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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

[5.00/10] The Twilight Saga: New Moon (2009)

The Twilight Saga:
New Moon

Short review: Director Chris Wietz brings a commercial feel to "New Moon" which was lacking in Twilight, yet the film ultimately feels less unique than Catherine Hardwicke's effort. This does not help the film in any way as it has less going for it than its predecessor did. Music is a love-hate affair - it feels way too forced in helping create a certain mood that at times the music feels oddly misplaced. The special effects are much improved and now look far from awkward. While the CG is never overly convincing, it is integrated well enough as to not be a distraction. While somewhat enjoyable, "New Moon" lacks identity and this is solely based on the fact that it does little to enhance the "Twilight" formula. Richer mythology is added, the quality of acting has increased in the overall cast and the special effects have undergone a needed retuning. But like Edward so blandly points about himself, the film lacks a soul. The brewing romance between Bella and Edward is lifeless with a general lack of development throughout all the characters. Likewise, the narrative never really seems to head in any viable direction and it is up to the lesser characters to get the film's blood pumping.

  • My Rating: 5.00/10
  • Rotten Tomatoes: 28% (4.6/10)
  • IMDb: 4.6/10

[6.50/10] Twilight (2008)

Twilight (2008)

A modernized myth ensconced in a forbidden love story, director Catherine Hardwicke had a similarly against-all-odds task of pleasing audiences, most of which are hard-core fans of the book. Since much of "Twilight"'s power is said to come from Bella's thoughts, this can of course only be visually executed in a limited fashion. The protagonists' feelings are also very reliant on the intense looks and expressions exchanged multiple times, and the actors successfully transmit their frustrations to the audience, despite the widely-held opinion of getting a cast that fit better. Can't please them all! Kristen, well if you've seen any previous movies of her, you'll notice that she has a pattern, which contains few basic facial expressions, mostly sad-wise, which luckily for her, it's a good thing here, because Bella it's not the 'happy-go-wild' type. And barring a melodramatic outburst, Kirsten Stewart succeeds in delivering a performance that mostly requires her to look inquisitive and pretty. Rob did a decent job at portraying the troubled young vampire, though some scenes looked overly awkward, when they were not supposed to. Hardwicke's "Twilight" undoubltly please its target audience. It's quite visible in the way she harmonizes the scenes - the colors, music and visuals are very soft and pleasing to the senses. It makes "Twilight" an easy time at the movies... there's no intelligence here, but no stupidity either.

  • My Rating: 6.50/10
  • Rotten Tomatoes: 50% (5.5/10)
  • IMDb: 5.8/10

Monday, December 28, 2009

[3.50/10] Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li (2009)

So one would think that this movie would be more accurate to the video games and Anime movies since Capcom had direct hands in this. Nope! This is even worse than the 1994 original "Street Fighter" movie. But unlike that one, this one isn't fun. This one isn't laughably bad. It's just bad. Kristen Kruek does her best for what she's given but the others are so flat-out bland that at times I found myself laughing and shaking my head in utter disbelief. We never get a chance to get to know the characters from the inside out or marvel at the fight scenes due to the consistent add-riddled editing and uneven pacing which, ironically, plagued the first film as well. Neal McDonough is the only one who's credible as bad boy Bison even more so than the late Raul Julia. There are many inconsistencies with some of the characters; namely Gen, whose supposed to be something like Kung-Fu master rather than a young man. Balrog and Vega, on the other hand are just extras to be kicked around when the film calls for them to do so.The script is downright horrible! Right from the get-go, you are amazed at the flat, base dialog that would only impress those who had just discovered the joys of reading - the speech is flat, stilted, and poorly acted by all in the cast. All in all, "Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li" is a horrible, unimaginative, cheesy and just plain stupid movie.

