Marter's Reviews

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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Movie Martyr on Fri Nov 04, 2011 6:57 pm

Yes.

Review's coming in ~6 hours.

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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by PayJ on Fri Nov 04, 2011 6:58 pm

Is it any good?

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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Movie Martyr on Fri Nov 04, 2011 7:01 pm

Not. At. All.

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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by PayJ on Fri Nov 04, 2011 7:18 pm

Ah I expected that. Still it's a damn shame. Modern CGI could really help a film like the terminator.

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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Movie Martyr on Fri Nov 04, 2011 11:33 pm

Terminator Salvation
Terminator Salvation doesn't really have much substance or point, apart from attempting to cash in on a series that many fans already considered dead. If you've seen those movies, or at least, the first two, you know that at some time in the future, a war breaks out between man and machine, and that John Connor is the leader of the human resistance army.

Now, in those films, which took place in the 80's and 90's, the future was depicted as a dark place, one where lasers were shot by both sides, and there was never any light. Humans hid underground to avoid being killed, and the environments were desolate, filled with rubble, dead humans and destroyed machines. Salvation doesn't really follow that idea. Oh, it's a desolate place, but it looks just like a generic post-apocalyptic world, where the humans aren't often killed, and instead are captured and held. I guess the machines weren't as bloodthirsty as we once thought.

This is true with the titular Terminators too, as they don't seem all the concerned with killing people. The film is set in 2018, before the popular Arnold Schwarzenegger model has become standard issue (although his likeness does appear in a cameo role). We see Terminators without fake skin, and instead just look like generic robots. But when they get a hold of humans -- and this is especially noticeable in the final fight scene -- they just decide to throw the humans around, without any attempt to kill them. Have they gotten soft? And where are the lasers I was promised? Nobody shoots lasers at one another, instead just using bullets. Lame. This is the future! Why aren't we getting to see the future that was promised in earlier films?

There are two parallel stories in Salvation. The first concerns a man who was killed in the opening scene, but is brought back to life after Judgment Day (a bunch of nuclear explosions that wipe out most of the human population) occurs. His name is Marcus (Sam Worthington), and he eventually finds Kyle Reese (Anton Yelchin). Yes, that same Kyle Reese, from the first film in this series. They hear a radio broadcast and decide that it would be a good idea to try to find John Connor (Christian Bale this time).

John's story is the second one that's told. He and the other humans believe that they've found a way to defeat the machines once and for all. But that will involve blowing up the base, which is where Kyle Reese ends up being captured. Since blowing up Kyle would kind make it impossible for John to be born in the first place, he decides that a rescue mission must take place, so the planning and execution is what ends up dominating the rest of the time of the film.

The thing is, that's all the film has. Once Marcus and John get together, chat a bit, maybe point their guns at one another for a while, it's a rescue mission that doesn't have sufficient planning and has absolutely no character depth of development. There's one twist near the middle that I suppose could count as "development", but really it just serves to create a small amount of tension between a couple of characters, but doesn't change anything about them.

That doesn't completely ruin Salvation, but it does hamper it. What ruins it are the action scenes taking up approximately 90% of the film's runtime, and also not being all that entertaining in the first place. They have a place and serve a purpose, but they're simply not thrilling. They're run-of-the-mill, and considering how exciting the set-pieces in the first three films were, these just don't cut it in a film wearing the Terminator name.

At least the special effects look good. Oh, CGI is certainly overused, but at least it's good CGI, and it doesn't appear lazy or sloppy. I guess that $200 million allows you to have good looking special effects, and in a film like this, you need good effects. Eye-candy is more or less the only thing that Salvation has going for it, and since the environments are so uninspired, the action scenes at the very least need to look busy and exciting, even if they don't end up feeling that way to the audience.

I'm not sure how much this would have helped, but I think the roles of the leads should have been switched. Bale should have played Marcus, while Worthington should have been John Connor. This would have improved the film for a couple of reasons. First, the actors fit their characters better. Bale can do dramatic roles, and the role of Marcus does have more depth than Connor's in this film. Second, it would have given Bale more screen time, as Marcus is more of a lead character than Connor is here (in the initial script, Connor was only included at the very end, instead of being included all throughout.) This wouldn't have made the action scenes any better, but it might have aided the characters.

Unlike the first three Terminator films, Salvation is simply not all that exciting or entertaining. It is loud and has a lot of explosions and action scenes, but I found myself disappointed that it didn't follow how the future was depicted in earlier films. That did look like it could be a fun watch, but what we got was a bunch of action scenes where Terminators don't aim to kill, and humans acting more like boring machines than ever before. It's an unnecessary film that you don't have any reason to watch.
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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Pararaptor on Sat Nov 05, 2011 12:42 am

The Terminators weren't killing the humans because they wanted to experiment on them for use in the Infiltrator Terminators, Arnie's model- which hadn't been invented yet.

I disagree quite strongly with this review actually, I thought it was a fine action film if all you were looking to take from it was action. Certainly much better than the third film, & a much worthier successor to Judgement Day.
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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Movie Martyr on Sun Nov 06, 2011 2:54 am

Moneyball
Admittedly, it didn't happen exactly as depicted in the film. Also admittedly, that doesn't matter. What happened in real life and what happens in Moneyball are close enough to please baseball fans, while also giving us a gripping narrative for non-fans (the heathens that all of you are). Will those who don't enjoy baseball get as much out of it as fans? Probably not -- they might get lost in the jargon of the game -- but I have no doubt that the majority will still enjoy it.

The film stars Brad Pitt in the role of Billy Beane, the general manager of the Oakland Athletics. He took over this position in 1997, although he previously played the sport and also worked as an assistant general manager before this time. For those unaware, the Oakland Athletics are a team that are frequently in the bottom 5 in terms of payroll, meaning that signing high-end free agents often cannot happen simply because the team is unwilling to spend the money. (Have I already lost you, non-fans? If I have, this film is going to aggravate you for the first 30 minutes or so that it plays.)

This is how we begin Moneyball: The Athletics are eliminated from the 2001 playoffs by the New York Yankees. Three of their best players are going to leave because the team cannot pay them enough money to stay. Beane asks the owner of the team for more money, but he's denied. Johnny Damon goes to Boston, Jason Giambi heads to New York, and Jason Isringhausen to St. Louis. Obviously, these players need to be replaced. But how do you replace Damon's on-base percentage or Giambi's run producing? This is a problem that plagues the scouting department of the Athletics.

Beane takes a trip to Cleveland to talk with the general manager of the Indians. It's here that he meets Peter Brand (Jonah Hill), a fictional character based on a few people in real life. Brand has some unique ideas about how to form a team, considering many players severely overrated while others are just the opposite. Beane buys his services and makes him the new assistant general manager of the Oakland Athletics. Brand has never played baseball, and this is only his second job. Perfect, right?

He uses his calculations to determine which players they should go after. I would have liked to see a budget listed throughout the film, so that we could keep track of how much was spent on the 2002 team. It seemed to me that the team was spending more money than they should have, but I don't recall hearing that the Athletics declared bankruptcy, so I suppose that never happened.

Their methods are ingenious, but do they work? You can look it up and see, but the season begins on a negative note. The team loses, and loses big. They hired a catcher to play first base, a submarine relief pitcher to lead the staff, and an aging veteran to play second base. The team's manager (Philip Seymour Hoffman) isn't playing the team they way Beane wants. It's chaos everywhere, while the fans and media are calling for the GM's head.

