Saturday, January 11, 2014

Inside Llewyn Davis: Movie Review

Given my previous experiences with films by Joel and Ethan Coen (True Grit, The Big Lebowski) each new film usually falls within a specific category. On one hand you are given movies where the protagonist of the film is put the extreme amounts of adversity, usually resulting in a more gloomy film (A Serious Man). On the other, twisted comedies about unusual situations with likeable man characters (O Brother Where Art Thou, The Big Lebowski). While there are Coen Brother films I have yet to see that garner much praise, the one's I have seen are on either side of the spectrum. Then you are given a film like Inside Llewyn Davis, which teeters amongst both spectrums resulting in an well crafted enjoyable film, that you can't always pinpoint why you feel this way.

Inside Llewyn Davis lacks much of a plot, while sticking to more of a "day in the life of" story. This story follows a folk singer in 1961 named Llewyn Davis (Oscar Isaac), who isn't typically a guy to root for. He is a self absorbed asshole, who believe that he is the undeniable talent in folk music that isn't getting the recognition he deserves. He travels from couch to couch between the only few people that he can consider a friend. These "friends" consist of a young couple (Justin Timberlake and Carey Mulligan) who the latter has a rocky past with our protagonist. The other is an older couple who are enamored with Llewyn's smooth folk songs and voice. Unfortunately for Llewyn, his attitude towards people and his career has affected the way he is perceived. While once part of a popular duo act, his solo career has left much to desire. Leaving Llewyn as a dead beat bitter has been who is forced into a slew of adversity.

As the story plays out, you never really know what to think. Like some other great films, you just have to trust the story knows where it is going. With the Coen Brothers at the helm, the film comes together in time to make it worth seeing. It took me a while to collect my thoughts about the film and understand what everything means. Early in the film, Llewyn is forced to have a feline company accompany him throughout his journey. Being used as a adorable plot device, the feline to me was just an extension of Llewyn himself. What plays out in Llewyn's life, happens in various ways to his feline friend. While Llewyn never knows the cat's name, he himself struggles with his own identity. The constant struggle for Llewyn to have his name known and the his struggle to remember the cats name are one in the same. There is also some really clever dialogue to allude to this idea, and one interesting visual shot. The side characters are never given much to do because the story covers a small period of time. This gives talented people such as Carey Mulligan and Garrett Hedlund (Tron Legacy) little time to shine in their supportive roles. However, John Goodman gives a very funny and worthwhile performance that while limited will stick in your mind. The movie to me was clearly a coming out party for actor Oscar Isaac who shows impressive range both vocally and as an actor on screen. I expect his career to widen very soon because his presence on screen. He makes Llewyn Davis one of the most likeable assholes to hit the screen this year. His music talents make the musical scenes very powerful, and give the film some much needed heft and heart. The best of his musical numbers is a group song called Please Mr. Kennedy, which also feature pop star turned solid actor Justin Timberlake. Which is sure to get a best original song nomination this upcoming week.

The film had its slow moments, and despite John Goodman's fun character the film almost stops moving at his portion of the film. Luckily, a couple music numbers pick up the pace at the right time before to much damage is done. There comedic moments were also hit and miss for me, in particular attempts at witty humor. In the end my lack of knowledge of folk music or indifference to music in general may weaken my understanding of the film as a whole. In particular the final moments of the film and how Llewyn's style of music changes making him obsolete yet a better man. As far as the thematic elements, I felt my understanding of the film was rather strong. The story about a scum of a man realizing his destiny and getting a harsh bite of reality sat well with me, making the film well worth the price of admission despite the films shortcomings. 

Verdict 4 out of 5         

Her: Movie Review

To some my praise for this film may sound as odd as a mans love for an operating system. For others, it may sound eerily similar to the way they felt about this Spike Jonze (Being John Malkovich) film. That is not to say that my feeling are fact, and any others are immediately negated. All film is subjective, and the main romance between Theodore (Joaquin Phoenix) and an operating system (voiced by Scarlett Johansson) will garner diverse opinions amongst moviegoers. For me however, Her is a touching and unique romance film, one that is confident and dedicated to its bizarre story. So dedicated that by the end of the film, your views on love may change all together.

