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Also vote for your favorite Knight born after 1920 here.
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Roald Amundsen på sydpolen (1913)
This movie is said to be the first Norwegian animated movie. There's just a problem; it's not animated! Animation means drawings in motion on the screen. This movie does not have that. So what exactly is it? Using the broadest possible definition of it, I suppose you could call it a documentary. A documentary about a man drawing a chalk drawing of a figure we base on the title of the movie must assume is supposed to be Roald Amundsen on an empty blackboard, using a very rough caricature of Earth (the globe) as his body. The globe has both the North and South pole on it, and there's no distinction made as to which exactly is the focus point in the drawing, so the "on the South Pole" part of the title makes no sense at all. The drawing is not animated - it does not move, so calling this animation is complete nonsense as well. If this was a definition of animation, then any live action movie you've ever watched where someone draws a caricature on a piece of paper, a napkin, a blackboard, in the sand, or whatever, should be characterized as animation too...
If watching amateur artists drawing crude, nonsensical drawings of Norwegian legends on a blackboard sounds like your thing, then by all means seek it out - it's out on Blu-ray in Norway now (along with several other Norwegian animated shorts, most of which far more worthwhile than this). My best advise is to skip it completely. It's not animation, it's not entertaining and it's not the least bit interesting. Quite possibly the worst Norwegian movie I've ever watched. Utter nonsense!
Poignant but boring
This movie has received a lot of praise for its depiction of the secret life of a sex addict. And yes, the movie does raise some good points about the way the world is moving, and many will probably also recognize its theme of leading a secret life of porn addiction and "shame". Many will recognize its theme of the feeling of having your life invaded when a family situation forces you to set your own life aside to help out, and the frustration entailed. Many will recognize its theme of a feeling of meaninglessness and hopelessness, considering suicide as a way out. The themes of the movie are poignant, timely and meaningful. Unfortunately, the execution leaves a LOT to be desired.
The opening scene sets the standard. A full minute (I think) of Brandon (Fassbender) lying in bed with the same expression on his face the whole time. Sure, you understand he's not happy; you could see that after 5 seconds, the next 55 didn't really say any more or less about it. And that's a recurring problem in the movie; a lot of the scenes are drawn out far beyond the point of having expressed its message. Set to the most boring piano-only classical music imaginable it just becomes frustratingly dull, to a point where the boredom of the music and overlong scenes becomes what you reluctantly focus on in the movie, rather than the story. It doesn't help the movie that it has overlong, almost pointless scenes like Carey Mulligan's performance of "New York, New York", which - bar none - is the worst ever public performance of that song (I can't speak for personal shower performances and such, with the performer as the only witness), not to mention the longest. Sure, as far as story goes the scene is important in showing Brandon's emotions and Sissy's secret "talent", but it could have been done a lot better.
Then there's the so called "shock" aspect of the movie; its explicit sex and nudity scenes. I seriously don't get the fuzz. Maybe it's because I'm Norwegian. Seriously; every Norwegian movie released these days, even movies meant for young teenagers, show just as explicit nudity and sex as this movie. OK, I'm exaggerating, but less than you might think. And for a movie about a sex addict, there were really disappointingly few of these scenes as well, and the few there were, were short and disappointing.
At the end of the day, the only one that should feel ashamed about this movie is the director. The story is good. The performances are good. The execution is terrible. This is one of the most boring movies I've watched all year, and it didn't even have the shock value the publicity made it out to have either. Unfortunately, an utter waste of time, and even worse waste of potential and talent.
An exceptional study...
...in boredom! The purpose of a movie is either to entertain or to educate (documentaries primarily). This series of pictures (I hesitate to call it a film) does neither. With the possible exception of those who've lived all their lives under a rock and/or are somehow oblivious about the fact that there are many different cultures and scenic views out there in the big world.
While the photography in this work is breathtaking, with exceptionally sharp and detailed pictures of a wide range of cultures and exotic geographical locations, it doesn't really mend the fact that there is absolutely no point or message to be taken out of it. It's just a moving slideshow of beautiful (and some disturbing - most of us already know that there is a lot of evil in the world too) pictures, accompanied by slow and extremely boring music. There's no narration, no context and no point in it, except to show what we already know (hopefully anyway); it's a big world out there. Everything moves along slowly, and is dulled down further by the slow, repetitive and boring music. As far as boredom in moving pictures goes, this is unparalleled.
If you want to study the world in a more meaningful way, watch some documentaries on National Geographic, or buy a large coffee table book of pictures from the world, and view it with your preferred choice in music playing in the background. The "message" will be the same, but you'll get a more satisfying experience by being able to flip the pages at your preferred speed and listening to music you actually like.
Never Let Me Go (2010)
I'm not into romantic movies, unless there's something else about it. I can take most romantic comedies because of the comedy aspect, but if you'd ask me what kind of category of film I'd be least likely to want to see, 'romantic drama' would be at the very top of the list. So what brought me here? Carey Mulligan... Simple as that. Since I first saw her picture, while promoting An Education, I knew I wanted to see as much of her as I could. An Education was great. Drive and Public Enemies were unfortunately not so good. Haven't gotten around to the others yet, but they'll come. So to be honest; I bought this movie simply because she was in it. That, and the fact that it had a good rating and reviews.
