excellent, but likely worth a watch, especially if you are a fan of Gervais.
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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by PayJ on Sun Feb 06, 2011 10:40 am

Good reviews man. I slowly read my way through them.

Also I see what you mean about public enemies I can barely remember anything about it.

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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Movie Martyr on Sun Feb 06, 2011 5:37 pm

PayJ567 wrote:Good reviews man. I slowly read my way through them.
Thank you. Smile

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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by PayJ on Sun Feb 06, 2011 5:57 pm

Marter wrote:
PayJ567 wrote:Good reviews man. I slowly read my way through them.
Thank you. Smile
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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Movie Martyr on Sun Feb 06, 2011 11:56 pm

Appaloosa
Randall Bragg (Jeremy Irons) has been terrorizing the small town of Appaloosa for a long time. Well, that's what has apparently been happening, we don't actually see much of that, except that people seem to be genuinely terrified of him. At the film's beginning, we find out that he is accused of killing a man named Jack Bell, the marshal of the same small town.

The aldermen of the town decide to hire two lawman in order to stop Bragg from haunting Appaloosa. These men are named Virgil Cole and Everett Hitch, and they are played by Ed Harris and Viggo Mortensen respectively. Harris was also the film's director. They're calm and cool characters, and also ones that we will get to meet and learn a lot about of the rest of the film.

The keywords in the last two paragraphs were "Jeremy Irons", "Ed Harris" and "Viggo Mortensen". Basically, Ed Harris got together a few really good actors and decided to shoot a Western. While Irons doesn't get all that much screen time as "the villain", Mortensen and Harris get a lot of focus, with Harris getting the most out of it.

The two become the new marshal and deputy of the town, and immediately get to work, shooting three people within the first 5 minutes they are on the job. They scare Bragg, a little bit, but he claims that the duo will not last long as the voice of authority in Appaloosa. He's wrong, because they last a long time, possibly too long.

In fact, if there is one major problem that Appaloosa has, it's its runtime. It's not the longest film out there, not even totaling 2 hours, but it certainly felt longer than that--only in parts though. Most of the film is entertaining, kept me engaged and had purpose. There were just a few times when I found myself nodding off. It's odd that there is such a drastic shift in how I felt, but that is what happened.

I'm thinking that this occurred because I'm not a large fan of Westerns to begin with, but to be honest, I haven't given them much of a chance. I don't think that matters all that much, because watching genres I wasn't all that familiar with has presented me with some of my favorite films. And yet, I can't say that I enjoy Westerns all that much, and when there are parts within them where the story fails to captivate, it really falls hard with me.

The points in the story where Virgil Cole attempts to gain the affection of one Allie French (Renée Zellweger) were typically the parts where I stopped caring. At these points, I almost fell asleep from how bored I was. I think that one of the reasons for this was how quickly their romance develops, and how it never felt like the couple cared much for one another. Now, I know that this does become one of the subplots later on in the film, and that some focus is placed on how faithful each character is to the other, but the relationship seemed forced to me.

Another area of focus that felt weird to me was the way that Harris' character got the majority of the screen time throughout the film. In the novel, Everett is the lead. Here, despite the fact that the ending might speak otherwise, Virgil is the character that appears the most, and even when both characters are on-screen together, Virgil always appears in front of Everett, playing the leader of the pair, always seemingly more important. While this is a deviation from the novel, it plays a more important role in the film.

Near the finale of Appaloosa, the perspective suddenly shifts to Everett's point of view. This is done without much warning or reason, but makes us think that he should have had more attention throughout the last hour and a half. Since he didn't get that focus, this shift is jarring and feels odd--distracting even. It also made the ending feel like it didn't fit in with the rest of the film, even if it was a good way to wrap-up the story. Like I said, "odd".

The main story, for what it's worth, is entertaining enough to be watchable. I was fixated on the screen during the exchanges between Bragg and the lawmen, and even the exchanges between the two lawmen themselves. The sense of comradery and chemistry between the pair is wonderful, and the duo have some genuinely funny lines of dialogue that they use at the expense of the other. These parts are fun and intriguing, and actually really enjoyable. They just needed more time, with less focus on the romantic subplot.

