Marter's Reviews

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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by PayJ on Tue Dec 06, 2011 12:42 am

Mr. T.J. Wiggles wrote:
PayJ567 wrote:
Mr. T.J. Wiggles wrote:I think we should send in 北京特警总队. They use crossbows. It only makes logical sense to get 'medieval on their asses'.

Also segways. Also Super Talons.
Fuck that good ole SBS will deal with them. I know I've trained with them. They can make a man complete impossible tasks.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special_Boat_Service

Or the SAS?
SBS. They are pirates. Why would you send in the Special Air Service. To deal with boats. Fuck wiggles lay off the weed man.

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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Mr. Wiggles on Tue Dec 06, 2011 12:46 am

PayJ567 wrote:
Mr. T.J. Wiggles wrote:
PayJ567 wrote:
Mr. T.J. Wiggles wrote:I think we should send in 北京特警总队. They use crossbows. It only makes logical sense to get 'medieval on their asses'.

Also segways. Also Super Talons.
Fuck that good ole SBS will deal with them. I know I've trained with them. They can make a man complete impossible tasks.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special_Boat_Service

Or the SAS?
SBS. They are pirates. Why would you send in the Special Air Service. To deal with boats. Fuck wiggles lay off the weed man.

Don't remind me man. It's hard as it is.

I don't know alright. I thought maybe you would be talking about an organisation I had actually heard of rather than a bunch of rejected marines.

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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by PayJ on Tue Dec 06, 2011 12:47 am

Mr. T.J. Wiggles wrote:
PayJ567 wrote:
Mr. T.J. Wiggles wrote:
PayJ567 wrote:
Mr. T.J. Wiggles wrote:I think we should send in 北京特警总队. They use crossbows. It only makes logical sense to get 'medieval on their asses'.

Also segways. Also Super Talons.
Fuck that good ole SBS will deal with them. I know I've trained with them. They can make a man complete impossible tasks.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special_Boat_Service

Or the SAS?
SBS. They are pirates. Why would you send in the Special Air Service. To deal with boats. Fuck wiggles lay off the weed man.

Don't remind me man. It's hard as it is.

I don't know alright. I thought maybe you would be talking about an organisation I had actually heard of rather than a bunch of rejected marines.
DON'T YOU DARE INSULT MY COMRADES LIKE THAT!

We trained for years together. Formed brothers in arms war relationships and shit.

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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by PayJ on Tue Dec 06, 2011 12:48 am

Anyway I should've been in bed 2 hours ago to get my 8 hours.

Laters.

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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Movie Martyr on Tue Dec 06, 2011 1:10 am

Minority Report
Although the title of this film is indeed "Minority Report," such a report doesn't hold much weight while we're watching the screen. A better title would have been "Action Movie Starring Tom Cruise Running Away From Things a Lot," although then people might think it's Mission Impossible instead. I can see why they chose "Minority Report" for the title after thinking about that.

Cruise plays John Anderton, the Chief on a squad of people working in the "pre-crime" division of the police. What is "pre-crime," you ask? Well, there are three people who can see into the future, see people commuting murders, and it's up to the cops of pre-crime to stop the murders from occurring. Premeditated murders appear days in advance, meaning they're easy to stop. Murders of passion, however, are given fifteen, maybe twenty minutes. As a result, there aren't premeditated murders any more, because the criminals have gotten too smart for that.

Our opening action scene involves such a murder that will take place. The vision comes in, John and his fellow cops go to stop it, although they only manage to at the last second. The people involved, both the potential murderer and the potential victims, are never heard from again. I hoped they'd make a later appearance, but this scene was all about showing us this technology, and how it can be used to save lives -- even though the person caught had yet to commit a crime.

This is what these people do day after day, although at night, John is addicted to some sort of drug. See, his child died 6 years ago, and this is how he deals with it, I guess. His wife, Lara (Kathryn Morris) left him too, citing that every time she looked at him, she saw her son. I suppose that's a good enough reason, although it seems to have broken poor John's heart. We see him re-watching video files of her and their son, and it breaks our heart to see him wanting his family to go back to normal so badly. This is a great example of the many "show, don't tell" moments in Minority Report. Because of this, and a couple of other segments, we care about John, and we're not even being told to by him or other characters.

It's unfortunate for him that the next case he gets just might be his last. The vision comes up, and it's him pulling the trigger. He then goes on the run, because the people captured before they commit their crime get "haloed," or as I like to call it, "zombified." They get put in a chamber where they're forced to sleep until their prison sentence -- presumably a lifetime -- is up. We get a shot of these prisoners all emerging from the floor, strapped to their tube, and it's astonishing to see how many have been caught.

There's one problem with the basic premise that I took issue with, although it didn't affect my enjoyment all that much. We're told the premeditated murders have visions days in advance, allowing them to be easily stopped. John's murder is supposed to take place in 36 hours, meaning it is a premeditated one. But John's never even heard of the victim's name, and never made any plan to kill him. It can't possibly be premeditation, and yet, that's how everyone gets such an advance warning.

That one little issue aside, I didn't see many other problems with the plot, even if they're undoubtedly there. We're taken through a story with a lot of twists, particularly near the end, but instead of being confused, we have the same level of understanding as the characters. When a twist does occur, we don't feel cheated by it, and I'll admit that I didn't see at least one of them coming.

If there's one thing that definitely stands out, it's the technology dreamed up for America in 2054. Even in just the first sequence, where John uses gloves and a magical screen to look at the visions, we see that the world has become quite an awesome place in regards to the technology that it offers us. In pretty much every scene, we see a new piece of shiny equipment that we want to play with or see more of.

However, such technology doesn't get in the way of Minority Report having a very human feel. We care about the people in it, and even though it's a sci-fi action movie, we never get away from the characters and what they're feeling while jumping from hovercar to hovercar, or while they're having their eyeballs replaced. Actually, in the latter, I was thinking more about how the people doing the procedure were feeling more than the patient, but the point still stands that I cared.

And even though it's a very human movie, that doesn't make the action less thrilling, or the story more intense. The tension builds and builds as we progress through the story, and this is helped along by a bunch of chase and fight scenes. Near the beginning, when John is first on the run, he's being chased by an agent representing the Department of Justice (Colin Farrell), and it's incredibly exciting. This is a long chase too, and it really shows how difficult it is to get away from the police. You can't just turn a couple of corners and have them forget about you; instead, you need to run full-out for hours, while moving from place to place. You also have to outsmart them.

Minority Report is a really good sci-fi action film with a mind and with a lot of intense moments. The only real problem I had with it was how the main plot is set-up, but that's quickly forgotten about when I realized that I was on the edge of my seat, eagerly anticipating each scene. Pretty much everything works here, and it's an incredibly fun film to watch, thanks to the fantastic technology not getting in the way of its human element.
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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Sassafrassy on Tue Dec 06, 2011 1:57 am

REVOO MORE TOPICALL FILMES.

Good review anyway. Seen this before but I can hardly remember anything about it because I took an arrow to the knee. Maybe I should hunt it down and watch again, except I took an arrow to the knee

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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Movie Martyr on Tue Dec 06, 2011 3:06 am

OH YOU.

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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Movie Martyr on Wed Dec 07, 2011 4:11 pm

The Other Boleyn Girl
There comes a time in every king's life where he wishes to father a male child that will one day take his place. In The Other Boleyn Girl, this is how we open. King Henry (Eric Bana) is the one wishing a son, and his wife, Catherine (Ana Torrent), ends up producing a stillborn baby, and then become infertile, he decides to look elsewhere, despite his marriage still being intact.

The Boleyn family decide to take advantage of this, and ask the King to stay with them. Their plan is to set their daughter Anne (Natalie Portman) up with him, by having her attempt to make him infatuated. However, it's the Boleyn’s other daughter, Mary (Scarlett Johansson) who ends up catching his eye, even though she has been recently married. But that doesn't stop the King, who decides to ignore this marriage and make Mary his mistress, one who will father him a proper heir.

And so begins our tale of betrayal, love, heartbreak, and a lot of other melodramatic stuff that ends up becoming insufferable after the two hours we spend with these characters. By the time The Other Boleyn Girl was just about over, I was hoping with all my might that it would just cut to the credits, and that I could research what became of this (somewhat) true story. But alas, we had to see it through to the very end, and even after our story had concluded, we got a bunch of text telling us what becomes of all of the characters involved.

I think the main reason that this film doesn't end up working is due to how terrible each one of the characters are. Granted, they're not all underdeveloped, but a lot of them are one-note, and that note isn't very pretty sounding. Henry is an adulterer, who will stop at nothing to birth a son (and even when he gets one, it's not good enough for some reason). Mary just kind of sits in bed for most of the movie whining, while Anne is a jealous witch, (literally, according to some of the characters in the film), who starts out somewhat sympathetic, but matures into a manipulative and malevolent person.

This is also a film that seems to drag on forever. After it was over, I would have sworn it was at least two and a half hours long. But in reality, it didn't even reach the two hour mark. It just felt like it was extraordinarily long. I wasn't bored, exactly, but I found my eyes starting to close, my mind starting to wander, and my heart still failing to care about anyone involved.

I did like the scenery and the costuming, which made me feel like I was back in the 16th century. This is a period piece, back when Kings and Queens ruled the land (although women really didn't have much right to do anything). There's actually quite a lot of dialogue in The Other Boleyn Girl related to female empowerment, although not much is actually done with the subject, and the one woman to act out against men ends up getting her head chopped off. (Or so it is implied, because this is a PG-13 movie, and they didn't show anything.)

The story seems weird, in that it crosses into becoming a life film far more frequently than it should. Our lead character should be the King, but instead, we spend our time split mostly between Anne and Mary. While one is attempting to get along with the king, the other is noticeably absent. And when they both require focus, they're playing diametric opposites, with one hating the other for her actions. The plot gets lost in the characters and their situations, which is unfortunate, because if it had focused on the King and his "plight," it might have been more interesting.