So, I sat down to watch it. Skeptical due to the 'romantic drama' aspect, and I hadn't really read anything at all about it, so I had no idea whatsoever about what lay ahead of me.
Rarely have I been more blown away by a movie. I didn't even know about the sci-fi aspects of the movie before putting it on, but therein lies the true qualities of this gem of a movie. True, realistic, emotional and scientific science fiction, not space adventure, mind you. The kind of fiction that makes you question our humanity and personal views and histories, makes us reflect on what we've experienced in the past and what options we actually have for future experiences, and makes us appreciate our friendships and relationships a little bit more. Real compelling stuff! All strengthened by a fantastic story, that surely has romantic aspects, but not the sickening in-your-face kind of romances that only Hollywood at its worst can produce. This delves more on the fantasies and hopes of the perfect romance, and as such is something anyone can relate to, even those of us who haven't had too much luck in that department in our own lives.
This is a fantastically beautiful and thought-provoking film, brilliantly directed and with superb acting performances throughout. It gets my warmest recommendations! And if you can avoid it; don't read too much about it or watch its trailer. Just watch it, and let it take you on the emotional roller-coaster ride that it is. You won't regret it!
Catch Me If You Can (2002)
A welcome departure from Spielberg's usual style
This is the story of perhaps the biggest American fraudster in history, and the cat-and-mouse chase to catch him. A hunt that in many ways brought Frank Abagnale Jr. (DiCaprio) and FBI agent Carl Hanratty (Hanks) together, since in many ways they were each other's lives at the time, and culminated in a lifelong friendship. Frank Abagnale Jr.'s story is an incredible one. By the time he turned 18, he had successfully played the roles of an airline captain, a doctor and a lawyer, and cashed in false checks for over $2.5 million. This is the film of his story, based on Frank's own accounts of the events. And it is an exceptionally entertaining film. Cocky con artists succeeding pretty much always make for a fun film, and when it's based on the true events of a young and likable man, it gets even more fun. It's amazing what you can get away with a little ingenuity and enormous amounts of nerve. But there's of course a price to pay when your whole life revolves around living a lie.
Catch Me If You Can is actually a rather unusual film to bear Spielberg's name. The usual Spielberg trademarks are mostly absent from this film, without that necessarily being a bad thing. Initially Spielberg didn't intend to direct this film at all; it was Gore Verbinsky who first got the job. But when Leonardi DiCaprio was called back to film more scenes for Gangs of New York, delaying the shoot, Verbinsky had to withdraw. At that time James Gandolfini was lined up for the role of Carl Hanratty. It could've been interesting to see how the film had turned out with them, but looking at the film as it is, it is hard to imagine it being better than the Spielberg/Hanks collaboration it turned out to be, their fifth at the time.
Along with Spielberg's departure from his usual style, there's also John William's soundtrack, which is very different from the pompous soundtracks he's most known for. It's jazzy and beautiful, and fits the 60s setting perfectly. The acting is first rate, from the leads of Leonardo DiCaprio, who started showing at the time that there was more to him than just being a heartthrob, and Tom Hanks, both delivering top notch work, to brilliant supporting parts from actors like Christopher Walken and Martin Sheen. It's a well crafted and playful movie overall, delivering the goods across all lines. It's a highly entertaining movie, that I'm sure will stand the test of time. Recommended!
Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari (1920)
A masterful piece of art, unlike anything you've ever seen on film before!
The first time I saw this movie I did not think much of it. Well, I've been wrong before, and was once again proved wrong here. This movie is amazingly good and stunningly beautiful. A work of art as well as a movie! The reason I did not like it the first time has probably more to do with the quality of the image on the VHS tape, than the movie itself. Combined with a musical score that didn't fit the movie at all, it was a rather dismal experience. Later I chose the music myself, and found that old Kraftwerk songs fit quite well to the mood of the film. Over the years we've been blessed with restored presentations of the film, featuring excellent musical scores, and the movie is once again able to shine in its proper context, as it always deserved.
Set in a small German town called Altona, a young student, Francis, finds his closest friend, Alan, killed the night after a visit to an amusement park. He becomes suspicious of one of the exhibitors at the carnival, because his attraction, a sleepwalker and seer, had told him that he would only live until nightfall. The night before that the city's mayor had been killed. Francis takes it upon himself to investigate the murders, hoping to save himself and his fiancée, Jane, from the same fate.
The film focuses on our hero and his search for Caligari, Caligari and how he protects himself and his somnambulist, Cesare, from the suspicions of the police, and the police's suspicion of an innocent man.
The story of the film is classic as of today, but in 1920 the movie was quite unique. The most unique feature of the film being that it was the first ever with a surprise ending.
