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Friday, July 30, 2010

[6.25/10] The Sorcerer's Apprentice (2010)

The Sorcerer's Apprentice (2010)

In "The Sorcerer's Apprentice", Balthazar Blake is a master sorcerer in modern-day Manhattan trying to defend the city from his arch-nemesis, Maxim Horvath. Balthazar can't do it alone, so he recruits Dave Stutler, a seemingly average guy who demonstrates hidden potential, as his reluctant protege. The sorcerer gives his unwilling accomplice a crash course in the art and science of magic, and together, these unlikely partners work to stop the forces of darkness. "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" suffers from a bit complicated set up, but it becomes a lot more entertaining and mildly enjoyable half way through. Awkward hero and scary mentor, threat of global apocalypse, simplistic action plot, silly comic relief, awkward romance - it's all there. But, it's what the movie does with that is why it's so fun, and the action is actually eye-candy and fun to watch. Nicolas Cage is also pretty good here, considering his career has been a bit of a joke lately. He does not seem to know when he wants to be serious or wants to ham it up, but it works for his unorthodox sorcerer. Baruchel delivers his 'geek' performance in exactly the same ways he delivers his previous performances ("She's Out of My League" anyone?). He's clumsy, likable and honest, yet a little to goofy at times. The rest of the cast does a good job as well - Alfred Molina is sinister to the max, and the perfect choice for a villain, and the always beautiful Monica Belluci looks amazing. Visually, The Sorcerer's Apprentice is fairly good. Jon Turteltaub's direction is light-hearted and pretty decent. The production design gives an epic, yet at times a bit gloomy look to the movie, and the special effects grade from cheesy to amazing. "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" does cater to a younger audience, but also provides enough action, passable CGI effects, and enough humor to be enjoyed by adults as well. It's far from great, but if you're looking for mindless summer entertainment, this is the one.

  • My Rating: 6.25/10
  • Rotten Tomatoes: 41% (5.2/10)
  • IMDb: 6.3/10

[4.50/10] The Children (2008)

The Children (2008)

Short review: This UK horror flick "The Children" is as simple as its premise. It's about a family that goes out on a Christmas holiday in a remote area called Hackney, with their relatives and during that time their children become sick and begin to show signs of strange behavior. There are non-stop screaming and obnoxious children and from their parents too, so it's kind of hard to say when the real horror begins. "The Children" tends to deliver a sequence of irrational, immoderate human behavior, a weird chain reaction off any scope, aside from any explainable viewpoint. We, the audience, are lead to believe that the antagonistic children in this film pose a very real immediate threat to their elders. Even when the bodies begin to pile up, it is so unconvincingly feasible that suspending your disbelief well not save you from the barrage of predictability and lack of tension setting plot. The lack of atmosphere, character development, and a real story, is compensated by eerie music playing all the time. The central twist has been done in so many other films of a higher caliber, that it's not enough to justify the rather vile selection of set pieces. The young talented actress Hannah Tointon is the only highlight of this, otherwise poor and uninspired horror film.

  • My Rating: 4.50/10
  • Rotten Tomatoes: 77% (6.3/10)
  • IMDb: 6.3/10

[3.75/10] Greenberg (2010)

Greenberg (2010)

Short review: Directed by Noah Baumbach, "Greenberg", a dark comedy about life in the middle age, is hard to watch at times, and very tedious at others. Actually, there are times when "Greenberg" is funny, or at least amusing, but it's not as often as its director might think. In fact, those funny moments are one, or mostly two. Its story doesn't go any place and we are really not very enlightened about the characters. The script is weak, the characters shallow and limp, and the cinematography and atmosphere very oppressive and dreary. Having said that, I thought, Ben Stiller's performance as the title character was great, especially considering the fact that he is known for his comedic roles. Stiller's character is given some hard hitting truths to convey. He is made out to be mentally ill, in this film, so do yourself a favour, and don't take him seriously. Greta Gerwig who stars as Greenberg's love interest, was far less likable though. Her character, Florence is confused, unsure in herself and emotionally awkward, and you can hardly connect with her. The supporting cast doesn't have a huge impact on the movie. Overall, despite Ben Stiller's convincing performance, "Greenberg" is joyless, often boring, and almost painful to watch.