I'll leave you here, but even if you know what comes next, either because you're a curious little cupcake or because you actually cared about what Oakland was doing in 2002, it's still worth checking Moneyball out. You get to spend a lot of time with Billy Beane, which ends up to be far more enjoyable than one might expect. This is a smart man with a possibly even smarter sidekick who want to redefine what it means to put together a baseball team. Even if that doesn't sound like your type of film, trust me, it's thrilling and touching, but also really funny, containing more humorous moments than your average comedy.

There are many subplots too. Beane used to play the game of baseball, and we see how his career turned out through flashbacks scattered at key moments throughout the film. (Hint: It didn't go well, even if he was a five-tool player who was drafted in the first round.) There's also the butting of heads between skipper and general manager, the way certain characters have to overcome their own individual struggles, and the relationship between Beane and his twelve-year-old daughter, Casey (Kerris Dorsey).

For those of you who might believe this tale to the letter and think that you can grab a computer, punch in some statistics, and start calling MLB teams claiming you have all you need to be a GM, let me just clear something up. The film doesn't place any emphasis on the drafting and development of young players. In that season, a player by the name of Barry Zito won the Cy Young Award (best pitcher of the year), but the film doesn't mention that. He was a player drafted and developed by the organization, not one brought in that nobody else wanted. You can't become that good just by going after bargain players; it just doesn't work that way.

I'm sure this doesn't matter to you while you're watching the film though. I know that while Moneyball was playing, I didn't care, and I consider myself a fairly large fan of the game. This is a film that presents us with a compelling narrative that makes you forget that it probably didn't happen exactly as it's portrayed here. It's an intelligent, witty and extremely entertaining film that I wager most people will enjoy, baseball fan or not. Hey, maybe it'll even convince non-fans to give baseball a chance, especially given how goosebump-inducing some of the on-field dramatizations are.

Moneyball is a great film about the game of baseball that might just get a little too technical to allow everyone in the audience to get full enjoyment out of it. Regardless, it has a sharp script, good actors, plenty of drama and the on-field scenes are probably the most convincing baseball scenes I can remember watching. It's a complete film that I can't recall ever being bored during, and it is highly recommended, baseball fan or not.
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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Movie Martyr on Mon Nov 07, 2011 2:24 am

Heartbreakers
I watched Heartbreakers and I had fun. I shouldn't have, considering the film has almost no respect for men, and also decides to end on a really weak note for a caper film. But it had interesting performances, a lot of funny moments, and made me feel really bad about enjoying it. For me, this is a shining example of a guilty pleasure.

We open up with a marriage between Max (Sigourney Weaver) and Dean (Ray Liotta). He's all too ready to retire for night, with her in tow, so they decide to head to their hotel room almost directly following the reception. Max ends up falling asleep before things proceed further. Dean seems disappointed, but decides to let her rest. In the morning, she's too sick to do anything, so he heads to his office, a chop shop. Inside, he and his secretary, Page (Jennifer Love Hewitt) end up getting caught in a "suggestive" situation. Max divorces Dean and takes $300,000 in damage for him ruining their few hours of marriage.

We then see the pair getting gas. Page refers to Max as "mother", and they manage to get their tank filled for free. There's some tension between the two, with Page wanting to go work on her own, and Max wishing for them to stay as a pair. Their "job" is going around and conning men out of their money by marrying them and then divorcing them as quickly as possible. They average a marriage every three months, so we're told, although this last con took four. Is Max losing her edge as she gets older? Would Page be more successful if she went on her own? These are questions asked, but unfortunately never answered.

Through a series of events that may or may not be the characters' own faults, they end up losing all of their money, and end up in debt for over $200,000. They decide to go after a very rich person, and after some debate, they decide upon William Tensey (Gene Hackman), the owner of a tobacco company and also someone who indulges far too frequently in his own product; either he's smoking a cigarette, or coughing up a lung, never anything else. All the while, Dean has sworn to go after Max for what she did to him, even though he's not entirely clear on what happened.

So they go after Tensey, or more correctly, Max goes after him. She acquires an adequate Russian accent, and tries to get the billionaire tobacco enthusiast to fall for her. Page is there to set-up situations for them to meet, like when she lays spike-strips down on the road so that his car can no longer be driven, but spends most of her days down on the beach hanging out with a bartender named Jack (Jason Lee). Whether she's conning him or falling in love, (or both), is something that is revealed later, but she's going against her mother's wishes regardless.

Surprisingly, the result from these situations isn't where the plot ends, although it's where I'll stop describing it. Suffice to say that things don't go exactly as planned, (do they ever?), and that some reconciliation is involved. And so is a statue of a nude man, although it probably won't take part as you'd expect. Or maybe it will, I'm not a mind reader.

What results are a bunch of humorous scenes and conversations about a smart mother-daughter con team. Ray Liotta's character shows up again late in the film, and ends up almost stealing the show with some of his one-liners and other scenes. He gives the one real positive speech in the entire film too, which felt a little bit odd, as you usually like having characters figure out their wrong-doings by themselves instead of being directly told.

What I didn't like was the constant bashing of men in Heartbreakers. There's a phrase that is said at least once, if not more, that goes "there's only one man." It means that all men are the same, and if this film is to be believed, it means that they all think with what's in their pants. The word "misandry" comes to mind when I think of this film, although this didn't end with me hating it; it just made me take less enjoyment while watching.

I'm still not sure whose idea it was to team up Sigourney Weaver, who was in her early fifties, and Jennifer Love Hewitt, in her early twenties, and expect them both to appear both desirable to every man they con. But it worked. Somehow. I'm not sure if it's the costume design, makeup, or because Sigourney Weaver was blessed with amazing genes, but Weaver didn't look out of place at all acting beside someone thirty years her junior. And no, I'm not saying that Love Hewitt didn't look good, it's just that I could believe that a guy could desire both of them, despite the age difference. It's this point that makes the film slightly believable, which is important to me.

I think that because the situations are clever, the dialogue is sharp, and the actors put in a good effort, Heartbreakers ends up working well enough as a romantic comedy. The simple fact is: I had fun. I laughed for most of the way through it, and I didn't find myself feeling bored for long, even if the two-hour runtime is too long. There's enough fun to be had here if you enjoy these kinds of thing, that I think it's worth watching. I didn't love it, but it was enjoyable enough to give me a good time, even if I felt ashamed about the experience.
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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Movie Martyr on Tue Nov 08, 2011 1:51 am

State of Play
I almost feel bad about saying this, but State of Play feels a bit too long. (This is probably my most common complaint, and I acknowledge that. Sadly, it's also something I feel too often.) I almost feel bad because this is actually a remake of a six-hour miniseries that aired on British television in 2003. See, when condensing something by two-thirds, you still want to try to cram it full of as much of the original content as you can.

That's the case here, but some of the things that are included had no reason to be when you remove the parts of the original series that make them work. For instance, a love affair between two of the characters doesn't work because the only purpose in the film is to create tension between two characters. But the tension is already there, thanks to other events in the plot, and as a result, these scenes including cheating feel redundant because their purpose is already fulfilled.

The plot begins when we learn that a woman named Sonia (Maria Thayer) is dead. Congressman Stephen Collins (Ben Affleck) ends up admitting to being in a relationship with her, despite being married. (And before you ask, no, this isn't the affair I was referring to earlier.) As you can expect, this causes some bad press for him. He can't even go home to his wife (Robin Wright Penn), because there are dozens of reporters in front of his house. He heads to journalist Cal McAffrey (Russell Crowe), who becomes our protagonist. He doesn't believe that Sonia's death was a suicide, like all of the papers are reporting, and instead decides to start investigating the real cause, while also trying to protect his friend the congressman. Apparently if your mistress commits suicide, it's not good for your reputation. Go figure!