Appaloosa had its problems, but it also had moments of real brilliance. The main story was entertaining enough, and if the majority, (or all of it, I wouldn't complain), of the romantic subplot was removed, I wouldn't have felt bored at all. As it is, I was bored, but only during small parts. The ending took a very different perspective that was jarring, and took something away from the rest of the film. I liked Appaloosa, not a lot, but enough to give it a recommendation, especially for fans of Western films.
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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Movie Martyr on Mon Feb 07, 2011 7:00 am

No Stings Attached
No Strings Attached works precisely for one reason, its script. Paramount Pictures, the studio backing the film, allowed the script to be R rated, meaning that "grown up" words, the ones that are four letters and need to be bleeped out from standard radio and television could be inlcluded. For a film that is about casual sex--one that tries to portray its characters as realistic--these words need to be included in the characters' dialogue. So, yes, thank you Paramount for allowing the script to be R rated.

The plot centers on two characters who have been friends for many years, seeing each other only once in a while over that timeframe. We see each encounter through flashbacks right at the beginning of the film. Eventually, we move to the present, where Emma (Natalie Portman) has moved into the same city as Adam (Ashton Kutcher). They meet up, and decide that they should hang out some time.

Adam ended a relationship with his girlfriend months ago, and one day finds out that his father is now dating the same girl. After some razzing by his friends, he decides to drunkenly call every girl's number that is in his cell phone, in hopes that one of them will have sex with him.

He eventually passes out, waking up naked in the company of four people, one of which happens to be Emma. They end up having sex, and decide to be "sex buddies". They won't be in a formal relationship, but they will call one another up if they are "in the mood", so to speak. If either character starts to actually feel attraction for the other, they would call this agreement off, and move on with their lives. No feelings would be involved in their interactions with one another, and therefore there would be none hurt of things went sour.

"Where's the conflict?" is a question that you might be thinking to yourself right now. Well, that comes from one of the characters, (no, I won't tell you which), developing feelings for the other. The rest of the film focuses on the characters' relationship following this revelation.

If you are now thinking to yourself that you know almost exactly how the movie ends, well then you aren't alone. Just by the trailer for No Strings Attached, it's not difficult to figure out the film's conclusion. It won't throw many curveballs your way throughout, and is overall fairly predictable, with only a couple twists that are really any bit surprising. And even those are only surprising because of their timing, not because of what the twist actually was.

See, near the end--or at least, what I thought was going to be the end--the film makes a habit of not wanting to finish. There were several points when it could have ended, and it would have felt like a perfect way to conclude. Then it continues, throwing in another twist just as an excuse to keep playing.

I'm not telling you this as a complaint either, so please don't take it that way. I didn't want the film to end. I liked the characters, and I wanted to continue to see what would happen to them. In fact, when No Strings Attached finally did wrap-up, I think they chose the wrong point to end it. It ends on a little bit of a cliffhanger, where as if it finished earlier, that wouldn't have happened.

As a matter of fact, the ending was actually the worst part of the film, just because it didn't really give a solid conclusion to the story. And no, I'm not hoping for a sequel, even though one is definitely possible. Does that information make you second-guess how you think the film will end? It probably shouldn't.

Anyway, thanks to the R-rated script, the characters actually felt believable and realistic. They still suffer from some of the flaws that come from being in a romantic comedy, mainly their awkward interactions with almost everyone and their somewhat idealistic nature, but that comes with the territory. They are both likable characters, who are actually fair well acted for this kind of thing.

Natalie Portman especially gives a very solid performance, actually being the more energetic person in the duo. Ashton Kutcher is someone I've been told isn't a very good actor, and while I didn't feel he was great, sometimes not really seeming 100% on-board with what he was supposed to be doing, he was competent as the more reserved Adam. The pair had an easy-going chemistry, and because of the script, felt real enough to believe in.

Thanks to the characters being believable and likable, when the film tries to make you emotional, it succeeds. You want to see both characters happy, and when they aren't, you feel sad yourself. When things go right, you almost want to cheer, although it doesn't work quite that well. You'll feel emotion, but not enough to actually bring it out of you. This isn't a tear-jerker or a feel-good film, despite having moments that come close to these levels.