  • My Rating: 3.75/10
  • Rotten Tomatoes: 74% (6.6/10)
  • IMDb: 6.6/10

[5.75/10] Les 7 Jours Du Talion a.k.a. 7 Days (2010)

Les 7 Jours Du Talion


7 Days (2010)

The French/Canadian "Les 7 Jours Du Talion" tells a story of a Father's vengeance for his eight year old daughter that was raped and murdered. He masterminds a plan to get the perpetrator alone for 7 Days so he can quell his own flooding emotions. Although "7 Days" is pretty straight-forward thriller, it's dark, gritty, depressing and very realistic, and it features a powerful and credible central performance from Claude Legault - a sane man gone mad in seeking revenge for the murder of his beloved daughter. The torture scenes are brutal, graphic and marvellously-handled. The cold, bluish tint of the picture and low-key colors create very dark, even depressing atmosphere, that suits well to the overall mood of the movie. Daniel Grou's direction isn't anything special or innovative, but his shots are precised and his camera movements are slow, slick and smooth. The script is rather good, but uses very limited dialogue. On the negative side, "7 Days" completely lacks music, which purpose is to bring a stronger feeling of realism into the story, but in fact it doesn't help much. Also, the sluggish pace makes it even harder to sit through, and its fairly predictable ending leaves you wanting more. Overall, I have mixed feelings about "Les 7 Jours Du Talion" - loved the performances and film's visual style, and hated the utter lack of surprises, and the very little suspense it offered.

  • My Rating: 5.75/10
  • Rotten Tomatoes: 83% (7.0/10)
  • IMDb: 7.0/10

Thursday, July 29, 2010

[5.50/10] Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky (2009)

Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky (2009)

Short review: Beautifully-filmed and visually-splendid, "Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky" is rather unsatisfying love story with simplistic plot, about the famous fashion designer Coco Chanel, and her attraction to the Russian musician Igor Stravinsky. Acting is the highlight of this movie. The half-Greek, half-French Anna Mouglalis is simply fascinating as Coco Chanel. She embodies her character with grace and talent - her elegant face, stylish look and sophisticated attitude make her very believable as the French fashion icon, Chanel. Mads Mikkelsen portrays Igor Stravinsky fairly good, although he lacks the energy and strength the real Stravinsky possessed. Also, there's very little chemistry between the two leads, and their doomed relationship doesn't seem very passionate, therefore it doesn't feel like they're in love or very attracted to each other. The production design, cinematography and costumes are film's other strong aspects. The period interiors of Chanel's black & white villa is stunning to look at, and all her clothes and accessories are, as expected, very chic, stylish and beautifully simple. Pretentious, slow-moving and often cold, "Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky" is, simply said, a beautiful bore-fest.

  • My Rating: 5.50/10
  • Rotten Tomatoes: 48% (5.6/10)
  • IMDb: 6.3/10

[4.75/10] The Housemaid (2010)

The Housemaid (2010)

Short review: "The Housemaid" is a remake of the 1960 movie of the same name. It tells the story of Eun-yi, a middle-aged divorcee, who's hired as an upper class family housemaid. But soon enough, master of the house Hoon takes advantage of his social position by slipping into her sheets. "The Housemaid" is slick and quiet Korean thriller, that is, unfortunately, everything but thrilling. It lacks tension, suspense and excitement . The characters are flat, undefined and confused, as are their actions. The overly simply and monotonous dialogue slowly resounds through the expensive and ultra-modren, yet cold environment of rich mаn's house, and it rarely evokes any emotion in viewer,'s heart other than boredom. "The Housemaid" isn't a terrible film, though. It's nicely-paced and decently-shot. The story is very realistic and rather believable, and the acting is good from the entire cast. The biggest problem of "The Housemaid", however, is that it's completely uninvolving and way too ordinary.

  • My Rating: 4.75/10
  • Rotten Tomatoes: N/A
  • IMDb: 6.8/10

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

[9.50/10] Inception (2010)

Inception (2010)

