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Monday, May 31, 2010

[3.75/10] When in Rome (2010)

When in Rome (2010)

What could have been a clever, charming and romantic film was thoroughly debauched in this predictable, terribly-made and poorly-directed bomb. While the scenery and production design were great, one wonders why the budget does not reflect on the mediocre script. The jokes are corny and stale. Kristen Bell and Josh Duhamel make a good romantic team though they're not always given ample time to make their pairing completely believable. Anjelica Huston was the film's only saving grace in the talent department. The other supporting actors are solid, with Dax Shepard, Jon Heder, Will Arnett and Danny DeVito giving some good chuckles along the ride. Full of clichés and gimmicks, "When in Rome"'s setups fall flat across the board. Beth's job being in peril and Anjelica Huston's mean boss are predictable, watching her newlywed sister in Rome cooking naked with her new husband unoriginal, and the lame attempt at making us think that somehow the two romantic leads won't end up together in the end is pandering. Kristen Bell is always a delight, but in "When in Rome", I'm sorry to say, she just did not make an impression this time. And Josh Duhamel, I don't doubt that he is a good actor, but him doing comedy looked awful - he came across trying way too hard. We've seen enough of guys and girls fall head-over-heels in a slapstick kind for way over two decades now, and "When in Rome" proved once again that Hollywood really needs some new ideas when it comes to romantic comedies.

  • My Rating: 3.75/10
  • Rotten Tomatoes: 16% (3.3/10)
  • IMDb: 5.1/10

[6.00/10] Youth in Revolt (2010)

Youth in Revolt (2010)

Miguel Arteta's "Youth In Revolt" tells the story of Nick Twisp, a sex-obsessed teen who falls hopelessly in love with Sheeni Saunders while on a family vacation. Sheeni is a beautiful, free spirited girl, but family, geography and jealous ex-lovers conspire to keep these two apart. Michael Cera break out of the shy, soft-spoken mold he's created for himself and venture into more challenging territory. This new role tests his range as an actor - the Nick Twisp character is similar to his normal acting style, however the character of Francois is like nothing we have seen before – a confident character, a type of character Cera has never played. Cera as Francois is very amusing to watch and it really works in the film. Newcomer Portia Doubleday is as flawless as she is adorable playing Cera's love interest; her future certainly looks bright. Jean Smart and Steve Buscemi nail their roles as his conceited parents. Ray Liotta, Zach Galifianakis and Justin Long are also great in their roles. "Youth In Revolt"'s not a sex comedy, it's something more than that. It's not trying to be funny all the time, mostly using subtle witty humor. Once Nick Twisp gets his alter ego, the movie gets very interesting. Despite having its flaws and areas in which it could have improved upon, "Youth In Revolt" ultimately prevails as another competent coming-of-age teen flick that is centred around the holiest of teenage sanctities: sexual intercourse. Film's biggest problem is that it feels a bit overlong, perhaps more a function of uneven pacing than the actual running time.

  • My Ratin: 6.00/10
  • Rotten Tomatoes: 69% (6.3/10)
  • IMDb: 6.9/10

Sunday, May 30, 2010

[5.25/10] The Losers (2010)

The Losers (2010)

Short review: "The Losers" follows a group of five elites in service of their country who are betrayed during a mission and declared dead. Many years later, they are approached with the job of a lifetime - find and kill the one who betrayed them. There are a large number of plot holes in "The Losers", but logic doesn't fall into this films list of qualities anyways. The performances are rather good. Evans, who provides most of the comic relief but also seems to be the only one who really gets it and plays up the over-the-top-ishness to perfection. Jeffrey Dean Morgan delivers another strong performance. He's not as impressive as he was as in Zack Snyder's "Watchmen", but he still manages to steal a few scenes. Zoe Saldana is sexy, lethal, and you're drawn to her nearly every time she's on screen. Well, Jason Patrick is downright distracting. His attempt at being an over-the-top super-villain was just painful to watch. The plot is kind of all over the place, the situations are ludicrous, and there is an absence of likable characters. The action isn't nearly explosive enough or exciting enough to be all that memorable. While the film is occasionally entertaining, it's also heavily clichéd. "The Losers" tries to be cooler than it really is, and it makes for a bit of a yawning affair.

