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Friday, December 31, 2010

Editor's Note: So Many Movies, So Little Time


Dear readers and blog buddies,

I'm watching so many movies these days, that it has become physically impossible for me to write long and detailed reviews for all the films I want to criticize. Therefore, I've decided that from now on, I will provide only short, simple and to-the-point reviews. No deep analysis! No wasteful thoughts! No superfluous details! It's not that I'm lazy or anything, but writing so many detailed movie reviews, takes so much of my time and energy, that I began to feel drained and exhausted (not physically). So, in 2011 expect many, many brief reviews from me. I hope you will enjoy my tiny reviews as much as you enjoy reading my long ones.

Have a marvellous New Year's Eve, dear bloggers! See you in 2011! :)


Wednesday, December 29, 2010

[4.00/10] Dinner for Schmucks (2010)


Dinner for Schmucks (2010)

"Dinner for Schmucks" tells the story of Tim, a rising executive, who works for a boss who hosts a monthly event in which the guest who brings the biggest buffoon gets a career-boost. Though he declines the invitation at first, Tim changes his mind when he meets Barry, a man who builds dioramas using stuffed mice. The scheme backfires when Barry's blundering good intentions send Tim's life into a downward spiral, threatening a major business deal and possibly scuttling Tim's engagement to his fiancee. Jay Roach, the director of "Meet the Parents" and its sequel, brings yet another unbelievably lame and painfully unfunny comedy, that fails to deliver any genuine laughs. Unsurprisingly, "Dinner for Schmucks"'s main problem lies within its script, as it offers nothing but silly jokes, idiotic characters, and a formulaic story that becomes predictable rather quickly. This remake completely lacks wit and clever humor, as instead it uses practical jokes and tired gimmicks, to turn itself into an agonizing journey that is, at times, physically painful. Jay Roach's stupid comedy also suffers from uneven pacing and poor editing, and with its 114 minute running time, "Dinner for Schmucks" is just a little too overlong and pretty tedious. Steve Carrell could have been this film's saving grace, but unfortunately he's just plain bad. As a whole, Carrell is a decent comedian, but he plays an unbelievably dumb character in this film. There's just nothing interesting or amusing about him, except for the dioramas he makes - those are absolutely incredible, and nothing like I've seen before in my life. The scenes that the mice and the dioramas are thoroughly compelling and truly fascinating to watch, and unfortunately the only highlight of "Dinner for Schmucks". Paul Rudd is physically sympathetic, but his character is neither interesting, nor funny. Also, sadly, Carell and Rudd share very little screen chemistry, which makes this film an even more unpleasant experience. The supporting performances are mediocre at best. Zach Galifianakis is annoying as usual, Lucy Punch is typically over-the-top, and Stephanie Szostak, while very good-looking, is rather boring. Painfully unfunny, thoroughly predictable and outrageously lame, "Dinner for Schmucks" is a film made for schmucks.

[6.25/10] Loose Cannons a.k.a. Mine Vaganti (2010)


Loose Cannons

a.k.a.

  Mine Vaganti (2010)

"Loose Cannons" or "Mine Vaganti", as it is called in Italy, unfolds around Tommaso has a comfortable life in Rome as an aspiring writer and a steady relationship with his boyfriend Marco - a life he has kept secret from his family. So when he's called back to his hometown of Lecce in Italy's deep south to help run the family pasta business, he decides to finally reveal his homosexuality to his conservative family and hopefully get out of his business obligations in the process. But when his plans are thwarted by his brother, Tommaso gets stuck on the path that he was desperately trying to avoid. Although this film may seem a bit dated for some, due to its tired subject matter, "Mine Vaganti" is a smart, uplifting and thoroughly hilarious social gay-themed comedy, that never takes itself too seriously, but at the same time never fails to engage the viewer with its fascinating visuals, likable characters and humorous script. The Turkish-born Italian director Ferman Ozpetek may not be as creative and original filmmaker as his German fella, Fatih Akin, but he certainly knows how to tells a good story, and to create a believable, yet engaging characters with an enviable affection. You won't get bored for a second, as "Mine Vaganti" is full of funny situations, witty dialogues, and unexpected twists. Moreover, the film features some truly great performances. The handsome Riccardo Scamarcio is truly sympathetic as the main protagonist, Tommaso, and he portrays a gay man quite confidently and credibly, without being over-the-top. Ilaria Occhini delivers the best performance as Tommaso's grandmother, a strong and powerful, yet sensible, sober-minded and good-looking old lady, that steals the show every time she appears on screen. The stunningly beautiful Nicole Grimaudo is almost as good as the paranoid and sensitive Alba, and the sassy gay friends of Tommaso, deliver most of the laughs, though they become a bit annoying at some point. Alessandro Preziosi also gives an above average performance as Antonio, who is, ironically, gay like his brother. Visually, "Mine Vaganti" also impresses, as the scenery of the Southern Italian countryside is typically gorgeous, as is the family's lavish mansion, and the color-saturated cinematography is beautifully preserved. Though "Mine Vaganti" is pretty old-fashioned and quite ordinary, director Ferman Ozpetek succeeds in blending all the right ingredients to create a bitter-sweet dramedy, that is as entertaining, touching, and enjoyable, as it's visually-captivating.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