Cal works for a newspaper that recently got new ownership. Money is more important than the truth now, a point that is reinforced quite frequently. Cal ends up getting a partner on the case named Della (Rachel McAdams), a blogger. The two end up uncovering far more than you'd initially expect, until you realize that this is a political thriller, and that there is always more than meets the eye.

The plot ends up being a very interesting journey that takes you through a great deal of characters, a few unexpected twists, and a great deal of food for thought. For the vast majority of the time, you won't be bored; instead, you'll be engaged in the story. It's only during the scenes that involve only Cal and Stephen's wife where you'll find yourself yawning, for reasons I've already mentioned, and also because the rest of the film keeps you thinking, while these scenes don't.

The driving force of this film is Russell Crowe as the good guy journalist who doesn't care about making money, and only seems to want to find out the truth. It's a good thing to have a character like this, both because it's convenient to have one in the plot, and also because it represents what the newspaper business needs more of. There's also a fun little side plot pitting the printed press against the internet.

With all that said, the plot does suffer from being somewhat convoluted and possibly having one too many twists. I figure that it's because they had to cut down six hours into two while still trying to cram in everything that the original miniseries had. When you have six hours, you need to include a lot of plot twists to keep the audience interested, and you have the ability to develop upon those twists. Near the end of State of Play, there are a lot of twists, and they don't serve much as a shock, because we're still trying to get a grasp on the last ones. It's an over-saturation on this part, and it defeats the purpose of the twists.

The acting isn't anything special, except for on the part of Crowe. Affleck has one scene that requires him to cry, but that's not particularly convincing. It's more miscasting in this case, because the role that Affleck has should have been played by an older actor. Everything about the role speaks to him being in his mid 50's, but Affleck doesn't look close to that age. McAdams is more of an annoyance in her role as a blogger, even if her subplot is interesting. Crowe, who seemed to have gained a lot of weight and refused to cut his hair for a year, is better, and I actually believed that he could be a reporter.

Thankfully, it's problems don't become readily apparent until after the film ends. The pacing is so good, and the tension so strong that you don't really recognize the flaws while it's playing. You don't have time to think about them, because your brain is kept active thanks to the plot and how thrilling the film is throughout its runtime. It's a lot of fun to watch this, both because of how interesting the plot and characters are, and also because of how much you're given to think about, even if there is often too much going on.

State of Play is a well-made thriller with an engaging plot and a great deal of fun situations. You will continue to watch because your mind is occupied and there are few dull moments. There are a bit too many twists, and the film ends up being filled with far too much content for the two hours it's given, but it's still an easily watchable film that won't fail to entertain you.
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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Movie Martyr on Wed Nov 09, 2011 2:04 am

Hunger
Hunger is a film that has a goal. It's mission is to show you how terrible life is for people in a prison. Both guards and inmates alike are treated to awful conditions. Oh, and there's also something about a hunger strike, but that's only in the last 30 minutes of the film and isn't actually all that important in the grand scheme of things, at least, not in the movie. In real life, I'm sure it was a big deal, but as it's portrayed in Hunger, likely due to the tone of the movie, I couldn't bring myself to care.

The film opens with a prison guard, and we watch him go through a day of his life. Well, part of the day. He seems depressed, although we're not entirely sure why, Then we watch a new inmate, Davey (Brian Milligan), who is just entering the prison. He refuses to wear a uniform, and is forced to strip down and then given a simple blanket. His roommate is Gerry (Liam McMahon), who had the same treatment. These will be our leads for the first part of the film, as we watch them lead their lives inside a prison.

But there's something more going on. There's a radio transmission that we hear near the beginning of Hunger that tells us that Republican prisoners who commit crimes for political purposes wished to be given their political rights, instead of being treated like any other common lawbreaker. We see these men passing paper back and forth whenever they get the chance, seemingly getting ready to plan something. At one point in the film, they dump their urine-filled pans into the hall, all at the same time. Boy, that will prove your point. We watch a janitor clean it up. And we still watch, because the shot is held for a long time. This is a time when cutting earlier would be better.

Our previous leads are forgotten about soon enough though, as we are introduced to Bobby Sands (Michael Fassbender). We first see him violently refusing to take a bath, and as a result, he's beaten viciously. And then he also gets his hair and beard cut. He becomes our new protagonist, and also the leader of the aforementioned hunger strike, which the film's title would have you believe it's about. That's not true, but "Hunger" is a better title than "Life in a Prison Sucks". Or maybe it isn't, because the latter is both more accurate and is probably the title of a book just waiting to be adapted into a movie. Maybe not.

At one point, Sands claims that he has 70 men willing to follow him in this strike. He tells this to a priest (Liam Cunningham), in the film's highlight. There's a conversation that takes place between the two characters, and it lasts approximately seventeen minutes. There are no cuts in this conversation, at least, not until Sands begins to light his third cigarette. Think about how difficult that would be to act out. Seventeen minutes without making any mistakes (although I wonder if some of the dialogue was re-dubbed after filming took place). This was fascinating to me, as the priest tries to talk Sands out of going through with the strike.

For those of you familiar with the events that Hunger is based on, you know how it ends. For those who aren't, I won't spoil it, although it sticks with the film's tone of being bleak and daunting. There are few, if any, shots of joy in this film, with the only one I can think of coming before Davey is imprisoned, where the prison guard is having a joke with his colleagues. I can't think of any other moments where characters smiled or laughed, or when I didn't want to stop watching this movie.

With a tone so disparate, both before and after the hunger strike begins, you know you're not in for a fun watch. That's not what Hunger is about, but I could not get into it. It's no fun, and there's little to take from it without there being reason to do so. I think part of the reason that Hunger didn't grab me was because of director Steve McQueen's filming style. Instead of focusing on characters or their relationships, we get extended shots of, for example, a janitor cleaning up spilled urine or power washing a wall that has been splattered with excrement.

Characters are what make a powerful drama, but instead, we're supposed to sympathize with random people who get beaten at the drop of a hat. There's little development on anyone but Sands, but even watching him starve himself, while a grim image, didn't make me feel anything. And I'm someone who likes dark and depressing dramas. It also feels disjointed, moving from character to character like they're random soldiers in an army, although we spend a lot of time with them doing nothing except living in dreadful conditions. I'm sure that the people making this film did their research and it's a fairly realistic depiction of how life would have been for these people, but it just isn't enjoyable for the audience.

Hunger is a film that is unconventionally shot, unyielding in showing us the conditions of the prison, but also not fun at all for the audience. It's an art house film about how terrible life can be for people fighting for their rights, and the lengths that they'll go to in order to procure said rights, but its lack of character depth and its desolate tone make it a watch that is absolutely no fun.
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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Pararaptor on Wed Nov 09, 2011 2:07 am

I remember seeing that film stoned.
Oh my God it was so fucking bad.

+1 on this one Marter.
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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Movie Martyr on Wed Nov 09, 2011 2:11 am

Furburt loved it, I believe he said.

And it got a lot of critical praise. I just had an awful time watching it.

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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Pararaptor on Wed Nov 09, 2011 2:13 am

I know exactly how you feel.
Not willing to give it another sober, without-friends-around shot.
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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Furburt on Wed Nov 09, 2011 9:22 am

Feck all of ye's philistines!

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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Furburt on Wed Nov 09, 2011 9:24 am

Although it does help if you understand the particular's in said story. Bobby Sands is a folk hero in places in Ireland, so we didn't need the story filled in.

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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by MilkyFresh on Wed Nov 09, 2011 9:32 am

Yo Furb, currently downloading that film Naked, the one you told me to check out years ago.