From a film making standpoint, Her is well crafted and paced story. While Spike Jonze is known for being a little out their, he always stands by his the story. I felt that Jonze believed in this bizarre love story, even when its unconventional for many. This and the strong performances by the cast make for a movie that is truly enjoyable to watch. Yes, there is two awkward scenes that many people will wish didn't make the final cut, but both scenes hold meaning to the overarching theme. Phoenix's turn as Theodore is subtle and normal, which is high praise for an actor who has made his name playing psychopaths. He makes Theodore feel like a normal person who is struggling with relatable issues every day. Scarlett Johansson may turn in the best performance of her career using nothing but her voice, which is by no means an insult. Her soothing tone and infections laugh makes Samantha (The IOS operating system) seem like a worth candidate for Theodore to fall in love with.

While it's outer shell reveals a film that deals with societies love and need for technology, I believe that is the conventional way of perceiving the story. An unconventional story needs unconventional thinking. What affected me was the way in which love was presented throughout the film. I left the theater believing that love is possible in many forms. Love isn't necessarily a physical connection, It stems from the mental, emotional and unknown parts of our self. While you can't explain exactly how you are feeling, you don't need to. At no point did I feel Theodore had to explain why he was in love with Samantha, nor did I want him to. When asked, Theodore stumbles upon his words, saying things like "I don't know, everything". Which is exactly how I feel love is.  Love is between those two, and for me to disagree or deny that from them wouldn't feel right. I felt it in the way Theodore talked to Samantha and vice versa, they had something there that was more than just programming. Which can be attested to a good script and good performances. I was glad to see some of the characters accepting of the situation, because they knew how great it felt to have someone, and they wanted their friend Theodore to feel the same. It was genius the way the film gave an opportunity for you to see every possible viewpoint on the situation. You had people accepting of the idea, others against it and some indifferent. unfortunately, this is what makes Her a work of fiction and in some ways fantasy. The idea of a man in love with an operating system wouldn't be accepted in the world we live in. Even if it would result in undeniable happiness for the human party in the relationship. While the dialogue of the film never force fed this information to me (thankfully), It's what I took out of this particular movie. Even if to some I am way off base, like love it doesn't matter it is the way I feel.

Along with that you are given the question of is Samantha's love real, being a program that evolves and is manufactured to get along perfectly with Theodore. Even when Samantha begins to evolve past her programming, is the emotions that Samantha can't explain a love that resonates within the real world? I believe it does and Spike Jonze makes me believe that. It was a wonderful film, and my favorite movie of 2013.

Verdict 5 out of 5

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Movie Review: Gravity

Quality science fiction films has been few and far between, with the occasional gem showing up every 2-4 years. Films such as Avatar reinvented the way computer generated images were perceived on screen, while the mind-bending Inception added complexity and intelligence to a dulled down genre. Forcing it's way into the forefront of this genre is Gravity, a thrilling space film by Director Alfonso Cuaron. Without a shred of doubt, Gravity is a masterpiece that deserves an audience along with the acclaimed status as one of the great space films of all time.
When dealing with a film in space, the visual effects are key in making everything work. Fortunately, Gravity offers visual effects unmatched by any in recent memory. The visual imagery is beautiful, making it a necessity to see on the biggest screen with those slightly uncomfortable 3D glasses. Which is rather depressing, since a home viewing experience won't truly capture me the way the Imax showing did. Is that a negative? Not necessarily, I'm just nit picking to find something poorly to say about the movie. Matter of fact, I need to take this moment to geek out over the 17 minute long tracking shot that starts the films. If you are unaware of what a tracking shot is, it is when a director films for 17 straight minutes as if he is filming a play happen on a stage. There is no cutting, no editing and a lot of rehearsal needed to be done to achieve this sort of shot. Director Alfonso Cuaron has some of the most beautiful tracking shots within his last film Children Of Men, none of which last more than 2-6 minutes. Gravity has the longest tracking shot ever to be put on film, and it is mind blowing. With a sure fire Oscar win coming in the visual effects category, I can only image the 17 minute tracking shot makes it a lock as well in the cinematography category. That is not to discourage the rest of the films camerawork because it is all top notch. With such amazing technical craftsmanship I had no idea if the other film beats could keep up, and they did.

Going into this film, I found myself not buying Sandra Bullock (Ryan Stone) as a astronaut or her male counterpart George Clooney (Matt Kowalski). They both proved me wrong, and Bullock gives a performance that solidifies a career. The way she handled the distress along with the pure physical toll that must have been given to her by each scene is remarkable. I can only image her in a space suit on set, hanging from wires as men spin her until her head explodes. Acting under such intense conditions is one thing, but to pull it off so well is another. I found Bullock's Oscar win for The Blind Side wrong, but she deserves all the praise for this performance. Clooney may not get a nomination but he did add a nice charming quality to a rather dreary film. Without him the film just wouldn't have been the same to me.

