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Sunday, October 31, 2010

[3.25/10] Unrequited (2010)

Unrequited (2010)

"Unrequited" is a lackluster psychological thriller, that unfolds around Ben Jacobs, who has been living for the past several months in a home for 'troubled teens'. On his 18th birthday he leaves the group home and moves back in with his alcoholic mother. Upon his return, Ben discovers that his girlfriend, Jessica Morgan, has moved on with her life and is now dating an older college guy. Desperate for love and unable to cope with losing Jessica, Ben’s troubled past catches up with him as he kidnaps her in an attempt to regain her affection, but soon things get out of control, and so does the movie itself. "Unrequited" is one of the worst cinematic experiences I've had this year. It's completely pointless, poorly-made, incredibly tedious and it feels so overlong, it was a torture to watch. Film's paper-thin tired plot is being stretched too far and the director is trying to wring more out of it than can be wrung. The end result is a thoroughly unengaging crappy thriller, that lacks thrills and scares and it has zero entertainment value. Actually, the scariest thing about "Unrequited" is the acting - it's either stiff and wooden or way too overstated. Michael Welch as the main protagonist, Ben, gives a hopeless, neurotic performance, that is so annoyingly over-the-top, it makes his character very unlikable and barely standable. Sarah Habel is truly eye-candy and undoubtedly captivating, but unfortunately, her acting skills are pretty mediocre. David Keith's character is probably the only one that is sympathetic - he's calm, sweet and kind, and he easily wins the heart of viewer. "Unrequited" is the first full-length feature film for director Jason Epperson, and it shows - his direction is all-over-the-place, the editing is simply dreadful, and the film is full of countless stupid flashbacks that do nothing but confuse the audience. At least the cinematography is decent. Overall, "Unrequited" is a dull, uninteresting and overly-cliched psycholgical thriller, that totally fails to deliver.

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Friday, October 29, 2010

[9.75/10] The Social Network (2010)

The Social Network (2010)

David Fincher’s new exceptional film “The Social Network” is about the creation of Facebook, an internet website that’s less than a decade old and already worth 25 billion dollars. On a fall night in 2003, Harvard undergrad and computer programming genius Mark Zuckerberg sits down at his computer and heatedly begins working on a new idea. In a fury of blogging and programming, what begins in his dorm room soon becomes a global social network and a revolution in communication. A mere six years and 500 million friends later, Mark Zuckerberg is the youngest billionaire in history, but for this entrepreneur, success leads to both personal and legal complications. I'll start with Wow! I mean... WOW! “The Social Network” was so superbly-crafted, so ingeniously impressive and so overwhelmingly entertaining, I could barely blink while watching this remarkable film. Led by furious dialogues full of wit, interesting characters, brisk pacing and clever editing, there is so much to like about this film even from the beginning. As "The Social Network" progresses, the story becomes more and more gripping and absorbing, the dialogues - wittier, smarter and funnier, and the intrigue escalates tremendously, as the story goes far beyond just the creation of Facebook, moving into deeper ground. "The Social Network" also perfectly captures the essence of the modern world we live in, and today's younger generation, where technology and internet play big part in our daily activities and social life. Visually, and on a technical level, "The Social Network" never fails to impress. Fincher's direction is pitch-perfect - the camera work is flawless, and the camera angles are creative, varied, and thoroughly effective. The editing is sharp and dynamic, and it helps the story to move briskly from one great scene to another. Cinematogprapher's choices are also admirable - he uses a soft and subtle golden tint and low-key lighting, that pleases the eye, but also a brighter bluish tint in some of the scenes, in order to stimulate viewer's visual senses even more. Donald Graham Burt's production design is nothing short of fascinating, making Harvard look more posh and beautiful than ever. Plus, the soundtrack is fantastically upbeat, as it includes a diverse range of electronic melodies and amazing house tracks. Performance-wise, "The Social Network" truly delivers! Jesse Eisenberg as Mark Zuckerberg is definitely the highlight of this film, as he commands the screen with his charismatic presence and charming awkwardness. Ironically, his character lacks social skills, but he compensates with innovative thinking, razor-sharp cleverness and strange, unexplainable likability. Andrew Garfield as the other protagonist, Eduardo Saverin, gives an incredibly mature and competent performance, and I predict a great acting career for him. Although I'm not a big fan of Justin Timberlake, I have to admit that he is simply incredible here - he's not only charming and physically captivating, but it's obvious that his acting skills has improved enormously. The gorgeous Armie Hammer, perfectly-cast as the twins, Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, also does a great job - not only his characters look sophisticated and expensive head to toe, but they're extremely well-portrayed and believable. Marvellously-written, masterfully-directed, sharply-edited, and hugely engrossing, "The Social Network" is hands down the best movie of the year so far, a true masterpiece of modern cinema, and one of Fincher's finest achievements along with "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button", "Fight Club" and "Se7en".