[5.25/10] The Tourist (2010)


The Tourist (2010)

In this remake of the French thriller "Anthony Zimmer", Frank unexpectedly finds himself in a flirtatious encounter with Elise, an extraordinary woman who deliberately crosses his path, during an impromptu trip to Europe to mend his broken heart. Against the breathtaking backdrop of Paris and Venice, their whirlwind romance quickly evolves as they find themselves unwittingly thrust into a deadly game of cat and mouse. Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck first full-length film, "The Lives of Others", was well received by both critics and audience, but same can't be said for his latest espionage thriller "The Tourist", as it fails to deliver both, high entertainment value and money at the box office. "The Tourist" suffers from preposterous plot, inadequate direction and uneven pacing, and although it offers a passable entertainment, the film never lives up to its full potential. Moreover, the twist in the end is pretty ridiculous and almost ruins this otherwise passable cinematic experience. "The Tourist" relies mainly on its two leads and beautiful stars, Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp, and its stunning scenery, and these are the areas where the film succeeds mostly. Angelina Jolie is definitely the best thing about this movie. She not only looks breathtakingly exquisite as always, but she's absolutely seductive and thoroughly captivating as Elise - an unpredictable and mysterious woman, that looks tough on the outside, but is very sensitive on the inside. Well, her British accent is pretty terrible, but other than that she does a pretty good job. Johnny Depp, on the other hand, is quite disappointing. He gives a surprisingly flat and stiff performance as Frank, as he hardly conveys any real emotion, which is kinda shocking, since Depp is one of the most gifted actors in history of cinema. Throughout the whole time, he looks really bored, and like he doesn't want to be there, which affects his performance. The chemistry between Jolie and Depp is almost lacking, probably due to the fact that Johnny Depp had issues with his long-time girlfriend Vanessa Paradis, who wanted him to quit this film, because she didn't want him to shoot a steamy sex scenes with Jolie. Although that obviously didn't happen, Depp looks quite uncomfortable and wooden during the love scenes with Angelina. Paul Bettany typically good as Inspector Acheson, and he does his best with the material he's given, and Steven Berkoff beyond convincing as the intimidating gang boss, Reginald Shaw. Visually though, "The Tourist" never fails to fascinate the audience with its incredibly beautiful Italian scenery. Oscar-winning director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck captures beautifully the essence of Venice, providing us with some truly mesmerizing shots and splendid images. The action scenes, while few and far between, as well-shot and entertaining to watch. The boat chase deserves a special mention, as it's probably the most exciting part in the entire movie. Although it offers some gorgeous settings and a few moderately thrilling action sequences, "The Tourist" disappoints with a lackluster performance by Johnny Depp, incoherent pacing, and ludicrous ending.

[6.75/10] All Good Things (2010)


All Good Things (2010)

Inspired by the real-life case of Robert Durst, who was suspected of murdering his wife, after she vanished without a trace in 1982, "All Good Things" is a love story and murder mystery set against the backdrop of a New York real estate dynasty in the 1980s. Warned by his father, that the common girl he loves will never be accepted into high society, the young scion, David Marks, throws caution to the wind and marries her regardless. Later, when the girl disappears and politics enter the picture, a suspicious series of deaths leave a haunted cop convinced that the truth is closer than anyone realizes. "All Good Things" is a dark and often depressing love story, surrounded by mystery, and although it lacks a strong emotional impact, the film is nicely-shot, brilliantly-acted and quite gripping. "All Good Things" is all about the two main characters and their odd, yet credible romance. The first part of the movie, where we witness the beautiful and charming relationship that developes between the two protagonists, is definitely the best part of the entire movie, as it's filled with passion, emotions and buckets of love. Unfortunately, after Katies' disappearance later on, the story becomes less intriguing and too muddled to hold viewer's attention. The acting is definitely the film's highlight, as both Ryan Gosling and Kirsten Dunst deliver an award worthy performances as the cursed lovers, who despite having mixed feelings, are desperately in love with each other. Considering the fact that Ryan Gosling isn't given an easy material to work with, he's absolutely fantastic and downright disturbing as the confused and quietly demented David, traumatized by the loss of his mother. However, it's Kirsten Dunst that makes the biggest impression. I've never considered her a good actress, but with this performance, she proved me completely wrong. Dunst demonstrates a wide range of emotions including fragility, sensibility, anger and sadness, and she's absolutely incredible in protraying all these emotions. Without any doubts, Kirsten Dunst delivers the performance of her career. Furthermore, the chemistry between them two is charming and very believable, though when things get out of control, their love turns destructive and quite nightmarish. The supporting performances are quite good as well, with special mention goes to Philip Baker and Hall Frank Langella. "All Good Things" is also quite appealing, visually, as it has a beautifully authentic production design and appropriate pale-colored cinematography, that represent the 80s era quite well. Peculiar and often depressing, yet hugely engrossing and beautifully-acted, "All Good Things" is probably one of the saddest and most mysterious love stories ever put on film.