The film can be seen in at least two ways: as a well layered and effective thriller/horror film, or as an advanced piece of art. The sceneries in the film are unlike anything I've ever seen before or after, with Tim Burton's artsy sceneries in some of this more Gothic movies as the closest you'll get, style-wise. The director amazes with his use of shapes and lighting to emphasize the plot and enhance the effectiveness of it. It's a risky endeavor, but he perfectly balances the risks of the sets either becoming too unrealistic and unsettling on the one hand, or of being too much style over substance on the other. But the sets fits the story perfectly, in their own unique way. It's unlike anything you've ever seen anywhere else, but you certainly wouldn't want it looking any different either. It is hard to imagine the film looking different than what we're served here, but they have actually tried making more normal looking remakes of the movie in the 60s. I don't really want to check that one out, though, simply because I love this piece of art too much to have it ruined by a different vision. Would you want to see another artist's take on Mona Lisa? Probably not...
This was Robert Weine's masterpiece, and pretty much his sole claim of fame. All his attempts before and after this film to achieve something similar failed completely.
The actors in the film make good performances. Few of us have probably heard of most of the actors today, but many will probably remember Conrad Veidt (Cesare) from Casablanca or The Thief of Bagdad. This is a German expressionist film, a type of film that emphasize on the gestures of the actors to make its point, rather than sound. This is done in a very good way in this film. Conrad Veidt is particularly good in his part of the somnambulist, with a very artistic and elegant take on the role. Take special notice of the scene where he tries to kill Jane; perfection, worth every penny of the movie alone!
I will not say much more than that about the film, it has to be experienced! All in all, a truly unique and timeless film, as effective today as it was in 1920. A true classic!
The end, too soon
Murder One, season one, was a brilliant piece of television, but probably a bit ahead of its time. Telling one story over 23 episodes it demanded you followed it from the beginning, and didn't miss episodes along the way. While that kind of television has become accepted now, through series like "24", it was new at the time. But it worked, and told a gripping and dramatic story in a stellar way. Central to its success was the brilliant performance by Daniel Benzali as Ted Hoffman, the lead lawyer of the firm.
But some executives obviously felt that he wasn't charismatic enough, and that expanding a story to 23 episodes was too much. So, come season 2, Daniel Benzali was out the door, and in came Anthony LaPaglia. And the stories told were limited to 6-7 episodes a piece. While LaPaglia managed to make his character his own, and the series still worked quite well, ratings dropped, and after 12 episodes they called it quits.
A couple of months went by, and they decided to give it another go, and this mini-series is it. The story is one of the most tantalizing of the whole show, where Wyler (LaPaglia) and associates take on the case of an admitted serial killer, played by Pruitt Taylor Vince. Vince's performance is spot on, making the viewer very uneasy and uncomfortable, yet showing a lot of humanity at the same time. The performance was so good, in fact, that it earned him an Emmy Award.
His story was given 6 episodes, which unfortunately is at least one episode too few. The story is gripping an tantalizing, has brilliant performances along the way, a lot of drama, and always keeps you at the edge of the seat. It is obvious that the creators envisioned a few more episodes to give the story its full potential, but at some point the producers decided to pull the plug for good, resulting in the last episode having to rush the events to give the show some kind of closure. At the end there are still unanswered questions, though, and keeps you wanting for more even more than you did when the show ended mid-season after 12 episodes.
Had this been an 8-part mini-series I'm quite sure it could have been a 10/10, but the rushed conclusion leaves a bit to be desired. It is still a brilliant piece of television, and anyone interested in courtroom dramas and law shows should give both this and the series - especially season one - a chance. I really miss this show!
Last Dance (1996)
This review contains spoilers!
Sharon Stone stars as a woman on death row, awaiting her execution, when suddenly a young lawyer decides to give it his all to fight for a stay of execution and retrial. Apparently there was exonerating evidence kept out of her trial, about her own abuse and the fact that she was drugged and drunk when she committed the heinous crime. Sharon Stone gives a brilliant performance, but the movie as a whole feels completely unnecessary, both because Dead Man Walking dealt with the same issues a few months earlier, because the mentioned circumstances doesn't really make her any less guilty or less deserving of the death penalty for having robbed two innocent people of their lives, and ultimately because all the efforts of the young lawyer yields no results, and she's ultimately executed. The latter is, along with Sharon Stone's performance, the best thing about the movie, if you ask me, but it still feels like a 103 minute long movie about nothing. An admitted killer got what she deserved, and those closest to her, and a few others who've taken it upon themselves to care, feel sad about it. Nothing new there. And certainly not enough for another movie about it...
Physical Evidence (1989)
Decent story ruined by the worst acting performance I've ever seen
A suspended cop (Reynolds) gets arrested, suspected for murder. He has no money and settles for a public defender. At the Public Defenders Office a young female lawyer (Russell) fights off a few other lawyers to get the case, hoping a high profile case like this can make her career.
I'm not going to go into the story much more than that, other than to say that the evidence against the cop is mostly circumstantial. As a plot, this could be taken anywhere. Corrupt cops, the defense's feeling of conspiracy against an easy target, suspect lawyers from the district attorney's office; it's all there, and more, and if played out right it could make for a really entertaining trial movie.