Thursday, October 28, 2010

[7.00/10] Catfish (2010)

Catfish (2010)

An unexpected odyssey unfolds after a filmmaker's brother, Nev Schulman, begins receiving unusually advanced paintings from a supposedly 8-year-old girl, in this documentary from filmmakers Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman. Although the creators of this film claim that it is "100 percent real", and it often feels and looks like it's 100% real, "Catfish"'s authenticity somehow remains questionable to me. Nevertheless, this is an engrossing, clever and kinda unique documentary and probably one of the saddest and most twisted love stories I've seen in a while. I won't spoil anything from the story, becuase this weird journey is best experienced with Nev Schulman himslef, and the less you know about this film the better. "Catfish" is astounding in many ways, most of which cannot be said without revealing the end, but I have to say that as the movie progresses, the mystery behind the story becumes more and more intriguing, and once the pieces of the puzzle are put together, "Catfish" turns into a very emotional, sad and moving story. Technically, the film doesn't really shines, due to the fact that it's shot entirely with hand-held camera - there are no special effects gimmicks or intense music score, and yet, the film effective in its simplicity. Although it's executed on an amateurish level, "Catfish" is extremely well-photographed and impressively-edited. Moving, thought-provoking, effective and thoroughly absorbing, "Catfish" is probably like nothing you've seen before, and it certainly opens people's eyes to the truth about the mega-popular Facebook and other social networks, because it tells a story, that could actually happen in real life.

[5.25/10] The Switch (2010)

The Switch (2010)

"The Switch" centers on a neurotic and insecure man, who finds out his best friend wants to have a child through artificial insemination. He surreptitiously replaces her donor's semen with his own and is then forced to live with the secret that he is the child's real father. Unfortunately, the latest 'dramedy' starring Jennifer Aniston and Jason Bateman is nothing special. Despite it has a good premise, sympathetic characters and engaging cast, "The Switch" falls short, as it suffers from cliche-ridden, alsmost joyless script and weird humor that rarely works. Jason Bateman delivers an above average performance as the insecure, confused and oddly charming Wally, though I like him much better as a dramatic actor rather as a comedian, because I've always thought that as a comedian he's either mildly funny or not funny at all. Thankfully, his performance here skilfully blends comedy with drama, and the result is rather satisfying. Jennifer Aniston is sweet as always and she turns out a decent performance as Kassie, though her role in this film isn't very major or very important. Sadly, there isn't any real chemistry between Aniston and Bateman, and don't make a believable couple. Thomas Robinson's character Sebastian is my favorite - he's adorable, smart and delightfully weird, and the relationship between him and Wally feels absolutely sincere. Juliette Lewis is cute, funny and eccentric as usual, and she steals the show everytime she's on screen. Technically, "The Switch" is average at best - the pacing is smooth, the editing is finely done and, Gordon and Speck's direction is good, though a bit unimpressive. By-the-numbers and occasionally entertaining, yet well-acted and pretty watchable, "The Switch" is an okay hybrid of comedy and drama, that certainly has its moments, but it lacks big laughs and comedic value.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

[5.50/10] Step Up 3D (2010)

Step Up 3D (2010)

In the third installment of the "Step Up" franchise, a tight-knit group of street dancers, including Luke and Natalie, team up with NYU freshman Moose, and find themselves pitted against the world’s best breakdancers in a high-stakes showdown that will change their lives forever. "Step Up 3D" has self-proclaimed itself as the first ever 3D dance drama, but in fact, "StreetDance 3D", a slightly better British flick, which was released on May 21 this year, takes the crown as the first 3D dance movie ever. Anyway, that's not of a big importance to me, since I saw the ordinary 2D version of both films. "Step Up 3D" doesn't have much to offer, except for a bunch of crisply-choreographed dance routines that never fail to entertain, and a wonderfully upbeat music score, that is a joy to listen. The plot is your typical predictable 'dance movie' story, filled with countless cliches, nonsensical dialogues and stereotypical characters, but nevertheless the film is often fun to watch, and it does manage to entertain throughout its running time. Acting-wise, "Step Up 3D" is pretty decent. Adam G. Sevani as Moose is not only adorable, but he's the real star of the movie, as he lightens up the screen everytime he appears. Alyson Stoner as Moose's best friend, Camille, has a very minor role here, but she's probably the most likable character in the movie. The gorgeous-looking Sharni Vinson and Rick Malambri give passable performances as the two leads and they share good on-screen chemistry, and their romance feels believable. Also, the film featuers "So You Think You Can Dance" star Twitch, who does an admireable job, although he's not an actual actor, but just an incredible dancer. "Step Up 3D" is all about the dancing, and this is the area where the film mostly succeeds. The dance choreography ranges from spectaculat to decent, but the routines are always engaging, quite effective and a pure joy to watch. Shallow, yet fun, fairly entertaining and impressively-choreographed, "Step Up 3D" is definitely a notch above its mediocre predecessor "Step Up 2: The Streets".