Monday, December 27, 2010

[3.50/10] Somewhere (2010)


Somewhere (2010)

Sofia Coppola's fourth full-length feature film revolves around Roguish Hollywood star Johnny Marco, who finds his debauched life of excess unexpectedly interrupted when his 11-year-old daughter shows up at the Chateau Marmont Hotel for an unscheduled visit. Later, as father and daughter reconnect, Johnny begins to reassess his sordid lifestyle. With "Somewhere", Sofia Coppola has proven to the general public yet again, that she's one of the most boring and unimaginative filmmakers working today. She could be easily described as, well, overrated. As many of you know, her second film and so-called masterpiece, "Lost in Translation", was very well-acclaimed by the critics, but truth to be told, it was a pretty mediocre effort, with no heart and soul, and crafted with zero imagination. Unfortunately, very few had the courage to admit it publicly. Believe it or not, Coppola's latest film is even worse. This dreadful bore-fest should have been called "Nothing" instead of "Somewhere", as this film is neither dramatic, nor humorous, nor interesting, nor touching, nor intriguing, nor gripping... nor anything. It's just a big nothing. Watching "Somewhere" is as exhausting and frustrating, as watching a paint dry, since absolutely nothing happens throughout the entire film. To comment on the story is rather impossible, too, as the film feels like a bunch of random scenes thrown together with very little to no plot. Technically, "Somewhere" is also a lackluster. Sofia Coppola's direction is so weak, and uninspired, it borders on amateurish. She uses a lot of long and static camera shots and unnecessarily prolonged scenes, just to artificially extend the running time of this film, and as a result "Somewhere" becomes even more tiresome and ineffective. There is some nice, mostly indoor scenery that pictures well the luxury lifestyle of a celeb, but that's about it.The performances should have been the film's main strength, but sadly, those are hardly satisfying. Stephen Dorff is an okay actor, but he's neither talented, nor charismatic enough to carry a movie. His performance as the lonely and asocial Hollywood celebrity is flat, lifeless and unengaging, just like the movie itself. Dorff's character is so dumb and narrow-minded, he never fully realizes what a boring, selfish and monotonous life he lives. However, Elle Fanning truly shines as Johnny Marco's young daughter, Cleo. Fanning is so sweet and likable, and she acts so naturally in front of the camera, it's fascinating. She plays the only genuinely likable character in the entire movie, and you can't help but wanting to see her on screen more often. The supporting performances are pretty mediocre, without any real standouts. All in all, there's almost nothing to like about Sofia Coppola's "Somewhere". I dare to say, it's the most pointless, tedious, pretentious and uninteresting film of the year. And I've seen "The Killer Inside Me".

Friday, December 24, 2010

[6.50/10] The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader [3D] (2010)


The Chronicles of Narnia:
The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
[3D] (2010)


Well, first things first, Merry Christmas everyone! My special Christmas review is dedicated to "Narnia" and its third installment,
"The Voyage of the Dawn Treader", where Edmund and Lucy Pevensie, along with their pesky cousin Eustace Scrubb find themselves swallowed into a painting and on to a fantastic Narnian ship, The Dawn Treader, headed for the very edges of the world. Joining forces once again with their royal friend Prince Caspian and the warrior mouse Reepicheep, they are whisked away on a mysterious mission to the Lone Islands, and beyond. On this bewitching voyage that tests their hearts and spirits, the trio faces magical Dufflepuds, sinister slave traders, roaring dragons and enchanted merfolk. Only an entirely uncharted journey to Aslan’s Country can save Narnia, and all the astonishing creatures in it, from an unfathomable fate. Sadly, "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader" offers a far less impressive and gripping story than it two predecessors, as the voyage itself is a rather unexciting experience for most part. This installment is also lacking a good villain, which lows the entertainment value vastly, and therefore the story becomes less thrilling and intriguing. On a positive note, the third film in the franchise compensates with fantastic visuals and top-notch special effects that never fail to impress. The CGI are flawlessly-done and thoroughly realistic, with special mention goes to the dragon and its extremely detailed design. The scenes including the invisible Dufflepuds are just as impressive, as the fairy scenery is stunningly gorgeous and the Dufflepuds themselves are uniquely-crafted. Let's not forget about Aslan, who is breathtakingly glorious as always! The 3D effects range from mindblowing to just okay, and fortunately they never feel perfunctory or unnecessary. The action sequences are not as spectacular as those from the previous two films, but well-staged and quite entertaining nonetheless. "The Voyage of the Dawn Treader" also relies on its charming young cast, and although they all do a good job in portraying their well-known and likable characters, the audience might miss Peter and Susan Pevensie, since they appear for only a couple of minutes on screen. Georgie Henley is once again incredible as the adorable and charismatic Lucy, and despite her young age, she's capable of carrying almost the entire movie on her shoulders. Having said that, the entire cast (including her) is completely outshined by Will Poulter as Eustace, who steals the show every time he appears on screen. Yes, Eustace is pretty annoying at first, but as the story progresses, his wicked character transforms into the most likable and engaging character of them all. Kudos for him, since this is a very hard thing to do. Ben Barnes as Prince Caspian is million times better, than he was in the previous installment, which was, ironically, dedicated to his character. Why ironically? Because he was dreadfully stiff back then. As for Skandar Keynes, well, he's almost invisible this time around. "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader" may have lost some of the magic and the adventurousness of the popular franchise, but it's still a fairly gripping and visually-fascinating experience that will satisfy both "Narnia" fans and fantasy admirers.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