  • My Ratin: 5.25/10
  • Rotten Tomatoes: 46% (5.2/10)
  • IMDb: 6.6/10

[4.75/10] Eyes Wide Open (2009)

Eyes Wide Open (2009)

Short review: Directed by Haim Tabakman, "Eyes Wide Open" is the story of Aaron, played by Zohar Shtrauss, an ultra-Orthodox Jewish butcher in Israel. Enduring a joyless conventional life of work, worship, and family, Aaron slowly comes alive when, played by Ron Danker, a homeless yeshiva student with a checkered, mysterious past, starts working for him and takes up residence at the shop. Director Tabakman focuses first and foremost on the personal drama and never attempts to tackle front-on the moral and religious problems generated by the gay central relationship. But since lust is what really draws his two characters together (love is not in evidence here), and as they are never too concerned with the clash between their faith and their actions, interest in these two individuals sadly runs aground. Aaron’s pangs of conscience, at least concerning his family, are visible, but Ezri seems immune to any internal conflicts. Tabakman's directing is minimalistic and uncreative - for large parts of the film, no clients enter Aaron’s butcher shop; his children rarely feature; the streets are empty and deserted. It all seems unreal, a feeling which is strongly reinforced by the two protagonists, who seem often at loss navigating their parts. Overall, "Eyes Wide Open" is neither the passionate male love story it pretends to be, nor the portrait of a serious moral and religious dilemma it could have been.

  • My Ratin: 4.75/10
  • Rotten Tomatoes: 82% (6.8/10)
  • IMDb: 7.3/10

Friday, May 28, 2010

[6.75/10] Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time (2010)

Prince of Persia:
The Sands of Time

Yes, "Prince of Persia"'s story may have been weak and shallow, with a bit of a dry and predictable script, but some in places it was surprisingly witty due to the great romantic chemistry between Jake Gylenhaal and Gemma Arterton. There are some pretty edgy and funny lines one could enjoy. "The Prince of Persia" has its fair share of beautiful CGI and fan-tribute scenes that hark back to the games. Also, the cinematography was beautiful - the scenes in Persia are fantastic and Alamut, the city the Persians invade, looks inviting enough. The action is satisfying - the sword fights, in particular, have a real sense of immediacy, which is aided by the use of the shaky camera technique. You feel disoriented in a good way; you can still see what is going on in the fight, and you feel like you are involved. Gylenhaal makes a surprisingly good action lead. His performance as Prince Dastan is quite impressive and he had not only the acting, but physicality to pull off some amazing stunts. Arterton brings an authoritative grace to the role of Tamina. She isn't an all-out warrior, but she ain't no damsel in distress either. Ben Kingsley as villain Nizam was excellent, whilst the almost unrecognizable Alfred Molina was superb as an ostrich racing money maker. He was hilarious and very charismatic, and definitely stole the show. However, "Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time" does have its fair share of flaws. The pacing feels a bit rushed and the film does try to cram everything into the script - from ostrich races to snake attacks in the desert to an assassin's creed style chase. However, the film does have its high points too - the fight between the Sudanese knife thrower and the Hassansin blade-thrower was sheer awesomeness. The camera angles do get a bit frustrating during the parkour scenes, but the parkour does justice to the game so it's all fair. Overall, "Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time" does what its supposed to do - delivering some action-filled, fast-paced entertainment, to keep the attention of the audience during its 116 minutes running time. And it does it well enough.

  • My Ratin: 6.75/10
  • Rotten Tomatoes: 40% (5.0/10)
  • IMDb: 6.9/10

Thursday, May 27, 2010

CineMarvellous Preview: Stunning CG Samurai Action "The Cup of Tears" to be Full-Length Movie

The Cup of Tears (2010)

Good news for those of you who just couldn’t get enough from "The Cup of Tears." The amazing trailer/short film from Irish director Gary Shore that hit the net last October and raised some eyebrows is about to be turned into a full-length film! According to "Heat Vision", "Universal" and "Working Title" have acquired the rights and are bringing writers to work out the script for the film while Shore is supposed to direct.