Christopher Nolan's "Inception" is a labyrinthine maze that leaves the viewer breathless and speechless, leaving him begging for more. An ingenious plot which takes a commanding hold of the audience's attention throughout, "Inception" has Cobb and team of thieves steal ideas from people in a futuristic world. Faced with a new assignment that will give him redemption from his haunting past, Cobb sets out on an impossible mission of planting a new idea in his victim's mind. Cinema is a unique art form, probably the only medium in which complete multi-dimensional worlds can be built from imagination. Christopher Nolan's "Inception" has achieved this in a dazzling, spectacular way! It presents a compelling and novel universe, the mechanics of which have never before been dreamed of. The movie explores the infinite possibilities in which a man's subconscious state can be explored, exploited and in fact manipulated. The consequences can be grim but what's even more fascinating is the fact that such an idea can actually be translated in to a movie and that the movie is believable. The special effects and set pieces are a marvel surpassed only by Nolan's plot. From zero gravity hallways to snow capped mountains and winding Indian streets. Not one scene in "Inception" will have you checking your watch... This is edge-of-your-seat cinema at it's thrilling best! The score is magnificent, dark, deep, suspenseful, and very intense. The cast is exceptional! Leonardo DiCaprio is the lead and emotional center of the entire film. If you don't believe that DiCaprio is one of the greatest actors working today then you must watch him in "Inception"! He gets better with every film he makes, and with "Blood Diamond", "The Departed", and now this film offering his best performances to date. "Inception" rides on his shoulders and DiCaprio carries it regally! Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who is thankfully developing quite the film career, is great as Arthur, the Point Man. His acting is spot-on and he shines in the action role. Tom Hardy is growing as an actor and in Inception we can see another dimension to this rising British star. Ellen Page shine's as always as the newest member of Cobbs crack team of dream thieves, and Ken Watanabe commanding presence is well received as Cobb's one chance for redemption. The performance that impressed me the most, however, was Marion Cotillard. She commands attention when she is on screen, and the reason is part of her charm but also part of the way she is able to give a fully realized performance that, while short, does need a variety of different emotions. Overall, Christopher Nolan's "Inception" is a groundbreaking, intriguing, exhilarating, super-engaging, and visually mind-blowing sci-fi thriller, that's destined to become a timeless classic! Best film of 2010 so far!

  • My Rating: 9.50/10 [Rating Updated on Dec 3, 2010]
  • Rotten Tomatoes: 87% (8.0/10)
  • IMDb: 9.2/10

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

CineMarvellous Preview: Sensational First Trailer and Teaser Poster for Zack Snyder's "Sucker Punch"!

Sucker Punch


Set in the 1950's, Sucker Punch follows Baby Doll (Emily Browning) who is confined to a mental institution by her stepfather, who intends to have her lobotomized in five days. While there, she imagines an alternative reality to hide her from the pain, and begins planning her escape, needing to steal five objects to help get her out before she is deflowered by a vile man. Warner Brothers is bringing Sucker Punch to theaters on March 25th, 2011 next year.

Check out the amazing first trailer below!

Source: Beyond Hollywood / First Showing

[7.75/10] The Ghost Writer (2010)

The Ghost Writer (2010)

"The Ghost Writer" follows an amateurish and unsuspecting ghost writer as he takes on a doomed project that resulted in his predecessor's untimely and mysterious death. He is to write the biography of former UK Prime Minister, Adam Lang. This is a strong, thrilling and extremely well-written story, with no major flaws, delivered in a wonderful pace, with the long running time not being a problem. Fortunately, Roman Polanski admirably emphasizes entertainment value over self-seriousness. He shows a lighthearted honesty in his direction of the cast, with a disarming sense of humor. As the film progresses, the tension builds and the atmosphere becomes increasingly dark. The acting is one of film's strongest points. Ewan McGregor has been largely overlooked as an actor through the years, but here he's nothing short of brilliant. As the proficient, yet morally flawed ghost writer, he delivers an award-worthy performance of effortless subtlety and natural charm. Olivia Williams puts in a revelatory performance as the wife of the former Prime Minister. Tom Wilkinson totally inhabits his role as the enigmatic Professor Paul Emmett. Kim Cattrall, however, is atrocious, and Pierce Brosnan as Adam Lang gives a decent performance. The film is almost monochrome in its restrained palette of black, blue and grey with flesh tones. The 'metallic' look Polanski gave to his film suits perfectly with the overall atmosphere of "The Ghost Writer" and helps fuel mysteriousness. With its pitch-perfect writing, engaging story and incredible performances, "The Ghost Writer" is an intelligent, subtle and sophisticated mystery thriller that delivers. By far, one of year's best.

  • My Rating: 7.75/10
  • Rotten Tomatoes: 84% (7.4/10)
  • IMDb: 7.7/10

[6.75/10] Diary of a Wimpy Kid (2010)

Short review: "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" is adapted from the novel by Jeff Kinney of the same name, and it follows the journey of Greg Heffley, a boy who has just entered middle school. The story is a charming, off-beat and hugely entertaining. It covers family relationships, friendships, daily school situations and everything in between, and does so with a simple, excellently-written script. The best part of the movie are undoubtedly the characters. You can easily identify and relate to them without being over done and going over the top. The acting from all the kids involved is incredible. Zachary Gordon is the most impressive as he portrays the protagonist Greg with a combination of selfishness, confusion, honesty and the determined spirit of any real-life kid his age. Despite his occasionally questionable actions, Greg is very likable. Robert Capron as Rowley, and Grayson Russell as the goofy Fregley are both great and bring their characters to life. The to lead boys also have good chemistry as best friends. From its ultra-hilarious opening sequence to its satisfying ending, "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" is a fast-paced, enjoyable, charming and funny little film, that can be enjoyed by adults as well as kids.