With a film of this nature we may often find our self finding flaws in the logic and this film won't be treated any differently. I am no expert on space exploration which gives me no credibility to nit pick the logic of a scene. Sure, female astronauts don't wear a tank top and short-shorts while inside their space suits. They probably wear a diaper, and when shit hit the fan Ryan Stone probably needed one; but this is Hollywood people, nobody wants to see Sandra Bullock in depends. Maybe In an extended edition we will see that Stone packed the wrong clothes before launch and was left with only her nighty nights. While Matt Kowalski ate some bad dehydrated mac n cheese and made use of all the depends onboard. I think that would suffice the audience who complained about the outfit of our leading lady.  Yes, certain events are unlikely to happen in real life because the people who places the satellites in orbit do really complicated math to prevent problems from occurring. I get how logic can cross your mind throughout a film, but honestly who cares. I shouldn't care, and neither should you. The movie is jaw dropping cinema at it's highest form, if you don't allow any suspension of belief than this genre should be avoided at all cost. Even with some scientific flaws that I can't even point out (I am just sure there is probably some) Gravity is a masterpiece. Easily, the best movie I have seen all year and the best space movie I have ever seen. To be fair I haven't seen 2001: A Space Odyssey, but I've never been a Kubrick guy. Unlike 2001 (so I've heard), Gravity is accessible for anyone due to its short run time and extraordinary visuals. It just so happens to have enough emotional depth and engaging dialogue to allow the characters to drive the story into the tense set pieces.

Do whatever you have to do to see this movie in Imax 3D. It truly is an experience that should be seen in the best form possible. To further the quality of science fiction films, let's all wish that Gravity is extremely successful during its theatrical run and come Oscar season.

Verdict: 5 out of 5

Update: I did my research and it seems that there was no spinning involved in the actors performances. They created something they called "The Cage" which as I understand it is a box with LED lights on it. Using the lights going on and off they could simulate the look of someone spinning as a device with a camera on it spins around the actor and in random locations to give what you see on screen. Extremely intricate and awesome work by the makers of the film. I am sure there is a better way to describe it, but I would have to see the contraption in work to explain.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Movie Review: Prisoners

The first film of the Oscar season comes in the form of a intense thriller called Prisoners. Is it a potential Oscar contender? and does director Denis Villeneuve's reinvent a genre that is filled with cliche twist and turns? Let's check it out.

Prisoners revolves around two families the Dover's and Birch's, whose youngest children are kidnapped after a normal thanksgiving dinner. With Detective Loki (Jake Gyllenhaal) on the case and producing little results, Keller Dover (Hugh Jackman) takes things into his own hands. Capturing a possible suspect named Alex Jones (Paul Dano) whose mind is at the same level as a 10 year old, and torturing him for information. From there the film turns into a character study about how far someone will go to find their children.

The most compelling part of this thriller is the dynamics of both Keller and Franklin (Terrence Howard) and how they handle the loss of their children. Keller clearly the more aggressive of the two uses his rage and determination to manipulate Franklin into doing things that are inhuman. Though Franklin does comply in these situations it affects him, causing him to spend the majority of the film in a depressed state. That is not to say that everyone else is doing well, everyone is in a gloomy state but Howard projected it masterfully. Every member of the cast gave strong performances but for me Howard and Gyllenhaal stood out. Unfortunately, after the first hour Howard disappears for the next hour of the film, due to the films intent on focusing it's run time on Loki and Kellen Dover. Jackman and Gyllenhaal carry the film with ease even with the eye twitching of detective Loki can throw you off for a while. I was very against it, until I realized it was something his character did when stressed or nervous. The acting clearly was the strong point of the film, and was worth the price of admission.