  • My Rating: 3.50/10
  • Rotten Tomatoes: 04% (2.4/10)
  • IMDb: 3.9/10

[7.50/10] The Young Victoria (2009)

The Young Victoria (2009)

Short review: "The Young Victoria" is a beautifully-photographed, brilliantly-scored and very sumptuous movie. It's a remarkable glimpse at a remarkable time in Britian's history told via a very personal and touching biography of the school age princess until her reign as Queen, later marrying Prince Albert, than ending with the birth of their first of nine children. The acting is great with Emily Blunt simply outstanding! She gave a solid, convincing performance catching young Victoria's regality, temper, and vulnerability through out the entire movie. Rupert Friend as the ever so patient and compassionate young Prince Albert vying to win the young Queen's attention, than securing her love, before Lord Melbourne (Paul Bettany_, was engrossing to watch. Just as engrossing was the relationship between the teenage Victoria and her mother, which was fury at times, as with her mother and King William. Also, the production is outstanding in every way: style, substance and sensitivity. The movie looks amazing, the costumes Emily Blunt wears are visually stunning and the music only adds to the film, never detracts from it. It's exceptionally shot and, unlike a lot of films these days, this movie is actually a good length, as it doesn't run on so long that you lose interest or feel that it's needlessly being drawn out.

  • My Rating: 7.50/10
  • Rotten Tomatoes: 75% (6.4/10)
  • IMDb: 7.2/10

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

[9.75/10] Avatar [3D] (2009)

Avatar [3D] (2009)

When a massively ambitious, seemingly impossible to create film aiming to usher in a new era manages to grab hold of it's audience and take them on an unprecedented cinematic roller coaster ride that delivers the goods every turn of the way, it can be considered successful. "Avatar" is that success! While "Avatar"'s plot on paper may read as a standard 'shoot'em-up' action sci-fi flick, it is a near inconceivable task to truly explain how incorrect this appearance truly is. This takes a stroke from every movie, and a dab from every genre, and manages to create a portrait of beauty, in which all pre-existing notion of what cinema can and cannot do is destroyed. Within the lengthy hundred and sixty some odd minutes of film, moviegoers will find that there is always something to keep them enthralled, a merciful gift when considering how tedious many of the longer film of recent memory can become. Also, the 3-D really immersing you into Cameron's futuristic world - Pandora is brought to life with all of the richness and color of our most wild dreams. He makes this dream-like world seem so vividly real, so gloriously captivating that you'll be lucky if you can move out of your seats after your first visit. Sam Worthington does a terrific job playing Jake Sully, who is the main character in the story. Sigourney Weaver, better known as Ripely from the Alien series, is almost back to her best with the role of Dr. Grace Augustine and Stephen Lang does a more then convincing job with Colonel Miles Quaritch, who is head of the Marine team. No matter what can be said about the overtly cheesy script, a criticism that, while holding true, manages to fit charmingly into the over-the-top nature of the film, "Avatar" does as it set out to do, bringing moviegoers a cinematic experience rather than a film. Relying on the technology that he created, Cameron pours his heart into this movie, and it shows in every scene. Ranging from the absurdly detailed creatures to all-too-realistic planet, this flick manages to tell a fulfilling story while all the while throwing jaw-dropping scenery at the audience, giving them only enough time to recover before bombarding them with yet another breathtaking shot. With its groundbreaking and superbly realistic CGI and action sequences, dynamic characters, and a very convincing plot, "Avatar" is an unmissable film that I guarantee you will either like or love. Absolutely phenomenal and a true visual splendor!

  • My Rating: 9.75/10
  • Rotten Tomatoes: 84% (7.5/10)
  • IMDb: 8.9/10

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

[4.50/10] Halloween II (2009)

Halloween II (2009)