[5.75/10] Alpha and Omega (2010)

Alpha and Omega (2010)

Crest Studios' latest animated adventure "Alpha and Omega" tells the story of two mismatched wolves, Kate and Humphrey, who embark on a cross-country quest to get back home and restore peace in their pack after being relocated thousands of miles away by well-meaning park rangers. With such an amazing flicks as "How to Train Your Dragon" and "Toy Story 3", 2010 has proven itself as quite a strong year for animation, and while "Alpha and Omega" doesn't fall in the same league as the above mentioned, it's a fun and decently-crafted animated flick that is actually pretty enjoyable to watch. The story isn't anything groundbreaking or very innovative, but it's adventurous, dynamic and never boring, and there are a few scenes that are so genuinely hilarious, that you just can't help but laugh out loud. Kate and Humphrey, the two main characters are likable and very sympathetic, and both, Justin Long and Hayden Panettierean, do an excellent job on bringing these charming wolves to life. The secondary characters are also interesting to watch - Garth provides most of the laughs, and Kate's little sister, Lilly, is simply adorable. Visually, "Alpha and Omega" is rather average. The CGI work looks a bit clumsy and not polished enough, but the use of color in the scenery is absolutely incredible - the color palette is bright, vivid and richly saturated, and it's a feast for the eye. Unfortunately, I can't comment on the 3D effects, since I watched this flick in an old-fashioned 2D. Overall, "Alpha and Omega" is joyous, fast-paced and engaging, yet ultimately forgettable and clumsily-animated flick, that comfortly falls into the 'average' category.

[5.50/10] The Tortured (2010)

The Tortured (2010)

"The Tortured" revolves around Elise and Craig, young couple who's son is abducted and murdered by a sexual deviant by the name of John Kozlowski. The grieving parents are enraged when he is granted a lesser sentence in return for information on where his remaining victims are buried. Struggling to come to terms with the injustice, the couple decide that the best way to alleviate their pain is to inflict as much as possible upon the monster responsible. "The Tortured" is by no means a bad movie - it delivers exactly what it promises, but its main problem is that it lacks originality and the 'revenge' theme is just not believable enough. Otherwise, the film has a fairly good script, a couple of decent performances and pretty unexpected and completely satisfying twist ending, that doesn't disappoint. Except for the final part, the plot is pretty standard and quite straightforward, and the story unfolds without many surprises along the way. It actually reminded me a lot of another Canadian 'revenge' flick "7 Days", which plot was pretty similar. Jesse Metcalfe and Erika Christensen as the two protagonists and sorrowing parents give credible performances, although they both look so nice and deary, it's somehow hard to believe that they're capable of doing such terrible things as kidnapping and cruel torturing. Bill Moseley is also passable, though he barely speaks in this film, and his performance consists mostly moaning and screaming. The torture scenes themselves, while not too gory or over-the-top, are quite uncomfortable to watch, as they're surprisingly sadistic and brutal. Overall, "The Tortured" is neither great nor bad - it's watchable and entertaining enough, though not especially ingenious, apart from the ending.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

[3.75/10] Macabre (2009)

Macabre (2009)

"Macabre" is an Indonesian slasher flick that involves a group friends on a late-night drive to Jakarta, who stop for a young woman who claims to have been robbed. She invites the group to dinner at a stately mansion with her peculiar relatives, and the friends soon realize that they may have stumbled into their doom. "Macabre" tries hard to be shocking, disturbing and outrageously grotesque, but fails miserably to be all that, as it offers nothing more than flat and undeveloped characters, uninteresting villains and, of course, buckets of gore. Simply put, it brings absolutely noting new to the table. Its plot is build on tired 'horror' cliches, and there's not a single original moment in the entire movie. Plus, it shamelessly borrows ideas from many other good and not that good slasher movies, which makes it even less intriguing, simply because we've seen it all before. The victims are portrayed as total dummies who make completely stupid and illogical decisions for no other reason than to to set themselves up for gruesome deaths. They're so undeveloped, that it's hard to feel sympathy for any of them or to care if they die or not. Shareefa Daanish as the monotonously speaking cold-faced mother, Dara, is supposed to be creepy and disturbing, but in fact, she's just an unbelievably bland and silly-looking villain that ultimately fails to terrify and has a very little or no impact at all. The other villains, Maya and her brother, are just too sweet and good-looking to be scary or to be taken seriously. Gore is the only area where "Macabre" succeeds. Death scenes and the splattery gore effects are well done, nasty and very graphic - gore fans will be in heaven. Un-scary, formulaic and surprisingly boring, "Macabre" is a slasher gorefest at its worst.