[7.75/10] This Man a.k.a. The Man from Nowhere (2010)


This Man

a.k.a.
The Man from Nowhere (2010)

An ex-special agent CHA Tae-shik’s only connection to the rest of the world is a little girl, So-mi, who lives nearby. Her mother, Hyo-jeong smuggles drugs from a drug trafficking organization and entrusts Tae-shik with the product, without letting him know. The traffickers find out about her smuggling and kidnap both Hyo-jeong and So-mi. The gang promises to release them if Tae-shik makes a delivery for them, however it actually is a larger plot to eliminate a rival drug ring leader. When Hyo-jeon’s disemboweled body is discovered, Tae-shik realizes that So-mi’s life may also be in danger. Tae-shik becomes enraged at the prospect that So-mi may already be dead and prepares for a battle, putting his own life at risk. Jeong-beom Lee's fantastic action thriller had 10 nominations at this year's Korea Film Awards, and although it took 7 awards, most of which in technical categories, "The Man from Nowhere" remains as one of the best Korean films of 2010, along with the fantastically disturbing "I Saw the Devil". "This Man" is not without its flaws, as the first half of the movie suffers from messy story, incoherent pacing and choppy editing, but all these problems are cleared up in its middle part, where "The Man from Nowhere" turns into a thoroughly gripping and highly intense crime thriller, that will leave you gasping for air. Probably the best thing about "This Man" is that there's nothing exaggerated about it, as it delivers a truly believable, yet thrilling story, and sympathetic, credible central characters, beautifully-acted by Bin Won and Sae-Ron Kim. Bin Won is great as the reticent ex-agent, Cha, and although he barely speaks most of the time, he's absolutely captivates the audience with his expressive eyes and enigmatic, yet provocative behavior. The minute you see him, you know he hides something, and you can't help yourself but wanting to uncover the mystery behind him. He's that compelling. However, it's Sae-Ron Kim who truly shines in this film. She acts so naturally and so believably, you'll never guess that this is her first time in front of the camera. Moreover, the relationship between the two protagonists is so sincere, heartfelt and plausible, it makes you forget that you're watching a movie. Besides Cha and Jeong 's enchanting relationship "This Man" has even more to offer. The backstory about Cha not only reveals his intriguing past, but it's also very dramatic, emotional and beautifully-told, and certainly on of the film's highlights. The action sequences are incredibly well-staged, tense and violently brutal, accompanied with impressive visual and sound effects. "This Man"'s overall harshness is compensated with an absolutely touching finale, that is sure to bring tears to your eyes. Despite some editing issues, "This Man" is very slick, technically. The stunningly beautiful bluish cinematography and appropriate low-key lighting are to be admired, as is Jeong-beom Lee's competent direction. This is only his second movie, but it's obvious that he has put a lot of effort and creativity into his work. Disturbing and uncompromisingly violent, yet moving and consistently enthralling, "The Man from Nowhere" ranks as one of the best action thrillers South Korea has ever delivered.

 

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

[6.00/10] And Soon the Darkness (2010)


And Soon the Darkness (2010)

Set in Argentina, "And Soon the Darkness" tells the story of two girls on a bike-riding trip in a remote part of the country. When one of them goes missing, the other must find her before darkness falls and her worst fears are realized. In this remake of 1970 British thriller of the same name, a supposed-to-be fun and exotic vacation, turns into a surreal nightmare for Stephanie and Ellie, two beautiful best friends from America. The good news is, Marcos Efron's version of "And Soon the Darkness" is a fairly decent remake, shot with artistic flair and executed with precision. "And Soon the Darkness" is definitely a slow-burner, since almost nothing particularly interesting happens in the first half of the movie, as that part is used for developing the characters, and the 'nature' of Argentina. And although lacking in thrills and intensity, this first half of the film is never boring, thanks to the smooth pacing, sympathetic characters and some pretty nice visuals. The second half is a notch-better, as the story unfolds more dynamically, and this is where all the action takes place. The ending is tad predictable and not very original, but it feels appropriate for the realistic subject matter. The acting, though not this film's main strength, is passable for the most part. Amber Heard is particualrly impressive. Her physical similarity to Keira Knightley is visible, but this stunning beauty never works against her, as she delivers an above average and very believable performance as Stephanie - the sensible and good-looking girl, determined to find and save her best friend. Odette Yustman, on the other hand, gives a pretty mediocre performance as the spoiled and reckless Ellie, as she shows almost no acting skills, but only relies on her prettiness. Moreover, her character is so annoying most of the time, you hardly care if she will be saved or not. Karl Urban feels very appropriate for the role he's given, and he gives his best in portraying his character. César Vianco is downright creepy as the dubious local policeman, and Adriana Barraza is very convincing as the hotel hostess. "And Soon the Darkness" makes a pretty good impression, visually, due to the absolutely gorgeous scenery of Argentinian country side, the exotic locations and some stunning and pretty artsy shots by Marcos Efron, who put all his creativity into delivering a visually-captivating remake, that never fails to engage the audience with its beauty. Although "And Soon the Darkness" is rather slow-moving and genuinely thrill-free, it succeeds in delivering a believable story, accompanied with a couple of decent performances and some truly aesthetic visuals.