The narrative follows a scorned geisha who creates a magical cup made of tears that causes any man who drinks from it to fall under a stasis of permanent sleep. One night the cup is stolen, setting off a chain of events that threatens civil war amongst the clans. Taro, a once gifted samurai, and his companion Jin set out to find the cup and the one who can break the spell before inner turmoil.

The trailer (watch it below if you haven’t seen it yet), which never made it clear if it was for a movie or a video game, made its debut last fall just as Hollywood’s most recent fascination with shorts was beginning. It offered stunning visuals of Japanese castles, samurais and ninjas — not to mention missiles and spaceships.

Source: Heat Vision / Affenheim Theater

Monday, May 24, 2010

[5.50/10] The Wolfman (2010)

The Wolfman (2010)

To start with the positive, "The Wolfman" looks great. Production design is excellent, and physical and CG effects are very good. Also the werewolf transformations were excellently-done. The film is very bleak and shot with barely any light to fully see what we are being exposed to. The atmosphere works really well. It completely sweeps you into a classic monster movie, which tells a tale of the impossible and the horrific. With a film like this, atmosphere is tremendously important. The mood has to be set so you can fully grasp the terror in the images on the screen. Looking at pure visual style, the film accomplishes just that, but there were some qualities that removed me from the atmosphere, one of which is the violence. Body dismemberment may be grotesque, but the fact is, it is not scary at all. "The Wolfman"'s plot is somewhat serviceable, though the lack of a strong villain is glaring. Not that Man-vs-Himself wouldn't work in this situation, just that they attempt to include a weak villain that never really grabs attention. A lot of the fault is on the characters. Del Toro plays it straight, which may have been the wrong choice for this film. Blunt is plenty ladylike and gorgeous, but forgettable. Hopkins is horribly disappointing as Lawrence's father, spouting off wannabe-epic dialogue that mostly falls flat or seems random. The best performance comes from Hugo Weaving as Detective Freddy Aberline. He gives his character the life he needs to appear as both a concerned inspector of the law, while also a figure that could potentially see his duty as above common humanity. Overall, despite being mediocre, Joe Johnston's werewolf flick is moderately entertaining and visually compelling. "The Wolfman" definitely has claws, but they are just not as sharp as one would like them to be.

  • My Rating: 5.50/10
  • Rotten Tomatoes: 33% (4.8/10)
  • IMDb: 6.2/10

[4.75/10] Don McKay (2009)

Don McKay (2009)

Short review: "Don McKay" is a low-key, quirky mystery movie by first-time writer/director Jake Goldberger. Thomas Haden Church stars as the title character, an introverted janitor who is summoned back to his hometown by his high-school sweetheart, who is dying of some mysterious sickness. Although "Don McKay" promises big, it offers not one moment of thriller tension and despite the mystery of plot, the script let's it down largely by dragging the the secrets at the core of the story out for too long, thus ultimately losing the impatient viewer. It’s a matter of too much too late and the audience is left feeling cheated that the filmmaker let the characters take their journey alone. In addition, some of the characters are played so over-the-top that they become caricatures. Yes, I'm talking about Elisabeth Shue, who overacts like she plays in soap opera or something. Haden Church is deadpan enough for the title character, but he does look bored sometimes. "Don McKay" never quite catches fire as a thriller and, truth то be told, it's not much of a character study either. It's just a bizarre, pretentious and flatly-executed neo-noir thriller wannabe.