But there's a problem in the movie, and her name is Theresa Russell. From the moment she open her mouth she stood out....in the worst possible way. I've seen thousands of movies, but I can seriously never remember seeing a worse acting performance than what she delivers here. EVER! It makes Vampira and Tor Johnson in Plan 9 From Outer Space look like Meryl Streep and James Stewart by comparison! Every time she opens her mouth I shrugged at her amazing ability to make even the easiest line come off completely wrong! There isn't even a hint of credibility about her, and her very presence in the movie - where she's really the main character - ruins everything. Every scene she's in is the worse for it, she is truly the most destructive force I've ever seen in an otherwise decent movie. And she's acting against a string of B- and C- grade actors, most delivering below-par performances, yet they still seem Oscar-worthy next to her.
I'm giving the movie a couple of extra stars for the idea of a story that could've been entertaining if it had a real actress delivering the main female part, and for a couple of decent scenes without her presence, but really; this movie should be avoided at all cost!
El espinazo del diablo (2001)
Beautiful and haunting
Guillermo del Toro is perhaps more known for his English language movies, like Mimic, Blade II, Hellboy and Pacific Rim, but creatively, artistically and qualitatively they don't even begin to compare to his Spanish language movies, this one and Pan's Labyrinth being his masterpieces.
Set against the Spanish civil war, this is a ghost story set in a secluded boy's orphanage, with a dud missile planted in the middle of its courtyard. While it is the ghost story that immediately catches your attention, and is the driving force in the story, the true story of the movie is much more complex, dealing with the difficulties of surviving during the civil war, what it means to be an orphan and the many complexities of human nature. The story is haunting in more than one sense of the word, not to mention touching and heartbreaking. There is too much in the movie open for discovery, to be put into a review. It has to be experienced.
The movie also has a lot more to offer than a great story. Its cinematography is absolutely breathtaking in its beautiful photography and attention to details and historic accuracy. While not quite unparalleled in cinema history, it is certainly one of the most visually stunning movies I've ever laid eyes on.
But what really caught my attention on this watching, my fourth of the movie, was the acting. After a good while I suddenly realized that none of the actors had really caught my attention, neither for good or for bad. All of my attention was focused on the characters they portray. What better testament of a good acting performance is there than that? It is especially impressive considering that 90% of the cast are kids. There are very few movies dealing with such a large cast of kids that are able to reach such a level of quality and consistency in their collective performances. Every single character is perfectly cast, and every actor in the movie plays their character to perfection, without any sort of over or under acting, or traits of a bad performance. Their characters seem human and multi layered, and hauntingly realistic. In lack of another word, it's simply perfect. Del Toro truly shows his ability to extract excellent performances from his cast, and especially from his younger actors. In his later, thematically very much related movie, Pan's Labyrinth, he shows it again in the stunning performance by Ivana Baquero, who through his direction carries the whole movie on her 11 year old shoulders.
If I'm going to critique the movie on anything I'll say that it is a bit on the slow side. While not a big problem - the beautiful photography and exploration of the characters will mostly hold your attention - there are a couple of moments where the scenes seems a tad stretched out. But really, that's nitpicking. Overall this is a masterpiece of a movie,and one that I highly recommend.
Shyamalan can still tell a story
While Shyamalan's directorial career has taken a wrong turn, releasing one movie worse than the previous, this movie shows that he can still tell a story. An elevator in a tall building stops, rendering the five people in it trapped. Complications ensue when building management tries to rescue them, but they'll soon learn that their biggest problem isn't outside the elevator; it's in it with them. When the elevator starts to suffer electricity blackouts, the people in it starts dying in brutal ways, leaving the survivors trapped in a guessing game of who among them is responsible, or if it is some outside source causing it.
A confined space like an elevator works surprisingly well in this movie, and creates an intense and claustrophobic atmosphere, that traps the viewer along with the victims. The tension is enhanced by the strange and spooky circumstances surrounding the rescue attempts from building management, police and fire department. The movie also feeds just enough character background information along the way to make them interesting, and make us care about how it all will end.
At 80 minutes it is a short ride, and considering its confined setting also a tight one. But the running time is just long enough for the story, leaving no dead spots along the way, nor really any feeling of having missed out on something, and enough details added in for the movie to remain interesting for at least a couple of re-watches. All in all a very entertaining movie. There are a few religious aspects in the movie, but not really obtrusive in a way that will ruin the experience for those who aren't into religion. And besides; anyone who've watched Shyamalan's best own movies knows that he likes to add a bit of religion in his movies, so it shouldn't come as a surprise. As for John Erick Dowdle, the director of this movie, it'll be interesting if he'll be able to keep up this level of quality in the future - his previous filmography isn't too impressive.
John Carter (2012)
"Star Wars for a new generation"?
"Star Wars for a new generation"; that's what the Blu-ray cover would have us believe. If this is indicative of what Disney have in store for us with Star Wars Episode VII, then there is all reason to worry. And considering this was made by the same company, even with the same cinematographer confirmed for SWVII, there's good reason to think it is.