[2.00/10] Insane (2010)


Insane (2010)

After the amazing and super-successful "Let the Right One In", which set the bar for Scandinavian horror very very high, everyone is expecting from Sweden to deliver a good horror flicks to say the least. Unfortunately, it turned out that Swedish filmmakers are neither as good nor as creative as their Norwegian fellas, when speaking of horror. Norway provided some truly great films of this genre, like "Cold Prey" and its sequel, "Dead Snow" and the upcoming moc-doc phenomenon "Troll Hunter", to name a few, while Sweden brought only one great film, "Let the Right One In", and some other pretty poor horror flicks, including the atrocious "Insane" - an extremely dull, completely amateurish and terribly-crafted slasher, that fails to deliver thrills, suspense and tolerable story. A lonely hotel by a lonely road. Sarah is lost, looking for somewhere to sleep. She’s come to the wrong place. A lonely hotel by a lonely road. Sarah is lost, Jenny is looking for her. She’s come to the right place. The Bridgeburn Hotel. The synopsis above tries hard to sound creepy, but instead it ends up quite silly, just like the movie itself. No need to comment on the script, as it is, well, lacking, just like everything else. All the characters in "Insane" are flat and one-dimensional, badly-portrayed by a bunch of amateurish actors, who perform stiffly and perform stiffly and speak in self-consciously stagy accents. Therefore, none of them deserve to be mentioned. The mysterious killer is wearing a gas mask, which is supposed to be creepy, but it's just rather uninteresting and pretty unoriginal. Putting his looks aside, the killer is surprisingly dull and un-scary, as are the death scenes themselves. Yes, they're gory and everything, but they're done with such a lack of inventiveness, that they quickly become boring to watch. The way predictable and quite ridiculous twist in the end, adds to the overall awfulness of "Insane", to make it probably the worst Scandinavian horror ever created. In terms of visuals, "Insane" is also a lackluster. Yes, the motel in the middle of nowhere is nicely-designed in the style of the 60s, and rather creepy, but that's about it. Dumb, tedious and horribly-executed, this Swedish slasher flick is nothing, but "insanely" terrible.

Monday, December 20, 2010

[7.00/10] You Will Meet a Dark Tall Stranger (2010)


You Will Meet a Dark Tall Stranger (2010)

Woody Allen's latest film, "You Will Meet a Dark Tall Stranger" tells the story of two married couples find only trouble and heartache as their complicated lives unfold. After 40 years of marriage, Alfie leaves his wife to pursue what he thinks is happiness with a call girl. His wife, Helena, reeling from abandonment, decides to follow the advice of a psychic. Sally, the daughter of Alfie and Helena, is unhappy in her marriage and develops a crush on her boss, while her husband, Roy, falls for a woman engaged to be married. Woody Allen's films have always been about study of human relationships, and "You Will Meet a Dark Tall Stranger" is no exception. The most fasinating thing about this film, is Allen's effortless ability to turn an otherwise hackneyed material into something really gripping. Though quite predictable, this dialogue-driven black comedy shines with a clever script, witty humor, plenty of amusing situations and excellent narration by Zak Orth, whose captivating voice will submerge you into the story even deeper. The story unfolds smoothly throughout out, without losing any energy, thanks to its relatively tight pacing and brisk dialogues that will catch your attention for sure. "You Will Meet a Dark Tall Stranger" is, unsurprisingly, brilliantly-cast. Allen has gathered a whole bunch of extremely talented actors, who all do an amazing job with the material they're given. One of the most gifted actresses nowadays, Naomi Watts, turns in a great performance as one of the central characters, Sally - an intelligent and pretty, yet confused and rather neurotic middle-aged woman, unsatisfied with her family life, but dedicated to her career as an art connoisseur. She's incredible as usual, and quite convincing in conveying a wide range of human emotions. However, it's Gemma Jones that steals the show as Helena - the rich mother-in-law, completely obsessed with a phony fortune-teller, who tells her everything she wants to hear. Jones is very sympathetic as the deluded old woman, and certainly the most hilarious character in the movie, as she delivers most of the laughs. Antonio Banderas doesn't get to do much other than speaking with sexy accent and looking handsome, and he definitely does a great job at being the irresistable boss of Sally. Josh Brolin is fairly good as Roy, but he's outshined by Jones and Watts. Anthony Hopkins' performance is just okay, compared to his previous roles, and it think he may have lost some of his sparkle. "Slumdog Millionaire"'s own, Freida Pinto, is not only incredibly eye-candy, but also pretty solid as Roy's new love interest, Dia. "You Will Meet a Dark Tall Stranger" is also typically well-shot and visually-appealing. London has never looked so fresh, colorful, shiny and beautiful on screen, thanks to Jim Clay's excellent production design and Vilmos Zsigmond's bright, yellowish cinematography, that perfectly suit the fun and satirical spirit of the movie. Although, not nearly as good as Allen's late-period triumphs "Match Point" and "Vicky Cristina Barcelona", "You Will Meet a Dark Tall Stranger" stands on its own with an intriguing enough story, excellent perfomances and fantastic visuals.