The story is very gut wrenching and it should stick with you well after the movie is over. Especially if you are a parent, the thought of this happening to a child of your own may make the film hard to watch. I do not have a child, but I do realize how emotionally invested parents can get in a kidnapping film. I was also extremely impressed with the tastefulness of the torturing of Alex White. I was expecting it to get very bloody like a horror film and it wasn't. Besides a few punches the rest of the torture happened off screen only allowing us to imagine what is happening via Alex's screams. The film is undeniable long, at 2 hours and 26 min and it feels every bit of that. It never retracted me from the movie but it will hurt its rewatch value. The last hour of the film is filled with jarring twist and turns that I felt tied together very well. I could see how the suspension of belief may be to much to ask for a some people, especially when the first hour and a half is so plausible. I won't argue that the last half hour is chalked full of twist that weren't exactly necessary, but it had me trying to piece everything together only to fail. I think the majority of people won't be able to predict every aspect of the story until it happens. Another complaint amongst the group I was with was the sudden ending of the film. I was very pleased with it cause i felt the director didn't need to spend an hour telling me what was obvious. At first it was rather jarring but in the end another 30 minutes of run time would have hurt the film.

I have said a lot about this film and hopefully it persuaded you to see it. I had a really good time watching the movie even when the material is anything but a good time. It may not have spent enough time on some things they glanced over in particular the end results, but Prisoners is an engaging and well acted thrill ride. Is it an Oscar Contender? I really doubt it, if anything Jake Gyllenhaal or Terrence Howard may pull out a nomination but there are so many performances left to be seen. Even if it doesn't get any Oscars you won't be disappointed at the end result of Prisoners.

Verdict: 4 out of 5

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Movie Review: The Way Way Back

Nothing fits better into the summer season than a unknown indie flick. When every week you are greeted with bombastic actions sequences and visual extravaganzas, its nice to take a breather from it all. This breather comes in the form of a little known independent film called The Way Way Back. Is it worth your time, or even your money? Let's find out.

Plot Summery Via IMDB

Shy 14-year-old Duncan goes on summer vacation with his mother, her overbearing boyfriend (Steve Carrell), and her boyfriend's daughter. Having a rough time fitting in, Duncan finds an unexpected friend in Owen (Sam Rockwell), manager of the Water Wizz water park.

The story is nothing special, and I will be the first one to admit it. However, the cliche story is pushed into the background behind it's complex and compelling characters who make every moment of this film worth seeing. The person who really stands out is the always spectacular Sam Rockwell, who spits jokes out of his mouth that would put Tony Stark to shame (Sorry RDJ). I am a firm believer that any film with Rockwell is a better film, and i would watch a movie where he talks to himself for 2 hours. Oh yeah, I've done that it's called Moon and its spectacular. Let's stop kissing Sam Rockwell's ass for a second and talk about other people in the film. Steve Carrell gives an odd performance, unlike anything he has done and surprisingly it worked rather well. Even when at times seeing him as a douchbag feels so wrong. The kid named Duncan gave a solid performance for a young actor, but I've seen better from Logan Lerman (Perks Of Being A Wallflower) and Tye Sheridan (Mud). Maya Rudolph brought a calming grounded presence to the wacky world of Water Wizz, while on the opposite spectrum Nat Faxon and Jim Rash who also direct the film brought a handful of chuckles to chew up the screen when Rockwell wasn't saying anything. Everyone did a fine job, and nobody really struck me in the wrong way.

There was some problems with the script for me, in particular the way Steve Carrel's daughter was written. While funny, her lines were essentially a to the extreme prissy popular girl. The writing also may have faltered with AnnaSophia Robb's character, who was Duncan's love interest. She wasn't given a lot to work with and came off rather bland. She did have this awkward young love chemistry with Liam James, which did help the very few intimate scenes. The film did lack a real emotional punch that I have come to find in films like this. It to me is the polar opposite of last years Perks of Being Wallflower which isn't exactly a bad thing. The story its cliche and predictable but for the first time in a long time, I say who cares. This was the Sam Rockwell show, it was a heartfelt, enjoyable and downright charming comedy that I will love to see again. Even if the writing wasn't perfect and Sam Rockwell did over shine anyone and everyone on screen, it is still a film the large majority will enjoy. Go see this film if it's still in theaters, if not wait patiently for it to come on DVD.

Did I say Sam Rockwell enough?

Verdict 4 out of 5

Way to early 86th Academy Award Predictions

Oscar season is only a quick hop into the future, and potential nominees are making their trips around to various festivals promoting their films. Without seeing any films that are garnering Oscar buzz (outside Fruitvale Station and Mud) the time for my Oscar Predictions are now. With undeniable knowledge and  dumb luck, I will be predicting the major categories in the 86th Academy Awards. If you are unaware, these categories consist of Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actress, Actor, and Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress and Best Animated film for fun. Here we go.