No, what No Strings Attached tries to do most is to make you laugh. And it will do so, as it is a very funny film. The aforementioned awkward moments and timing are quite charming, the dialogue will make you laugh, and even some of the situations, (sadly many of them ruined in the trailer), will make you chuckle. It isn't really a laugh-out-loud film, but one that will make you laugh quietly to yourself, every now and then bringing out a full-blown laugh.

The main problem I did have with the film was how single-minded it was. It does, quite literally, focus on its two leads, perhaps too much, actually. There are some sub-plots that begin, but don't receive any attention after the fact. Take, for example, one of Emma's co-workers, who attempts to make Adam jealous at one point in the film. This happens, and then is left, only to be re-hashed once later on. It makes me wonder what the point was in the first place, as it had no barring on anything that happened within the rest of the film.

I liked No Strings Attached, probably more than I rightfully should have. Regardless, I did enjoy it--having a good time while watching it. The characters were likable, the plot, while predictable, was fun to watch, and the film was on the whole pretty funny. It doesn't do anything new to the romantic comedy genre, but it's an entertaining film that will give you a good time at the theatre, and that's really all you can ask for.


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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Hubilub on Mon Feb 07, 2011 8:53 pm

NOW WATCH A SERBIAN FILM

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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Terria on Mon Feb 07, 2011 9:17 pm

*On The Invention Of Lying*

I hate, hate, hate this movie. It relies on variations of two jokes throughout the whole movie and the anti-religious message hits you so hard in the face it could offend the most stubborn of atheists. I could write a fucking essay on why it's so bad.

Other than that, good reviews.

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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Furburt on Mon Feb 07, 2011 9:21 pm

I sat through Ricky Gervais' two American films almost crying at how utterly mediocre they were.

Thankfully, he redeemed himself in my eyes, so that's all okay.

As long as he never, ever does it again.

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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Terria on Mon Feb 07, 2011 9:28 pm

I saw half of Cemetery Junction. It was ok. But Ghost Town was almost as bad as The Invention of Lying. Gervais should just stick to TV, stand up and insulting Charlie Sheen.

Heh, Americans. They don't know what offensive is.

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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Furburt on Mon Feb 07, 2011 9:29 pm

I wonder how Frankie Boyle or Brendon Burns gets on in America.

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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Terria on Mon Feb 07, 2011 9:32 pm

Jeez, if they heard any of Frankie's material there'd be riots.

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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by GrinningManiac on Tue Feb 08, 2011 8:51 pm

Freebird wrote:*On The Invention Of Lying*

I hate, hate, hate this movie. It relies on variations of two jokes throughout the whole movie and the anti-religious message hits you so hard in the face it could offend the most stubborn of atheists. I could write a fucking essay on why it's so bad.

Other than that, good reviews.

Please do

OT: I love how you say in the King's Speech you'll leave the reason for the Duke's brother abdicating as a suprise. I went into that film only knowing that event was going to happen and basically nothing else prior to him actually making the speech.

It was a really good film.

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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Terria on Tue Feb 08, 2011 8:57 pm

GrinningManiac wrote:
Freebird wrote:*On The Invention Of Lying*

I hate, hate, hate this movie. It relies on variations of two jokes throughout the whole movie and the anti-religious message hits you so hard in the face it could offend the most stubborn of atheists. I could write a fucking essay on why it's so bad.

Other than that, good reviews.

Please do.
I would have to rewatch it.

Not fucking happening.

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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by GrinningManiac on Tue Feb 08, 2011 9:18 pm

Freebird wrote:
GrinningManiac wrote:
Freebird wrote:*On The Invention Of Lying*

I hate, hate, hate this movie. It relies on variations of two jokes throughout the whole movie and the anti-religious message hits you so hard in the face it could offend the most stubborn of atheists. I could write a fucking essay on why it's so bad.

Other than that, good reviews.

Please do.
I would have to rewatch it.

Not fucking happening.

I'd be happy with a rough paragraph from memory.