[3.00/10] Wushu Warrior (2010)



"Wushu Warrior" takes place in 19th Century China, where Lord Edward Lindsey is operating an opium running scheme. When he has one of his adversaries, Reverend Elders, killed, the reverend’s son Jonathan is taken to a small village on the outskirts of the big city. Upon learning his father has died, Jonathan is taken under the wing of village head Uncle Pei. When Jonathan sees two kids arguing, he learns that they are studying the martial art of wushu. When Jonathan asks Uncle Pei to teach him, Pei resorts to training him in secret. Truth to be told, this Canadian-Chinese co-production is probably the most poorly-executed and uninspired martial arts flick I've seen an my life, as it fails to deliver on every single level. It's a complete rip-off of many, many other and better films of this genre and it's shot and choreographed with zero imagination. The story is a standard fare, that pretty much contains every possible cliche known in history of martial arts movies. It shamelessly borrows an already tired ideas, without even changing them a bit, in order to avoid the plagiarism. The funniest thing about "Wushu Warrior" is the fact that every single Chinese actor in this film speaks English at all times, which makes it even less authentic and credible. Not a surprise though, since the director himself is a noneAsian. The writing is completely sub-par, as all the lines are laughably ridiculous and stiffly-delivered by the actors involved. In terms of acting, this flick also fails to make a good impression. All the English-speaking actors are wildly unknown, and lacking in both, acting and fighting skills. You won't believe for a minute that Tod Fennell is a warrior and a martial arts master. On a positive note, the Chinese actors are vastly better, as they play way more engagig characters. Although pretending to be a martial arts movie, "Wushu Warrior" is almst lacking in action, especially in its first half. And as soon as the action starts though, you find yourself even more bored than before, as the fight scenes are horribly-staged and amateurishly-choreographed, accompained with poor wire work and laughably cheesy special effects. Same could be said for the training sequnces, which are mostly boring, rather forced and ridden with cliches. The lack of budget is obvious, as "Wushu Warrior" looks and feels like a cheap made-for-TV movie with its low production values, extremely cheesy special effects and technical incompetence. Yes, the Chinese scenery is exotically gorgeous as always, but that's not enough to save this film from being visually poor and hardly engaging. With its lame and thoroughly predictable story, third-rate fight choreography, and dull and uninspired direction, "Wushu Warrior" should be considered as one of the worst martial arts movies ever created.

Friday, December 17, 2010

[5.50/10] The Next Three Days (2010)


The Next Three Days (2010)

In "The Next Three Days", life seems perfect for John Brennan until his wife, Lara, is arrested for a gruesome murder she says she didn't commit. Three years into her sentence, John is struggling to hold his family together, raising their son and teaching at college while he pursues every means available to prove her innocence. With the rejection of their final appeal, Lara becomes suicidal and John decides there is only one possible, bearable solution: to break his wife out of prison. Refusing to be deterred by impossible odds or his own inexperience, John devises an elaborate escape plot and plunges into a dangerous and unfamiliar world, ultimately risking everything for the woman he loves. Academy Award-winning film director Paul Haggis' latest thriller "The Next Three Days" disappoints with slow and uninvolving first half, genuine lack of intensity and surprisingly incoherent plot. However, after a dull and rather boring first half, "The Next Three Days" into a fairly gripping thriller, that while hardly plausible, succeeds to entertain its audience, as it moves along at much brisker pace and offers more action. Paul Haggis is not on the top of his game here, and it shows. He's direction is muddled, labored, unimaginative, and often confusing as he fails to bring the thrill and excitement - the obligatory elements of this genre. The action and chase scenes are very few and far between, but they're well-staged, nicely-shot and interesting to watch. Acting-wise, "The Next Three Days" is also a mixed bag. One of the most overrated actors in film history, Russell Crowe, turns in a rather flat performance as John Brennan, a frustrated, yet determined man who desperately tries the impossible to free his beloved wife. Crowe definitely possesses some charm and he has a strong presence, but yet, his trademark awkwardness, blank face and expressionless eyes, make him seem a bit stiff and uncomfortable on screen. I've always wondered why everybody finds him a great actor. Elizabeth Banks is a notch-better as John's possibly mis-accused wife, as she successfully conveys hope, anger and despair, but yet her performance is a bit too neurotic and over-the-top at times, and is therefore not completely satisfactory. "The Next Three Days" features a great cameo by Liam Neeson, who spends only 5 minutes on screen, and yet his appearance remains truly memorable. Moderately engrossing and fairly well-acted, yet incredibly uneven, unimaginatively-shot and mostly thrill-free, "The Next Three Days" is nothing more than just a hit-and-miss thriller, that has the ambition to deliver, but never fully manages to absorb the audience into the story.