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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Furburt on Wed Nov 09, 2011 9:45 am

Lovely! Enjoy 2 hours of a bastard being horrible to people worse than him!

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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by MilkyFresh on Wed Nov 09, 2011 10:37 am

Brilliant

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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Katzenjammer on Wed Nov 09, 2011 8:59 pm

Naked is fucking amazing.

David Thewlis is so good in it.

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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Furburt on Wed Nov 09, 2011 9:24 pm



David Thewlis is consistently amazing.

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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Movie Martyr on Thu Nov 10, 2011 2:54 am

Source Code
We open up confused, just like Jake Gyllenhaal does. He's on a train, and the woman across from him, Christina (Michelle Monaghan) is telling him that she decided to go with his idea. He's perplex that she's talking, much less to him, considering he was sleeping and has never seen her before in his life. He's asked for his ticket, and she gets it. He heads to the bathroom, where his reflection does not look like Jake Gyllenhaal. He opens his wallet and finds out that his name is Sean Fentress. Then the train blows up, and we fade to black.

I wondered if it was a joke at this point. Was this really a short film about confusion? No, it isn't. Gyllenhaal wakes up in a pod, where he is initially upside down. The voice inside rotates him, and then appears on the screen. He's talking to Colleen Goodwin (Vera Farmiga) who isn't one for small talk. He remembers that his name is really Colter Stevens, and still wonders why he was on the train in the first place. He's a soldier stationed in Afghanistan, after all. It's explained that he needs to find the bomb, and the bomber, before being forced to replay the last eight minutes for a second time.

After time passes, he's back in the pod, still confused, as are we. Eventually we're told how this works, and how he's able to become this Sean Fentress. Not that it matters, but he ends up being able to do what Bill Murray was able to in Groundhog Day, except he only has eight minutes before the simulation shuts off. He gets to keep all knowledge gained during these eight minutes, with the end goal being to find the bomber. See, all of these people are actually already dead, and the corporation that is allowing Colter to performance this "mission" have been given information that a second bomb, potentially killing millions of people, will go off later on. If Colter finds the bomber, millions of lives may be saved. That is a good reason for a soldier to act.

The plot moves from point to point very nicely and quickly, as Colton learns more about how he got into this pod, while also getting to know the people on-board the train. He takes a particular shine to Christina, who had already taken a linking to him. Or Sean. Whatever. He quickly realizes that these lives are ones that he wants to save, so he tries that. After waking up back in the pod, and being sent back to the train, he finds out that this is frivolous. These people are dead, and he'd been told that, so he must stop wasting time and go back to completing his mission. At least, that's what he gets told.

The people who have him in this pod are incredibly business focused. This is largely because the inventor of the pod, Dr. Rutledge (Jeffrey Wright) is banking on his investment to actually save lives. Not, you know, because those lives are important to him, but instead, so he can secure financing for more of these projects. Yes, Source Code does have one of those messages about evil corporate businessmen, although it only becomes prevalent very late in the incredibly short runtime.

Source Code only lasts about an hour and a half, and as a result, we are bombarded with information and with things to look at. This isn't a movie that you want to miss one second of, because it feels like you'll miss hours. There isn't a moment to breathe, and in this case, this is a good thing. You might begin to question the absurdity of its claims and science if you're given that time. But you aren't. Instead, you get a mind-bending science fiction thriller that will keep your mind and heart engaged from beginning to end.

Actually, it's more like "beginning to five minutes from the end," because the ending is definitely the weakest point that we get. I'm fine with how it ended, even if it felt like kind of a cop out, but I didn't like how long the final sequence felt. It's just drawn out a few minutes too long, and it would have left a greater impact had it been cut earlier.

Regardless, the ending is still quite powerful and will leave you thinking not only about it, but also about the film as a whole. You'll think back through the previous 90 minutes, and you'll wonder exactly what just happened. You'll hit yourself for not figuring out who the bomber was earlier, and you'll realize just how much fun you had watching Jack Gyllenhaal fully embodying just how confused you are. The exposition given is required, and since Colton is basically your everyman that represents a large group of the audience, explanations don't feel redundant because we need them.

For almost all of the time that Source Code plays, I couldn't take my eyes off the screen. I felt my heart pounding, my brain pumping, and I was thoroughly entertained. Because of the breakneck pace, I didn't care if the science was preposterous, or if Michelle Monaghan's character was greatly underused. I was simply having a ton of fun with a smart, thrilling science fiction film.

Source Code is a great movie filled with a ton of things to keep you engaged. There is hardly a moment wasted here, meaning you're always going to have something to think about. Its ending does drag on for a little too long, but that's the only significant complaint I have. Almost everything works here, and it results in a fantastic film that I hope everyone gets a chance to see.
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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by MilkyFresh on Thu Nov 10, 2011 3:53 am

Furburt wrote:

David Thewlis is consistently amazing.
I wonder who could possibly have been the inspiration for that role...

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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Movie Martyr on Fri Nov 11, 2011 1:17 am

Tears of the Sun
The story of Tears of the Sun begins with a rescue mission. Bruce Willis and his SEAL Team are sent into Nigeria in order to rescue a U.S. citizen (by marriage only) from the tribal war that's going on there. The President has been assassinated by rebel forces, and things are getting pretty violent. The person they are sent in to rescue is a doctor named Lena (Monica Bellucci), and she decides that she needs all of her patients to be rescued as well.

Here is the first point of conflict in the film. Willis' orders are to extract her and any other Americans, but to leave any of the locals. We can see the inner conflict in his eyes. He wants to help them, but his orders forbid it. Regardless, Lena won't come unless they take the locals as well. So they do. They make it to the extract point, but only Lena gets to come aboard. The locals are forced to walk all the way to the safety of the Cameroon border. It was a trick, and it worked. The SEAL Team rescued Lena, completed their mission, and the helicopter will take them to safety. Mission finished; movie over.

Oh wait, that's not how it ends. That would be a pretty boring movie, wouldn't it? They do get on the helicopter though, and it looks like everything has gone as planned. But Willis decides to turn them around and go back for the people who Lena had been defending so vehemently. Once back, they get off the helicopter and put the injured, young and old on instead. The soldiers are going to personally escort this group of people to safety, even though they're going against direct orders. That doesn't sound like a great plan to me, but apparently this group of lifeless and emotionless soldiers actually do have consciences.

For reasons that are initially unknown, the group is being followed by rebel soldiers. There is one moment when the rebels wind up very close to the people we're following, and it's at this moment that I knew I was having a really good time with Tears of the Sun. This scene is filled with such tension and great thrills, that I found myself really engaged. I realized that I wanted to see these people -- most of whom don't even get names -- to make it to safety, and I wanted to see Bruce Willis lead them there. We hadn't even gotten an action scene yet, and I was perfectly okay with that.

We do get a couple of action scenes though, with the first one occurring after the first hour is already complete. The first comes when the SEAL Team sees a group of rebels terrorizing a small village, or group of houses. Our heroes go in to stop them. The second is your standard action movie shootout-to-end-all-shootouts, but it's competently done and is a fitting conclusion. Both action scenes are fun, even if they're not all that inventive or creative.

What Tears of the Sun does really well is involving you with the characters and the situations that these characters face. You get right in there with them, and you experience everything that they do. You travel with them, rest with them, fight with them, and all the while, you feel like you're one of them. It doesn't feel like large portions of their journey are missing; instead, you feel like you're there for every step and moment that occurs.