Best Picture

Twelve Years A Slave
Inside Llewyn Davis
The Monuments Men
Wolf Of Wall Street
American Hustle
Saving Mr. Banks

I am giving the nod here to Twelve Years A Slave, though at this point who really knows. I know I don't. However due to its fantastic reviews, emotion story arc and the potential of world class performances, this one could go for a sweep. Last years Django Unchained was essentially a semi-comical slave film that garnered a Best Picture nod. Twelve Years A Slave is going for pure emotional punch and it seems to have achieved that. (Runner up for me was Gravity)

Best Director

Steve McQueen- Twelve Years A Slave
Alfonso Cuaron- Gravity
Coen Brothers- Inside Llewyn Davis
Martin Scorcese- Wolf Of Wall Street
David O. Russel- American Hustle

Due to its technical prowess and overall beauty, I think Alfonso Cuaron will get it this year for Gravity. Much like Ang Lee won last year with the stunning film Life of Pi. Though stats show that it's rather rare for this to happen, I believe whoever wins Best Picture won't take home the award for Best Director.

Best Actor

Chitwel Elojifer- Twelve Years A Slave
Christian Bale- Out Of The Furnace
Idris Elba- Mandela: Long Road To Freedom
Leonardo DiCaprio- Wolf Of Wall Street
Michael B. Jordan- Fruitvale Station

I have been predicting DiCaprio to win for years now, only to see him go home empty handed. Once again I am going to take that bet and give him one last go. Though I would find it sad to see him win for a role that is more comical than some of his truly great performances, I would be ecstatic to see it.

Best Actress

Cate Blanchett- Blue Jasime
Sandra Bullock- Gravity
Meryl Streep- Osage: August County
Amy Adams- American Hustle
Emma Thompson- Saving Mr. Banks

This will be the one performance that may push Gravity into the winning circles of Best Picture. Sandra Bullock has won before and is beloved by the academy. Not to mention she has to carry a film where she acts solely in front of a green screen, hanging from wires like a marionette. She is stuck in space! how creepy is that, and reviews have pointed towards here towering performance.

Best Supporting Actor

Michael Fassbender- Twelve Years A Slave
Tom Hanks- Saving Mr. Banks
Daniel Bruhl- Rush
Matthew McConaughey- Mud
James Gandolfini- Enough Said

Though DiCaprio could garner a nomination for his performance as a plantation owner last year. I doubt Fassbender will be that full of life and comical, it will be a villainous and gut wrenching performance. One that will brand itself into audiences brains, giving Twelve Years A Slave its first Oscar Win.

Best Supporting Actress

Oprah Winfrey- Lee Daniels: The Butler
Luptia Nyong'o- Twelve Years A Slave
Jennifer Lawrence- American Hustle
Naomi Harris- Mandela: Long Road To Freedom
Octavia Spencer- Fruitvale Station

I have no idea about this category, hence why I just followed my game plan and chose a Twelve Years A Slave actor. To give me some validity people have raved about her performance, whoever she is.

Animated Film

The Wind Rises
Monsters University
Ernest & Celestine

Though many people don't know this film, I have probably my strongest argument of this whole article about The Wind Rises. What makes this film a sure fire winner is legendary Director Hayao Miyazaki. I believe that he has garnered 2 nominations (Ponyo and Spirited Away) and the latter won. What makes him such a sure fire winner is the fact that it;s his final film in his illustrious career. What better way to acknowledge such a career, than giving him one final award. If he doesn't win, expect Frozen to be a massive hit and for a lifetime achievement award to follow in the upcoming years. Not to mention this year is what I consider one of the poorest for truely great animated films.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Movie Review: The Dark Knight Returns Part 1

One of my biggest guilty pleasures has always been DC comics animated features, which made me the prime demographic (despite my age) for The Dark Knight Returns Part 1. I understand this film came about a year ago, but for some reason I failed to pick it up until now.

Based on the prestigious comic book of the same name written by Frank Miller. The Dark Knight Returns tells the story of an aged batman, whose last appearance was 10 years ago. Though completely out of the game the nightmares of his parents death continue and Gotham begins its descent into darkness. The streets are now controlled by a gang known as The Mutants and some of the most notorious Batman characters are near the end of their glory days. Commissioner Gordon is  retiring from the police force, and Harvey Dent/Two Face has received plastic surgery to fix his face. Batman's most admirable foe The Joker is nearly a vegetable in Arkham, and only the thought of Batman gets any reaction out of him. The biggest hit for Bruce was his former partner Robin's (The Jason Todd version) death, leaving his faithful butler Alfred as the only part of his life. Struggling with the loss of Jason and the state of Gotham, Bruce decides that he is nothing without Batman, and Gotham is doomed without him. Does Bruce have enough to take back Gotham even at his aged state? Or will The Dark Knight only return to fail?

