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Friday, April 30, 2010

[4.75/10] Extraordinary Measures (2010)

Extraordinary Measures (2010)

Except instead of feeling like a cinematic endeavor, "Extraordinary Measures" comes off feeling like an exhaustingly lengthy TV movie, where events are episodic, happening in sporadic order and in jumpy fashion. The editing style is so amateur, and so simplistic, that it practically screams that it was made for television consumption. Acting wise, Droeger is the only real standout in a cast. She plays Megan so beautifully and authentically that it seems like a bad lie to even attempt to suggest she is not. Her pain is so wonderfully conveyed that it makes the film so much better than it actually is. Fraser is just not right for the role at all. He seems to be able to pull it off in some scenes, but for the majority, just seems off. But then, he was not all that great in his other decidedly adult role in "Crash" either. Ford on the other hand, simply looks like he is phoning his performance in. None of the charisma, the charm or the enthusiasm we have grown to know him for is on display here. This could have been a very exciting and emotional tearjerker with some corporate intrigue mixed in, but instead "Extraordinary Measures completely" lacks passion.

  • My Rating: 4.75/10
  • Rotten Tomatoes: 28% (4.8/10)
  • IMDb: 6.2/10

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

[4.50/10] Creation (2009)

Creation (2009)

I'm sorry to say Jon Amiel's piece doesn't ignite. "Creation" is boring and uninteresting. It should be good. It has moments that suggest it will be good, but it just isn't. This is not a film about evolution. It's a film about a depressed ill man who's haunted by his past. Whilst this is not necessarily a bad topic for a film, it is just a bad topic for this. "Creation" consists entirely of melodramatic and long family scenes with overloud music at which one is beholden to cry. The portrayal of Darwin's hallucinations and the flash-backs, which taken alone were tedious, and together ranged between silly and infuriating. Bettany and Connelly are both very good, and one can understand that they were attracted to the project by the opportunity to work together while doing some serious acting, and it isn't their fault that the movie concentrates on an area of their lives which, frankly, isn't that interesting. Technically, the film is quite exquisite. Stunning art direction by Laurence Dorman places us in the early 1800's. Darwin's residence is quite the striking eye-candy. Costumes and make-up are excellent and also help to connect the viewer to a particular time in history. With its dull script, tedious pacing and unengaging story, "Creation" is completely forgettable and immeasurably disappointing.

  • My Rating: 4.50/10
  • Rotten Tomatoes: 46% (5.5/10)
  • IMDb: 6.8/10

Monday, April 19, 2010

[5.75/10] Clash of the Titans [3D] (2010)

Clash of the Titans [3D] (2010)

"Clash of the Titans" had good moments, no doubt about it. Its source material also had potential. Its set pieces, visuals, and overall artistic direction were ok. Film's biggest problem truly is the writing. Not that it's bad, it's just lacking. Lacking in focus, lacking in rhythm, and lacking in character development. As for the actors portraying their respective roles, most were forgettable. Mads Mikkelsen is serviceable as Draco, Ralph Fiennes is underused as Hades, and Liam Neeson's Zeus is just unmemorable. And then there's Andromeda. This girl is hardly in the movie! Alexa Davalos can act, and the character had huge amounts of dramatic potential. Gemma Arterton as Io was eye-candy and very pleasent to watch. Truthfully, I don't know if it's Sam Worthington's acting or Leterrier's directing, but Perseus is just a flat, boring character for most of the movie. Perseus doesn't seem very heroic, there doesn't seem to be any emotional investment in Perseus in either the quest or the surrounding characters. Most of the time he has a stoically sullen, put upon attitude, and this keeps the audience at arms length from the character. He doesn't seem to embrace the heroic at all. Yes, he kills the monsters, but the tasks he must accomplish like tricking the Stygian witches and figuring out how to survive the encounter with Medusa, he seems to accomplish almost by accident. It seems that Perseus isn't meant to be heroic. As for the special effects, I thought they were good, not 'mind-blowing' great. The Kraken in particular really should've had a battle with another beast thrown in, and its use seems like a wasted opportunity. The scorpion battle is quite exciting, though is broken up as its really four fights with different scorpions simultaneously. The Medusa sequence is easily the best of the film, as although we know from a plot perspective Perseus can't die, the fate of the group of soldiers is considerably less clear. It all makes for a very tense and rewarding sequence, somewhat hindered by the surprisingly poor CG on the Medusa character model. Shame, as the rest of the monsters are quite good looking. The post-3D was terrible and added nothing to the movie! For those who haven't seen it yet, you might as well save your money and go and see the 2D version, because if you're expecting something as spectacular, visually, as "Avatar", you will be sadly disappointed. Overall, it's a fair popcorn flick which could have been more. It lacks suspense and imagination and the character of the old more popular version of the film which is a hindrance to this. Not a bad film, just nothing special despite the big cinematic treatment.