The only real problem with the film is that the tribal war that's going on doesn't feel all that bad to us. The opening scene is the execution of the President and his family, and every now and then, we see shots of the rebels causing havoc around the country. But to us, and our group of soldiers and refugees, they seem no more of a threat than your standard enemies in an action movie. Their motives are not made especially clear either, and I'm still not quite sure as to why they need to track our group, or why the main commander of the rebels is leading the charge.

But I didn't have time to think about these things while Tears of the Sun was playing. I was too immersed, and the pacing was too slick, to have me consider these things. Even though I watched the director's cut, which is 142 minutes long, it didn't feel like it overstayed its welcome. I wanted to watch from beginning to end, and there wasn't a moment when I was bored. I've heard that the theatrical cut was worse, although I haven't seen it. For what it's worth, I thought the director's cut was great.

The acting isn't anything to write home about, but it really doesn't have to be. Bruce Wills just whispers his way through the role, doesn't show any real emotion, although nobody else does either. Despite this, I liked these characters because of their noble actions, and it seemed like there was a great deal of repressed emotion in the way they acted. Or maybe I'm just looking too deeply into their performances. Whatever. The point is, having largely emotionless character ends up working well in this film, even if it means there isn't as much depth as I'd usually hope to see.

Tears of the Sun is a really good movie about a rescue mission involving some people from Nigeria. It's about as basic as you can get, and yet, I was fully engrossed while it was playing. It works because it isn't just a simple action movie, and because it doesn't feel like it cheats you out of scenes involving these soldiers. You feel just like one of the people being rescued, being fully immersed in everything taking place. It's not perfect, but it's very entertaining.
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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Movie Martyr on Sat Nov 12, 2011 2:01 am

The Queen
"The Queen" may be the title of this film, and its lead character may be Queen Elizabeth II (Helen Mirren), but the subject of the film is Princess Diana, and her death. Had she not been involved in a car accident that resulted in her death, this movie would not exist. It deals with the Royal Family and the decisions they make after the Princess' death. It also follows then Prime Minister Tony Blair (Michael Sheen), and his dealings with the Queen.

The film opens with Blair winning the 1997 British general election by a landslide. He is briefed before getting to meet the Queen about the protocol that is involved. Meanwhile, she is getting ready to meet him, although there is nothing she must do apart from look prim and proper. Blair eventually gets to meet her, and completely messes up what he was supposed to do. It doesn't both her, or at least, doesn't seem to. They have a chat, and he officially become Prime Minister.

Then we fast-forward to August, where Princess Diana is a media magnet. Everything she does is reported on, and it seems that she's a fascinating person. She gets into a car in Paris, and, well, I think we all know what happens next. The Royals get a phone call that she was in a car accident, breaking some bones and receiving a concussion. She would later die. There needs to be a funeral, everyone has decided, although the decision of whether or not it should be public or private is the first bone of contention. Some people, including the Queen, wants it to be private. The people of Britain want a public one. Who will win out?

If you paid attention at the time, you know what happens. While The Queen is a fictional account of the events, as far as the behind the scenes stuff goes, it follows the actual timeline of events. A great deal of stock footage was actually used, most of which involved Diana, but sometime we get scenes of flowers laid down in tribute to her, and that was stock footage too. Very grainy stock footage that doesn't have the same clarity as the rest of the film, but it helps to make the film seem more authentic and was a nice touch.

In essence, this is another one of those life films. Characters don't get traditional arcs, there isn't really a lot of tension, and most of the film just follows these people around and we watch them live their lives. It just so happens that we drop in on them during such a tumultuous time. But that still doesn't change much of what the Queen does with her life, not until past the mid-way point, when she actually decides to do something about the negative press she's created by not doing anything about Diana's death.

As a matter of fact, The Queen could have easily ended much sooner had our lead character decided to react the way that the public wanted her to, instead of being stubborn by doing absolutely nothing, not even releasing a statement about Diana's death. As a result, the Queen isn't a character that we really like, even if we do sympathize with her later in the film, just like Tony Blair seems to do.

Near the end of the film, Blair decides to defend Her Majesty from mild belittling on the part of one of his advisers. For most of his screen time, he cleans up after her and publicly defends her, but when we see him when not in front of the public camera, he doesn't have this type of attitude. His turn at the end seemed to come out of nowhere for me, although I can see why he ended up being a Queen sympathizer -- we end up feeling the same way.

Obviously I have no idea how accurate this movie was in depicting what the Royal Family went through after Diana's death, but I can say that the way it's shown here makes it seem real. I'm sure some things that the film shows didn't happen, or didn't happen in the way it ended up on the screen, but I never questioned whether or not these things could have happened exactly the way they did. Maybe this plays to my own ignorance, but I'm more inclined to say that this drama feels very realistic instead.

I think much of this realism has to do with the casting, which is almost pitch-perfect. Both Mirren and Sheen fully embody their roles, with credit going both to the actors and the make-up personnel. There is some stock footage that shows Blair making a speech or a public appearance, and then we'll cut to Sheen, and we almost can't tell the difference. Mirren looks and acts similar enough for us to believe we're watching the public life of Queen Elizabeth II, which goes to show how great an actor she is.

However, The Queen loses steam as it progresses, both because we realize exactly how it will end, meaning any drama is quickly removed, and because the script becomes less sharp. early on, it's quite humorous, containing a lot of wit and charm. But then it just becomes about getting to an inevitable conclusion, and highlighting the performances of Mirren and Sheen.

The Queen isn't an amazing movie, but as far as giving us a backstage look at the lives of the Royal Family after Princess Diana's death, it's pretty entertaining. It loses some of its charm as it progresses, and the Queen comes across as quite unlikable for a lot of her time on-screen, but it's still a solid drama that will, for the most part, keep you entertained, as well as allowing you a glimpse into the mostly private life of the Royals. It's a film worth watching, although don't go in looking for much surprise, because you won't find any.
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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Komrade Kharloth on Sat Nov 12, 2011 2:49 am

Marter wrote:
Hunger


No offense to any Irish, but that is a terrible fucking film.

I went into it knowing little about the hunger strike, and came out knowing even less.

Who are these people? What the fuck are they doing? Why are they rubbing their shit on the walls? Why are they in prison? Why are the guards beating the shit out of them? Why are they naked and living in their own filth?

And the 15 minute long conversation without any change in camera cut was the most boring thing I've ever seen in film.

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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Furburt on Sat Nov 12, 2011 9:14 am

Komrade Kharloth wrote:

Who are these people?
IRA and INLA prisoners.
What the fuck are they doing?
Refusing to wear prison uniform as they consider themselves POWs and not criminals, and also hunger striking.
Why are they rubbing their shit on the walls?
All prisoners protesting against uniforms were denied bathroom privileges.
Why are they in prison?
Shooting Brits and blowing up cars
Why are the guards beating the shit out of them?
The guards are all loyalists
Why are they naked and living in their own filth?
Blanket protest. Brits took their clothes off them anyway, so they lived in prison issue blankets.

I'm honestly quite surprised by the reaction on here, I myself consider Hunger to be one of the greatest films I've ever seen, and most people I've watched it with offline agree.

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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Movie Martyr on Sun Nov 13, 2011 2:47 am

The Island
The Island is a film that has two distinct storytelling methods, one of which gets about a quarter of the 136 minute runtime, and the other takes up the rest. The first portion is set in a society where everyone wears white clothing and receives their meals at the same time. This is a science-fiction movie, and the first part of the film emphasizes that. The second half is a standard action film that is essentially just a really long chase sequence.