Rob Zombie's take on original "Halloween" was decent and pretty watchable. I thought it was a nice tribute, and it added some dimension to the Myer's character. Unfortunately, everything I liked about the first movie has been abandoned in the sequel. In "Halloween II" Zombie had to condense a lot of his story to appease the requirements of the remake. Here he's given much more freedom, but unfortunately he is not able to follow it through with a strong narrative force. My biggest complaint along these lines is that the movie begins with a cheat - the 'it's only a dream' sequence - so for the first half hour, you're trying to figure out what actually happened in the opening scenes and what was part of Laurie's dream. Furthermore, when they pull the same 'dream' trick later in the movie it gets a bad laugh. Zombie clearly is not interested in normal behavior and all of his characters in this movie have issues, but, because of the constant changes of perspective, it's hard to develop much interest in any of them. Taylor-Compton's shrill, nearly non-stop shrieking and crying never lets up for a second. She's not believable during her big dramatic moments and hilariously unconvincing trying to play a hard-edged tattooed punkette. Then we have Rob's wife Sheri Moon. Thankfully she's playing a delusion so her vacant facial expressions and monotone line delivery are at least somewhat acceptable for the part she's playing. It's still hard not to be annoyed that an utterly pointless role was grafted on just so she could participate in the film. The only one who seems to put together a complete performance is Brad Dourif. Nearly every single horror scene is botched by split second cuts that get increasingly more tiresome as the film progresses. The kills themselves are forgettable. Everything looks extremely ugly, grimy and dreary thanks to 16mm film stock and dim lighting. As a result, a lot of the footage was difficult to make out. Rob Zombie has a style that is well-suited for horror movies, but he would be better served in the future if he could collaborate with a screen writer that would help him with story structure. He definitely needs one.

  • My Rating: 4.50/10
  • Rotten Tomatoes: 21% (3.7/10)
  • IMDb: 5.1/10

[6.50/10] 9 (2009)

9 (2009)

Earlier this year, Henry Selick's "Coraline" pushed dark humor and even darker fantasy to bold new places within the realm of animation. Now we have "9," which feels like a continued evolution of the animated film: while the general plot is less than intricate, the dark, postapocalyptic setting and nightmarish visions of man-made machinery contorted into spiders, ravens, and snakes represents a bold step forward for mainstream animation's potential to appeal to a mature audience. The animation is pretty spectacular as each fiber on the rag dolls is animated to a certain extent and the action scenes almost make you feel like you're right in there with them. The story is decent if you don't put much thought into it, but it felt a bit rushed and incomplete at times. The ending is obviously left open-ended for potential sequel purposes. Each doll stands out on their own and has their own personality so they're easy to distinguish from one another. Needless to say, the majority of the characters are given a chance to shine in the film. The designs of the machines was amazing to watch. The film's length is a bummer on one hand, but good on the other as it's too short to really lose interest in anything that's going on. "9" throws you head first into a dark, animated, post-apocalyptic world that makes you want to stay strapped in through all of its twists and turns. While the film may be shorter than expected and the story isn't as developed as it probably should be, it's still an entertaining and visually stunning ride.

  • My Rating: 6.50/10
  • Rotten Tomatoes: 58% (5.9/10)
  • IMDb: 7.1/10

Rewind: George Beremov's TOP 10 Favorite Movies of 2004


George Beremov's

TOP 10

Favorite Movies of 2004

1. Hero a.k.a. Ying Xiong (11/10)

2. House of Flying Daggers (11/10)

3. Kill Bill vol.2 (11/10)

4. The Incredibles (9.75/10)

5. Spider-Man 2 (9.75/10)

6. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (9.50/10)

7. Sky Captain and
the World of Tomorrow (9.50/10)


8. Hellboy (9.50/10)

9. Shrek 2 (9.50/10)

10. Harry Potter and the
Prisoner of Azkaban (9.25/10)

Monday, December 21, 2009

[3.00/10] Dragonball: Evolution (2009)

Dragonball: Evolution (2009)

"Dragonball: Evolution" is again another sad effort by Hollywood to bring the world of comics, manga and games onto the silver screen. In its relentless effort to continuously 'import' ideas from previous works and also literature, "Dragonball: Evolution" is an apparent desperate and not-well thought through attempt. So desperate that this movie appeals to neither the fans of the original Akira Toriyama manga and also to the those that knows nothing about Dragonballs. James Wong kept some of the original story's detail but the story in itself is a total flop. Simplicity may not be the best approach for a manga that relates the adventures of Son Goku from child to adult. After watching for 20 minutes, you can basically tell how the film is going to end. Even the pitiful effort at the end to prelude the "possibility" of a second movie is as easily predicted and anticipated as it is poorly done.Throughout the movie, you can see the maker's desperate effort to connect the dots between the characters and the events. Leaving no room for the characters to bond and no time for the events to make sense. In terms of quality, the high point was the first scene with Chow Yun-Fat. He has the kind of physical charisma that is utterly captivating. Later, at the cinematic denouement, instead of captivating the audience, the audience broke out laughing. With such an expensive movie (45 millions) you would expect the special effects to be somewhat decent even though the rest might be lacking. Unfortunately,they were lacking in terms of quality, scope and awe factor. "Dragonball: Evolution" is a poor attempt at bringing a potentially huge franchise to the big screen.