This animated feature is what I would consider top tier entertainment. I am a firm believer that DC animated films are just as good as 90% of the animated features release in theaters. However, besides Batman: Mask of the Phantasm, they are all straight to DVD films. Which makes it easier for fans to pick them up as soon as they are released. With a pg-13 rating The Dark Knight Returns Part 1 focuses on telling a dark story with enough violence to please any comic book fan. It's twisted and gritty and offers the mature viewing experience that DC fans have come to love. Not to mention it still offers brutal fight sequences and beautiful animation, that reaches any standard set by the company. There was many times throughout the movie where a sequence made me smile from ear to ear. Hopefully one day someone considers using the action techniques used within this animated film. I love the way Batman snuck around the shadows, and used his grappling hook effectively, it is something that has never been done in a live action adaptation. Batman Begins definitely achieved it the best, and I hope to see that kind of Batman again soon. Not to mention the story had a brisk pace, and offered a series of character arcs for all the big players within the film. Though not every character struck home for me (Female Robin), the character who did made it a tremendous viewing experience.

I will admit, I miss Kevin Conroy as Batman and Mark Hamill's Joker but isn't that to be expected? I love Batman Year One and Brian Cranston voicing Commissioner Gordon but I had to accept the other voice actors. While never reaching the untouchable bench mark set by the classic voice actors, each person did their character justice. Which is really all I can ask for in this situation. The mutants may not have been a strong villains, but they were the stepping stone for bigger and better things. This is indeed Part 1 and all the story and build up is certainly there. It leads me to believe that Part 2 will be no holds bar throw down, couple with many familiar faces. Other than minor gripes, this was a really good film and any fan of DC comics should check it out. In my opinion, The Dark Knight Returns Part 1 fits nicely at the bottom of the top 5 Best DC animated films. I can only assume Part 2 may knock it off.

Verdict: 4 out of 5

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Movie Review: Elysium

Neill Blomkamp busted onto the scene with the 2009 hit District 9. The film garnered a best picture nomination and gave Blomkamp the opportunity to direct a big budget adaptation of the Halo video game series. While the film never surfaced do to a lack of creative control in Blomkamp's court, we were given an original sci-fi film in the form of Elysium.  While my mind still swirls around the potential of master chief on the big screen, I gladly went to a theater to see Blomkamp's next effort.

In a not so distant future, the earth is slowly crumbling due to the overpopulation of the planet. The solution was to build a orbiting community known as Elysium that is inhabited by the wealthy. If you aren't wealthy you are stuck on earth, with whatever is left. Elysium is equipped with medical pods that can cure anything in one sitting, and due to its orbital location it's near impossible to get into unless your a citizen. Earth is full of crime and poverty, and is given little to no medical attention and are patrolled by a robotic police force implemented by the leaders of Elysium. Our protagonist is Max (Matt Damon), and due to a freak accident is in need of medical attention to survive. In turn his childhood friend Frey (Alice Braga) has a daughter who is also in need of medical attention that can only be found on Elysium. With a metal exoskeleton attached to his body giving him heightened abilities; Max must get onto Elysium, overthrow its leader Delacourt (Jodie Foster) and avoid the bounty hunter hired to kill him (Sharlto Copley's Kruger).

While the premise of the film is very interesting and Blomkamp is extremely talented, this film felt very flat to me. The world building that Blomkamp does is spectacular and the film has very good special effects and above average action sequences. However the liberal side of Blomkamp is ultimately this films downfall. I am not a political person, I don't enjoy politics and I can't stand the debates in which some people get into. However, I love a director that has something to say and implements some intriguing ideas throughout their films. It needs to be done tastefully though and for me this film was very heavy handed in its approached. Elysium is preachy, and intense body explosions every 5 minutes doesn't cover it up. The fact that the California area of poverty was 99.9% Latinos, and the inhabitance of Elysium was 100% Caucasians is enough to feel heavy handed. However, we are also given a obvious sci-fi boarder hopping scene and the all rich people are terrible theme. I love what your trying to do Neill but lets be subtle about it and make a good film first, there is no need for such battery. It was also severely disappointing to see someone get his first shot at big budget film making and deliver such a conventional story. He was given the money to do something special, and instead turned what could have been a complex and thought provoking story, into a conventional action flick. Its in a way a very polished film, that teeters within the realm of unimaginative action story telling.