  • My Rating: 3.75/10
  • Rotten Tomatoes: N/A
  • IMDb: 6.2/10

Monday, October 25, 2010

[6.50/10] Winter's Bone (2010)

Winter's Bone (2010)

Short review: Based on Daniel Woodrell's novel of the same name, "Winter's Bone" tells the story of Ree Dolly, a gutsy teenager, who after facing the loss of her home and siblings, sets out on a dangerous quest to learn the fate of her missing father. While this is an emotionally powerful and truly sad film, its painfully slow pacing, muddled direction, and grim and often depressing settings, make it quite difficult to watch and, unfortunately, not a very pleasant experience. Although the story is slightly overcomplicated and rather confusing at times, and the poverty subject is quite oppressive, "Winter's Bone" is fairly interesting and suspenseful drama, that succeeds in evoking emotions, and makes the viewer feel connected with the characters and their struggles. "Winter's Bone" is driven by Jennifer Lawrence's character, Ree Dolly, and she's certainly the highlight of this film. Lawrence's performance is incredibly strong - she shines in every scene and she's thoroughly believable and engaging as the vulnerable, yet fearless main heroine. John Hawkes and Dale Dickey also deliver fine performances. The visual style reflects the mood of the film quite well - the low-key cinematography by Michael McDonough is murky and quite grim, yet somewhat beautiful in its own way, and the music score is pretty haunting. Overall, "Winter's Bone" is sad and painfully slow-moving, yet absorbing and truly moving drama that has a very realistic feeling to it and often manages to impact the viewer emotionally.

Friday, October 22, 2010

[8.00/10] Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame (2010)

Di Renjie


Detective Dee and the Mystery of
the Phantom Flame (2010)

Set during the reign of China’s first female Emperor, Wu Zetian, "Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame" revolves around a series of inexplicable spontaneous combustions that have killed dignitaries. Feeling threatened by the mysterious deaths, the Empress Wu sends for Detective Dee, whom she had ordered to be arrested and imprisoned eight years before, after he criticized her grab for power. Dee is an unlikely candidate to be at the court of the Empress, but he is also the only one capable of solving the mysteries. Vietnamese-born Tsui Hark is very much a 'hit and miss' director. He has a long list of films behind him, of which "Once Upon a Time in China" series and "The Blade" are arguably the best and most successful, and "The Legend of Zu" and "Black Mask 2: City of Masks" are probably his weakest efforts. Fortunately, Hark's latest big-budget martial arts/fantasy/mystery hybrid, "Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame", is not only a feast for the eyes, but also quite intriguing to watch. Although the film has some slight pacing problems and a few plot holes here and there, the story is overall well-structured and consistently engrossing, and the mystery keeps you guessing through most of the story. Plus, "Detective Dee" is probably the most sumptuous, most beautiful and most stunning-looking movie of 2010. Visually, the film succeeds boldly, thanks to production designer Sung Pong Choo and cinematographers Chi Ying Chan and Chor Keung Chan. The settings are lush, picturesque and wonderfully-created, without being over-the-top, and the art direction is top-notch. Tsui Hark is full of creative ideas and imagination and it shows - here, his camera shots are well-planned, inventive and rather effective. The action choreography, by martial arts superstar Sammo Hung, while certainly not first-rate, is dynamic and thrilling enough. There are a couple of great fights and a couple of a very unimpressive ones, probably due to the fact that Hung was "forced" by Tsui Hark to work as an action director on "Detective Dee". One of my favorite Asian actors, Andy Lau, brings a lot of charisma to the title character. He gives another strong performance and makes Detective Dee a very engaging and sympathetic protagonist. Carina Lau also turns in a great performance as Empress Wu, as she acts really convincing and has an incredibly strong screen presence. Li Bingbin, best known to the Western audience as the white-haired Ni Chang from "The Forbidden Kingdom", is not only pretty, but also does a good job portraying her character, Shangguan Wan'er. Spectacularly-lavish, hugely-engrossing and often magical, "Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame" delivers a perfect combination of dazzling visuals, enthralling story and interesting characters, and proves that Tsui Hark is back on top form.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