  • My Rating: 3.00/10
  • Rotten Tomatoes: 13% (3.4/10)
  • IMDb: 3.3/10

[4.00/10] Tracing Shadow (2009)

Tracing Shadow (2009)

Short review: "Tracing Shadow" is a wuxia/comedy hybrid from the producers of "Forbidden Kingdom" and "Kung Fu Hustle". The information sounded promising, but the movie ended up being a cheesy and dull martial arts comedy. The storyline is classically drawn, with martial-arts masters converging on a village in search of a lost treasure map. But the film’s execution is so off-kilter and confused! At times it seemed like two or three different pictures competing for screen time - the slapstick comedy, the martial-arts action film, the dramatic mystery—with none given enough time or attention to cohere successfully. Despite being a Kung Fu Comedy, unlike "Kung fu Hustle" for example, aside from the first 10 mins or so and the last act there is actually very little in the way of ‘real’ action. Instead what takes place is mostly situational comedy, followed by someone being chased, followed by more gags, and followed by more chasing. The fight choreography is decent though and so is the cinematography and the art direction. All in all, "Tracing Shadow" is messy, forgettable and often stupid kung fu comedy that even die-hard fans of the genre should avoid.

  • My Rating: 4.00/10
  • Rotten Tomatoes: N/A
  • IMDb: 4.2/10

Friday, December 18, 2009

[7.00/10] Monsters vs. Aliens (2009)

Monsters vs. Aliens (2009)

Short review: "Monsters Vs. Aliens" isn't a classic by any stretch of the imagination, but is ludicrously good fun if you're a fan of sci-fi. There isn't a whole lot in the way of story and character development, but suffice it to say, it serves its purpose. What makes "Monsters vs. Aliens" such an enjoyable film is how it works as a comedy. The pop culture references are still present, but I found them to be more clever and funny this time around, and in much smaller amounts. Technically, the film holds it's own, and at the same time manages to resist the temptation to overwhelm the viewer with flash/bang trickery. The monsters all have their own endearing qualities that children and adults alike will love - while the aliens thankfully fall into the category of 'so smart they're stupid' that made the likes of 'Mars Attacks!' so much fun. The vocal acting is competent and manages to keep disbelief at bay for the best part. "Monsters vs Aliens" is far from amazing, but it provides fun entertainment for all ages.

  • My Rating: 7.00/10
  • Rotten Tomatoes: 72% (6.4/10)
  • IMDb: 6.8/10

[8.25/10] The House of the Devil (2009)

The House of the Devil (2009)

"The House of the Devil" is easily one of the nicest surprises of the year. More than that - it is the best horror movie of the year along with "Paranormal Activity". The 'croppy' look of the film, together with the music score and the atmosphere, to the writing and directing, is perfect. Ti West is very talented and has a good idea of what the 80's were like and how the horror films functioned back then. The acting is very good, and it also adds to the feel. Tom Noonan and Mary Waraonov really gave fantastic performances, as soon as we met each of their characters our spines tingled. That is the meaning of a great performance. The film builds itself slowly, but it is all worthwhile and for the best. The cinematography, again with the scratchy editing, is amazing. "The House of the Devil" is indeed scary and very creepy! Instead of masturbatory gore, cheap gimmicks, or computer graphics, this film relies on character, atmosphere, suspense and tension! It's not everyone's cup of tea, as it is slow moving and very methodical, but true fans of horror will notice right off the bat that this is the real thing. Ti West has done an excellent job with "The House of the Devil" , giving the audience an 80's vibe and the horror, in the little time it does occur, is quite scary. Most of the film is buildup, but it when it's ready to shock you, it really works.