Borrowing heavily from sci-fi movies like Star Wars, Star Trek and Avatar, and even from Disney's own animated sci-fi serial; Lilo and Stitch (the martian tribes looks exactly like, except for the color of the skin, the female boss in the alien affairs bureau, or whatever it was called, in said movie), and very little from the books it's actually based, this movie moves on as one of the least original movies I've ever seen. Instead it's one cliché after another, one massive rip-off after another, and what's worse, one piece of cheesy dialog after another. I thought fighting for Unobtanium, or whatever it was called, in Avatar sounded ridiculous; I laughed out loud at dialogs like "We MUST fight for Helium" in this one. It's even funnier thinking back at it, and thinking how they would have sounded if they actually HAD helium available when recording the dialog...
How Disney thought they could cash in on the ridiculously large budget, using mainly actors no one had heard about prior to this movie, using a literary hero most had long since forgotten, is completely beyond me. Taylor Kitch is anything but convincing as the hero in this movie, and most of the supporting cast, in addition to being mostly second rate actors, are further drawn down by the cheesy looks of their alien beings, which like I said before looked like straight copies out of better sci-fi movies, and the laugh-out-loud cheesy dialog they have to deliver.
It's all made worse that the plot in it self is at best ridiculous, at worst completely illogical, cheesy and way drawn out as though you're trying to smear a small piece of butter onto a much too large piece of bread. Is it entertaining? Only as much as some of the dialog or plot elements can actually make you laugh out loud in all their cheesiness. For me that was three times. The rest of the movie was boring and ridiculous. And yes, I know it's a sci-fi/fantasy movie, that requires you to accept things you normally wouldn't. But pretty much all sci-fi and fantasy movies of the past have one thing in common, which makes it all the easier to accept their fantasy; they are not set on Earth or anywhere near it. Because they know that once you set it on Earth, and especially in a historic context, such as this one, people will question your fantasies more, and hold them up to Earth logic and, in this case, history. And on that level this fails big time. It doesn't really help that John Carter ends up on Mars, and that most of the action takes place there, either, because it's still too near to what we know and accept. Try as I might, I was simply not able to look past all of that, and let myself get drawn into the fantasy, and the alien makeup and effects didn't make it any easier, since it looked exactly like things we've seen before, which for people who've seen many movies easily makes you care more about that than what they are trying to convey in the story. So notes to Disney; when making a $275m sci-fi movie; 1. don't use no-name actors, 2. don't set them in our Solar system and 3. don't make everything in the movie look exactly like other movies (not set in our Solar system, by the way) we've seen before. It probably wouldn't be a bad idea to 4. give your McGuffins better names, and make the dialog sound more believable either.
Avoid this movie at all cost. It deserves to be lost and forgotten, and never spoken of again. With a rating of almost 6.6 I had some hope for this, but I ended up even more disappointed than I was with Avatar, which also was a huge copy-fest (basically Dances with Wolves with big Smurfs for the Indians), which I hardly thought possible. Oh well, at least I got a couple of laughs, although for all the wrong reasons...
Beyond a Reasonable Doubt (2009)
Succeeded in making me want to see the original
Peter Hyams may not be the most respected director in the game, but I've enjoyed several of his movies in the past none the less. I've also always liked Michael Douglas as an actor, and I've always had a soft spot for courtroom dramas. This is actually not the first time these three ingredients have been mixed up in a movie. In 1983 Michael Douglas starred in Peter Hyams' The Star Chamber, where he plays a judge tired of seeing guilty people run around free due to technicalities rendering damning evidence inadmissible after the law. In retrospect I should have just stuck with that, and given this one a pass. But finding it in the bargain bin it was hard not checking it out.
A reporter who've followed the cases of the district attorney (Michael Douglas) for some time suspects the D.A.'s perfect track record to be a lie, and that the D.A. in several of the cases have manufactured the damning evidence, in the form of DNA evidence pointing to the man on trial, planted several days after the crime. His editor doesn't believe him, so with the help of a friend he sets out on a potentially dangerous mission; the next time a murder is discovered, he'll plant circumstantial evidence (sans DNA) pointing to himself, having the friend video tape it in order to destroy the D.A.'s case at the point he knows for sure that he has planted DNA evidence against him. In the mix is also a female lawyer from the D.A.'s office, who becomes romantically involved with the reporter.
The premise sounds promising enough. And sure enough, it's a remake of a 1956 movie by the same name, helmed by Fritz Lang, who if you ask me is responsible for the greatest movie ever made; Metropolis, as well as a steady stream of other masterpieces. The best thing I can say about this version of the movie is that it made me aware of the original, and made me want to see it. When I bought it I was unaware of the original's existence.
As many others have pointed out before, this version of the movie is full of plot holes, some harder to ignore than others. The flow of the movie is extremely streamlined and predictable, and with the exception of Michael Douglas, who has a much smaller part than I had hoped, no one really delivers any good acting performances either. Douglas isn't really very remarkable in this movie either, but I'd bet that even at his worst it would be obvious he's in a different league than the rest of the cast, and here he isn't even at his worst... The movie looks dark on dull, and has limited production values. I can certainly understand the poor reputation and user score that made me skeptical to the movie to begin with. In fact, I'm surprised it isn't rated even lower.