The ending also seemed odd, although that's how it apparently played out in real life too. I just felt like it came from out of nowhere, and expected us to care, but by this point, I had switched off emotions and watched just to see it through. I should have turned it off and read about the Boleyn family online, because it would have been quicker, and since I wouldn't have known how horrible they all were, I might have cared when I came to the end of their tale.

In terms of performances, the actors all pull their weight. The three primary characters were all played by foreign actors (Portman and Johansson are American, while Bana is Australian) but their accents were good enough to convince me. They also did a good job of embodying their characters, even if I didn't like the people they transformed into. Call it a wasted effort this time around for these actors.

If this is what really happened, and not just a loose adaptation, then I have to question whether or not these people are time travelers with how well their lives managed to replicate a modern-day soap opera. The melodrama, betrayal, rivalry -- it's all there. Actually, now that I think about it, if one of them could time travel, wouldn't this end up being a better film? Oh well. In the end, we don't get to see that aspect, and must assume that it's either pure chance, or the filmmakers ended up chopping up these lives and turning them into clichés.

The Other Boleyn Girl is a film that failed to touch my heart, make me care, or even force me to pay much attention to what was going on. The plot is incredibly simple and ends up not factoring in all that much, the characters become insufferable, and everything goes on for way too long. Save yourself the trouble and just read up about the Boleyn family online.
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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Movie Martyr on Wed Dec 07, 2011 4:41 pm

Forgot to post that last night. Oops!

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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Movie Martyr on Thu Dec 08, 2011 12:47 am

Tron

There's a computer hacker named Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges). He wants to locate something that is in the software mainframe of a company called ENCOM, which is run by Ed Dillinger (David Warner), but is really run by the computer software called the Master Control Program (MCP). It turns out, Dillinger holds less power than the program he created. Flynn writes a program to locate what he wants, but it ends up failing and being captured by the MCP. So begins Tron.

Eventually, Flynn gets two of his friends to break him into ENCOM so he can his data. It turns out, he wrote five video games while he was working for ENCOM, but once Dillinger found out, the games were stolen and Flynn was fired. Alan (Bruce Boxleitner) and Lora (Cindy Morgan) are the friends that aid in this break-in, although we don't spend much time in the real world. See, Lora has been working on a laser that can transport people into the computer world. MCP, recognizing Flynn as a threat, activates the laser which is conveniently behind the seat that he's sitting on, and takes him as prisoner in this digital world.

So we have a villain in MCP, and we have a hero in Flynn. What else do we need? Well, people to help the hero would be nice. Programs created by Alan and Lora (played by the same actors, too) end up serving this purpose. Alan's program is called "Tron," which shows us where the title comes from, while Lora's is called "Yori," who shows up part-way through without any prior information about her and helps for whatever reason you want to come up with. All of the programs in the film look and act like humans, save for MCP which we only see on screens until the final scene inside the computer world, where it appears as a giant spinning face/tornado.

Long story made short, Flynn, Tron and Yori have to through a series of sequences in hopes that they'll be able to defeat the big boss. They end up with more reasons than just obtaining Flynn's proof, such as saving the world of the computers from a dictator like MCP, but the reasons don't matter a lot, nor are they given much time. We mostly just race (sometimes literally) from action scene to action scene, not spending much time on either the plot or the characters. This is an adventure film that expects you know how adventure films work.

It also expects you to know a lot about computers. There's a lot of jargon that, back when it came out in 1982, probably wouldn't have been understood by a lot of the audience. Even now, some of the dialogue used might be not be commonplace for some of the audience. This doesn't make it a bad film, but I can see some viewers not wanting to sit through listening to things they don't comprehend, because they'll lose interest.

Possibly working in the film's favor is that it doesn't spend too much time on dialogue, like I mentioned earlier. Since most of the film is made up of action scenes and more action scenes, not understanding what characters are saying beyond "let's beat MCP" rarely becomes a problem. There are a couple of things that they need to do before the final confrontation, but those end up being menial tasks like "let's go to this place" or "let's not get crushed by the giant robot things that are trying to kill us." They just need to do whatever they can to survive.

The elephant in the room here is the visual design of Tron. Since most of the film takes place in what's supposed to be the inside of the computer, it's obviously not going to look exactly like the outside world. Or maybe it would -- I've never been transferred into data and put inside of a computer system. I doubt you have either, nor has anyone else. The filmmakers could basically do whatever they want in representing this. What ended up happening was that computer animation was used extensively. Other scenes were simply colored in post-production. The look we get is unique, and I actually didn't have any problem with how it aged; after all, I'm not going to say that the inside of a computer system didn't look like that in 1982.

I will say, though, that there are times when you can really tell that the special effects are very dated. Things like a light cycle (think motorcycle with a trail of light following behind it that stays on the track like a wall) race or when we take control of one of the machines that are constantly getting in the way of Flynn's quest look very blocky and you can easily tell that they're CGI. But, like I said earlier, maybe that's what the inside of this system would look like. It didn't bother me all that much, but like the computer jargon, I can see it turning off some audience members. However, occasionally, the colorization with a blend of animation and real life, meant that it was sometimes difficult to tell who was who.

Tron ends up working quite well, although to get full enjoyment out of it, you'll need to be okay with computer jargon, dated visuals and a lack of focus on the plot and characters. I was, for the most part, and ended up with an enjoyable adventure film about a man in a strange world who needs to save the day. It's not a perfect film, but I can definitely see how it became a cult classic and why it has incredibly devoted fans. I enjoyed it, and if you're a fan of video games, know a little bit about computers or like adventure films, you'll probably have a good time.
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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Movie Martyr on Thu Dec 08, 2011 11:48 pm

Tron Legacy
28 years. This is how long fans of Tron waited for a sequel to the beloved cult classic. After I watched Tron, I never thought that a direct sequel would happen, nor did I want one. One set inside the same universe, sure, but including the same characters? I didn't see it happening. Imagine my surprise with Tron: Legacy, which is a direct sequel to 1982's Tron, complete with a lot of the cast returning.

This sequel actually doesn't take place in the same computer universe as the first film. That's the part I would have kept if I was to think about creating a sequel. The 1982 film showed us that computer programs acted a lot like human beings, and that they're all want to survive for as long as possible. They also worshiped users, their programmers, and this worship actually formed into some sort of religious cult. This was interesting, but it's something that Tron never really delved into. Tron: Legacy doesn't either, although it created a new computer world to explore -- and this one doesn't have those religious programs included in it.

Our plot begins with Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges) disappearing. This happened a few years after the conclusion of the first film. He's fathered a son, Sam (Garrett Hedlund), who is currently the chief shareholder of his father's company, ENCOM. One day, Kevin's friend, Alan (Bruce Boxleitner) receives a page from Kevin, from a number that's supposedly been disconnected for twenty years. Sam checks it out, is zapped with a laser, and ends up inside of a computer system which is now called "the Grid."

Like his father before him, he is captured and sent to play video games. Unlike his father, he doesn't get to play a game involving a ball. The disc that is put on his back is a weapon, and in the first game, he and his opponents throw the disc against one another, hoping to hit the other one and make them disintegrate. He eventually escapes, but is captured again, then being brought to someone in a suit who reveals himself to be Kevin Flynn. Or at least, he looks like Kevin Flynn.

See, this character is actually called CLU, and was a program that the elder Flynn created to help him build the Grid. We find this out in the same scene, so I'm not considering it a spoiler. In addition, he's our villain for the rest of the film, so it's important to make note of. After this revelation, we get a light cycle battle, which gets interrupted by Quorra (Olivia Wilde) just as things were getting interesting. She'll serve as the sidekick for the rest of the film.

We eventually meet the real Kevin, who looks much older than his program lookalike. See, a great deal of effort was spent making Jeff Bridges look like he's 35 again whenever CLU is on-screen. This worked quite well, and I found that the character looked believable, if a little artificial. That works though, as we're talking about a computer program, and not a real person.

Anyway, Kevin, Sam and Quorra end up with the task of getting to the portal to take father and son back to the real world. Stopping CLU isn't the main goal; instead, avoiding him and making sure he can't get the important disc on Kevin's back -- which we're told might allow CLU into the real world -- is more important than CLU from taking over the Grid. They figure that if they can both escape, a simple press of the delete key would rectify the problem a lot more easily.

Like Tron before it, Legacy is more interested in the action scenes than the characters or the plot. On the action level, it succeeds quite well; most of the time, it's an entertaining film thanks to how much is happening on screen. The visuals that $170 million allows means that the film looks great. While it might not be as groundbreaking as its predecessor, the Tron sequel still looks incredible, while also maintaining a similar, yet improved, visual style. It'll still look familiar to Tron fans, but it's been upgraded enough to have changed with the times.

That's about how the entire film plays out: It's familiar, yet distinct enough to be considered a new film. A lot of the elements from Tron have been kept, such as the light cycles, but new ones have been introduced, while older parts have been improved upon. It's like adding a fresh paint job and a tune-up to an old motorcycle; it'll only improve it.

Unfortunately, a new sheen doesn't improve broken-down parts. In this case, those are the plot and characters, which are -- if this is possible -- worse than the first film. There is no development in regards to any of the characters, while the plot doesn't have much focus and it also goes on for far too long. Tron only lasted 90 minutes, which made it easier to suffer through. This one is over two hours long, and without a real focal point, characters meander for too long. The action scenes try to make up for this, but they can only do so much, especially when they're not frequent enough to hold up the film on their shoulders.

It almost seemed as if Tron: Legacy felt it had to do too much, and as a result, it wasted a lot of time trying to please everyone. Fans of Tron might appreciate the references to the previous film, but those not in the loop will grow tired of them and simply wish for the plot to advance. Once it gets going, it's quite enjoyable, but the breaks and the time it takes to start is cumbersome.