[6.50/10] Rabbit Hole (2010)


Rabbit Hole (2010)

Adapted from David Lindsay-Abaire’s Pulitzer-Prize winning play, "Rabbit Hole" follows Howie and Becca Corbett, a happily married couple whose perfect world is forever changed when their young son is taken from them in a tragic car accident. As Becca redefines her place among friends and family, she finds solace in a mysterious relationship with the young driver of the car that killed her son. Although this is a story about grief, sadness, disbelief and alienation, "Rabbit Hole" is never over-dramatic or too depressing, thanks to its well-balanced and beautifully-written script, which is sure to be praised. "Rabbit Hole" is painfully slow moving, yet smoothly-paced and not that difficult to watch, due to its surprisingly short running time, and John Cameron Mitchell's competent, yet slightly conventional direction. Technically, this film is rather unimpressive, despite it has some nice production values and decent cinematography. "Rabbit Hole" mostly relies on the performances from the two leads, and this is the area where the film mostly succeeds. Both, Nicole Kidman and Aaron Eckhar deliver an award-worthy performances. Unsurprisingly, Kidman stands out the most as Becca - an intelligent and good-looking middle-aged woman, who has become a cold, distant and anisocial person due to her grief over the accidental death of her only son. Showing a great variety of emotions as she always does, Kidman creates a very believable character, and while her Becca is slightly unlikable at first, her strange behavior becomes more understandable as the film progresses. Aaron Eckhar is just as convincing and consistently good in his dignified depiction of a grieving father. This is arguably his best performance so far. Eckhar and Kidman's does an amazing job in creating a credible relationship between their characters, as their process of alienation is as believable as their love and devotion. Miles Teller give a 'mixed bag' performance as the driver of the car that killed their son. He's very appropriate for the role and fairly effective, yet quite unmemorable as Jason. All the other supporting performances are great overall, but special mention goes to Dianne Wiest, as gives an outstanding performance as Becca's mother, Nat. Aside from the nicely-written script and Nicole Kidman and Aaron Eckhart's wonderful performances, there's actually nothing really special about "Rabbit Hole". It thinks its strength is its simplicity, but in fact, it's just not that effective.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

[4.00/10] Dans Ton Sommeil a.k.a. In Their Sleep (2010)



This "modern" French horror/thriller, titled "In Their Sleep", follows Sarah, whose life is in pieces, one year after her teenage son's death. Then late one night, her car accidentally hits Arthur, a young man the same age as her boy, who suddenly emerges out of the forest and onto the road. Wounded and frightened, he is running from a mysterious assailant, hunting him down after Arthur caught him red handed in the act of burglary. Sarah sympathizes with him, taking him in, only to be tracked down by the burglar whose murderous rage towards Arthur forces her to take action. Unbeknownst to Sarah though, things aren't quite the way they seem… "In Their Sleep" is Caroline du Potet's first feature film, co-directed with brother Eric, and it shows. The film is not just dull, lifeless and incompetently-directed, but it also completely lacks suspense and actual thrills. It desperately tries to give you this realistic feel, but it miserably fails, as "In Their Sleep" is so rushed and contrived, it never succeeds in delivering a believable and effective story, or compelling enough characters. Caroline and Eric du Potet use an intricate plot structure and tricky editing, in order to complicate purposely this otherwise muddled and inert thriller. Unfortunately, directors' attempt to compensate for the film's overly simplistic and unintriguing story, could be considered a failed effort, as "In Their Sleep"'s complex structure does nothing but confuse the audience. Both, Anne Parillaud and Arthur Dupont, do a fairly good job in portreying Sarah and Arthur, but the problem lies in the script, as neither their characters are not fully developed, nor their relationship feels even remotely credible. Although tentatively proclaimed as a horror movie, "In Their Sleep" has very little to offer in terms of thrills, scares and gore. Yes, there are some dead and cut-throat scenes, but those are very few and lacking in gore and gruesomeness. The conclusion is a bit unexpected, yet completely unsatisfying and rather stupid. With its weak script, uninspired plot and lack of credibility, "In Their Sleep" is yet another poor exercise in filmmaking.

Monday, December 13, 2010

CM: Nebular's TOP 15 Best-Reviewed Creature Features of All Time


CineMarvellous! presents:

Nebular's TOP 15 Best-Reviewed

Creature Features of All Time!

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1. Alien / Aliens (9.50/10) / (10/10)

(1979, Ridley Scott / 1986, James Cameron)

"Pitch-perfect sci-fi creature flicks!"

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2. Pan's Labyrinth (10/10)

(2006, Guillermo del Toro)

"MUCH MORE than just a creature feature!"