  • My Rating: 4.75/10
  • Rotten Tomatoes: 45% (4.7/10)
  • IMDb: 6.5/10

[4.25/10] Just Another Pandora's Box (2010)

Just Another Pandora's Box (2010)

Short review: Like his earlier films, Jeff Lau’s "Just Another Pandora's Box" combines slapstick humour revolving around movie spoofs: John Woo’s “Red Cliff,” “House of Flying Daggers” “Kung Fu Hustle,” “Kung Fu Panda” – to name a few, with silly romance to create ridiculously cheesy comedy, featuring a whole a horde of stars from mainland China and Hong Kong. The non-existent plot, with Cheng tangled up with both sides in the "Red Cliff" battle, is simply an excuse for endless word-play jokes and star cameos, but the handsome mounting is eye-catching on its own terms, with lush photography and detailed production design by Bill Lui. A certain level of stupidity and lameness is good enough to make a nonsense comedy like "Just Another Pandora's Box" entertaining and fun to watch, but when it goes beyond that it just becomes annoying. It is a hit and miss affair that depends largely on audience knowledge and goodwill to make it a success.

  • My Rating: 4.25/10
  • Rotten Tomatoes: N/A
  • IMDb: 5.0/10

Friday, May 21, 2010

[5.00/10] The New Daughter (2009)

The New Daughter (2009)

Taking it down a few notches from co-writing the claustrophobic horror masterpiece “[Rec]” and 2008’s “Quarantine”, Luis Berdejo decided to direct his first English-language film from John Connolly’s short novel. To start with the obvious, "The New Daughter" represents what may be Costner's most lazy performance. It seems he has no interest in the story whatsoever. Here he has to carry a lot of screen time and emotion, and fails on both big time. The talented Ivana Baquero, who played Ofelia in Guillermo del Toro's "Pan's Labyrinth" steals every scene she’s in with her intensity and presence. "The New Daughter" could have been a much better film if the first hour of the film did not drag with its lackluster suspense and story that seems to be going nowhere.The real action and horror of the film seem to all take place at the end, but by then, it’s all too late. The film has good production value with some basic location sets and some good special make-up effects. It has that old school thriller feel going on for it and both, photography and cinematography is gorgeous. There are loads of false scares in "The New Daughter". The sound designers must have loved playing with this. Unfortunately, they never add up to much, as tension is lost or broken, or not even capitalized on. Overall, "The New Daughter" feels a bit like a made-for-TV horror/thriller that borrows liberally from similar movies, but is still watchable and occasionally entertaining little horror.

  • My Rating: 5.00/10
  • Rotten Tomatoes: 29% (4.4/10)
  • IMDb: 5.4/10

Thursday, May 20, 2010

[2.25/10] Future X-Cops (2010)

Future X-Cops (2010)

Short review: Chinese-language sci-fi action film "Future X-Cops" stars Hong Kong superstar Andy Lau as a cop who travels back in time to foil a corporate conspiracy against a doctor who has created an alternative energy source that threatens the company’s monopoly on energy resources. Andy Lau reportedly agreed to do the movie only after the 19th revision of the script! He should have known that a script that needs nineteen revisions can’t be fixed and the movie will most certainly turn out an incomprehensible mess. "Future X-Cops" is insanely horrible and should only be viewed by children under the age of six, and people who love deliciously terrible movie-making. There's laughs to be had from the ridiculous action sequences and the poorly-constructed CGI effects. Director Wong Jing's skills with visual effects haven't improved at all and neither has his storytelling and directing. With its laughably bad dialogue, C-grade special effects, and with one of the most idiotic stories ever put on paper "Future X-Cops" is an absolute disaster!

  • My Rating: 2.25/10
  • Rotten Tomatoes: N/A
  • IMDb: 3.9/10

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

[4.75/10] Valentine's Day (2010)

Valentine's Day (2010)

"Valentine's Day" strives to be what it clearly could never reach - a genuine romantic comedy with actual depth. Or, in other words, "Love Actually". While the film dies have it's moments of sincere laughter and undeniable cuteness, the majority of the film relies on all to familiar romantic comedy story lines and plot twists. For all the star-power, one could have anticipated something more, but at least there are a lot of familiar faces to improve the general mediocrity. There are so many stories going on at the same time that we are never allowed to get involved with or even keep up with what's happening to any one couple. The all star cast is wasted because nobody gets more than a few minutes of screen time to act out their clichéd roles. There were a couple of adequate performances though. I thought Julia Roberts and Jennifer Garner were OK, Anne Hathaway and Jessica Biel provided some comic relief, as did Taylor in an odd goofy kind of way. Other than these performances everybody else was either bland, bad, or their part so small it wasn't significant enough to even give opinion. Ashton Kutcher and Jessica Alba however once again provide outstanding evidence that they can't act for toffee. Easy on the eyes still seem to be their strongest quality. Overall, "Valentine's Dayis" has its moments and it's far from awuful, but it's a perfect example of quantity over quality and also that sometimes less is more.