[7.00/10] Legend of the Fist: The Return of Chen Zhen (2010)

Legend of the Fist:
The Return of Chen Zhen (2010)

Set in 1920s Shanghai, Andrew Lau's latest effort tells the story of Chen Zhen, who single-handedly avenges his mentor’s death by killing all the Japanese at a dojo in Hongkou, only to be showered with bullets while making his legendary flying kick. Now, years later, Chen Zhen, who is believed dead, returns in disguise to infiltrate a criminal empire and to dismantle the evil collusion that plagues the country. After a '10 out of 10' opening sequences full of dynamic and spectacular stunts, "Legend of the Fist: The Return of Chen Zhen" somewhat loses its energy, but fortunately it picks up later on to deliver a passable entertainment for all martial arts and action fans. The film feels a bit unfocused and incoherent at times, as it's muddled with far too many sub-plots and undeveloped characters, but as a whole, while not as satisfying as I hoped, the story is decent enough and still manages to hold viewer's attention most of the way through. Performance-wise, "Legend of the Fist: The Return of Chen Zhen" is just okay. Donnie Yen is absolutely thrilling to watch, during the fight scenes, and he also does a good job in portraying the title character. He certainly grew up as an actor over the years, and it shows. Qi Shu is a charming and very charismatic Asian actress, but her character Kiki is pretty unlikable - she's just mincing around, not doing much but smoking and drinking. The rest of the supporting actors also give good performances. Special mention goes to Ryu Kohata, as the nasty and evilicious Colonel Chikaraishi. The action sequences, choreographed by Donnie Yen himself are decent, yet rather unimpressive. The fights themseves are so short, that they fail to provide total satisfaction, excluding the opening action scene, which is nothing short of breathtaking. Visually, "Legend of the Fist" is truly arresting, as it offers gorgeous settings of 1920s Shanghai, and the music score is good enough to raise tension when needed. While it doesn't rank among the best martial arts flick ever made, "Legend of the Fist: The Return of Chen Zhen" is a well-shot, nicely-choreographed and fairly entertaining action flick, that hardly disappoints.

[3.00/10] Night of the Demons (2010)

Night of the Demons (2010)

In this unfortunate remake of the 1988 horror film of the same name, Angela throws a party at the notorious Broussard Mansion, where six people disappeared without a trace 80 years ago, while the owner, Evangeline Broussard, hung herself. When the police bust up the party, the gang soon discovers a horrible secret: that supernatural forces are at work in the mansion and that there may be more to the tale of Evangeline Broussard than anyone knew. For better or worse, I haven't the original "cult" film, so I can't make any comparison between the two, but this remake turned out to be one of the dullest, most boring and most uninspired horror flicks I've ever seen in my life. The plot was paper thin, even for a horror movie. Plus, it was messy, poorly-structured, and full of ridiculously stupid flashbacks, that only add to the confusion. The first half of the movie was completely unwatchable - literally nothing was happening. Then it got a little better, but it was still bad and boring as hell. The acting was beyond terrible, as all the actors involved in this were either overacting or not acting at all. I'm not going to mention any of them, except Shannon Elizabeth, and that's not because she did a great job, but because I was really surprised to see her in this crap. The characters were the usual one-dimensional stereotypes, that you don't give a damn for and would love to see them dead. On a positive note, the make up and special effects were rather good, as most of the demons looked fairly scary and pretty nasty. Overall, "Night of the Demons" ended up as yet another horribly-crafted horror remake, with zero scares and no actual plot.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

[7.50/10] Red (2010)

Red (2010)

In this adaptation of Warren Ellis' popular DC Comics graphic novel, a group of former government assassins fights back against the CIA after they're targeted for knowing too much. Frank, Joe, Marvin and Victoria used to be the CIA's top agents, but the secrets they know just made them the Agency's top targets. Now framed for assassination, they must use all of their collective cunning, experience and teamwork to stay one step ahead of their deadly pursuers and stay alive. To stop the operation, the team embarks on an impossible, cross-country mission to break into the top-secret CIA headquarters, where they will uncover one of the biggest conspiracies and cover-ups in government history. Forget about "The Expendables" and "The A Team", because "Red" is the real deal - it's an extremely funny, outrageous, energetic and action-packed flick that delivers everything it promises. Essentially, there is not a single dull moment in the entire movie, thanks to the talented cast of veteran actors, brisk pacing, clever script and explosive action sequences. The blend of action and humor works pretty well and strong chemistry between the actors keeps it compelling. Helen Mirren shines yet again in this quite an unusual role for her. She is one of the most acclaimed and most skillful actresses in contemporary cinema and her acting abilities are unquestionable - as Victoria, she's sophisticated, yet funny to watch. Plus, she kicks ass with a machine gun! How cool is that?! However, John Malkovich, whose character' eccentrism borders on craziness, is the one to watch, as he really makes this movie come to life. He delivers most of the laugh and he really stands out above the rest. Bruce Willis is.. well... Bruce Willis - he relies more on his charisma, rather than his acting skill, which isn't necessairly a bad thing. Mary-Louise Parker as Willis' love interest is charming, engaging and truly hilarious, and Morgan Freeman as Joe Matheson does a good jog as usual. Technically, "Red" also succeeds - the pacing is brisk, yet smooth, the direction is admirable, and the action sequences are surprisingly well-handled and a joy to watch. Fast-paced, witty and hugely enjoyable, "Red" proves to be one of the 2010's most unexpected and pleasant surprises, and arguably the most entertaining action comedy of the past few years.