Not having seen the original yet I think it's still safe to say; stick with the original. I'll certainly be checking it out. After all, the premise does have promise, if it's executed correctly and have reasonable explanations for its plot holes. This movie doesn't even try to explain any of them...
Another disappointment from Neill Blomkamp
South African director Neill Blomkamp was discovered by New Zealand director Peter Jackson a few years ago, and he so believed in this director that he produced his first big movie, District 9. Having been a fan of Peter Jackson since well before his step up to the big league, through the Lord of the Rings trilogy, I was optimistic about District 9; if Peter Jackson believed in it, it had to have some promise. That's what I thought, anyway. Ultimately I was severely disappointed by District 9, which in boring documentary style explored the treatment of aliens in South Africa, seen through the eyes of a character no one cared about, watching characters we didn't know enough about to care. The underlying message; this is how rich people treat the poorest of the poor. The message is a good one, the execution extremely poor.
Fast forward to 2013, and we have his second big film at the theaters. Without Peter Jackson as a producer this time, but instead he has attracted big stars like Matt Damon and Jodie Foster to the film. Matt Damon playing Max; a poor, unfortunate orphan on earth, struggling in a low pay, high risk job, hoping to save up enough money one day to take him and his childhood girlfriend to the haven in the sky; the off-world, man built colony called Elysium, where only the rich and beautiful are allowed to live. An accident at work gives him only 5 days to carry out his dream, and to be saved by the health beds on Elysium, which can cure any illness in seconds, without any side effects what so ever. To assist him he gets a group of rebels who on a semi-regular basis sends their own spaceships up to Elysium with fugitives who've saved up enough money for the ticket. On Elysium, chief of security Delacourt (Jodie Foster) does everything in her power - and more - to prevent them from landing.
Once again it seems that Blomkamp is more interested in conveying a message than actually delivering a good, coherent sci-fi/action epic. The message this time; the rich consider themselves elevated over the poor, and do not want anything to do with them. While this certainly rings true in today's society, no one watching a movie presented as a big star sci-fi/action epic really cares. So, as far as conveying a message goes, Blomkamp once again fails. Unfortunately his failure also extends to his ability to convey a good action movie.
The characters aren't fleshed out enough for the audience to really care. Jodie Foster is a great actress, but she seems badly miscast in the role of rogue security officer, planning to overtake the presidency. It's sad to see her struggling her way through this movie, in what is probably the worst performance I've ever seen her give. South African actor Sharlto Copley, who also got a slight break with District 9, is certainly the most entertaining of the characters, but the movie fails hugely in his credibility - we lack the background information to make his place in the movie believable. Matt Damon plays pretty much on auto pilot, and that works well enough to get him through the movie. His character Max and his girlfriend Frey are given some background information through some scenes from their childhood - scenes that are repeated annoyingly many times as a reminder of what we've already seen. Yet when it comes to their adult versions, we are given no background between then and now at all, ultimately failing even there to make the characters fleshed out enough to be believable.
To top it off, every action sequence in the movie are filmed using a fast paced camera following the action. The problem with that is that the 24 pictures per second that film is able to convey is not enough to make the motion fluid. In other words, all action sequences are shaky and blurry, making it hard to follow what's actually happening. At the end of the movie I also had a bit of a headache, which I didn't at the beginning. I don't know why this type of action filming has become so popular, because I can't remember ever hearing of anyone actually preferring this type of filming over more steady and fluent presentations of the action on screen. But when it comes to effects it might be cheaper to present them in a blurry way, than having to flesh out all the details in proper action sequences...
The movie's vision of the future is an interesting one, though, and the presentation of 2154's Earth isn't really too far fetched as of now. However the presentation of Elysium leaves far more questions than answers, and does not seem credible at all.
At the end of the day I sat through a movie with a disappointingly simple story, with disappointing and non-credible characters, and with an ever more disappointing ending yielding even more questions than answers. Blomkamp shows once again that his ability to create entertaining sci-fi/action movies is non-existent. Does he have a message in his movie? Who cares? If he wanted to really address the problems of society of today he should do it through proper documentaries, or even contemporary big star action movies with the message up front and clear, instead of what he does now, which is failing at entertaining and failing at conveying messages. So for those who've read through this review and not seen the movie; don't bother with it.
Tung ngan (2010)
This is the fourth movie in the Pang brothers' The Eye horror series. Of the three previous I've only seen the first, which I recall as an effective and interesting horror movie. This one found its way into my collection as a filler in a movie order of another title, and was the first real made-in-3D movie I watched on my new 3D HDTV. 3D still feels like a mostly unnecessary gimmick to me, and I fail to see how this movie would have been any less effective without the 3D, but disregarding that, the 3D was mostly still quite effective.