Still, I thought Tron: Legacy was fun. It's made in the same spirit as its predecessor, meaning that it cares more about action scenes than anything else. That means it's rarely boring, although this one is when it tries to give "subtle" winks to the fans that have supported the series for 28 years. The visuals and action scenes are the highlights, but the plot meanders and the characters are weak. Fans of Tron will probably have a good time, while others probably will too, even if they won't enjoy the references that take time away from the action.
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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Walnutman on Thu Dec 08, 2011 11:53 pm

I did like Tron: Legacy, wasn't anything outstanding but a visually impressive film with a kick ass soundtrack. It also had Jeff Bridges and Michael Sheen in it, which is a big plus for me.

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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Movie Martyr on Sat Dec 10, 2011 1:05 am

Fargo
Yeah. Yeah. Yeah, you betcha. Yeah. Oooh, yeah! Yeah.

I get it. It's satire. Nobody really talks like that, at least, not to that extent. Fine. Guess what else, though? It's annoying. I'll probably have dreams where the most used word in a person's vocabulary is "yeah," and then I'll curse the day that I watched Fargo. I'll swear at the Coen brothers for bringing me such a movie, and I'll hope that I'll be able to get back to sleep after I'm done with that. The next day, I might just watch Fargo again because of how entertaining it is.

The plot begins with a man named Jerry (William H. Macy) talking with two thugs in a bar. One of them is short and "funny lookin'" (Steve Buscemi), while the other is big and doesn't talk much (Peter Stormare). Jerry wants them to kidnap his wife. They, understandably, don't understand the reasoning behind that, especially if he's going to pay the ransom. He explains: He won't be paying the ransom, her rich father (Harve Presnell) will, and then Jerry and the thieves can split the money. Why Jerry needs the money is never explained, nor does it matter. Yer darn tootin' it doesn't!

As it turns out, these criminals aren't all that good at their job. They somehow manage to capture Jerry's wife, although even that seemed like luck. They're pulled over by a cop with her in their car, and before you can say "yeah," the cop has been killed. Unfortunately, a car drives by while they're trying to get the body off the road, so two more "yeahs" get to be said, and there are now three dead bodies, all of which had done nothing wrong.

Before the murders, I figured that these criminals would be decent people. They meet with Jerry and seem to be quite charismatic. Well, Buscemi's character was. The other one just sits there. I actually started off liking them, but after they begin to kill, I was no longer a fan.

It's at this point where we meet a police officer named Marge (Frances McDormand), the biggest perpetrator of saying the word "yeah," although that's not because she's unintelligent. After having breakfast with her husband, Norm (John Carroll Lynch), she arrives at the crime scene that the now-murderers left behind. Even though they tried to get rid of the cop's body, I guess they decided three bodies would be too difficult to dispose of, even though burying them probably wouldn't be too hard. She correctly guesses exactly what happened the previous night, and I was impressed.

For most of the film, she chases them, they try to get the money, and Jerry attempts to do business with them. None of their lives are all that rushed though, with plenty of scenes and dialogue exchanges not driving the plot forward. That doesn't mean they're without purpose though, as they either help us get to know the characters, or they make us laugh. Often times, both.

This is a black comedy, so I'm told, although I didn't see what was so dark about its humor. Maybe I'm desensitized to it at this point, but I found most of the jokes to be dealing with pretty timid subject matter. Maybe it's called that just because the main idea of the film is about a kidnapping -- one brought on by the victim's own spouse -- and the fact that it's played largely for laughs is how it gets put in this genre. Regardless, I laughed a lot and had an overall good time, so I'm willing to accept that as its genre, and if you like that kind of comedy, you'll have fun.

Even though it is primary a comedy -- sometimes a satire like with the overuse of the word "yeah" -- it also has a fairly original premise and is often times quite thrilling. You want to see how everything plays out, and you worry about the lives of all the characters, good or bad. Sure, you want the good people to win, and you want the villains to lose, but you still want to see their story get closure, and you hope the death isn't the end result of anyone, because of the fun their short time on-screen gives you.

The actors are also fantastic, with nobody giving a terrible performance. Just for the accent that many of them had to put on alone, they deserve congratulations. Doing that with a straight face, take after take -- it must have been infuriating. They also find the right mix between being serious, sincere, over-the-top, and borderline psychotic. This is referring to all of the characters, not just one or two. Even the smaller characters who only get a few scenes manage to match the bigger stars.

There are two problems I have with Fargo. The first one is how annoying the "yeahs" do get. I get that it's supposed to be comedic, but I was annoyed by it, especially when every other sentence started and ended with that word. The second is that the plot jumps around a little too much in terms of its characters, with some of them not getting enough time spent on-screen, while our main character also switches mid-way.

But these are small chips off a solid stone block. The fact is, I really enjoyed Fargo, even if I'll be cursing the Coen brothers for days to come. The actors were great, the plot was original and compelling, and I laughed for quite a lot of the time it was playing. Yeah, it's very annoying, but darlin', it's also entertaining and definitely worth a watch. Yeah, you betcha!
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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Hubilub on Sat Dec 10, 2011 9:39 am

NOW WATCH MILLER'S CROSSING

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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by MilkyFresh on Sat Dec 10, 2011 9:58 am

Fargo is the beeeeesst. Glad we agree on that one

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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Movie Martyr on Sat Dec 10, 2011 5:35 pm

Hubilub wrote:NOW WATCH MILLER'S CROSSING
YOU ARE SO DEMANDING

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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Movie Martyr on Sun Dec 11, 2011 12:54 am

Bandidas
I think that maybe my expectations were too high. Or maybe it was just that there were so many missed opportunities missed with Bandidas. Here is a film that stars Penélope Cruz and Salma Hayek going around and robbing banks, all while getting to learn things about themselves. Is this a great idea? I think so. Did it work out all that well? Only somewhat.

We open by seeing our two main characters. Cruz is a farmhand named Maria, someone who doesn't even know what a fingerprint is, or what it can be used for. Hayek is a spoiled rich person who has spent the last ten years studying in Europe, but has recently come back to Mexico. Her father owns a bunch of properties, land that an evil man named Tyler Jackson (Dwight Yoakam) wants so that he can build a new railroad track or something. It doesn't really matter why, it just matters that Mexican people are having their lands foreclosed and are either leaving their property, or being shot while resisting their forced departure.

The two first encounter each other when Maria breaks into Sara and her father's house. Maria's upset that her home has been targeted for foreclosure. So she's going to talk to the property owner about it. She doesn't get to though, as she's stopped and forced to run away beforehand. When Sara goes back to her father, he's dead, supposedly of a heart attack. She knows better though, so she runs away too. The next time these two meet one another, they're both trying to rob the same bank.

The most surprising part is that they were successful. They manage to rob the bank, getting away without anyone pursuing them. The money they get supposedly could feed 500 people with rice and beans. Then we learn the reason each one of them decided to rob the bank. Maria wants to help the poor, while Sara just wanted revenge on the man who killed her father, and then wants to flee to Europe. She ends up being convinced to stay and help rob more banks, although they decide they should get some actual training before a second attempt.

I'll leave the plot here, except for a couple of points. Firstly, Steve Zahn ends up chasing them at one point, as he's a scientific police officer who can hopefully track them down. He's necessary because the now-called "bandidas" have managed to rob multiple banks. If you thought this is turning into a heist movie, you're wrong. The robberies themselves aren't all that thrilling, nor do they last very long.

Instead, we're mostly here to watch Cruz and Hayek play off against one another, while also having fun laughing their way through some action scenes. It's fun for us to watch them do this, although all throughout, I wanted more. Not necessarily more of the plot or the actors, but I wanted things that were brought up to actually matter for more than one scene.

I'll give you an example. In a training montage scene, we stop the montage for a moment and watch the pair learn how to shoot a gun. Maria already knows how, and can shoot a gun easily and accurately. Sara, on the other hand, has never shot before, and whenever she gets nervous, she hiccups. (We later learn that she can throw a knife with great precision though, so it's okay.) Later in the film, while trying to rob one bank, Sara is forced to go on ice skates in order to step in the one-inch space that won't trigger the alarm (it's best not to ask). In the end, when she's carrying the money back, after directly stating that she's nervous, she sneezes and activates the sensors.

Now, wouldn't this be the perfect opportunity for her to hiccup and fall? It did to me, and this moment perfectly represented how much wasted potential there was. That hiccup thing only comes up once more, and it doesn't do anything to impact the scene. There are more of these as well, although I honestly can't remember specifics, nor would I bore you with them. I will say that things like class struggle and differences in nationalities are both almost completely ignored.

Unfortunately, the plot doesn't give you anything you won't suspect. There aren't any twists, it's as straightforward as you can think of, and it mostly just serves as an excuse ot have the two leading ladies go through action scene after action scene. that doesn't necessarily stop it from being fun, but it does stop it from being memorable or surprising. The bad guy is a cartoon character, and so are our leads. Like I said, it's still fun, but it's just a popcorn flick.

The performances also aren't all that great. I mean, do you really expect them to be? If you did, well, you need to look at your expectations. While everyone seems to be having fun with their roles, there's little depth to their performances. There also isn't much depth to their characters, with both characters ending up acting pretty much the same after they make their decision to rob banks.

Bandidas isn't a bad movie, as it's never boring, but it isn't all that memorable, and it misses opportunities left and right while it's playing. The actors have fun, but have little depth to their performances or characters, and any potential issues that are brought up by the plot are ignored in favor of our two leads going around robbing banks. That's fun, and it makes for a good enough popcorn flick, but that's as good as it gets, and you'll likely forget it the next day.
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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Movie Martyr on Sun Dec 11, 2011 12:55 am

Also, I just watched Snatch. So you lot can stop telling me to watch it.