The year is 2019, so we're told, although I'm not sure if that was reality. Our lead is a character named Lincoln Six Echo (Ewan McGregor), who wakes up one morning to a really bad dream. He then proceeds to eat breakfast, have a boxing match, and visit the doctor (Sean Bean). He's dressed in all white, just like everyone else in this place. There is a contamination on Earth, and this place, and the island from the title, are the only places free from it. There is a lottery held every once in a while, and the winner gets to move to the island and live a happy life.

Lincoln has friends in this society, although they end up just serving to fill time while Lincoln thinks about stuff. He begins to question his reality, and wonders why things happen the way that they do. At one point, he finds a bug inside the "contamination-free" zone, and ponders how it could get there, and why it's still alive. There's one friend that does matter, a female that goes by the name Jordan Two Delta (Scarlett Johansson). At one point, she gets picked to go to the island, although she'll never make it.

It turns out that the people in this facility had been lied to, but the extend of those lies will not be included in this review. Suffice to say that the pair escape and end up in a chain of chase sequences that are populated with explosions, gunfire and more explosions. This is a film directed by Michael Bay, after all. This is a film that starts out as a fairly high-minded science fiction story, but turns into a nonstop action film where the only science fiction is the twist near the middle, and the fact that transportation has come very far, with many vehicles being able to fly.

The Island ends up not coming to the conclusion I figured that it would. It's incredibly difficult to talk about these questions without spoiling the circumstances involved with them, but there are moments in the film where characters give looks to other ones, and I figured that they were questioning what their purpose was in life. I wondered if they were willing to sacrifice themselves for someone else, but the issue is sidestepped completely. There's too much action going on to bring up things like this, so even though we think about it thanks to specific shots of characters, the film avoids it like the plague, or, "contamination."

Since the action scenes end up taking up three-quarters of the final runtime, you need to expect them to be good. For the most part, they are. They are not inventive in the least, with almost all standard action/chase clichés on full display here, but they're well-made and entertaining enough that we don't care all that much. I didn't find myself bored, and since an action film just needs to entertain, it does that job just fine.

Even though 136 minutes is a fairly long time for an action film to fill, I felt that it could have been even longer and I still wouldn't have gotten tired of it. In fact, I probably could have had more of the opening moments, when Lincoln is beginning to question his reality. This isn't a new premise, and there have been films that take far more time exploring it in the past. But here, it's used mostly as an excuse to set-up some big set-pieces. It's a strong start, but after you come to this realization, you wonder what more could be done with this premise, and why it wasn't used better.

This also makes it hard to care about the rest of the plot, twists included. The reason that these people were held inside of some secret facility ends up being the topic of discussion whenever we get a two-minute break from chase scenes, although I found myself not caring about it. I didn't feel anything for these characters, I didn't care whether or not their true purpose would be fulfilled, or if they get to live out their lives like normal people, and I didn't care about Sean Bean's doctor character, because his character is a stereotype there solely to drive the plot.

That's not to say that our lead actors don't put in a lot of work, because they do. They're both good actors, and while they're not given much to do apart from running and running some more, every now and then giving each other orders or demanding information from someone, they still give their naïve and fairly unintelligent characters some charm. There are a couple of funny moments to the film too, although these moments are so hollow and empty that I couldn't remember them even moments after I saw them.

The Island is a film that would have been better off sticking to one of its two means of telling a story. Did it want to be a straight-up action film, or did it want to be a science fiction picture about what "real" is? The result is a mixture of both, neither working quite as well as it should, and the film never comes together as a whole. It's still entertaining, but its forgettable and pretty easy to ignore. I had a decent time with it, but I doubt I'll remember it in a few days time.
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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Walnutman on Sun Nov 13, 2011 2:58 am

Furburt wrote:
I'm honestly quite surprised by the reaction on here, I myself consider Hunger to be one of the greatest films I've ever seen, and most people I've watched it with offline agree.

I really like it too, thought it wasn't pleasant to watch but that was kind of the point.

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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Komrade Kharloth on Sun Nov 13, 2011 3:46 am

@Fabian

I know, after I read about the story behind it, it seemed liked a good movie. I watched it without any context, and there was little that explained why what was happening in the film.

Also: They should have called it "Hungry Hungry Irishmen"


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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Pararaptor on Sun Nov 13, 2011 3:51 am

Wait, I think I'm thinking of a completely different film.

The Hunger I watched was about a rich psycho who locked people in an underground bunker without food or water & watched them.
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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Movie Martyr on Sun Nov 13, 2011 3:56 am

Pararaptor wrote:Wait, I think I'm thinking of a completely different film.

The Hunger I watched was about a rich psycho who locked people in an underground bunker without food or water & watched them.
Yeah, that's a different one.

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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Pararaptor on Sun Nov 13, 2011 3:57 am

Oh.
I take back what I said then.
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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Movie Martyr on Mon Nov 14, 2011 12:54 am

Dazed and Confused
Dazed and Confused takes place in an alternate universe where parties have no consequences, police let you off with a warning even if you have multiple violations of the law, parents don't punish their children, and characters don't get any development until their very last scene, unless they don't get any at all. Or maybe that's just how the 70's were. Regardless, I just successfully described Dazed and Confused in one sentence. Pass the booze and let's have a party, man.

We begin with the final day of school classes in 1976. Everyone is planning to go to a party at one student's house while wasting away their day at school. Some kids skip, other spend the day just chatting it up with one another. At the end of the day, it's time for future freshmen to get the stuffing either beaten or embarrassed out of them. The males get a paddle to their derrière, while the females get to be abused by the senior high students of the same gender. No adults intervene, we're told, even though some of this happens on school grounds. A different time, right?

I'm not even going to get into the cast or characters, because there are too many to list. But if you can think of a stereotypical high school student, whether it be a jock, nerd, stoner -- they'll all be included. That's not to say that they aren't all interesting people, because they are, but it seemed like they were all included just because these types of characters are always included in high school movies. I spoke too soon though: This isn't just a high school movie though, as there are a few junior high student who also get in on the action. One of them is prominently featured, both in being whacked with a paddle and being invited to the party to end all parties.

There is a party, but there isn't much of a plot. Oh, each character has an arc that they follow, but the majority of them only get three scenes to finish it. The first scene introduces them and their situation, the second is further development, and the final scene concludes it. This isn't enough time spent with all of the people to see them as anything more than stock characters, even though some of them seem like they'd be fun to spend more time with. This is a problem that a lot of ensemble films face -- one that many are unable to overcome.

Dazed and Confused does a very good job of setting an atmosphere and making us feel like we're in the setting that is chosen. Here, it's small-town America in 1976. Everything from the cars, to the hairstyles to the amazing soundtrack screams "1970's," and I was quite enjoying taking the trip back through time, even if I did end up hearing the word "man" far more than I ever needed to.

The finale -- the party -- is probably the highlight of the film, as it should be. It's here where a lot of the characters actually change, although since they were all incredibly drunk, we have no idea whether or not these changes will stick. I like to believe they will, even if we aren't given any indication. But at this one locale, we see different sets of characters interacting for the first time, and this is fun for us.

However, most of the film isn't fun. Not a lot happens, and the things that do happen end up being unenjoyable. These characters are all flawed in some ways, and it's hard to like most of them. They're interesting, and we want to see what they'll do in any given situation, but their actions do not make them endearing. This doesn't make the film bad, but since this is essentially a coming-of-age film for a whole group of people, and since the payoff isn't all that great, it means that it feels that there's a lot of wasted potential here.

Despite being listed as a comedy wherever I look, Dazed and Confused did not often make me laugh, at least, no more than many dramas and action films do. It's a life film, one that takes place over the course of one day (and night) and tells the stories of a bunch of teenagers (and one creepy adult played by Matthew McConaughey). The dialogue isn't often funny, and the situations weren't funny at all; instead, they felt realistic given the time this film was set during.