  • My Rating: 8.25/10
  • Rotten Tomatoes: 87% (7.1/10)
  • IMDb: 6.8/10

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

CineMarvellous Preview: Pang brothers' "The Storm Warriors" - Official poster, plot & info

The Storm Warriors

(2009 - Asia Release / 2010 - Wide Release)

11 years ago, Hong Kong filmmakers made fantasy martial-art film The Storm Riders. With visuals from comic artist Ma Wing-Shing and the best CG techniques Hong Kong could offer at that time, The Storm Riders was an instead hit.

Now the Hong Kongers are back with The Storm Warriors, hoping for another box-office success. Still based on the universe created by Ma Wing-Shing, with the Pang brothers (Oxide and Danny) replacing Lau Wai-keung, director of the original, The Storm Warriors in Hong Kong the coming Christmas season. Two leads Aaron Kwok and Ekin Cheng reprise their role, with new actors in the cast, Nicholas Tse, Simon Yam, Charlene Choi, Lam Suet, Wong Tak-bun, Tang Yan, Patrick Tam, Kenny Ho, Anson Leung and Bryron Pang.

The movie is shot entirely against real set and blue screens inside a soundstage in Thailand, the birthplace of Pang brothers. That is probably inspired by the making of 300.

The story follows Wind (Ekin Cheng) and Cloud (Aaron Kwok) trying to stop a new villain Lord Godless (Simon Yam) from the east, who waged a war against the central land.

Source: MonkeyPeaches

[6.75/10] Push (2009)

Push (2009)

Short review: First things first, "Push" is a well-balanced film. There's not a lack of plot polished up with excessive effects and action scenes as some may expect. The script was clearly well-written and made for an intelligent movie that takes advantage of today's special effects without using them to carry the film. As the leading man Chris Evans is highly charismatic; he occasionally allows too much cheese to sneak into his expressions and tone. Dakota Fanning has shown early signs that she may be that rare breed of child actor who manages to successfully transition into a young adult star, her turn as the narky and resilient side kick impressive. Elsewhere Djimon Hounsou relishes being the calm, cool and collected villain; Camilla Belle is suitable as Nick's love interest with her own shady past and underrated New Zealand actor Cliff Curtis gives his 'Shifter' a subtle charm that makes you wish he had more screen time. Music wise, the soundtrack fits the film's direction perfectly. "Push" has a hallucinogenic, trippy quality of lazy zooms and blurring colours, though one that can oddly also be very grainy and realistic at times. Hong Kong is also the kind of location films like this are made for with a clash of neon colour, constant movement and an innovation of architecture that lights up your TV screen. It's not going to jump off the screen for originality, but "Push" is different enough to be entertaining.

  • My Rating: 6.75/10
  • Rotten Tomatoes: 23% (4.3/10)
  • IMDb: 6.0/10

Monday, December 7, 2009

[3.50/10] Saw VI (2009)

Saw VI (2009)

Short review: "Saw VI" is yet another typically below par addition to the seemingly never-ending Saw franchise. It is a rushed, over-hyped sequel undeserving of its praise. Nothing is new, nothing is inventive, and nothing is engaging about this film. "Saw VI" focusing more on a linear narrative rather than flashbacks and memory segments, the acting is still incredibly stale and cringe worthy, the characters again appear cardboard cut-outs with no development or motivation applied to anybody's personality within the film world and the films lacks any tension or suspense whatsoever! It's a perfect example of lack of imagination and logic! "Saw VI" is as terrible as its 5 predecessors and even more ridiculous!