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3. The Descent (9.75/10)

(2006, Neil Marshall)

"Claustrophobia + Monsters = FEAR!"

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4. Gremlins (9.75/10)

(1984, Joe Dante)

"Unique and wildly funny"

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5. Jaws (9.75/10)

(1979, Steven Spielberg)

"Unsurpassable!"

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6. King Kong (9.75/10)

(2005, Peter Jackson)

"Nothing short of spectacular!"

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7. The Thing (9.50/10)

(1982, John Carpenter)

"The best creature ever put on film!"

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8. The Fly (1986)

(1986, David Cronenberg)

"Gross, yet brilliant!"

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9. Cloverfield (9.00/10)

(2008, Matt Reeves)

"Terrifying and fantastically-crafted!"

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10. Predator (9.00/10)

(1987, John McTiernan)

"A cult classic!"

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11. The Host (8.75/10)

(2006, Joon-ho Bong)

"Best creature feature from Asia!"

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12. Mimic (8.75/10)

(1997, Guillermo del Toro)

"Incredibly engrossing!"

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13. Jurassic Park (8.50/10)

(1997, Steven Spielberg)

"Everybody's first reaction was: WOW!"

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14. Splice (8.50/10)

(2010, Vincenzo Natali)

"Nothing you have seen before!"

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15. Jeepers Creepers (8.00/10)

(2001, Victor Salva)

"Nightmarishly creepy!"

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Honorable mentions:

The Mist (2007, Frank Darabont)

Slither (2006, James Gunn)
Critters (1986, Stephen Herek)Tremors (1990, Ron Underwood)
Silent Hill (2006, Christophe Gans)
Species (1995, Roger Donaldson
)
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Saturday, December 11, 2010

CineMarvellous Preview: Five ultra-short, yet spectacular clips for Zack Snyder's "Sucker Punch"


5 (Amazing) Clips for

Zack Snyder's Sucker Punch


Warner Bros. recently released five super-short, yet absolutely spectacular clips for Zack Snyder’s upcoming (March 2011) eye candy fantasy action flick Sucker Punch. Check them below:










Friday, December 10, 2010

[9.00/10] Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole (2010)


Legend of the Guardians:
The Owls of Ga'Hoole
(2010)


Based on the beloved series of children's books by Kathryn Lasky, Zack Snyder's "Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole", follows Soren, a young owl enthralled by his father's epic stories of the Guardians of Ga'Hoole - an army of winged warriors who once fought an epic battle to save all of owlkind from the evil Pure Ones. When he and his brother become the Pure Ones' captives, Soren makes a daring escape, and, with the help of other young owls, sets out to find the Guardians and bring them back to defend their people once again. First things first, "Legend of the Guardians" is completely and utterly underrated, as Zack Snyder's very first animated feature is a gorgeously-crafted children story for grown ups, that dazzles with its unique atmosphere, spectacular visuals and thoroughly compelling story. This film may not break any new grounds in terms of storytelling, but it's consistently gripping, flawlessly-paced, and high in entertainment value. Personally, I wasn't bored for a second and I'm not sure how anyone could have been. Sure, the plot feels a bit rushed, especially in the beginning, but this is one of the few weak spots in this otherwise excellent film. With "Legend of the Guardians", Zack Snyder proves yet again what an amazing director and incredible visual genius he is, as his first first-ever animated flick is a pure CGI extravaganza, created with love, thought and passion. He truly uses all his imagination and creativity to bring this story to life, offering one of the most striking visuals and CGI characters ever put on film. The owls themselves are gorgeously designed, beautifully-detailed and nothing short of adorable! The look so real, and their eyes are so expressive and warm, it's like you could feel their emotions. Despite their common origin, every owl has its own unique look and personality, that make them so distinctive and individualistic, you won't have any trouble recognizing the different characters. The film's dark tone and gloomy, yet sophisticated graphic style perfectly suit the changing mood of the narrative and the overall atmosphere of "Legend of the Guardians". The director uses muted colour scheme accented with amber and golden tones, in order to achieve a specific mood, that while a bit too dark and scary for small children, will certainly ravish and captivate the older audiences. Snyder's trademark slow-mo sequences are as amazingly-done and breathtaking as his high-energy action set-pieces, with 'flying through the rain drops' scene in particular being absolutely thrilling and jaw-droppingly beautiful! Unfortunately, I wasn't able to see the 3D version of "Legend of the Guardians", therefore I can't comment on the 3D effects, though I'm pretty convinced those are brilliantly-done. The voice acting is also quite admirable. The voice cast is enormous, bringing together huge talents such as Geoffrey Rush, Sam Neill, Hugo Weaving, Anthony LaPaglia, and Helen Mirren, along with some less-know actors, mainly from UK and Australia. They all do a phenomenal job in bringing their feathery characters to life! With its mindblowingly sumptuous graphics, enthralling and adventurous story, and extremely adorable characters, "Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole" ranks as one of the most imaginative animated features ever created, and it's certainly the most visually-stunning movie of 2010.