Even if the dialogue isn't funny, it is smart. This is a film that treats its adolescents just like adults, with the younger characters actually speaking just as, if not more, intelligent than the older ones. And considering you're talking about a film where most of the characters are rarely sober, this felt weird, but I still liked it. These aren't characters that are dumbed down just so that it seems like they're younger. They're given respect by writer/director Richard Linklater, and I think this is why it ultimately succeeds as a film.

Despite having its fair share of problems, I easily forgave most of them because of how interesting Dazed and Confused is. Maybe it's just entertaining to see smart kids having fun, but in the end, I had quite a good time with this film. At the end of the day, that's really what you want when watching a movie about other people enjoying themselves. This is a film that captures the essence of the '70s, and what it was like to be a teenager during that time. While the talented cast doesn't get all that much time to develop their characters, I liked watching them work. All in all, it was an entertaining film that you should give a watch.
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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Movie Martyr on Tue Nov 15, 2011 3:09 am

Season of the Witch
We get a scene before the title is shown. It involves a priest, some strong men, and three women. The women have been charged as witches, and are sentenced to a hanging. That happens, but the strong men leave before the priest is allowed to recite something that is supposed to ensure that they don't come back from the dead. Of course, one does, although this proves to not be particularly important for almost a dozen years.

After the title, Season of the Witch, is shown, we cut to Nicolas Cage and Ron Perlman reciting something that reminded me of a dialogue given to us in one of the Lord of the Rings films. They're talking right before a massive battle, and they decide to wager on who will kill the most amount of people. "Okay, I could get into this," I thought at the time. "It looks like a film that won't be taking itself too seriously. This could be fun." Oh, how I was wrong.

We soon watch the duo slaughter countless unknown enemies at different periods all throughout the 1330s. Eventually, they come to the realization that killing innocent women and children is wrong, so they leave the Church and go exploring. At one point, they wander on the town that we saw in the pre-title sequence, which is currently being rampaged by a plague that disfigures your face so much, you won't be recognized even if your name is Christopher Lee, who tells them to escort the witch that rose from the dead (Claire Foy) to a place where it can be determined whether or not she is a witch or not. Well, okay then.

They're joined on their quest by a group of others, although none of the characters are worth mention, except to say that they all have inconsistent accents. At times, one of them sounded like he was from New York City, although at others, he sounded right at home in the 14th century in Europe -- or, at least I could believe that he was from this time and place, instead of from present-day America. The witch also goes back and forth between accents, although I began to wonder if that was the point to her character.

See, we're never supposed to be sure whether or not she's a witch, something that they toy with in regards to Cage's character. He treats her better than most others, although if that's because he's trying to repent for previous sins is something that also gets mentioned. The "witch" spends most of her time stuck in a cage acting as mysterious as possible, although this seemed to be more for our benefit than for any of the characters in the film.

The worst part of Season of the Witch is that it isn't actually the light film that it starts out as. After Cage and Perlman leave the Church, the film becomes dark, both in terms of its lighting and its tone. We go through a ton of murky areas, which at least helps hide some of the poor CGI, but there's also no scenes of levity after this point either. That is, with the exception of Ron Perlman, who (thankfully) doesn't seem to be taking things too seriously.

However, this makes him feel out of place. Everyone else is stone-faced throughout, which leaves Perlman looking like a clown who's laughing alone -- and at his own jokes, no less. Cage, Foy, and the rest of the cast don't so much as smile once for the majority of the film. But this material needed to be played more as a joke than as a serious venture. All of the scene would work almost perfectly as a parody of this genre, but it's played dead-serious by almost everyone involved, and it's here where we place the blame on director Dominic Sena, who didn't seem to realize what type of premise he'd been given, and as such, directed it improperly.

The ending, which I think is supposed to have come as a revelation to both us and the characters, felt inconsequential to me. It involves a realization that makes little direct impact on the story, and then it turns into a CGI battle that made me frequently laugh. Then it ends, we get a scene to wrap things up, and then the film ends. It's a letdown, although thankfully, the film did end, so that I could finally stop watching such a mundane piece of filmmaking.

For most of the film, we watch these people on a road, encountering random obstacles, and never once having a good time. I can certainly relate to the final sentiment, because I can't remember a single moment where I was enjoying myself, at least, not after our heroes have been given their task. I'd expect a film titled "Season of the Witch" to actually include witchcraft frequently, but because whether or not Foy's character actually is a witch ends up driving part of the film, we can't have a bunch of magic because that would give it away (although when she manages to pick up a man in full costume with one hand, I would have thought that would give it away as well).

Season of the Witch is no fun. It takes itself far too seriously, it's dark and dreary, the action scenes are lackluster, and witches don't actually play much part. A better title would be "Nic Cage and Ron Perlman get to Dress in Medieval Armor and Travel," because that's what the film feels like. It doesn't feel like an epic journey; instead, it's like watching a play with only a few sets, so to differentiate them, the lighting is dimmed until you can barely tell what's going on.
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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Movie Martyr on Wed Nov 16, 2011 12:57 am

Awake
Awake is a film that has a gimmick serving little purpose to the story, but it's important in a narrative sense; without the gimmick, the audience would have trouble being able to get involved with the plot. If this gimmick wasn't here, we'd have to watch from a third person perspective, and we would also have an even shorter film than what we already get.

I'm sure you're wondering at this point what the gimmick is. It involves a very rich man named Clay (Hayden Christensen) going under the knife for a heart transplant surgery. The anesthesia is given to him, his eyes are taped shut, and the surgeons, including one of his friends named Jack (Terrence Howard), who is the team leader. He's had a weak heart for a while, and a donor has finally been found. The only problem here is that the anesthesia doesn't work completely. It paralyzes his body, but it doesn't numb the pain or put him to sleep. He's fully aware of everything that's happening to him, and needs to somehow get his mind off the pain.

What he does is think about things that he previously experienced. He thinks about his girlfriend, Sam (Jessica Alba), who he just married. They've been together for a year now, and we get to see random times between them. He remembers his mother (Lena Olin), who, after his father died, has become his best, yet very overprotective, friend. She doesn't approve of his relationship with Sam, as she seems to want him all to herself. He also thinks about the time he spent with his surgeon, Jack, who has had four lawsuits filed against him. And this is what he thinks about all while trying to distract himself from the pain of being cut open and having his heart taken from him.

The plot that comes after this point is not something I'm going to discuss or give away. There are a great deal of twists that I'll admit I didn't see coming, but that's the thing about twists: If I tell you them, then you won't be surprised, and that initial shock will be lost. That would ruin the first experience for you, and that wouldn't be fair. The best thing about Awake is how it will surprise you with things you shouldn't see coming, and since it did manage to get me a few times, I can say that it was successful in its surprises.

A film needs more than a few well-executed plot twists in order to be a worthwhile watch though, especially on repeat viewings. Twists only work once, unless you have an awful memory, so there needs to be something else. In the case of Awake, you get two other great elements: A touching, involving story, as well as some solid characterization.

The story, which I can't exactly explain thanks to most of it revolving around the first major twist, ends up going in directions you won't expect. But that doesn't stop it from being a heartfelt experience that actually did get me in a fairly emotional state. A lot of this comes from the twists, which are revealing in terms of how the characters think and perceive one another, as well as giving the audience a great deal of insight into their feelings and reasons for doing the things that they do. This brings us to the characterization, which only directly comes later on.