  • My Rating: 6.75/10
  • Rotten Tomatoes: 55% (5.8/10)
  • IMDb: 6.1/10

[3.75/10] Don't Look Up (2010)

Don't Look Up (2010)

Short review: "Don't Look Up" is a remake of 1996 Japanese horror film with the same name, directed by Chinese filmmaker Fruit Chan, best know to the western audiences as one of the directors of "3 Extremes". In this story, evil spirits get released from old celluloid, which causes a film crew to slowly go insane over time whilst in production on a new project. Despite its intriguing plot, creepy Transylvanian settings, and a couple of good scares, "Don't Look Up" does nothing to challenge its good premise, and simply falls flat on its face. The film suffers from poor direction and editing, beyond horrible acting, one-dimensional characters and laughably bad special effects. The pathetic attempt for shocking twist at the end was the rotten cherry on top of this terrible mess of a film.

  • My Rating: 3.75/10
  • Rotten Tomatoes: N/A
  • IMDb: 5.9/10

Monday, July 26, 2010

[4.25/10] The Last Song (2010)

The Last Song (2010)

Short review: Miley Cyrus stars as a teenager who reconnects with her father years after her parents go through a nasty divorce in this adaptation of the Nicholas Sparks novel. The emotional element of "The Last Song" was pivotal, as it is with most Nicolas Sparks book-to-screen projects. "The Last Song" was contrived, cliché and lackluster. Most of the characters were vapid and empty, the sad ending, and the love story ,were forced. Miley Cyrus did a fair job of portraying Ronnie Miller. She got better as the movie progressed but still didn't quite reach the level that Rachael McAdams did in "The Notebook". Liam Hemsworth was fine, and definitely pretty to look at. He has great charm, but he didn't have a lot to work with. The highlight for me was really Bobby Coleman as Ronnie's brother, Jonah. He was so emotional, so authentic and so likable, he literally lighted up the screen every time he appeared on it. Visually, "The Last Song" was nice to look at, thanks to its beautiful scenery and settings, and yet, I thought it needed more vividness and bright colors, to make it feel more lively. Cheesy, yet sometimes warm-hearted tear-jerker, "The Last Song" is an overly melodramatic love story, filled to the brim with clichés.

  • My Rating: 4.25/10
  • Rotten Tomatoes: 21% (4.0/10)
  • IMDb: 3.3/10

[6.50/10] After.Life (2010)

After.Life (2010)

"After.Life" tells the story of Anna, who after a horrific car accident, wakes up to find the local funeral director Eliot Deacon preparing her body for her funeral. Confused, terrified and feeling still very much alive, Anna doesn't believe she's dead, despite the funeral director's reassurances that she is merely in transition to the afterlife. While lacking in execution, Agnieszka Wojtowicz-Vosloo's "After.Life" is a smart, dark and twisted story, that forces you to think and guess while watching it. It's actually so smart, you might struggle to figure it all out, and you'll find yourself think even harder, after you leave the theater. The point of "After.Life" is to provoke conversations and debates, and it certainly succeeds. Much of the clues they put in the movie were illogical and misleading, but they were there for just that reason - to make you wonder if Eliot Deacon was a crazy psycho killer, or if he really could talk to dead people; and to make you question, if Anna Taylor was actually dead or alive?! Another important question concerned is "Do we really deserve this life?", as most of the people just waste away their days on monotonous and pleasureless tasks, and don't spend enough time with people they love care for, and things they like to do. The acting in "After.Life" was top-notch. Liam Neeson did a good job as the funeral director, and Christina Ricci was excllent in her role as the terrified and largely confused Anna. Justin Long gave his all as Paul - he acted with such care and passion, and showed so much emotion, he managed to outshine both Liam Neeson and Christina Ricci. Technically, "After.Life" was nothing special. The atmosphere was mysterious and creepy, but the low budget was noticable, at times obvious, and the CGI effects, while minimally used, looked poor and cheap. Agnieszka Wojtowicz-Vosloo's direction was average at best. Perhaps in different hands, this film might have been a masterpiece. Although, it has its flaws, "After.Life" is nicely-acted, smartly-scripted, unpredictable and thought-provoking psychological thriller, that will tease your brain. Solve this mysterious puzzle yourself!

  • My Rating: 6.50/10
  • Rotten Tomatoes: 26% (4.5/10)
  • IMDb: 6.4/10