DOO EET

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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Movie Martyr on Wed Feb 09, 2011 5:07 am

American Beauty
If a film begins with "American", does that automatically make it have to be a satire of something American? I don't really think this to be the case, but out of the two films to begin with "American", both have ended up this way. One of them wasn't any good, because its story made me not care that it was a satire of anything at all. The latter one was very good, excellent even, as it kept me engaged and intrigued throughout, without losing its purpose.

The latter film is titled American Beauty, and satires the American middle class system, as well as the way that both beauty and materialism is perceived through the eyes of people within this class. This is actually fairly easy to see, and yet, the film tries to hide this in a clever manner by making its characters believable enough that you want their lives and stories to be completely true.

There are many characters within the film, all of which have difficult relationships with at least two of the other characters. These problems drive the characters, and the film, forward, and make us feel emotionally connected to each one. That's not to say all of the characters are ones you want to root for either, in fact, far from it. There are some characters, arguably the entire cast, as a matter of fact, that you will absolutely hate. That's okay, as it was intended, and it also speaks to how well director Sam Mendes did in creating this film.

There are two main families that the film decides to focus on. The first consists of three characters, all with an incredible depth that only adds to how we will feel about them. The father, arguably the head of the household and our protagonist, is named Lester Burnham, and is played by Kevin Spacey. He isn't enjoying growing older; he hates his job and possibly even hates the other two members of his family.

These other people are his wife and daughter, Caroyln (Annette Bening) and Jane (Thora Birch). Caroyln is an up-tight real-estate agent, unhappy with her husband and her daughter. Jane is an unhappy 16-year-old who seemingly hates everyone, starting with herself. I'd sarcastically say that they are a happy family, although that would just be cruel. These aren't really the people you'll want to hate--well, not unless you look into their actions more deeply, something I would encourage after viewing the film once at face-value.

I mentioned a second family earlier, and since they appear second in the film, I figured mentioning them second in the review would be fair. They also get less focus than the Burnhams, so I suppose that's another reason for describing them second. Their house leader is Frank Fitts (Chris Cooper), a retired United States Marine Corporal. As such, he has character quirks that show through almost immediately after we meet him. It also means that he is very hard on his only son.

That son is named Ricky, and he is played by Wes Bentley. Ricky is a pot-smoking loner who, with his family of course, just moved into the home beside the Burnhams. He doesn't have friends, so he starts filming Jane for fun. Ricky's mother Barbara (Allison Janney), actually has a great contrast to the loud outspoken character of Frank, as she hardly says a word, and is barely seen. She's a character that sits in the background for almost all of the film, being the complete opposite of her husband.

The plot is one that I cannot describe to you, not even the basis of it, because it doesn't follow any real pattern. Like I said near the beginning of this review, the plot is driven by its characters and their relationships with one another, not by circumstances placed upon them from the outside world. These characters are almost excluded and shut-off from everyone else, meaning that everything they do is because of something else that either they, or another character, did.

This means that even though there are a lot of characters, we get a lot of them. We also grow to understand them and begin to judge their actions quickly. Not just in a moral way either; we begin to wonder how their actions at a certain point in time will impact them, or others, down the road, later on in the film. It gives us a deep emotional connection with most of our lead cast, a connection which only gets stronger as the film progresses.

The characters also develop throughout American Beauty. This isn't a film where people stay fairly rigid in character. Instead, these characters change, for better or worse, with almost every scene. Whether they begin to accept themselves for who they truly are, see the world in a different light, or just stop caring about everything entirely, they will change, and you will either approve or disapprove of every single change that happens throughout.

If there is a problem with American Beauty, it's in its actors. Now, none of them give a poor performance, far from it, but in some of the scenes where you were supposed to feel a strong emotion about what's going on, the actors didn't always seem to be into it. If I were to single a couple of actors out for being guilty of not showing enough emotion, they would be Brentley and Birch, who, interestingly enough, spend most of their time on-screen together.

I enjoyed American Beauty. Not just because it gave us interesting and deep characters who we become emotionally invested in, but also because its satire wasn't bogged down by a boring story. We keep watching films to gain entertainment, first and foremost, (usually anyway, I know I'm generalizing), and American Beauty entertains, while also bringing up different ways to live your life. It's a film that could be analyzed for hours, and one that you should definitely see if you haven't already.
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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Hubilub on Wed Feb 09, 2011 6:50 pm

That's not Srpski Film. You must review Srpski film.