  • My Rating: 5.75/10
  • Rotten Tomatoes: 30% (4.4/10)
  • IMDb: 6.2/10

[6.50/10] Confucius (2010)

Confucius (2010)

This biopic permeates a feeling of sincerity on the part of the movie makers to tell a story in a simple, old-fashion manner. Indeed there are set pieces that look a little contrived with the purpose to impress, but overall, "Confucius" is a decent piece of movie-making. The film suffers mostly from unfocused narrative and confusing storytelling. It doesn't help that the film is filled with subtitles to explain the where, the when and the who of events. Its not just at the start, where it's helpful to get things going, its all through the film and it makes the film feel as if its a shorter version of some huge epic tale. Chow Yun Fat achieves a command performance as the gentle commoner who uses his wit and wisdom to quickly rise up in political ranks only to be exiled for his outsider ideology. Chow Yun Fat has come a long way since his John Woo days, and his decision to sacrifice another opportunity that would have made him part of a more popular project, in order to participate in this rich cinematic experience, demonstrates his high integrity and his love for his heritage. Technically, this big budged production looks rich and colorful and even spectacular at times. Peter Pau, best known to western audiences as the cinematographer in "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon", captures the period perfectly and helps to put us in the right mood and atmosphere of the times. Overall, "Confucius" is visually captivating and well-acted, yet slow-moving and often confusing.

  • My Rating: 6.50/10
  • Rotten Tomatoes: N/A
  • IMDb: 5.6/10

Sunday, April 18, 2010

[4.75/10] Dear John (2010)

Dear John (2010)

I have to admit I had some optimism before watching "Dear John", because of two reasons - a talented director, Lasse Hallström, who has some good movies in his filmography, and an excellent main actress. Unfortunately, my optimism quickly disappeared when I started watching this film. I did not find the romance from "Dear John to" be credible at all, because it exploits its idealization on its most chimeric and melancholic ways. The establishment of the relationship between the two main characters is full of clichés, and it is not well written. I think the only element I liked in this film was Seyfried's honest performance. As for her co-star, Channing Tatum, he's undoubtly very handsome, but he was simply horrible as John. A lot of the scenes were uneven purely because of his performance, a lot of the emotion in various scenes is lost because he's so stiff and 'wooden'. This story deserved to be cast right, but what it got was a pretty boy who can't act. Tatum should stick to what he's good at - movies that are more about his physical ability! Techically, "Dear John" is not that bad. The cinematography was very good at segueing through love letters, focusing just enough on a key word or phrase in each letter. "Dear John" is a simultaneously tragic and apathetic romance, that is good-looking, but often boring. It has its moments, but, generally these moments are more obtained with technical means, not with artistic ones. Though, there is a Hallstrom feeling, especially in the beginning, when you have absolutely no idea where the script is going to take you. But when it's taking you there, you realize that it is a bit plain, somehow leaves you with a taste of a romance which you have seen a hundred times before.

  • My Rating: 4.75/10
  • Rotten Tomatoes: 29% (4.4/10)
  • IMDb: 5.5/10

[7.00/10] Frozen (2010)

Frozen (2010)

"Frozen" is about as simple a premise as you can devise. Three people trapped atop a swinging perch. That's the whole movie. And writer/director Adam Green makes the best of it. His three characters make decisions that intelligent people would make. Sure, all their efforts are thwarted and some even lead to gruesome death, but at least they think honestly and smartly about their situation and their limited options. And that's what makes "Frozen" so special. The characters are believable and real. At times annoying, but always interesting in their peril. The actors all do an excellent job. Emma Bell isn't the typical blonde chick, but comes off quite sympathetic, constantly adjusting to her new surroundings. Shawn Ashmore has some great geek-moments of dialogue. They aren't the usual cardboard characters you'd find in many teen flicks. Green seems to understand that you have to like the characters before you can make the tension work. For a good half of the movie, this works, but unfortunately, there's only so much you can do with a premise like this. Green's direction brings some good moments of tension and occasional gore. At certain moments I felt my heart sinking if I was there on that rocking sky-lift chair, while some awesome unexpectedly angled shots made me dizzy. I found almost everything very plausible and frightfully realistic. "Frozen" is also a polished feature, with the shots of the mountains and snow and abandoned ski-lift serving as a sign of abandonment, fear and isolation in the characters and the viewer. Overall, with acting that improves as the movie unfolds, a unique and cool idea for a movie, and a solid directing style, Adam Green's latest will keep you frozen to your seats.