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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Hubilub on Sun Dec 11, 2011 1:08 am

NOW POST A REVIEW ABOUT SNATCH

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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Movie Martyr on Sun Dec 11, 2011 1:17 am

I STILL HAVE TO WRITE A REVIEW ABOUT SNATCH

But I'll get the review posted in a couple of days, expediting the process because you asked so nicely.

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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Furburt on Sun Dec 11, 2011 2:22 am

Ben demands things. It's what he does.

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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Hubilub on Sun Dec 11, 2011 11:14 am

FABIAN COME OVER DURING THE SPORTS HOLIDAYS AT THE END OF FEBRUARY.

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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Furburt on Sun Dec 11, 2011 1:28 pm

How long is that?

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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Movie Martyr on Mon Dec 12, 2011 12:37 am

The Marine 2
When I first heard about The Marine 2, I had a few questions. (1) Why make a second Marine movie? (2) Why make a Marine movie without WWE Superstar John Cena? (3) If you aren't including WWE Superstar John Cena, why call it a sequel to The Marine? (4) Why do I get the feeling I'll eventually end up watching it? These are the questions that I had, and I'll give you the answers I've come up with.

(1) The first Marine, which was released theatrically, made a lot of money. Not with the theatrical release, which almost didn't make back the $20 million budget, but in home media. It ended up making more in DVD, Blu-ray and in rentals than it made back at the box office. Since it was a financial success from WWE Studios, and those who have followed the WWE know that Vince McMahon likes money, there is a second one, this time it's been released just on home video, and with what feels like an even lower budget.

(2) I'm thinking that there are multiple reasons for this. First, John Cena had just done 12 Rounds, and filming keeps him away from television for a while. Since he was the WWE's biggest star at the time, that isn't good for business or television ratings. They didn't want him to take another vacation to film a sequel. Secondly, Ted DiBiase, Jr., the son of Ted DiBiase or, as you might know him, "The Million Dollar Man," stars in this film, which makes me wonder how much pull his old man has with Mr. McMahon.

(3) Again, I think there are two reasons for this. First, name recognition is a good thing. Sometimes, films having absolutely nothing to do with one another are marketed as sequels (sometimes even illegally), just to draw in fans of the original. WWE could easily market this film as a brainless action film with one of its up-and-coming young wrestlers taking the lead role, but calling it "The Marine 2" will probably be better for business. With films like this, it's all about the money.

(4) I've been told that I'm somewhat masochistic in terms of my film choices, but I think in this case it's more of a morbid curiosity. Can Ted Jr. act? Will it be better than the mediocre Marine? Will I have any fun watching a brainless action movie starring some WWE Superstar that I don't like in the first place. (If I remember, DiBiase was a heel at the time of release.) (If you don't know what a "heel" is, in pro wrestling, it means he's the bad guy.)

DiBiase plays Joe Linwood, a marine who, in the film's opening scene, shoots some guy, with the scene ending with a child dying. Said child alerted the bad guys to Joe and his partner's location, so I don't know why we're supposed to mourn over his death. Whatever. Somehow, it affects him enough to mope around for a couple of scenes. It also is supposed to show us that he's quite a good marine, and that he'll be able to handle whatever is thrown at him. All it showed me was that he had a really cool gun.

Joe has a wife named Robin (Lara Cox), who invites him to spend a few days at a deluxe hotel that's just opening. They spend the first day together, they snorkel, and enjoy the opening speeches from her boss, and then get surprised when a rocket destroys the guard tower during the firework ceremony. Then, a bunch of terrorists with masks ambush the guests, killing all but twenty, or so they think. Joe and a couple of others escape, but since he's a marine, he decides to head back despite both the local military and a bunch of mercenaries attempting to rescue the hostages.

What comes of this are a bunch of explosions, gunfights, and pretty much everything you'd expect out of a low-budget WWE film. Is it much fun? Not really, largely because it doesn't do anything but be a middle-of-the-road popcorn film that has nothing to differentiate it from all of the other films of this nature. It's loud and action-packed but that's all it is. And since that isn't particularly well-done, there's little to hold your attention.

I think that DiBiase, Jr, didn't do a terrible job, but he's nothing more than a large-muscled guy who gets to go through the motions of an action movie. He gets few words (I wonder if anyone trusted him with many lines of dialogue in the first place) but at least has the right type of body and training to do action scenes. Wrestling is, after all, a bunch of well-choreographed fight scenes. Or, sorry, "real" fighting.

In the end, all The Marine 2 is going to do will leave you wondering why you spent your 90+ minutes watching it. Sure, it's got some explosions and gunfights, but being a low budget action film, a lot of cheating occurs and this type of thing has been done way better elsewhere. If you really want to watch this, you better be a fan of Ted DiBiase, Jr., because him going through a bunch of action scenes will be enjoyable for you, and largely you alone. It's not a poorly made film, but it's not much of a fun one to watch. And yes, for the record, I did miss John Cena. No, I'm not sure why that is.
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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Furburt on Mon Dec 12, 2011 4:58 pm

When you get a chance, could you check out Barton Fink? I'm interested to see what people think of it.

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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Movie Martyr on Mon Dec 12, 2011 6:20 pm

Maybe.

Actually, yes.

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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Furburt on Mon Dec 12, 2011 8:52 pm

I see it being the type of film that you'll either adore or it'll do nothing for you.

*waits to be proven utterly wrong*

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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Movie Martyr on Tue Dec 13, 2011 12:22 am

Snatch
Snatch is the type of film that you can watch over and over again, yet still take new things from it. There's so much to absorb, and I'm almost certain I missed major details that enhance the experience. Having so many interesting characters means there's always someone enjoyable to watch, although there aren't too many that they don't get enough development to their respective stories. This is how you create an ensemble film.

There are only a couple of major stories, but there are a ton of characters. The first story revolves around an 86-carat diamond, which is stolen at the beginning of the film, and changes hands a great deal as the film progresses. It's stolen by a man nicknamed "Four-Fingers" (Benicio del Toro), but he's not going to get to keep it for all that long. A lot of other people want it. This includes a couple of pawnbrokers played by Robbie Gee and Lennie James, a diamond dealer played by Mike Reid (who is getting it on behalf of Dennis Farina's character), a bounty hunter played by Vinnie Jones, and likely more characters that I can't remember.

The second story involves mobster boss Brick Top (Alan Ford), who more or less seems to run everything. At the moment, Jason Statham and Stephen Graham's characters are running an illegal boxing ring, and have to find someone to replace their former fighter (who was rendered unable to compete after Graham's character tried to by a caravan from some gypsies). The focus on a man named Mickey (Brad Pitt), who was the one to incapacitate their former fighter. But he's uncontrollable, and their unsure if he'll throw the boxing match like Brick Top wants. This is the simpler and most straightforward of the two stories (see how I could actually list some of the character names?).

The two stories, and their characters, constantly overlap. The characters in one will show up and wreak havoc in the other, and almost all of them will appear in one fashion or another. But having so many characters (and I haven't come close to listing them all) doesn't take away from either story. We cut back and forth between a ton of different groups of characters, and if you're not paying attention, you'll probably have trouble keeping up.

Writer/director Guy Ritchie wants an active and participatory audience with Snatch. You have to give him that, or you won't have a good time. Or maybe you will anyway, because it's funny and all of the unique characters will provide escapism regardless. But if you want to know the plot, you'll have to devote some brainpower to the film. I have no problem with that, and this also makes the film quite the rewarding experience, assuming you want to give it your time and attention

Ritchie also wants an active cast. There's a lot of energy brought to almost all of the characters. This helps the audience, and brings excitement to the film. Can you imagine a film like this played by monotone characters? Actually, that might be funny. Having every character played by a deadpan comedian in their most droll voice might work well. Someone should write this down! Regardless, Ritchie doesn't play that game, so he makes his cast play their roles with tons of energy.

The editing style also gives us an energetic feeling. There are a lot of quick cuts, lots of times sending us back and forth between two or more different locations, which allows us to learn a lot inf a short period of time. And yet, we still get enough time with these characters to care about or hate them. I liked a lot of them because they're witty and they made me laugh, which is rarely not endearing when it comes to me. But they all have struggles and unique personalities, so you'll probably easily find some favorites of your own.

However, if you're not paying close enough attention, you'll probably miss some big detail that will make it hard for you to figure out where we are in the plot at any given moment. When events happen in such a rapid succession, missing out one a couple might prevent you from following along with what comes after. And even if you do pay attention, there's a good chance you'll miss something. There are a lot of details and points in the film that you probably won't catch on the first viewing. This makes the film re-watchable, but if you're someone who doesn't watch films more than once (you heathen!), you won't get the full viewing experience of Snatch.

The more I think about Snatch, the more I like it. Sometimes, films vanish from your mind right after you watching them. Snatch wants me to reflect upon what it presented to me. Right after I was done with it, I thought it was a slightly above-average film. Hours after it finished, I'm finding myself thinking it was great. It's so complex, yet it feels simple when you think about it afterward. I can't piece everything together perfectly, but I feel like I watched something great. Take that for what it's worth.

I had quite a fun time with Snatch. It doesn't take itself too seriously, and it's chalked-full of ideas that keep you engaged for a little 90 minutes. This was a fun experience that gets better, not worse, the more I think about it. It has an energetic and exciting cast, fun situations, and a story that's worth telling because of the way that it's presented to us. Snatch is enjoyable and I'd recommend it as long as you're willing to give it your full attention.
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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Movie Martyr on Tue Dec 13, 2011 11:46 pm

Beastly
This was supposed to be a joke, right? When watching Beastly, I laughed a great deal more than I expected. It wound up being camp because of how serious, yet at the same time, so hilarious, it is. If I had to recommend Beastly at all, it would be because it's only 86 minutes long, and because it's quite an enjoyable 86 minutes. No, it isn't really "good," but will you accept that to see a funny and, at times, sweet, film?