  • My Rating: 3.50/10
  • Rotten Tomatoes: 45% (4.6/10)
  • IMDb: 6.4/10

[6.00/10] The Private Lives of Pippa Lee (2009)

The Private Lives of
Pippa Lee

Short review: Written and directed by Rebecca Miller from her own book, "The Private Lives of Pippa Lee" is a decent, multi-layered life story of a woman trying to survive her checkered past. What is truly remarkable about this movie are the performances. Robin Wright Penn gives a stunning portrayal of a woman who seems to say more with a smile than with her words. She is a pleasure to watch, and really breathes air into what could have been a lifeless character. Alan Arkin is great as usual, and the blunt dialogue of his character suits him well. Winona Ryder and Julianne Moore also make their minor characters stand out with quirky delightfulness. Even Keanu Reeves is adequate in his role. "The Private Lives of Pippa Lee" is far from great, but it's watchable, occasionally funny, unpretentious and it's very well-acted.

  • My Rating: 6.00/10
  • Rotten Tomatoes: 69% (6.1/10)
  • IMDb: 6.7/10

Friday, December 4, 2009

[3.00/10] The Final Destination (2009)

The Final Destination (2009)

Short review: Surprisingly when I saw the first "Final Destination" film I was taken back, this was a good horror movie. As well as the second "Final Destination", if it wasn't even better than the first, this is a strong series, even the third one has it's moments that made it entertaining enough. The problem with "The Final Destination" is now that it's becoming more about the deaths, it's turning into a torture porn movie where it's just there to gross people out vs. telling a story with it. The acting is just horrible and the deaths are just getting more and more unrealistic, ridiculous and unoriginal, as well as the script, which I think they were just trying to insult the audience by using the exact same story as before instead of re-vamping it. Unlike the other three FD movies, the main premonition of an accident and its subsequent fulfillment are rushed through like the opening of a television show. There is no suspense or ominous buildup, just explosions, death, and déjà vu to precede the opening credits and to let the audience know how little innovation they'll be witnessing in the next hour. Each character even blatantly rips-off their persona from somebody in the first three films, and not very well at that. "The Final Destination" is just a sub-par rehash of its predecessors, which is a shame considering the potential of the series. It's laughably cheesy and plain awful!

  • My Rating: 3.00/10
  • Rotten Tomatoes: 29% (4.3/10)
  • IMDb: 5.1/10

[7.25/10] Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009)

Harry Potter and
the Half-Blood Prince (2009)

"Half-Blood Prince" gets off to a good start with that exhilarating sequence depicting the destruction of the Millennium Bridge by the Death Eaters, the followers of Lord Voldemort. Much of the early part of the film, however, is disappointing. Too much time is taken up with tedious details of teenage romances featuring Harry, Ron, Hermione and their friends. It began to seem less like a Harry Potter film than like some dreary high school rom-com. And then, about halfway through, the film began to improve. As with most of the Potter films the plot is a complicated one, dealing with the efforts of Harry and his headmaster Dumbledore to thwart the evil machinations of Voldemort and his accomplices. This one revolves around the efforts of the Death Eaters to assassinate Dumbledore and the attempts of Harry and Dumbledore to track down and destroy the 'horcruxes', magical artifacts in which Voldemort has hidden parts of his soul in the hope of making himself immortal. "Half-Blood Prince" marks David Yates's second Harry Potter film, tying him with Chris Columbus for most films helmed in the wizard franchise. The story is ominous and tragic, the colors are muted, and the actors display a range of emotions. There's romance and some over-the-top characterizations, but very little action or fantastical 'fun'. "Half-Blood Prince", the penultimate Harry Potter adventure, is a compelling, dark and dramatic, but it's not as magical and enjoyable as its predecessors.

  • My Rating: 7.25/10
  • Rotten Tomatoes: 83% (7.1/10)
  • IMDb: 7.4/10

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Rewind: George Beremov's TOP 10 Favorite Movies of 2003


George Beremov's
TOP 10
Favorite Movies of 2003


1. Kill Bill vol. 1 (11/10)

2. Lord of the Rings:
The Return of the King (10/10)


3. Pirates of the Caribbean:
The Curse of the Black Pearl (9.75/10)


4. The Matrix Reloaded (9.75/10)

5. The Blind Swordsman: Zatoichi (9.50/10)

6. Big Fish (9.50/10)

7. City of God (9.50/10)

8. Finding Nemo (9.50/10)

9. 21 Grams (9.25/10)

10. 28 Days Later (9.00/10)