  • My Rating: 7.00/10
  • Rotten Tomatoes: 47% (4.5/10)
  • IMDb: 7.1/10

[5.50/10] The Messenger (2009)

The Messenger (2009)

"The Messenger" is about a soldier deployed from the front line to becoming the messenger of bad news, telling families that their loved ones are killed in combat. Тhe screenplay effectively and interestingly mines all possible areas of personal conflict regarding the war situation at home. "The Messenger" also consists of various scenes in which the next of kin are notified of the deaths of their loved one's. Given the variety of the people we meet, it's probably the most interesting aspect of the film. I'm going out on a limb to comment that there was a problem in the direction by newcomer Oren Moverman. The treatment was too turgid and slow. Woody Harrelson and Ben Foster, while very good in internalizing their roles, had that creepy vibe that makes empathizing with them difficult for the audience. While maybe that is what the director aims to achieve, this undignified portrayal of Will and Stone as private individuals detracts from my appreciation of this film as a whole. "The Messenger" promises to give us the real deal on grieving families and soldiers returning home, but in its overwritten, overstylized way, it's really only about one thing: the audience member's susceptibility to shameless emotional manipulation.

  • My Rating: 5.50/10
  • Rotten Tomatoes: 91% (7.5/10)
  • IMDb: 7.5/10

Friday, April 16, 2010

[8.50/10] True Legend a.k.a. Su Qi-Er (2010)

Su Qi-Er


True Legend (2010)

Darker and lacking the antics normally associated with the kung fu master who fights best while drunk, "True Legend" features first-class choreography, brilliant wire-work and breathtaking visuals. "True Legend" was, according to director Yuen Wo Ping, supposed to be a return to authenticity in martial arts films, and while "authentic martial arts in film" is a wildly relative term, I'd say he succeeded admirably. The plot is told in such a way that it has two different parts, making it what seems like watching two movies at one sitting. The first part is spent establishing the characters and life for Su Chan before he loses everything, including his family and becoming a beggar in the now Sun Yat Sen area. While the first part is quite enjoyable, where Vincent Zhao showing off his skills that won’t disappoint you and the creepy looking Andy On that never fails to entertain you with just the right note; the second part, however, is little less impressive. The film moves along a fairly straight path, with a few twists thrown in here and there. It's solidly a genre film, but a very, very solid martial arts genre film. The acting is above average. Vincent Zhao surprisingly puts in an emotional performance that is very satisfying. The award-winning actress Zhou Xun once again puts up a class act for her role. Andy On's character is probably the most memorable. He makes quite an impression playing the chilling-looking villain with his expressions. Jay Chou also appears as God of Wushu and he's entertaining to watch, not only because his fancy costume. Michelle Yeoh, our queen of martial arts also makes a special appearance. The legendary Gordon Liu has a criminally small role, but at least he's on board, which is always a plus. The fight scenes here are truly breathtaking - they are brilliantly composed and shot, and deeply engrossing! Vincent Zhao is no longer young, but he still moves with grace and speed. But you're only as good as the people you're fighting. The quality of martial arts onscreen can generally be judged by the length of individual shots. The better the artist, the more moves they can execute before reaching the outside of their abilities. "True Legend" is highly entertaining 'wushu' extravaganza, with top-notch choreography, gripping story and stunning cinematography, and it's without a doubt a feast for lovers of martial arts movies.

  • My Rating: 8.50/10
  • Rotten Tomatoes: N/A
  • IMDb: 6.2/10

[5.50/10] Nine (2009)

Nine (2009)

There's a lot of style in Rob Marshall's "Nine", a great cinematography and A-list cast, but the film is marred by countless disappointments. The songs are instantly forgettable, despite all the energy obviously put into them. There's just not enough there to work with. The choreography of the dancers is pretty bland. None of the principles are even halfway convincing as Italians, making all the film's talk about Italian culture and cinema seem pretty hypocritical. The performances vary pretty much: Daniel Day-Lewis helms the picture as Guido Contini, an Italian director looking for inspiration for his next film. Day-Lewis gives a solid effort which we haven't seen from him before but in comparison to his previous work, he doesn't elevate the material as often or doesn't translate his musical numbers like he should. Marion Cotillard is easily the most sentimental and profound player in the entire picture playing the heartrending Luisa, Guido's adulterated wife. What Cotillard has demonstrated beyond any type of acting capacity, a sexy, stylish, and devastating performance. Penélope Cruz's role was beautifully performed, but was too abruptly chopped off. Nicole Kidman felt like she was there against her will. Her performance was pale and her presence was spiritless. Dame Judi Dench was classy and fun. You feel that she's probably the one who most enjoyed her role, but was in a way limited by the script. Sophia Loren's very short appearances were nicely executed. Kate Hudson did what she could, which is not to say much, in the unchallenging small role of the American fashion journalist. Fergie was enjoyable in her number 'Be Italian'. Despite its narrative inadequacies, "Nine" impresses on a visual level. The costumes are gorgeous and numerous, the main set is epic but believable and lends itself well to the various musical numbers. The technical construction is impressive, particularly during the songs. "Nine" is definitely an instance of style over substance, which isn't necessarily surprising in the musical genre. It's just unfortunate that such a vast pool of talented actors didn't get better material to work with.