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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Furburt on Wed Feb 09, 2011 6:51 pm

Hubilub wrote:That's not Srpski Film. You must review Srpski film.

But dammit Hub, compared to us, Marter is so pure!

We need him! Pure blood's hard to come by.

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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Movie Martyr on Thu Feb 10, 2011 5:50 am

Hubilub wrote:That's not Srpski Film. You must review Srpski film.
I'll watch it after I finish my Valentine's Week series!
Furburt wrote:But dammit Hub, compared to us, Marter is so pure!

We need him! Pure blood's hard to come by.
I've seen part of it before, actually. But I had to leave, and I never got around to watching any more of it.

But yes...pure blood, I like this. =D

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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Movie Martyr on Thu Feb 10, 2011 5:52 am

Revolutionary Road
After getting off to a good start, I ended up yawning during the middle of Revolutionary Road. This was literally the case, I yawned, and I felt tired. There was no conflict driving the story--even the conflict from earlier seemed to have disappeared--and I felt myself not caring about the near-perfect lives of April and Frank Wheeler.

And then, conflict happened, and the lives and relationships of the characters within the film began to deteriorate. April (Kate Winslet) becomes pregnant, while Frank (Leonardo DiCaprio) is offered a high paying job. Yes, both of these things end up causing issues between the couple. The reason for this is because of a decision they came to earlier on in the film. They want to move to Paris, they decide to, and then these two complications arise.

Backtracking a bit, and we notice that the couple already had problems. April tries to be an actress near the film's beginning, but after a failed play, she and Frank fight while driving home. He almost hits her, but manages to divert his anger to the top of his car instead. After that, they don't fight for quite a long time, which means that we get about 40 minutes of happy people in a suburban lifestyle in the 1950's. Then the tone shifts to one of darkness and sadness, at least, for the characters.

Unfortunately, that feeling doesn't project itself onto the audience. The characters are three-dimensional yes, and we get enough development that should make us care, but unfortunately, the characters themselves aren't in the least bit likable. Their actions are not redeeming in the slightest, their personalities make you want to stuff a rag in their mouths, and despite their lives being nearly perfect, they constantly complain about them.

This is problematic, because the characters are played very well. Winslet and DiCaprio have an easy-going chemistry, likely stemming from the film they previously worked on together, Titanic. Their performances have a lot of depth, and end up being the only thing that will keep you wanting to watch the film. DiCaprio especially is the person that drives the film forward, because the plot doesn't.

This rings especially true when the film concludes, which I can only guess is supposed to make you feel sad. But it can't. It holds no power over the audience's emotions, due to the disdain you feel for the characters. It's like watching someone sit there for an hour complaining about being bored, and then doing something incredibly stupid. You aren't going to care that they ended up hurt, because they've driven you to the point where you wanted them to do damage to themselves. That's how I felt about Revolutionary Road, particularly its conclusion.

I suppose the best thing I can say about Revolutionary Road is that it sticks to its time period perfectly. It definitely feels like it was set in the 1950's, from the decor to the outside world, to little details like how almost all of the characters smoke at every chance they get. Doctors clearly haven't told people that smoking and drinking is bad for you, I guess they haven't figured that out yet, as April even decides to indulge while pregnant.

However, the dialogue in the film doesn't quite fit with how I imagine people talked back then, or even how they talk now. Some scenes, particularly the ones that have people fighting, were written fine. It's scenes where things are quiet, (too quiet), or when people are talking pleasantly that things seem out of whack. Normal people just don't communicate with each other the way that they did during the film. It isn't even really communication, more than disconnected thoughts following up one another, occasionally having some semblance of relating to each other.