What Elysium does do well is give us technology we haven't seen on film, despite every death being in the form of a body explosion. It felt like it could have fit well with a Halo movie. Acting wise Damon did an solid job and that is where my compliments will end. Sharlto Copley is a great actor and he has an undeniable presence in the film as a villain, unfortunately his accent was enigmatic, and had me often leaning forward in hopes to understand better. His high pitch voiced just wasn't intimidating and that hurt him. As for Jodie Foster I couldn't stand her regal accent. She was extremely poor throughout the entire film and I patiently waited for her to be off the screen. The end was also extremely disappointing and felt like a cop-out to me. I will not go into detail because it is a spoiler free review. I appreciate the effort and this film won't tarnish his reputation (which has been announced as Chappie), I just feel a big budget film is not what he is ready for.

Verdict: 2 out of 5

My Thoughts on Ben Affleck as Batman

Though I am late to this party, id like to give a brief opinion on the casting of Ben Affleck as Batman. I want to start by saying that Ben is a fantastic director and can be a very good actor at times. I am not by any means against this casting but I felt it could be a missed opportunity for Warner Brothers with this choice.


The biggest pro in this situation is that you keep an incredible director with a company that will allow him to make his own films. I would be shocked to hear that Affleck accepted this role without any agreement between him and WB allowing him to direct some "pet projects" that he has in his mind. He also would be given the opportunity to direct his own Batman solo outings, and he is a much better actor in films he is directing. Also Zack Snyder the director of Superman vs. Batman is known for being a fantastic collaborator and Ben Affleck may be one of the best options to collaborate with. He could help refine the story and the script which could result in a better film. If anyone is a better to collaborate with than Ben it would be Chris Nolan, who could also have a hand in Superman vs. Batman. Snyder's visual style should work well with the fundamental skills that Affleck can bring to the table. I am also very confident he can pull off the role of Bruce Wayne, since a billionaire playboy fits within the realm of Ben's acting. Also the picture above while photo shopped makes me believe he could be solid. However...


Though I have confidence with him as Bruce, I lack confidence in him as Batman. Nothing about Affleck has ever struck me with fear, and that includes his impressive and somewhat tough performance in The Town. He is recognizable and his presence at times lacks, which could take me out of his performance. Unlike Cavill as Superman who was relatively unknown and benefited from that. Affleck is a well known face and even with a cowl I will always know its him. He very well could pull it off, and I will be the first to admit that if he does. However, right now I don't see him as Batman because he lacks the edge that Bale had. I have noticed that often in big budget productions that Ben doesn't direct, he just phones it in and fails to strive above an average performance. Its very possible that if his head is elsewhere, he won't bring his A game. The argument that I commonly see is, "we all hated the Heath Ledger casting as the Joker and look how that turned out". That is completely irrelevant, because there are as many bad castings as good castings.

The best things we can all do is wait and see. Nobody knows how things will turn out, everyone should try and stay neutral until the first footage is released.

Movie Review: The World's End

When going to see the final installment of the "Three Flavors Of Cornetto" trilogy (Shaun Of The Dead, Hot Fuzz), my expectations were through the roof. I am glad to report this film surpassed my expectations and capped of this non-conventional trilogy perfectly. In this film, five friends return to their childhood homes in hopes to complete The Golden Mile, something they previously attempted after their final year of high school. The Golden Mile, a pub crawl which consists of a pint of beer in all twelve bars that occupy the town of New Haven. While nostalgia runs through everyone veins, the seemingly normal town is everything but, and the journey to The World's End is the least of their problems when humanity is on the brink of extinction.

The core of the film is the performances given by each member of the group. Their is the fearless leader Gary King (Simon Pegg), who lives in the past and brings the group together for one last run at The Golden Mile. His past wingman Andy Knightley (Nick Frost), who after an accident swore off drinking and shunned his would be best friend. Peter Page (Eddie Marsan) the odd man in the group who was bullied throughout high school and used the group as protection, Oliver Chamberlain (Martin Freeman) the straight laced leasing agent, and Steven Prince (Paddy Considine) another middle aged man with his fair share of problems. There is no need for me to say much, because the film begins with a monologue introducing all the characters. What impressed me the most was the range shown by both Frost and Pegg. The later of the two had a very strong emotional scene near the films finale, while the other showed a side unlike what we have seen in the previous two films of the trilogy. As the other three men they were all given distinct moments to differentiate themselves from the crowd, I also appreciate when a director gives everyone a satisfying arc and a moment to shine throughout the film. This can be credited to the writing of Pegg and director Edgar Wright, who have always been very character oriented in their work.