See, with so many twists and turns along the way, things that you thought you knew earlier don't end up actually being true. When the reveals happen, which is all within Clay's mind, you're shocked, but it does allow you to understand the characters better. Sure, that gets annoying after a while, but I didn't find it all that bothersome. Having a character to experience the twists with works better than just leaving the audience to find out about them -- at least, it does in this case -- and because that's the direction Awake takes, it's annoying to both us and Clay, which helps to soften that blow.

This leads me back to the gimmick. In terms of the story, and the reveals that happen while Clay is "asleep," nothing comes of it. It would have been nice for said revelations to come from him, and that the things he learned would impact the story somewhat. It doesn't though. As a matter of fact, the entire story has a lack of conclusion, ending on a note that left me wanting more. Awake only lasts slightly more than 80 minutes, but another 20 minutes to tie things up properly would have been nice.

However, as a way to have the audience learn about crucial plot points, as well as show us things that happened in Clay's past, this is an invaluable idea. And since most of the time, we experience both at the same time, we do save time. There are enough plot ideas and back story to fit two hours, but since we often work in double-time, it doesn't take that long to fit everything in. And since there's also a better connection felt to Clay and what he's feeling, this gimmick works wonderfully.

Awake is also a great example of minimalist filmmaking. Director Joby Harold uses select scenes more than once, where we experience them from a different point of view inside Clay's mind. In terms of unique footage, there was probably only 50 minutes or so included. We see things sometimes three times, but it works well because of how it's a unique experience every time. This is a film that only cost $8.6 million to make, and as a low-budget film, it's excellent.

Awake is a great movie as far as I'm concerned. The plot twists are surprising, the plot is touching and keeps you engaged, and even though it's a short film that ends too quickly, there's a great deal of content included for you to take in. It's a low-budget film that makes the most out of its time, budget and stars, and is something that I'd definitely recommend watching, unless you're already scared of going under anesthesia. In that case, avoid it at all costs, because you'll never be able to have surgery again.
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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Xandy on Wed Nov 16, 2011 2:23 am

Review Memento.

And the Toxic Avenger.

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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Movie Martyr on Wed Nov 16, 2011 5:00 pm

NO U!

Actually, I have Memento, so I can watch it soon.

Don't currently have Toxic Avenger (or its sequels), so that's out for now.

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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Movie Martyr on Thu Nov 17, 2011 2:37 am

Goodfellas
"Based on a true story." Great. I love it when films feel the need to tell us this. Why? I don't get how that has any purpose. Is it supposed to make us realize that the world is messed up, and that the things we see in movies can happen? Is it to make us forgive any formulaic plots because that's how it supposedly happened? Or is it just a piece of information that is largely unrelated, but is included because the filmmakers were forced to, or just could?

Regardless, Goodfellas is based on a true story. That's what we're told at the very beginning. We then cut to three men driving in a car, when they hear some banging. It's their trunk, and inside is a man who is still alive. So they stab him and he dies. This is in 1970, although we soon go back to the 50's, where we meet a teenager by the name of Henry Hill (Ray Liotta plays him when he grows up). He tells us through narration that he's always wanted to be a gangster. He gets his wish, and soon plays a pivotal role in a crime family.

His boss is Paulie Cicero (Paul Sorvino), who seems to own pretty much everything. Any deals that get made, and Paulie is in on it. Henry predominantly teams up with two men, Jimmy (Robert De Niro) and Tommy (Joe Pesci). He marries fairly early on, and his wife, Karen (Lorraine Bracco), gets in on the narration action. We see the events of the film from one of these two characters' points of view, although it's far more frequent for us to follow Henry. He's more interesting anyway, because Karen is just a wife who doesn't do much more than raise the children and snort a lot of cocaine.

Goodfellas isn't really about a plot, per se. It ends up spanning several decades, each one having their own, separate storyline. The characters, at least, the ones I've already described, are involved in each decade, although they play different roles in each. I'm still not sure why De Niro was the top-billed star though, as he is a side character, and clearly not the protagonist of this film. I guess it was just in an attempt to bring more people to the theater, but out of the three main actors, (Liotta, De Niro and Pesci), De Niro is probably featured the least.

This is a film that is mostly dealing with showing us the life of a gangster, and how it impacts both you, and everyone you know. This is described to us in great detail with the narrations, and then it is shown to us on-screen through the actions of the characters. By the end of Goodfellas, you'll know what it's like to be a gangster, and you'll know the way that gangsters think. These are smart, calculated people -- most of the time, anyway. Sometimes they make irrational and quick decisions, and you learn that these decisions have consequences.

For example, the man who is killed in the film's opening scene was a "made man," someone who isn't to be touched. By killing him, you are told that there are consequences to face. As a result, the killers need to hide the body and make very sure that nobody is going to find out that you were the one to have performed the hit. Later scenes reinforce this way of thinking, and you get to find out how ruthless gangsters can be.

If you get horrified by the contents of the film, you have reason to. You likely wouldn't want to be any of the characters within, because you would be unhappy. That's not to say that they don't live a life of luxury, because they get to have fancy parties and drive nice cars. Unfortunately, you also have a chance to be betrayed at any moment by your peers, even if all you're doing is joking around with them. And you won't get any sympathy from anyone, you'll just get buried by the side of the road. This is the life of a gangster.

None of the people in this film are ones that you're supposed to like. But they're complex, well-written and interesting, so you'll constantly want to see what they do next. And when things do go wrong for them, you'll be disappointed not in the action of getting caught or shot, but because they let that happen to themselves. At one point in the film, one character states that "the only people who go to jail are the ones that want to." When you see someone go to jail later on, you wonder if that quote is true, or if these things can just happen to anyone.

Everyone in this film is acted well, although there were some characters that felt more one-dimensional than others. A character named Morrie (Chuck Low) is introduced later on, but his only purpose seems to be to bug Robert De Niro for money. When a hit was placed on his head, I was happy, because I figured that he might finally be forced to shut up. Joe Pesci's character, while hilarious, seemed to be there just for comic relief. He served that purpose well, and has the best scene in the movie, but that's about all he had to do with his time on-screen.

However, the vast majority of the film is filled with interesting scenarios and engaging sequences. You can't take your eyes away from what's going on, even if what's being shown is a man getting his skull crushed in. (That's tastefully cut away from, and instead we watch the characters doing the beating instead of the victim.) It's almost completely engrossing and you'll find the two and a half hour runtime feeling like nothing by the time everything is said and done.

Goodfellas is a really solid gangster film with a strong cast and multiple interesting stories. While some of the characters feel one-note, they're all well-written and interesting, and since the film as a whole is so engaging, you'll end up having a good enough time while watching it. If nothing else, you'll get a good feeling about what it would be like to be a gangster, because remember, this is "based on a true story."
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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Mr. Wiggles on Thu Nov 17, 2011 9:09 am

Marter wrote:
"Based on a true story." Great. I love it when films feel the need to tell us this. Why? I don't get how that has any purpose. Is it supposed to make us realize that the world is messed up, and that the things we see in movies can happen? Is it to make us forgive any formulaic plots because that's how it supposedly happened? Or is it just a piece of information that is largely unrelated, but is included because the filmmakers were forced to, or just could?

I think its more insurance than anything else. "What's that all those back flips, gun fights and slow motion doesn't seem possible? WELL, IT'S BASED ON THE TRUTH! ARE YOU TELLIN' ME YOU DON'T BELIEVE THE TRUTH?"

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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Pararaptor on Thu Nov 17, 2011 12:02 pm

It's more just a hook than anything else. A rainbow wig in the sea of gingers.
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