We begin with a very popular guy in high school named Kyle (Alex Pettyfer) attempting to become the president of the Green Committee. His speech lasts not even a minute, and he admits that he doesn't care about the environment. So, as everything in high school is a popularity contest, he wins. His competitor, Lindy (Vanessa Hudgens), congratulates him, and may like him. Isn't high school drama fun? A "witch" named Kendra (Mary-Kate Olsen) doesn't like that he won, and after he humiliates her, she places a curse upon him.

If you've seen the poster or trailer for Beastly, you probably know what Kyle (who is now going under the assumed name "Hunter") looks like. He has a bunch of weird tattoos, some scars, some seemingly open wounds, and a bit of acne. To call him "horrendous" would be an overstatement, and, as one character puts it: "I've seen worse." But his rich news anchor father (Peter Krause) is ashamed of him, so Hunter is put in a reclusive house shared only with his housekeeper (Lisa Gay Hamilton) and a blind tutor (Neil Patrick Harris). His father no longer visits, and Hunter ends up spending a lot of time alone.

All curses have ways to reverse them, right? Well, yes. The witch tells him that he has to find someone to say "I love you" within the next year. The assumption is that the person has to mean it, although that isn't specified. I'm unsure why Hunter decides to wait almost six months before even leaving the house to find love, but that's what he does. When he finally does go out to find someone, he spends a great deal of time stalking Lindy. Why? Because stalking someone means that they'll fall in love with you.

Lindy makes a good target for someone like him. Firstly, she has a similar back story to him. Both of their fathers are somewhat bothersome -- his doesn't care about him and hers is a drug addict -- meaning they have that in common. Secondly, she liked the "pretty" him, somewhat (maybe), so it's possible that she'll like the ugly him. And thirdly, he stalks her and finds out she's slightly "quirky," meaning she's the perfect character to attempt to get an "I love you" from. Somehow.

In what is probably the creepiest -- and I don't mean that in a complimentary way -- moment of the film, he manages to effectively kidnap her and keep her in his house. I won't get into it, but after stalker her for some time, he steals her from her father and keeps her held captive. That is definitely how you earn love, Hunter. It's at this point when Beastly starts to run out of steam, although we do actually begin to learn about the characters, which is always nice.

Yes, it's all forced. Yes, it's cliché. And yes, it's all incredibly obvious and filled with exposition. This helps make the point, and in a film like this, getting the message across is the main idea. If we need to have "deep" characters to do that, but we're not smart enough to cleverly allow the audience to learn their complexities, then flat-out telling them is better than leaving them to be empty vessels. At least, this is the way I figure the filmmakers of Beastly thought about it.

The poor writing continues from line to line, although it might have been more the case of not-so-great actors spouting the lines than the lines themselves. If one of the two leads had to say something that lasted more than a sentence, more often than not, it wouldn't sound believable. This helped with the camp, actually. I laughed quite often when these serious monologues would commence, as it meant that I got to hear these actors struggle with their lines. The writing didn't help, but they had trouble making decent sentences sound right. (There are some hilariously written lines, though, which I can only hope were supposed to be that way.)

Each of the supporting cast members also gets one specific problem that Hunter has to start caring about. The housekeeper left her native Jamaica in order to slave away in America because she can't get her family green cards. The blind tutor is, well, blind, and despite being a perfectly functional member of the "family," Hunter doesn't like that he can't see. So he cares, and actually at one point begs the witch to help out these two characters. Hunter's father, however, is a terrible person because he's rich and doesn't spend time with his family. Hunter doesn't want him to get better, he just wants him out of his life, just like Lindy wants her father out of her life.

Look, Beastly isn't a good film. Does that stop it from being somewhat enjoyable? No, I don't think so. It made me laugh for most of its runtime, and by the end, yes, I thought it was sweet and its heart was in the right place, even if earlier events were genuinely creepy. The actors aren't good, the writing is poor, the plot meanders for too long in one place, and almost every time the film tries to be serious, it failed. But I had fun, and it's only 86 minutes, so I won't say it's not necessarily worth a watch. But if "you come near me, I taser your ass." (Yes, that's an actual line from the film.)
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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Movie Martyr on Thu Dec 15, 2011 12:42 am

Never Let Me Go
If you walked away from Michael Bay's The Island disappointed because the premise brought up in the first quarter of the film didn't end up being what the film was actually about, I have a film for you. Never Let Me Go is a film involving clones that live for the sole purpose of being used for organ transplants after they reach adulthood. Unlike Bay's film, the characters do not try to escape from their destiny; they only wish to make the best of the time they're given.

That's a bit of a simplification, but it's pretty much exactly what happens. There's some nonsense about a way to postpone becoming a donor by a few years if you find true love and "can prove it," but that comes and goes as a passing dream that does eventually prove important even if the purpose of these donors is inevitable: They will be used to give "real" people their organs, and they will die after a couple of these donations. One character claims that most live through the second or third, but later on we find out that some die after the first. It's a sad existence, I would assume, but try telling that to eager young children.

Wait a second -- that is what happens. Miss Lucy (Sally Hawkins) shows up at the boarding school known as Hailsham for a few days and then blurts out the future to these children. She is later fired and we don't get to hear from her again. These kids eventually grow up to be fairly attractive movie stars. Carey Mulligan is our narrator and lead named Kathy, Keira Knightley is named Ruth, while Andrew Garfield is Tommy. The characters aren't given last names, I suppose because they aren't considered real people.

They live their lives. They're friends involved in a below-the-surface love triangle, although Ruth and Tommy are romantically linked. Eventually, the pair grows apart. We don't like to see that, just as we don't want to see them have their organs removed and given to others. The characters are never considered dead, either; they get "completed" when too many organs have been removed. It's sad, but this life film doesn't particularly portray it that way.

The characters all seem to take it in decent enough stride. There are few, if any tears, and when they do cry, it's not about the inevitable. Generally, they're sad about events that have already happened in their lives, not the fact that it will end in a few short years. They are genetically engineered beings, "people" with the sole purpose of being used as a way to grow organs for transplant, and they don't seem to care too much. Maybe if children are told that this is their purpose, they'll accept it better in adulthood. Or maybe we're just dealing with really mature (or possibly nihilistic) characters. Either way, you're not getting a bunch of explosions as the character try to escape their fates.

There's a late reveal that brings certain ethical problems to the forefront, although it seemed to me to be too little, too late. Should these donors be used in this manner? Should "people" be grown for this purpose? The film takes a stand, but only does so at the end. And when your entire film is based around getting to know these specific beings, I'm sure you can already figure out which side the film takes in this debate. The basic question is: "Is it right to do whatever you can to postpone death?" While that may be what the film is about, it only is specifically addressed near the end; for most of the film, you'll have to think about it yourself.

This is a very slowly paced film, which may turn off some viewers. There isn't a lot of things happening here, but we do get to know our characters. Those expecting a lot of story twists or actions throughout will likely be disappointed, although there are a couple of plot twists that, while largely pointless, at least serve to change things up a bit. But there are long sequences when nothing much goes on, and I often felt that I wasn't actively being engaged in any aspect.

If what you want out of a film is a character drama about three "beings" living their lives, often being broken up so we can skip ahead a few years into the future, then this is your film. There isn't much of a plot, which means that while you do get to spend a lot of time with these characters, you don't get to see them doing a whole lot. This can work, and it does to a certain extent here, but since the inevitable is coming up and the characters seem to have accepted this, they're mostly just biding their time.

There are times, however, when the slow pace and lack of action wore me down. No, we don't need explosions and chase scenes for more than half the film, but I wanted the characters to be doing something. It almost didn't matter what, but when they just sit there waiting for death to take them, I can't be bothered to care or pay attention. When things happen, this is a good film. When they don't, and all characters do is sit and talk, we find out they're not too terribly interesting. And that's when Never Let Me Go fails.

It's still a good film that's probably worth your time, but it's not as entertaining as it could have been because it goes through many lulls which bored me whenever they came about. The characters aren't as interesting as they needed to be to carry the film, so when their actions are not driving it, we becoming uninterested. The ethical questions are also not brought up early enough to be a factor, which means there's no true secondary element to hold our attention. It still is a good character drama, but it certainly could have been better.
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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Movie Martyr on Thu Dec 15, 2011 11:53 pm

The Da Vinci Code
I can't say I was ever bored, which is the most important part in a mystery/thriller film. The Da Vinci Code, which runs just about 2 and a half hours (almost three if you watch the extended cut), kept me engaged throughout, with only very short periods where I started to lose focus. At these times, the exposition got to me, despite still being interesting.

The plot involves a key murder that ends up in conspiracy regarding the Catholic Church. A man who is only referred to by his last name, Saunière (Jean-Pierre Marielle) is killed in an opening sequence that resembles many a horror film. His killer isn't hidden from us though; we get to see enough of him to recognize him later on with relative ease. His name is Silas (Paul Bettany), and after the murder, he chastises his body in an attempt to resolve himself of his sins. He strips down naked and beats himself with a whip. It's unpleasant to watch, but the film shows it to us regardless. It wants us to see the dedication that this man has to his faith.

A police captain named Fache (Jean Reno) interrupts a book signing by the famed Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks). He's brought in to decipher a possible code that the deceased left beside his body, but while the investigation is going on, a woman named Sophie Neveu (Audrey Tautou) shows up claiming there's a message for Langdon on a cell phone she gives him. It's from her, and it claims that he's in grave danger. It turns out that Fache is certain the Langdon committed the murder, and he's determined to put the good professor away for a crime that he clearly didn't commit.