  • My Rating: 4.75/10
  • Rotten Tomatoes: 18% (3.8/10)
  • IMDb: 5.7/10

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

[6.50/10] The Human Centipede (First Sequence) (2009)

The Human Centipede
(First Sequence) (2009)

Mad doctor has a dream of connecting three people?!?! "Human Centipede"'s concept is so inherently nasty and discomforting that many will turn away from it immediately. And, let's not mince words here, it is nasty! Strangely enough, it's also really well done and surprisingly, carefully handled in places. Writer/director Tom Six may become the target of a lot of vitriol, but he's actually very good at picking what to show, what to imply and what to avoid altogether. The film ain't perfect though. Setting up the movie was cliché, as the girls were entirely unlikeable, and rather stupid. Actually even deep in the movie, the decision making on their parts verged on mental retardation. And this is where you're supposed to realize it's a horror movie, led by a Mad Scientist. The good stuff is what matters, and believe me, the story itself and how it's presented was all good. What elevates "The Human Centipede" from its high concept is the tension, the elements of pitch black humour, the subtle skewering of horror conventions and finally the performance of the main villain. The good Doctor Heiter is played by German Dieter Laser and he is truly terrifying, icy, ruthless and completely unsympathetic towards his captives. He has no motives behind his motives, which makes him even more horrifying. This movie raises the bar when it comes to grotesque, stomach turning violence and is a crazy new turn in the horror genre, yet it has similar elements from other horror films in recent pass, like "Martyrs"& "Hostel". "The Human Centipede" is easily the most talked about horror film this year. It's supposed to be disgusting, vile and downright gross. Well, it is! You're not shown extremely graphic stuff, but what you do see, and what is implied is done well enough to get you squirming in your undies.

  • My Rating: 6.50/10
  • Rotten Tomatoes: 47% (5.0/10)
  • IMDb: 5.8/10

Monday, May 17, 2010

[7.00/10] Solomon Kane (2009)

Solomon Kane (2009)

This was the first thing that struck me about "Solomon Kane" - it looks amazing! The film boasts surprisingly high production values with great sets, costumes, special effects, and many well-staged sword fights. From its locations to the costumes and make-up the scene is set and the viewer is drawn in by the gritty realism of it all. The fantastical plot mixed with this kind of scenic realism is a brilliant mix and director Michael J. Bassett gets the balance just right. The next thing to mention is James Purefoy as Solomon Kane. He gives a brilliant performance and has screen presence to spare as the character truly comes to life, especially in the vibrant and brutal action scenes. He receives fine support from the more experienced actors surrounding him, including Max Von Sydow and Pete Postlethwaite. Yes, "Solomon Kane" was a tad predictable, well it was from the creator of "Conan", so you could hardly expect high art. But, unlike you would have expected, it was quite a dark film, one man's quest to redeem his soul, and you believed in it, Purefoy played the complete ruthless murderer and the tortured soul, and in the confines of the film you believed it. The choreography was decent and the action sequences are realistic and sweeping. Many of the fight scenes were shot in what had to be difficult conditions. "Solomon Kane" isn't without its flaws, but is basically the gory, more adult, and definitive version of what "Van Helsing" should have been. With the amount of decapitated heads that are rolling around, every action scene littered with splattered blood, and its darker twists on religious views, "Solomon Kane" delivers a blood-soaked cinematic delight!

  • My Rating: 7.00/10
  • Rotten Tomatoes: 82% (6.4/10)
  • IMDb: 6.4/10