As for the movie itself, it starts out interestingly enough, and builds up a premise that could have been taken pretty much anywhere. The shock effects are predictable enough, but between the dog child and mysterious shadow woman, and all the strange on-goings with the three men in particular - making the three women the ones who have to drive the story forward - it has many elements that could make for a really good horror story overall. Unfortunately, when it comes time to tie up all the threads, it does so in a somewhat disappointing way. It's still better than most American horror movies I've seen lately.
The original The Eye is a better view overall, but you can certainly do worse than this one too.
Made in Dagenham (2010)
An important history lesson
Movies about equal rights for women aren't exactly abundant, which made this movie a very pleasant surprise. It's well made, representing the 60s on screen in a realistic manner, and well acted, featuring performances by some very good actors we sadly see to little of in the bigger productions, like Bob Hoskins. And its story is both true and important, and a true testament that history can be made anywhere, as long as those fighting for it stay true to their purpose and see it through. UK cinema has so much more than James Bond to offer, and there are many gems out there deserving to be discovered by a larger audience. This is one of them. Highly recommended!
Victory Through Air Power (1943)
A Disney propaganda movie
Disney is most known for their family friendly output, featuring lovable characters like Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck. During WWII several of those characters were put in some really unusual situations as Disney were used to output propaganda movies in an attempt to make the public buy more war bonds to finance the war efforts, with Donald Duck in the Oscar-winning Der Führer's Face as the possibly most famous, or even infamous.
Victory Through Air Power is a feature length animated documentary based on the book by Alexander de Seversky, who also features in the movie. It tells the history of aviation, with main focus on the use of airplanes in war situations, and culminates in one man's viewpoint of how the war could have ended. It is the historic parts that really stands out, starting with the Wright brothers and covering the most historic events in early aviation in its recap of aviation history up until WWII started. But the movies message about the importance of an air force in a modern war rings true to this day, and the movie's presentation of how the war could have gone on for many more years than it actually did was also interesting.
There is nothing hasty or cheap looking in this movie, it is a proper, well done feature length animated movie from Disney, and a fascinating ride even today, as long as one has the right mindset for it.
Stylish, modern film noir
This so-called remake of the 1950 movie by the same name is probably less similar to said movie than Avatar is to Dances With Wolves... It shares the premise of a man learning he has a limited time to live, and tries to find out who poisoned him in that time. The settings, characters and execution is very different, though, and personally I much prefer this "remake" to the 1950 movie.
I was especially caught by the cinematography and color effects, which I found quite unique. The main character is properly fleshed out, and likable, and his story is fascinating and told in an effective and well paced manner. I found the resolution rather predictable, but it didn't really take away from my enjoyment of the movie.
DOA: Dead or Alive (2006)
A near perfect based-on-video-game movie
I'm an advocate of judging movies against their purpose; what does it try to be? This movie tries to faithfully adapt the video game DOA on the big screen, and in that respect it does very well. While the story itself is filled with clichés, and is very equal to a lot of earlier movies, like Mortal Kombat, that can't really be held against this movie. This is how the game is, and adapting the game any other way would be disrespectful.
Action, babes, more action, nice camera angels, macho dialog and a very predictable story line with a proper comeuppance for the bad guys, that's what to expect from such a movie, and that's what it delivers. Other movies based on video games have a lot to learn from this movie; Stay faithful to your source, or expect a bad reception from the game's fans.
Emphasize on SLOW!
Just saw this film together with a couple of friends. I guess the easiest way to sum this film up is by quoting Sadie as she tells Mako's character (a real shame this should end up to be his last live action performance) to turn around; "Emphasize on slow"...
It all starts promising enough, the first 25 minutes went by hardly before I'd even noticed it. But then the film took an ugly turn into the abyss. The "plot" started to seem non existent, the cuts suddenly made no sense at all, the dialog got worse and worse throughout, as did the acting, the "horror" elements became painfully obvious and arch typical, and everything progressed slowly - VERY slowly. Let me just emphasize that once more; it's SLOW - PAINFULLY slow! Towards the end none of us could wait for this ordeal to be over. On top of that; we all had to fight REAL hard to stay awake for the last hour, even though we didn't watch the film at a late hour... And rest assured; we're a gang who usually enjoy a good horror/thriller flick.
I wouldn't recommend this to anyone. If you want to see a film about a conscience-ridden vampire, somehow trying to make amends for his/her wrong-doings and/or his/her becoming a vampire in the first place; watch "The Hunger" and/or "Interview With a Vampire". This one has hardly any redeeming qualities at all, with the exception of a fair share of female eye-candy. But if that's your bowl of soup, you'd be better of watching "D.O.A. - Dead or Alive"; that one at least is true to its origin, and emphasizes on what we really expect from that kind of film; T&A and fast paced action...
My opinion; avoid at all cost. A very kind 2/10 due to a somewhat promising start...