So the two end up faking out the police and go on the run, all while trying to determine what exactly the old man wanted to tell them. They encounter a bunch of people who either aid or hinder them in their goal, including Silas, Langdon's old friend Leigh Teabing (Ian McKellen), and a Bishop named Aringarosa (Alfred Molina) -- who I suppose they never technically meet, but whose presence is felt nonetheless.

They go through a multitude of contrivances during their journey. Do you expect anything else? This is primarily a mystery film, and everything has to fit into place or else the movie won't function properly. Sure, it's preposterous that everything just happens to be falling into place now, but that comes with the territory. However, that's not the only thing that's only somewhat difficult to believe.

The entire plot, which is more or less revealed to us in a 20 minute spiel given to us by Teabing, involves the Holy Grail, the child of Jesus Christ, Opus Dei, and the Priory of Sion. Apparently, there has been a war going on for thousands of years that hides a secret that could potentially dissolve all faith in the Catholic Church. It's crazy when you step back and think about everything that's going on here, but if you do that, you're missing the point. It doesn't matter if it's possible, it matters that characters in the film believe these myths and that they're willing to kill one another over them. (In fact, I think Langdon says something similar early on in the film.)

Since these characters all believe it, or at least, the villains do, it all feels real during events of the movie. At the end of the day, as long as we believe it in the moment, it will work when we watch the film. I think I've seen The Da Vinci Code three times, and every time I was drawn in. Skeptical as I may be -- although you certainly don't have to be a skeptic to doubt the events that transpire here -- I find myself engaged in the story to the extent that I almost forget I'm watching a work of fiction.

However, I was occasionally taken out of the film thanks to the overlong periods of exposition. Characters take ten, fifteen and sometimes even twenty minutes simply explaining what's either happening or what happened hundreds or thousands of years ago. Sophie is the character that rarely has a clue what's going on, so everything has to be explained for her (but really our) benefit. It seemed to me that there were times when unnecessary explanation occurred, containing points that didn't have an impact on the story. A little trimming might have been beneficial in these areas.

The Da Vinci Code also plays out somewhat odd in that it has moments of action and thrills, but then comes to a sudden halt to give us these exposition segments. Instead of progressing into them organically, we are jarred by how suddenly the action stops and then picks up again after we've been overloaded with information. Granted, that information is interesting and absorbing it all might take more than one viewing which gives the film replay value, but the way the film moves from action to exposition doesn't flow the way I would suggest that it should.

I should mention for the one or two of you who don't know that this is an adaptation of a novel by the same named written by Dan Brown. It follows the novel closely, so I suppose that its two main problems are directly attributed to the book. But if you enjoyed Dan Brown's bestseller, then you'll probably really enjoy the movie as well, because it's a genuinely thrilling experience that certainly drew me in.

The Da Vinci Code is a wonderful escapist film, one where I lost myself in the story and forgot to care whether or not it could actually be true. Obviously, at least in my eyes, it cannot be, but while the film plays, I forgot that. It's a mystery film that has the ability to draw you in and take you through an enjoyable journey full of revelations and twists -- at least, whenever it isn't explaining itself to you. Regardless, I had a lot of fun with it and would recommend it to anyone willing to pay attention throughout.
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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Movie Martyr on Sat Dec 17, 2011 1:29 am

Angels & Demons
Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks) is back. This time, instead of fighting against the Church, he's teaming up with it. A member of the Vatican shows up one day and tells him that kidnapping have taken place and Langdon is required to do something to help. The Pope has just died, and it's time to choose a new one. However, those kidnapped were the four most likely people to be chosen as the new Pope, which would cause a problem, I'd assume.

Hundreds of thousands of people have gathered in St. Peter's Square. That's the thing to do after the Pope dies. They wait for the white smoke to come from a chimney, as that means that a new Pope has been chosen. Countries from all over are represented, all hoping that a member from their country will be picked. Little do they know that their lives are in danger. A bomb has the potential to go off at midnight, so Langdon is going to have to try to find that as well. Does this guy ever get a break?

See, we open off with a group of scientists trying to create antimatter. We later find out that they were hoping to create a new energy source (apparently, one speck of antimatter could power an entire city for a month). Someone steals one of the three vials they create, kills everyone except for a scientist named Vittoria (Ayelet Zurer). The thief passes her in the hall, although he doesn't eliminate her at this time. That proves to be a bad move, as she's going to be Langdon's sidekick for this film.

The bad guys are the Illuminati, who have stolen this potential bomb and kidnapped the four potential Popes. There's a lot of potential here, it would seem. They send a video to the Church that lays out how things will work. Beginning at 8:00 PM, they will begin killing these people. One at every hour on the hour. The battery that keeps the antimatter suspended in the vial will run out at around midnight, and when the antimatter touches anything, it will explode.

So it's a race-against-the-clock movie that just happens to involve the Illuminati and the Catholic Church. There's some science versus religion dialogue throughout, although it doesn't amount to much. We basically just follow Langdon and Vittoria running through the city for 90 minutes, and then we get a conclusion that you'll see coming from a mile away. If you thought the ending of The Da Vinci Code was anticlimactic, you'll be even more let down by this one.

Where did my plot go? I remember that in The Da Vinci Code, I had to have a lot of things explained to me. There was conspiracy and depth to what was going on. Where did that go? It kept me engaged, and while the exposition did eventually wear me down, the information presented was still interesting. It seems that director Ron Howard was aware that too much exposition was a problem with Angels & Demons' predecessor, so this time around, he eliminated it altogether.

What's left is a film that holds your interest just by the actions of the characters without a secondary action to keep your attention. The plot is just what I described above: A race. Sure, there are clues that lead to more clues that lead to even further clues, but once they're brought up once, they aren't referenced again. They show up just to propel our characters to another church, but then they disappear, showing us that they weren't all that important. Robert Langdon is a smart person, and he solves the puzzles quite easily here, but to what end? He doesn't get to uncover anything -- he's just trying to save a bunch of lives that could be saved anyway if the Church wasn't so reserved in its traditions.

There's one character that I haven't mentioned yet. His name is Patrick (Ewan McGregor), and he is the Camerlengo. For those not knowing what that is, he basically holds a bunch of power if the Pope happens to be dead and another one hasn't been chosen yet. Or something like that -- the film doesn't make it particularly clear. He's allowed to grant access to the Vatican Archives, but he apparently cannot issue evacuation orders. He tries, but he gets turned down for some reason. Again, it's not made particularly clear, but he's shown as the smartest person because, you know, there's a bomb that could go off and would level all of Vatican City, but because of tradition, an evacuation -- not even a warning -- cannot be issued.

If the film takes any stance on religion or science, it's that one. Adhering to tradition is bad if it's for the sake of it just being tradition. That's about it though. It isn't really pro or con religion or science, which is an interesting take considering how The Da Vinci Code ended up working. I guess there's no corruption inside the Church anymore. Oh wait, the "surprising" twist near the end says otherwise. What a shame.

It seems that characters have been largely forgotten about, just like the plot. While I wouldn't call the ones in The Da Vinci Code particularly deep, at least they were characters that we could somewhat relate to and enjoy our time with. This time, everyone is there to fulfill a certain purpose in the plot with absolutely no depth or way to relate to them. They often don't even act like real people, although since our two leads are a professor and a scientist capable of creating antimatter, who am I to say that they don't act realistic?

Angels & Demons is for those of you who liked the puzzle solving in The Da Vinci Code, but otherwise thought the story required too much thought. This one is easy to follow, requires almost no explanation, but also isn't as interesting to me because of that. It's a film where characters go from locale to locale with little more purpose than "the statue pointed that way." But it's tightly paced and overall exciting, even if it needed more depth to its plot and characters.


Last edited by Marter on Sat Dec 17, 2011 8:01 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Hubilub on Sat Dec 17, 2011 1:48 am

Tom Hanks looks like he's trying to hold in a shit on the cover of the Da Vinci Code

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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Movie Martyr on Sat Dec 17, 2011 1:59 am

Maybe he was.

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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Movie Martyr on Sun Dec 18, 2011 1:35 am

Unknown
So, for almost two hours, I was thoroughly entertained. I watched a plot unfold in an interesting way, I watched two good actors travel around Berlin, and I was genuinely thrilled for most of the time it was playing. And by the end, everything seemed to make sense. Unknown did what a good thriller needs to do. Not much more, but absolutely nothing less.

We begin by watching Dr. Martin Harris (Liam Neeson) and his wife, Liz (January Jones) arriving in the German capital. Martin is to give a presentation at a conference for the scientific community, while his wife is tagging along for the ride. Or maybe she's smart as well, we don't know. I know what you're already thinking: "You mentioned two good actors going around Berlin. January Jones isn't a good actor. What are you talking about?" Jones gives as wooden a performance as you can, but she wasn't the actor I was talking about. Thankfully, Martin and Liz get separated soon.

See, at the airport, Martin's briefcase gets left behind. Silly taxi driver. If only he had decided to not forget his briefcase, and we wouldn't have a problem. He leaves Liz at the airport, taking a taxi driven by Gina (Diane Kruger, the second "good actor" I was talking about), but they don't reach the airport. A couple of things happen, eventually leading to the cab falling into the water and a daring rescue being made to save Martin's life. He wakes up four days later in a hospital. Gina is nowhere to be found.

Upon leaving the hospital and attempting to return to the conference where he's supposed to be giving a speech, he finds out that he might not be who he thinks he is. We've been told that his name is Martin Harris, and that's what he believes as well. But when he gets to the hotel, his wife claims she doesn't recognize him. And she's with another man, who also says he's Dr. Martin Harris (Aidan Quinn). What's going on? We want to know, and so does Martin (if that is his real name).

I won't give away what happens after this. Neeson's character, whatever his name is, tries to find out who he is and what his purpose is. He eventually enlists the help of his taxi driver, Gina, and together they set off in trying to find out just exactly what's going on here. Watching this unfold is very entertaining, even when the explanations become even more ridiculous as the film goes on.