  • My Rating: 5.50/10
  • Rotten Tomatoes: 37% (5.0/10)
  • IMDb: 6.3/10

[7.75/10] Fish Tank (2009)

Fish Tank (2009)

Andrea Arnold's "Fish Tank" is driven by a simple little idea. The star of the picture is Mia, a fifteen year old girl, whose life is turned upside down when her Mom brings home a new boyfriend. The film takes you to places that you never expected to go and the absolutely flawless performances from both Jarvis and Fassbender are pitch perfect. There's an electricity between Connor and the much younger Mia, and the film simmers with tension between the two leads. While nothing is really a surprise, and the plot has only one harrowing sequence, the film is done with such care for the characters that at each turn of the teen's fate, all one can say is that's what happens when adults let youngsters imitate them. While it can be uncomfortable going at times, the movie is a vivid portrait of life at the margins of society, set as it is in a high-rise on a council estate in England. "Fish Tank" is a dark and frightening look at a life on the edge of destruction. It is violent and mostly pessimistic. It is profane and disturbing, but it is not without hope.

  • My Rating: 7.75/10
  • Rotten Tomatoes: 89% (7.6/10)
  • IMDb: 7.6/10

Thursday, April 15, 2010

CineMarvellous! presents: Nebular's TOP 30 Favorite Horror Movies of the Past Decade [10 - 1]


CineMarvellous! presents:

Nebular's TOP 30 Favorite
Horror Movies

of the Past Decade

(2000 - 2009)

[Part 3: 10 - 1]


1. [Rec] (2007) (10/10)
"Phenomenally terrifying, highly original and very tense! Hands down, the best and scariest horror film of all time!!!"

2. The Descent (2006) (9.75/10)
"Dark, intense and absolutely frightening! A riveting claustrophobic classic!"

3. The Ring (2002) (9.75/10)
"A complex, multi-layered super-scary chiller"

4. Martyrs (2008) (9.50/10)
"Beneath the sick, perverted and horrific exterior,
"Martyrs" is a true horror masterpiece!"


5. The Others (2001) (9.50/10)
"Atmospheric, spooky and ultimately chilling!"

6. The Devil's Backbone (2001) (9.25/10)
"Fantastically moody and visually stunning! A hauntingly brilliant masterpiece!"

7. The Orphanage (2007) (9.25/10)
"Hauntingly beautiful and wonderfully crafted ghost story!"

8. 28 Days Later (2003) (9.00/10)
"Aesthetically beautiful, extremely stylish and highly entertaining!"

9. [Rec]2 (2009) (9.00/10)
"A terrifying and creative roller coaster ride!"

10. Let the Right One In (2008) (8.75/10)

"Brilliantly original work of art, both horrifying and tender!"

TOP 3 Favorite Horror Comedies
of the Past Decade

1. Zombieland (2009) (9.00/10)
2. Shaun of the Dead (2004) (9.00/10)
3. Slither (2006) (7.75/10)

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

CineMarvellous! presents: Nebular's TOP 30 Favorite Horror Movies of the Past Decade [20 - 11]


CineMarvellous! presents:
Nebular's TOP 30 Favorite
Horror Movies

of the Past Decade

(2000 - 2009)

[Part 2: 20 - 11]


(TIE) 11. Drag Me to Hell (2009) (8.50/10)

"Great fun scare-fest! Raimi's triumphant return to horror!"

(TIE) 11. Ginger Snaps (2001) (8.50/10)
"One of the best, most moving and inspired horror films of the early 21st century!"

12. May (2003) (8.50/10)
"Bizarre, grotesque, and oddly endearing! A-MAY-zing!"

13. Dead End (2003) (8.25/10)
" A refreshingly intelligent and original. Probably the smartest horror movie of all time!"

14. A Tale of Two Sisters (2003) (8.25/10)
"Unique and genuine Korean fright-poem!"

15. The House of the Devil (2009) (8.25/10)
"A surprising, intelligent, and scary homage to the 80's!"

16. Paranormal Activity (2009) (8.25/10)
"One of the most psychologically disturbing films ever!"

17. Jeepers Creepers (2001) (8.00/10)
"Fun, unique and truly frightening!"

18. The Mist (2007) (8.00/10)

"A monster movie with soul, that gets under you skin and stays there!"

19. Fragile (2005) (8.00/10)
"Creepy, highly atmospheric and truly frightening!"

20. Dog Soldiers (2002) (8.00/10)
"One of the best werewolf movies ever made!"