I didn't like Revolutionary Road. Dramas need either interesting or likable characters, this film had neither. The performances were good, I won't deny that, but there wasn't much point to having deep characters that we have difficulty caring about. When something that attempts to stir emotions happens, and the only thing I can think of is, "the carpet is ruined", then you know the film didn't do its job. Boring and emotionless, Revolutionary Road didn't make me care, not one bit.
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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Movie Martyr on Fri Feb 11, 2011 5:47 am

Brokeback Mountain
When the 2005 Academy Awards were taking place, Brokeback Mountain seemed to be a lock for Best Picture. Then, when the award was announced, and Crash won, there was an audible gasp uttered throughout the crowd. People were shocked, and began throwing around accusations of homophobia within the film industry. Ultimately, I don't care who won, although I will say that I don't think Brokeback Mountain feels like Best Picture material.

There was something not quite right about it that made me feel this way, and I think I've managed to figure it out. The relationship between the two main characters seems to happen too quickly for my taste. I realize that they bonded over a couple of months, but the way it was filmed, it didn't feel that way. Time jumps without telling you, meaning it's hard to place yourself within the story. Time advances fairly often, and at a quick pace, meaning that if you leave for just a minute, you may just miss a few years.

The main story is one of forbidden love, a love that begins to fester as two men herd sheep up in the mountains. They are hired to do this job, and it takes place over a couple of months. The pair starts off not willing to share much with one another--each one seems to have had a troubled past--and they mostly keep to themselves. Ennis (Heath Ledger) soon opens up about his childhood, "More words than you've spoke in the past two weeks", Jack (Jake Gyllenhaal) tells him. This is the first time we see them becoming attracted to one another.

Eventually, the summer ends and each man goes down a separate path. They each get married (to women) and have children with them. Neither one seems all that happy with their situation though. Fast-forward 4 years in time, when Jack sends a postcard to Ellis, in hopes to rekindle the relationship they used to have. There's just one problem with this: They live in the 1960's. In America.

Why is this a problem? Well, in that time, (and arguably now), gay marriage was something that was looked down upon. It was frowned upon enough that people in smaller towns would be taken away from their homes and beaten to death by their neighbors. How do I know this? Well, Ellis describes it to us; his father made him watch this happen when he was nine years old. This is why Ellis won't move in with Jack, and also why this is a story of "forbidden love". This isn't due to class differences or family issues, no Brokeback Mountain turns on society and the hardships it places upon gay couples.

I never thought I'd say that Jake Gyllenhaal's acting impressed me, and to be honest, it still didn't really. He was better in Brokeback Mountain than anything else I've seen him in, but it still wasn't an incredibly impressive performance. I was more in awe of Heath Ledger and his less boasting performance. Gyllenhaal gets the louder character, while Ledger's is more reserved, and is also more interesting to watch. We get to know what Jack is thinking at all hours of the day, while Ellis has to be prodded in order to open up.

The contrast in the characters is one of the more interesting parts of the film, but so was the contrast between Hollywood's typical depiction of homosexual characters, and how they are shown here. Both Jack and Ellis are tough guys, macho men in their own right, and they fight, drink and smoke at almost every possible opportunity. This is intriguing to me, because it subverts the usual portrayal of gays on-screen, and I believe that's something to be admired.

And yet, Brokeback Mountain wasn't as amazing as I had been led to believe, which brings me back to my thoughts on it being "snubbed" at the Academy Awards. It still doesn't feel like a Best Picture winner to me, and, aside from the issues I've mentioned previously, I think there is one more reason why. This reason is in some of the scenes throughout, where there is almost no real drama or tension.

Some scenes are brilliant, don't get me wrong, but there are times where it gets really boring due to a lack of conflict. This is especially true in the first 40 or so minutes, where there isn't any tension. It doesn't start off all that well, failing to draw me in, and there are some characters, like the one played by Anne Hathaway, who failed to warrant any emotional response from me.

Brokeback Mountain was a very good film, I'm not going to deny that. The characters were deep and interesting, the story told is simple, yet intriguing enough to keep your attention, and the forbidden romance aspect--this time involving a gay couple--is something worth watching. Director Ang Lee portrays the two leads as tough men, changing up the typical Hollywood portrayal of homosexual males. I liked Brokeback Mountain, not enough to call it the best film of 2005, but enough to say it deserves a watch.
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Re: Marter's Reviews

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