Thrillers are often preposterous, and I'm sure that Unknown is no exception. Despite this, I didn't find anything that happening in Unknown to be too ridiculous. Maybe it was, and I was just so involved that I didn't care, but I believed that everything in the film could have happened. Well, maybe not the time when a man slid down a ladder and landed perfectly afterward, (keep in mind this was a three or four story ladder), but in terms of revelations regarding who characters are, I didn't have any problem with that.

In fact, when certain plot twists occur, you think back and you realize the hints that were given before they were revealed. These are the best type of twists from where I'm sitting. They not only reward attentive viewers, but on a second viewing, they become valuable in looking for clues. If a movie pulls it out of nowhere, it'll seem more arbitrary. That's the case in one of the scenes here, but not because of the twists itself -- a character explaining the twist is the contrived part.

See, Frank Langella has a minor, yet key, role in the film. He appears in just three or four scenes, the final of which he reveals something major. There were hints to this buildup, but apart from the scene directly preceding the one where the reveal occurs, there had been no hints in regards to who Langella's character is or why he's important. I was sucked in by the film, though, and as a result, I didn't care too much when it happened. But I can see other people disliking this, and in retrospect, it wasn't Unknown's brightest moment.

Liam Neeson still makes for an imposing force on-screen, and watching him roam around Berlin makes for an intriguing viewing. Adding Diane Kruger to the mix is a good choice, as was staying away from January Jones, who appears in only a few choice scenes, but mostly just stays out of sight. She doesn't have any emotion in her performance, although maybe that was intentional considering -- no, I can't tell you that. Go see the film and see for yourself.

There is enough intrigue to hold your attention for the entirety of Unknown's runtime. I wasn't bored for a single frame of this film. There are times when you question times early in the film, like during these odd flashbacks that Neeson's character always seems to get. But you're still thinking even if what's presented on film isn't currently captivating. You're hoping to figure out what's true and what isn't before the film tells you, meaning that it can get away with lulls in the action because you're going to be reflecting on what you've just seen anyway.

Unknown is a great thriller. It kept me entertained for the entire time it was playing, because even when it isn't going full speed ahead, I was thinking about things that happened earlier and trying to piece everything together. It has two solid actors in key roles, and while a couple of the scenes feel contrived, they only felt that way in retrospect for me because of how involved I was with the film.
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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Movie Martyr on Mon Dec 19, 2011 12:48 am

Lara Croft: Tomb Raider
In movies, planetary alignments are rarely a good thing. Magical objects begin to work when the planets are all aligned, which this movie tells us only happens every 5,000 years. I'll buy that, I guess. I have no reason not to. I haven't played the Tomb Raider games, so I don't know if this plot is directly taken from them, or if the only part taken was the character of Lara Croft (played by Angelina Jolie here).

She discovers a clock in her house, which has just begun ticking. She breaks it open to discover something inside. Not knowing quite what it is, she takes it to a man who knew her late father, but he doesn't know what it is either. Someone does though, and his name is Manfred Powell (Iain Glen). The father's friend sends Croft to see Powell, but does it with regret, obviously knowing that it will endanger her life. He's never heard from again, although I wanted him to get his just deserts.

Powell is evil, as we see from one of the earliest scenes in the film. He's a member of the group call the Illuminati, which conspiracy theorists will know is the group that secretly runs everything important on Earth. In this movie, they exist because they want to get the two halves of the Triangle of Light, which, when put together and activated during the planetary alignment, will allow the user to control time. Beyond this, we aren't told what they want to do with their power.

There's a fellow tomb raider working with the Illuminati, who we first see getting into a verbal confrontation with Lara. Alex West (Daniel Craig) is brought in to help find these two pieces of the Triangle, and is supposedly paid a large sum of money for his services. He and Lara are rivals, and become mortal enemies when it comes to trying to find the Triangle. The fate rests on Lara's ability to get the pieces before the bad guys, although why we've even gotten to this point doesn't make any sense.

See, there was some village a long time ago that had the Triangle in full, and the reason that the village was destroyed is because someone abused the powers of the Triangle. Somehow, people got ahold of the Triangle, and instead of fixing their village with its powers, split it in two. Why not more pieces? Well, that wouldn't allow us to experience the plot of this movie.

At one point in the movie, there's a confrontation involving Powell and the two tomb raiders. We're informed that everything has to happen at a precise moment, and that if this doesn't happen, everyone will have to wait 5,000 years to try again -- a minor inconvenience. All Lara needed to do in order to stop the bad guys and save the world was to not say anything, or even show up in the first place, as they would have messed up their timing and would have failed.

It's logical issues like these that really grind my gears. I guess I shouldn't be looking for these things in an action film, but since there wasn't enough action to keep me entertained, this is where my mind wandered off to. I kept thinking about how easy it would be to stop these people, but then we wouldn't get a big, climactic action scene that actually isn't all that entertaining in the first place.

That's another one of the problems with Tomb Raider: The opening scene is the best one. Lara fights against a giant robot in a training exercise, a scene that shows how great a film like this one could be, but, as it turns out, that promise is never lived up to. We could have an awesome action movie with a female protagonist who gets to explore exotic locations and beat up on a lot of villains. What we got was a bad guy who wants a MacGuffin, and not all that much action.

Oh, and the tombs which she supposedly raids don't come up much either. Her butler, Hillary (Chris Barrie) gives her three job offers before all this Triangle nonsense comes up, but she declines them because they came on the 15th (presumably of May). That's a bad day, she tells us, because her father was killed that day. Her butler should know that, considering Lara's been an orphan since she was much younger. If she would have been given the requests on the 16th, would that have made much difference? Somehow, I doubt not; Lara doesn't seem particularly interested in tomb raiding.

Jolie makes a good Lara Croft (even if I'd have infinity preferred Rhona Mitra, who has modeled the character before). Having not played the games, I can only assume that the character is supposed to be English, and that wasn't just a creative decision made by the studios or director Simon West. Hopefully they kept close to the games, for the sakes of the fans of the games who want to see a close adaptation, but it doesn't impact me. Oh, and Daniel Craig is underused in another role. What a surprise.

Lara Croft: Tomb Raider left me wanting more action. In an action film, I can't expect much more than that, but I didn't get as much action as I wanted, especially considering this is a video game adaptation. The plot is absurd, character decisions don't make sense, and there isn't actually much raiding of tombs going on. But that would be okay if I was entertained by the action sequences. I liked the first one a lot, but after that brilliance, we never get anything close to that again.
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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Movie Martyr on Tue Dec 20, 2011 1:25 am

Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life
What happened to Daniel Craig? After the first Tomb Raider film, which ended with Lara Croft (Angelina Jolie) and Daniel Craig's character winning, I was hoping they'd get to raid some tombs together if there was a sequel. Now there is a sequel, and his character isn't included, nor is he even mentioned. Most movies at least make mention of previous events or characters, but this one sidesteps that completely.

In The Cradle of Life, we open up with Lara deciding to dive into the ocean to uncover one of Alexander the Great's temples. Said temple as recently been unearthed because an earthquake decided to make it that way. Lara heads in with a couple of Greek companions, and finds a glowing orb. Some Chinese guys follow them and shoot the Greek men, but only attempt to knock Lara out. She doesn't care about tranquilizer darts, so after falling into the water, she gets back up and kills a couple of them. The group still manages to steal the orb, and the scene ends with Lara cutting her arm open, swimming up from the temple, and riding a shark like a horse in order to get back to air.

This is officially as close as The Cradle of Life comes to having its main character raid tombs. Once again, Lara Croft embarks on a mission to save the world. she first has to get that orb back, because she decides that it must be a map. She springs one of her former lovers, Terry (Gerard Butler), from prison in order for him to lead her through the backlands of China. We learn about our main villain, Jonathan Reiss (Ciarán Hinds), who isn't exactly on good terms with the rest of the population.

His plan is pretty simple: Create a virus that will wipe out the vast majority of the people on Earth, while also having a vaccine that can be used to save people that he likes. High ranking executives and such will be allowed to live. Apparently, the rest of us don't deserve to live, as we're all awful people. That's a terrible outlook, which makes him the perfect victim, because nobody will want to see him make it through to the end.

How he plans on creating such a virus is slightly more complicated. The orb that he commissioned a theft of leads to the Cradle of Life from the title. That doesn't mean much by itself, but it's what's inside the Cradle that's important. Pandora's Box exists in this movie, and it contains something that will allow him to create the deadly virus. Or maybe it has the plague in it already, and he will just have to mass-replicate it. Whatever. The point is, we're looking for Pandora's Box in order to avoid a worldwide pandemic, and it's up to Lara and Terry to make sure that such an outbreak doesn't happen.

If you saw the first Tomb Raider movie, which definitely isn't a requirement for this one considering it didn't feature an origin story and nothing that happened in it carries over, you'll probably be aware that it suffered from a bunch of logic problems. The sequel, wanting to maintain something from the original, still contains these problems, although now the future of Earth definitely depends on them, considering we actually know the villain's goal.

This time around, the focus for most of the film is the orb. Unless I'm mistaken, the only way for the bad guys to find and enter the Cradle is to have the orb. At one point, Lara gets the orb from the bad guys. Could she not simply smash it? Or hide it? After she gets it, why does she insist on going after Pandora's Box. Her motivations don't make sense, unless she really doesn't care about saving the world. I wish she spent the entire film trying to get the orb, but failing, because it would have eliminated this problem.

I'm willing to bet that this Tomb Raider film has more action than the last one. Is that action any good though? I didn't think so. It's all so mundane in a we've-seen-it-before kind of way, which makes it almost a chore to sit through. Sure, there's more of it, but when none of it is any good, and it's not holding your attention anyway, shouldn't we just cut some out to decrease the runtime?