The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)
Not what I was hoping for
After reading the rave reviews this title has gotten everywhere lately, I must color myself a bit confused. Didn't anyone notice the extremely poor camera work in the action sequences throughout? Didn't anybody else get bored along the way in the way overlong chase sequences that seemed to dominate about half the movie? Didn't anyone else cringe at the lack of reality in some of the key action sequences in the film? Especially since the two first movies were far above the Hollywood par in this respect. Didn't anybody else notice the rather lackluster acting from most of the central "bad guys", probably due to their rather pointless characters, obviously written into the script to make the plot's obvious farfetchedness seem less far-fetched? Breaking it down I'd say the action sequences are utterly disappointing throughout. Story wise the first half is rather dull, with very little driving the plot forwards. The second half is a lot better, when things finally start to entangle. Ultimately the ending sums things quite nicely up for the whole Bourne trilogy. Then again, the series could well have ended with the nice, open ended, ending of "The Bourne Supremacy" too, and be all the better for it... There certainly doesn't need to be any more sequels in this franchise! Without a doubt the weakest link in the trilogy, but I have to admit it's not all bad. Especially the second half makes the film watchable. Still - it's not what it could, and should, have been, and I really don't see where all the praise from other users and critics are coming from. This is most certainly not one of the 250 best movies ever made (ref. it's #84 on the IMDb Top 250 at the time I'm writing this comment), let alone the best in the Bourne series. I feel kind of nice when giving it a 6/10. That's my first impression, anyway.
WORST ANIMATED FEATURE EVER!!!
Never have I been so bored watching a movie as I was while watching this one. I'd seriously rather watch paint dry than to expose myself to this piece of crap again. For the first time ever I nearly fell asleep while watching a film - and I was wide awake when I started watching. The animation is terrible, the lip movement doesn't match the audio, the actors are all doing terrible jobs at making the dialog sound interesting. It is, on a completely different note, interesting to hear that Peter O'Toole is the one that sounds LEAST interested in the job he was doing of them all - he probably realized too late that what he had taken upon himself to do was complete garbage! The film is terribly slow paced, the dialog terrible and talked at such low speed you've nearly forgotten what they started saying in the first place once they reach the end... The original story by Doyle is excellent, but the treatment it has received here makes it look like SH*T! There isn't one single interesting or exciting part in the whole movie, and that is actually quite an accomplishment considering the material they had to work with... This is the worst offense anyone has ever done to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and should be avoided at all cost. Watch any other adaptation of the legendary book, and preferably the excellent 1939-version with the ultimate Holmes and Watson; Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce!
This film deserves negative marks, but seeing as that's not possible, it gets a very solid 1/10!
The Forgotten (1973)
To which basement are they referring?
A lot of the user comments reflects on how little sense the title makes. And they're right - there are hardly any basement scenes in this movie at all. But from my point of view, 'basement' doesn't necessarily have to be the lower floor of a house. In this film it would make much more sense if 'basement' refers to the psyche of the patients. This institution is doing exactly that; analyzing the psyche of the patients to find the innermost secrets of their mental illness. Maybe they shouldn't...
I found myself fascinated by this film. As a psychological horror movie it really works. But it's not an action packed slasher movie, so don't go around expecting much gore. They spend a lot of time introducing us to the various characters and their illnesses, then everything suddenly changes in an unexpected turn of events. The ending of the film was excellent! As a psychological thriller/horror flick it's worthy of a 7/10. If they meant to make a slasher film it's worth about a 2-3/10. But I choose to see it as a psychological horror film, so I'll be going around liking this film from now on... Laugh it up all you want. All fans of psychological horror films should try to see this film...
Jurassic Park III (2001)
It's got dinosaurs, it's got action, it's got nerve, what more do you need? On top of that, it's got some pretty good acting (and some *not* quite so good - shit happens) and some great music in the style of the original music. Deduct a couple of points for a terrible ending for what is otherwise a quite good and effective story, and you end up with a purely entertaining movie, worthy of my vote for 7/10. It's better than Jurassic Park II, and it's better than most of the other movies released this summer. See it!
Planet of the Apes (2001)
Why Tim, WHY?????
Why Tim, WHY did you make this movie? Why Tim, WHY didn't you just make a remake of the 60's film when you decided to do the film anyway? Why Tim, WHY did you go with the lousiest story ever when you decided to go with a different story than the original? Why Tim, WHY didn't you follow the Apes-rules set in the orignal films?
Words coming out from a true Tim Burton fan! I've loved all of his previous directing jobs. They've all been great fun, original and marvelously directed. But this is some of the lousiest piece of crap I've seen. Just goes to prove that nobody's perfect, I suppose. The Apes-concept just doesn't work with the Burton-touch. That, a lousy story, Elfman's most uninspired soundtrack ever (his music usually rules), recycled lines and lousy and uninspired acting by the actors sums up to a memorable ordeal - of how NOT to make a movie!
Add this to the list of horrible summer movies of 2001! Avoid seeing this film, it's not worth the ticket! Treat yourself to the original Planet of the Apes or any previous Tim Burton project instead, by renting or buying them on DVD... Whatever you do, don't give them a reason to do a sequel on this crap - and they will, if enough people see it! I give this movie 2/10. Why not 1/10? Because even an uninspired Elfman soundtrack is enough to save an extra credit...