[5.25/10] The Runaways (2010)

The Runaways (2010)

"The Runaways" is a coming of age biopic, set in the 70's, that tell the story of Joan Jett and Cherie Currie, two rebellious teenagers from Southern California, who become the front women for The Runaways - the now-legendary group that paved the way for future generations of female rockers. Under the Svengali-like influence of impresario Kim Fowley, the band becomes a huge success, with Joan as the band's hard-rocking heart, and Cherie as the sex kitten. But the teens' stormy relationship threatens the band's future. Since I'm not a huge rock music fan, I suspected that this film won't be exactly my cup of tea. Nevertheless, I decided to give it a shot, and left a somewhat bad taste in my mouth. While visually "The Runaways" looks very authentic, as it depicts the period of 1970s quite well, it suffers from lack of likable characters, poor story structure and muddled unimpressive direction. The script is compendium of rock clichés, characters are a bit flat, and the plot feels forced and often incoherent. On the top of that, the music is pretty horrible. Acting-wise, "The Runaways" is mediocre. Kristen Stewart tries her best here, and while her acting is much much better than in "Twilight", she gives yet another dry and unemotional performance. Stewart has this bland expression on her face and there's this stiffness about her, that makes her uncomfortable to watch. It seems to me that she struggles to overcome that. And it shows. Dakota Fanning is also disappointing as Cherie, the moody lead singer of the group. She fails to evoke sympathy and to deliver a likable character. Michael Shannon's acting is over-the-top, he's mostly annoying to watch. Watchable, yet hardly engaging, "The Runaways" represents the cliché 'sex, drugs and rock'n'roll' quite well, but it just doesn't deliver much more than that.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

[7.75/10] Animal Kingdom (2010)

Animal Kingdom (2010)

After the fantastic horror flick "The Loved Ones", "Animal Kingdom" is yet another proof how good the Aussie filmmakers are at making great movies. It tells the story of J, who after the death of his mother, finds himself living with his estranged family, under the watchful eye of his doting grandmother, Smurf, mother to the Cody boys. J quickly comes to believe that he is a player in this world. But, as he soon discovers, this world is far larger and more menacing than he could ever imagine, J finds himself at the center of a cold-blooded revenge plot that turns the family upside down. Although the pacing is a little off, "Animal Kingdom" is a harsh and tense, yet always realistic crime drama, that glances the life of crime and the consequences of living a life like this. It's truly hard-hitting at times, and due to the tough subject it deals with, the film is often difficult to watch, yet engrossing and strangely captivating. Film's conclusion is unexpected and almost shocking, although I'm not sure if it's completely satisfying. The two things this movie suffers the most are slow pacing and an unengaging protagonist. "Animal Kingdom" features a superb Australian cast who give outstanding performances. Ben Mendlesohn may not be the lead, but his performance is the most memorable and brilliant of all. He is menacing, truly disturbing and downright terrifying as the nasty criminal, Uncle Pope. He definitely steals the show as he delivers one of the most ominous 'villains' in recent memory. James Frecheville as J does a good job, but his character doesn't require much, as he plays an emotionally retarded young man with morose personality. Jacki Weaver is simply flawless as the 'master puppeteer' and leader of her vicious gang of sons. She's kind,sweet and over-bearing, yet cold as ice and even creepy. Guy Pearce as Leckie, does a competent job as usual. Kudos to Luke Ford, Sullivan Stapleton and Joel Edgerton, who turn in great performances as well. Intense, affecting and amazingly-acted, "Animal Kingdom" is Australian film-making at its finest.