As a matter of fact, this Tomb Raider makes the last one seem great by comparison. At least its action scenes didn't feel boring, even if they never became as good as the opening scene was. They were kind of inventive, especially with moments like when Lara Croft dropkicks a swinging log in order to kill a giant rock monster. That's at least interesting. There was also a giant robot that she had to fight, in the film's highlight. This time, there's nothing that comes close to that, just a bunch of shootouts. Yawn.

Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life is an excessively long title missing a comma, and is also a really bad movie. The action scenes are dull, the plot doesn't make much sense, and it suffers from logical issues which I simply hate. It almost completely ignores its predecessor too, which is probably not a bad thing considering this movie makes the first one look great by comparison. If I wanted more Lara Croft after the first film, this one killed all of that possible desire. This is an example of a terrible sequel to a movie that wasn't all that good in the first place. You have no reason to watch this, even if you're the biggest fan in the world of Angelina Jolie.


Last edited by Marter on Tue Dec 20, 2011 5:05 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Hubilub on Tue Dec 20, 2011 11:18 am

I'd raid her tomb

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I felt my sphincter clench and my scrotum contract in shock at his response.
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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Movie Martyr on Tue Dec 20, 2011 9:54 pm

Sleeping Beauty
When you create a film and title it "Sleeping Beauty," you had better not make it boring. Otherwise, you'll get reviews utilizing every possible play on the word "sleep," but more importantly, word of mouth will spread using the same types of puns. When you use a title made famous by the Disney animation, you're going to have to guard against those comparisons as well. As you can see, this film is already on the defensive.

To put even more pressure on Sleeping Beauty, before it has even begun, is the fact that it is the directorial début of a novelist. Julia Leigh also wrote the screenplay, but it is her first time stepping behind the camera to helm a film production. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, but it means an even bigger risk was taken by the studios, and just as many debuts fall flat as they do flourish. Luckily, Leigh's is a success, even if her film isn't going to be something that many people are going to enjoy.

To start the film, we begin by watching the daily routine of a young woman named Lucy (Emily Browning). The first scene made me cringe, as we find out that one of her many jobs involves testing out medical equipment. We watch a tube being inserted down her throat. This is done in one unflinching shot that has the opposite effect on the viewer. Later on, we learn she also does office work and works at a restaurant, but the medical testing was by far her worst job.

Why does she need to work three jobs? That's really a good question. We learn that she's behind on her rent, and also goes to school. Maybe school is really expensive, but she only seems to have one class, which can't be too heavy a burden. She's renting a room from people she knows, and I wouldn't think that would be that expensive either. Why she doesn't pay her rent on time, I'll never know. This isn't a film that's going to lay things out for you.

Because working three jobs isn't enough for Lucy, she inquires about an ad in the paper that requires her to serve dinner to old rich men while wearing lingerie. It pays $250 an hour, although it's freelance work, we're told. She works once, and after she gets home, she burns a $20 bill. Why? Again, I don't know, and it's actions like this that make me think she isn't wanting for cash. Regardless, working multiple jobs, including the dinner-while-wearing-lingerie one, continues for most of the film, even as her performance gets so bad that she sometimes sleeps on the floor while working.

Sleeping is something she'll end up doing quite a bit as the film continues on. She was told when she took the server job that there were opportunities for promotion. She gets that chance later on, when she's told that she can take a drug, lay naked in bed while passed out, and sleep for a few hours. Oh, and an elderly man will come in and sleep with her while she's knocked out. "Sleep with" in the literal sense of the meaning, as actual intercourse is forbidden.

Not that Lucy really cares. She doesn't seem to care much about herself, and would probably have accepted the job without the binding rule. She's the type of nihilist that will do whatever anyone wants her to do at the flip of a coin. At a bar, she's approached and asked if she wants some cocaine. "Why not?" is her response. Later, two men she just met actually use a coin to decide which one would have sex with her that night. She doesn't care, although come to think of it, I can't remember her saying "no" once to anyone in the film. She's very polite, even if she has no regard for her own body.

Perhaps the one person in the world she cares about is an alcoholic named Birdmann (Ewen Leslie). They meet a few times over the course of the film, each time at his apartment, and they have the strangest conversations. At one point, they watch television and Birdmann talks about a rat that was once thought to be extinct, but was recently discovered. If you think that is going to have something to actually do with the film, metaphorically speaking, you may or may not be right.

There's a lot of symbolism in the film, and if you thought this was a film that's going to make it easy on you, you can look elsewhere. You're going to have to infer a great deal about the characters and their reason for doing what they do for most of the time you watch them. I can see this being seen by some as a lack of character depth and development, but I think it's all there and just hidden behind imagery and a classic fairy tale. The way I saw Sleeping Beauty, it actually does steal a couple of things from Disney cartoon. Unfortunately, giving that away now might change the way you view the film, so instead, go in with as fresh a mind as you can. This is a movie that will reward subsequent viewings.

If there's a problem here, it's the character of Lucy. She's often difficult to like, and because she's such an apathetic person, not a lot goes on. She's little farther, for better or worse, when the film ends than when it began. None of the blame can go to Emily Browning, as she plays her without fear, but the way the character is written means that she's not exactly amiable or has a decent enough personality to build a film around. This is largely forgotten about once it gets going, but upon reflection, making her grow as the film progressed would have improved it as a whole.

Regardless, I was engaged by Sleeping Beauty. Is it for everyone? Not at all. If you like artsy films that are there for you to figure out instead of being told everything about them, then it might work for you. It has a solid performance from Emily Browning in the lead role, and it has enough imagery and symbolism to keep you coming back for another watch. That is, if you don't fall asleep during the first time. I didn't have trouble staying awake, but I can definitely see how this isn't a film for the general audience.
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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Movie Martyr on Thu Dec 22, 2011 12:00 am

Gladiator
Gladiator is an example of a film that doesn't do anything special, but pretty much everything it does feature is done well. You've seen almost all of this movie in other movies before -- it's definitely missing something to make itself unique and stand out from other similar films -- but it's worth watching just because it's well-made and rarely gets boring. Plus, winning the Best Picture Oscar for 2000 doesn't hurt.

We begin with a battle scene which I only hope wasn't supposed to inspire or make us care, because it didn't do that for me. Our setting is Ancient Rome, and this scene shows us how the Roman General named Maximus (Russell Crowe) is a pretty solid soldier and leader, as he gets his squad to win the battle against some German fellows. Maximus is then talked to by the current Caesar (Richard Harris). Seeing as how Harris' character believes that he is dying, he asks Maximus to take over the job once he departs from this world, despite having a son named Commodus (Joaquin Phoenix) who is eager to take the position.

Maximus is reluctant, although whether he would or would not accept the job doesn't matter, as Commodus kills his father in the middle of the night and gets the job thanks to being next in line for the title. This makes him the villain of the story, as he is a greedy character who also sentences Maximus to death for not shaking his hand. Being our hero, Maximus escapes, but ends up being captured and forced into the slave trade, which he took with good graces, never really complaining about it. I found that weird, but hey, he found out that his family was killed, so maybe he was suffering from depression -- something that wouldn't be diagnosed back then, nor would it anyway as he's now a slave. Too bad for him, I suppose.

Even though his squad won the battle in the first scene, there were a couple of times when he was knocked down and was almost killed; his squadron saved him in these situations. Once becoming a slave, he is forced to become a gladiator, someone who is forced ot fight in an arena, and is expected to die. As a gladiator, he becomes an unstoppable force, rarely even getting hit, and it never seemed like he could be killed.

The plot follows Maximus' attempts to get all the way back to the Colloseum and kill Commodus, effectively getting revenge for the betrayal that he and his family suffered. He meets some friends inside the gladiatorial arena, such as Juba (Djimon Hounsou) and Hagen (Ralf Möeller). Their purpose is largely to sit back and watch Maximus slay the people they've been sent to fight, as, after all, he is unstoppable.

Basically, it's a story about a man both wanting revenge, and also wanting to recover from the lowest point in his life. See, nothing you haven't seen before. But it's done well enough to keep it interesting, while also feeling somewhat fresh if you aren't sick of the Ancient Greece time period. It's not entertaining all the way through though, especially in the plots involving Commodus' sister, Lucilla (Connie Nielsen), who exists largely to pump up Maximus, which is something that I didn't think he needed anyway.

There's a fair bit more action in Gladiator than I thought there would be going in, although despite the choreography being fine, it does get dull after a while. It's just sword fight after sword fight here, with little deviation from that idea. Oh, there's also a fist fight too, but that comes late and is even less interesting. There needed to be more creativity here, or less action scenes in total, because it does become uninteresting after a while. Granted, I don't know how much more inventive you could get given the time frame, which is why skipping some of the lesser fights might have been a good idea.

Russell Crowe makes a good soldier here, even if he did seem invincible at times. At one point, his shoulder is cut open, but despite the remarkable amount of blood he loses, the worst that happens is he blacks out for a bit. He doesn't seem to care about what blood loss does to a person, especially after he started to lose consciousness, and then realized that wouldn't be smart at the moments, so he picked up his pace. A later scene partially rectifies this issue, but even then, he still manages to fight a great deal before the blood loss catches up to him.

The best thing that Gladiator does is bring us into its setting and get us involved in the era. It sets a mood, a time period, and it sticks with it and makes it feel real. That's one of the things that has to be almost perfect, and Gladiator hits the nail on the head in this area. It's an immersive film, and it largely succeeds as a whole production because it encapsulates us so well.

Gladiator isn't anything special or unique, but what it does bring to the table is all well-done. There's not much wrong with it, even if its lead character seems far too unlikely to die, meaning that there's little-to-no tension during the often boring action scenes. But it sets a great mood and has a solid plot, which makes it a worthwhile watch, even if I don't think it was worthy of the 2000 Oscar for Best Picture.
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