As for the story it is laced with every trick Edgar Wright has, resulting in a film that may have similar shticks to Shaun of The Dead or Hot Fuzz. Its extremely witty and the dialogue is shot out like a bullet, particularly from Simon Pegg. This should supply enough chuckles to please the crowd for the majority of the run time. Like in most situations the more alcohol consumed the funnier it gets, because in all honesty drunk people are funny. If you are lucky enough to have avoided the trailers you are in for a pleasant surprise on what may be threatening humanity, and the films wraps up their mytho's rather well. While some may feel the end may get silly or preachy, I found it to be really funny and fit the overall characters well. Not to mention with all the laughs you are provided with high class fight choreography for these older gentlemen. It was funny and clever and executed extremely well by every man, it really kept the film from slowing down at any point.

All in all it's a fast paced riot that I have seen 3 times without any change of opinion. It's easily in my top 3 films of the year so far and I can't wait to add it to my Blu-Ray collection. If you are lucky enough to have a theater that provides alcohol, feel free to buy a cup and raise a glass as you embark on one hell of a ride. Drink Responsibly.

Verdict 4.5 out of 5

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Possible Batman Beyond Movie: Good or Bad Idea?

There is a rumor going around that the next batman film could possibly be based of the 90's cartoon Batman Beyond. Which if you are unaware stars a high school boy named Terry McGinnis, who is given the opportunity to protect Gotham with the tech from his new mentor. The mentor is an aged retired version of Batman's best Bruce Wayne, which means Batman Beyond is based around 2019.

The Good

The best possible scenario in my opinion, would be to run a Batman Beyond film series while keeping the normal Bruce Wayne version of Batman in a Justice League film. This gives the opportunity for a slightly older actor to portray Bruce in Justice League, then with the magic of Make-up and clever thinking have that same actor portray the older Bruce to mentor Batman Beyonds Terry McGinnis. This would allow a completely fresh sci-fi version of Batman in a new creative world that looks similar to the futuristic scenes in The Wachowski's Cloud Atlas. The character of Terry would be more relatable to the younger audience, and also offer a fantastic coming of age story if written correctly. The best part of all is years down the line if they do use the same actor for both versions of Bruce Wayne, the Justice League franchise could clash with Batman Beyond and show a powerful intriguing reason as to why Bruce hung up the cape. Weather it be someones death or something personal it would add a sense of mystery throughout the Batman Beyond films that could lead to a revelation worth the wait.

The Bad

With the knowledge of what some comic book fans think of the previous Batman Trilogy by Chris Nolan, their argument would be that there still hasn't been a perfect incarnation of the Caped Crusader. Chris Nolan's was more grounded and without several writing progressions Christian Bale could never stand in a battle with Henry Cavill's Superman. So why would we force our way into a futuristic series without offering a perfect incarnation of Batman first. Though perfection is impossible and someone will always hate, it is a logical argument to bring up. Most people would want another solo Batman film even though I feel Nolan already offered some of the best cinema can offer. Yeah we can live with two incarnations, we have two different Spiderman in the last 10 years and it hasn't taken away from the older version at all. Perfecting a rich character that is loved may be needed again before jumping into the future. Not to mention Batman Beyond from what I remember doesn't have the rich rogue gallery that the Batman series had. Though I believe the Joker would still be around (even though another Joker is looking at an uphill battle) the other villains are much less interesting than the ones Batman had. I guess you could always use one of Batman's unused villains like DeathStroke or Hush and implement them in Batman Beyond without little backlash.


You can very well reboot Batman and people will see it, however you are going to be looking at film that has so many bars to reach that anything less than Dark Knight Trilogy numbers will be looked at as a disappointment. That is why I believe that keeping Bruce Wayne as just a Justice League member without a solo film, allow the judgmental nature of some to soften. We have seen Batman enough, Nolan gave me at least everything I wanted to see. I want DC and Warner Brothers to move on with other character, Batman would work great as a Justice League only character, who can even be the Samuel L Jackson like bridge and show up in other solo films for publicity reasons. I am all for Batman Beyond and I hope this article at least made you consider the possibilities.