Monday, October 18, 2010

[3.50/10] Knife Edge (2010)

Knife Edge (2010)

Short review: "Knife Edge" is a UK horror thriller that revolves around the recently married Emma, that has agreed to give up a successful career on Wall Street to return to England, together with her French husband, Henry, and give their 6-year-old son, Thomas, a new life. Almost immediately after they move in, a series of gruesome visions leaves Emma convinced that something terrible once happened in their house, and that the threat still lingers. "Knife Edge"'s plot starts out as a typical haunted house story, but soon mutates into a dull Hitchcock wannabe mystery thriller, and unfortunately, the film doesn't work neither as a ghost story, nor as a mystery. "Knife Edge"'s problem is, that it doesn't know where to go with its ideas, and the result is an incoherent and pretty conflicting story, and hardly believable and laughably ridiculous conclusion. Acting wise, this film is just as bad. Natalie Press as out main heroine, Emma looks a bit stiff in front of the camera, and her performance is unconvincing and not at all credible. Matthieu Boujenah is undoubtedly a charming man, but he obviously doesn't possess much of an acting talent. Veteran actress Joan Plowright has a minor role here, but she's captivating and interesting to watch, as always. The only good thing about this lackluster horror mystery flick is the scenery and the mansion itself, which is lavishly beautiful, yet thoroughly creepy. Worst of all, "Knife Edge" contains no real scares, nor is very thrilling. It's just a dull mess of a movie, that doesn't know what to do with itself.

[4.00/10] Blood Night: The Legend of Mary Hatchet (2009)

Blood Night:
The Legend of Mary Hatchet

"Blood Night: The Legend of Mary Hatchet" is an 80’s style slasher flick, that tells the story of a young girl named Mary Maddock, who butchered her entire family for unknown reasons. For these grisly crimes, Mary was sent to a mental institution. After years of abuse suffered at the hands of the guards, she snaps once again; rampaging through the hospital, murdering everyone in sight, only to be shot dead by police. Twenty years later, the incident has become legend and a great reason for kids to throw a party. The anniversary is called Blood Night, and today's the day. But this year will be like none other, because Mary has returned, and she's hungry for more. "Blood Night: The Legend of Mary Hatchet" is strictly by-the-numbers horror flick, full of tired cliches, horrible performances and pouring buckets of gore. Actually, the first ten minutes of this film contain one of the goriest and most brutal scenes I've ever seen in my life, which isn't neccesairly a bad thing. In fact, the opening sequence is the only strong point of "Blood Night", as it offers gruesome, yet creative and enjoyable deaths, flashy editing, and tons... tons of blood. Unfortunately, the rest of the movie is a just a tasteless, unimaginative crap. Frank Sabatella's direction is all over the place and completely inconsistent - some of his camera shots are brilliant, while others are completely amateurish. Film's quick-cut editing is so annoying it literally causes headache. The characters are nothing, but a bunch of dumb teenagers, that can hardly feel sympathy for or to care fi they'll die or not . The acting from all the actors involved is beyond terrible - actually, there's not a single decent performance in "Blood Night". Poorly-executed and horrendously-acted, "Blood Night: The Legend of Mary Hatchet" is yet another flat and boring slasher flick, with zero scares and very few chills. And while the gore effects are quite well done and the kills are fun to watch, they can't save this film from being a total failure.

  • My Rating: 4.00/10
  • Rotten Tomatoes: N/A
  • IMDb: 5.4/10

Sunday, October 17, 2010

"The Movie 411" Blog Awards 2010!

"The Movie 411" Blog Awards 2010

are coming soon!

Dempsey Sanders and Christian James at The Movie 411 organize this amazing online event, where you can nominate your favorite movie blogs for the category you think is the most deserving. To Enter and Submit, all you need to do is E-mail themovie411@live.co.uk with the url of the blog site you want to nominate, or in case of the Best Post Award, submit the url of that particular post. You can now also nominate by filling the online form over at The Movie 411. You can only nominate one blog per award, with the maximum of 4 nominations per blogger. Blog sites and posts that have been nominated and that are in the running for a award will receive an e-mail with a badge for the award they have been nominated for, and they have to display the award badge on their site. The badge will link to how to vote and nominate for the award. For more information, click here.


The categories you can nominate for are:

Best Newcomer
Best Design
Best Post
Best Gossip Blog
Best Animation Blog
Best Action Blog
Best Comedy Blog
Best Disaster Films Blog
Best Horror Blog
Best Oscar Discussion Blog
Best Zombie Blog
Best Sci-Fi Blog
Best True Stories Blog
Sexiest Male Author
Sexiest Female Author

+ 2 Special Awards

Gold Movie Blog Award
The Special Achievement Award


CineMarvellous! has been nominated in 3 categories so far:

Gold Movie Blog Award

Nominated by Ali Saeedian at Dark Blue Jeans

Thank you, Ali!


Best Horror Movie Blog

Nominated by Jaccstev at Movie Cafe, who says:
"Simple but thorough and informative yet stylish,
it's always interesting to read every
horror movie review from this blog."

Huge thanks, Jaccsy!

Nominated by J-SON at SON:sation

Thank you, J-SON!


Best Action Movie Blog

Nominated by Alex J. Cavanaugh

Thank you, Alex!


You can nominate CineMarvellous! (or any other blog you like)
in other categories! Thanks for the support!


Voting begins on November 20th 2010, and the blogsites, posts and authors that receive the most nominations per category will proceed to the final stage, an online voting poll. They will battle it out with the top 5 highest nominations in each category which will also be revealed on the 20th. See you there! :)

Friday, October 15, 2010

[9.50/10] Reign of Assassins (2010)



Reign of Assassins (2010)

Full review: A decade after Ang Lee's hugely successful martial arts masterpiece, "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon", director Chao-Bin Su and co-director John Woo succeeds in delivering a spectacularly arresting, visually striking and hugely engrossing wuxia flick, that ranks amongst the best of the genre! Set in ancient China, "Reign of Assassins" tells the story of Zeng Jing, a skilled assassin who's on a mission to return the remains of a mystical Buddhist monk to their resting place falls in love with a man named Jiang, whose father was killed by her gang. Soon, a lethal triangle surfaces between her, Jiang and the team of assassins that are after the monk's remains. Film's plot is well-structured, solid and full of intriguing twists and turns, enough to hold any viewer's attention. It's "Mr. & Mrs. Smith" meets "Crouching Tiger" in the best possible way. A cast of A-list Asian actors shines in "Reign of Assassins", with the fantastic Michelle Yeoh being the lead. Yeoh's not only a great female warrior with amazing martial arts skills, but she's an incredibly talented and charismatic actress, whose strong presence commands the screen, and she makes a main heroine that is both - sensitive and tough at the same time. Woo-sung Jung gives a strong and consistently good performance as Zeng's beloved Jiang. They both share great chemistry, and the romance between them feels real and unforced. The rest of the cast also deliver convincingly good performances, with Wang Xueqi as the raspy-voiced Wheel King being the standout, as he makes very interesting character. Veteran fight choreographer, Stephen Tung, who did an outstanding job in last year's amazing kung fu thriller "Bodyguards and Assassins", simply outdoes himself in this film, as he deliver one of the best and most creative action choreography I've ever seen in any martial arts movie. The swordplay in "Reign of Assassins" is nothing short of spectacular, the wire work is flawless and the stunts are fantastically breathtaking. Moreover, the stylized fight scenes themselves are fast-paced and perfectly-edited, and highlighted by the use of various camera angles, without being too over-the-top, thanks to Chao-Bin Su and John Woo's competent direction. Visually, "Reign of Assassins" is slick and stunning, as it offers vivid art direction, striking cinematography that captures the period perfectly and some beautiful costumes with detailed fabrics.

Overall summary: Entertaining from start to finish, spectacularly-choreographed and visually-fantastic, "Reign of Assassins" is the best martial arts film since Zhang Yimou's 2006 visual feast, "Curse of the Golden Flower", and my favorite movie of 2010 so far!

[5.75/10] The Daisy Chain (2008)

The Daisy Chain (2008)

Short review: "The Daisy Chain" is a low-budget, subtle yet effective Irish horror flick, that revolves around a grieving couple move to a remote Irish village in the wake of their baby daughter's death. They soon take in an orphaned autistic girl, only to become involved in a series of strange occurrences. While it's the typical "evil child' story we've seen hundreds times before and very skow-moving, "The Daisy Chain" somehow manages to engage the interest of the viewer, as it's smoothly-paced and consistently-intriguing. The whole mystery behind the main character Daisy and Daisy herself is certainly film's main strengths. Child actress Mhairi Anderson delivers a remarkably creepy performance as Daisy. She's hauntingly captivating and steals the show every time she's on screen. The very underrated great actress Samantha Morton gives an incredible performance as the caring, child-obsessed Martha, whose innate mother instincts are very strong. Steven Mackintosh also does a good job as Tomas Conroy, Martha's anxious husband. The Irish shore scenery is beautiful, but quite grim and depressing at the same time, as it offers bear meadows, dark skies, raugh ocean and ferocious wind - this dark and gloomy tone creates an often unpleasant atmosphere that fits perfectly the mood of the film. More creepy than scary, "The Daisy Chain" is decently-crafted little horror film that deliver the chills. Plus, Anderson is exceptional here!

  • My Rating: 5.75/10
  • Rotten Tomatoes: N/A
  • IMDb: 5.3/10