1 2 3 4 5 6 7

Saturday, December 31, 2011

[7.50/10] Midnight in Paris (2011)

Midnight in Paris (2011)

QuickRating: Dreamy, charmingly nostalgic and delightfully surreal, if certainly not one of Woody Allen's most profound and accomplished achievements, "Midnight in Paris" is a funny, yet sophisticated comedy that embraces the beauty of the glorious city of Paris, as well as the joy of life and art of love, plus, it boasts the most dazzling and exquisite cinematography this year, and excellent performances from the enchantingly appealing cast.

[7.25/10] 50/50 (2011)

50/50 (2011)

QuickRating: As inspirational and funny as it's depressing, "50/50" is an emotional roller coaster ride full of sadness, hope, and desperation, that despite its dark tone, fearlessly dares to joke about death, but at the same time has a huge respect for the precious life we all care about. Gordon-Levitt delivers the performance of his career, and Anna Kendrick is awkwardly likable, but the film is let down by Rogen's annoying performance, and the silliness of his character.

[6.25/10] Carnage (2011)

Carnage (2011)

QuickRating: Although the entire movie takes place in a small, fancy New York apartment (hence it might bore those who can't stand limited settings), and it feels more like a stage play rather than an actual film, "Carnage" is nevertheless an enjoyable and amusing dialogue-driven black comedy, that succeeds because of its wittily-written script, Polanski's intelligent direction, and the hilariously brilliant performances from the A-list cast involved.

Friday, December 30, 2011

[8.25/10] Drive (2011)

Drive (2011)

QuickRating: A seamless blend of full throttle action, shocking violence and unexpected romance, "Drive" is a moody, yet tasteful, compelling, and extraordinarily stylish art-house action thriller, masterfully helmed by Refn, who combines a sharply clever script with an outstanding direction, subtle thrills, dramatic music score and deeply engaging characters, to deliver probably the biggest cinematic surprise of 2011. Plus, Ryan Gosling turns in an absolutely incredible performance.

[7.00/10] Moneyball (2011)

Moneyball (2011)

QuickRating: Considering the fact that baseball is USA's most popular sport of all time, "Moneyball" is strictly for American audiences. Those who love baseball will find it inspiring, but those who don't really care about it won't be as thrilled. Despite the film's limited appeal, "Moneyball" is still an intelligent, amusing, touching and exceptionally well-crafted sports dramedy, with a charismatic, award-worthy central performance from Brad Pitt.

[6.50/10] Martha Marcy May Marlene (2011)

Martha Marcy May Marlene (2011)

QuickRating: In terms of visual and directing style, Sean Durkin's first full-length film feels like a Sofia Coppola recreation of Lans Von Trier's "Melancholia". This quietly sinister indie drama is slow, moody, depressing and quite pretentious, however, "Martha Marcy May Marlene" is elevated by Olsen's career-making, mesmerizing debut performance as the disturbingly schizophrenic title character.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

[7.00/10] The Devil's Double (2011)

The Devil's Double (2011)

QuickRating: Bold, frighteningly daring and disturbingly realistic, sometimes utterly cruel, but always compelling, "The Devil's Double" stuns with its dazzling production design, gold-toned cinematography, and Tamahori's spot-on direction, but above all, it showcases the undeniable acting talent of UK rising star, Dominic Cooper, who delivers one of the very best, most brilliantly convincing and sadly overlooked performances of the year.

[5.50/10] Margin Call (2011)

Margin Call (2011)

On paper, "Mergin Call" may sounds like an intriguing financial thriller dealing with the origins of current global recession, but despite its clever premise, solid direction and top-notch cast
, J.C. Chandor's debut film ends up being a convoluted, overwritten mess, so surprisingly unengaging and so painfully slow, that will either put you to sleep or bore you to death. And sadly, the lack of entertainment value is a serious shortcoming.

[4.00/10] Abduction (2011)

Abduction (2011)

QuickRating: Aside from Molina and Weaver's typically solid acting and a few watchable action scenes, "Abduction" is nothing more than a hard-to-spoof "The Bourne Identity" wannabe teen action thriller, full of shallow dialogues, plot holes and overly predictable twists, which is further let down by Taylor Lautner's wooden performance and his poor attempt to become the next big action star. Not the worst movie of the year, but pretty darn close.

Monday, December 26, 2011

[7.25/10] A Lonely Place to Die (2011)

A Lonely Place to Die (2011)

QuickRating: Part thrill-seeking adventure movie, part tense and taut kidnapping thriller, and skilfully shot in a frighteningly remote, yet breathtakingly gorgeous mountain location, "A Lonely Place to Die" is an exciting, constantly engrossing and edge-of-your-seat suspenseful UK chiller, that will surely satisfy any adrenaline junkie, but will also freak out those who have fear of heights, deep water and distant places.

[6.50/10] Kill List (2011)

Kill List (2011)

QuickRatings: Ben Wheatley's ultra-violent, free-for-interpretation, thought-provoking horror thriller "Kill List" is one of those type of movies you'll either love or hate. It could be considered as both, a geniusly disturbing piece of cinema and a confusing mess that barely makes any sense. Either way, it works on many levels, and at the end of the day, the more you think about it, the more you realize how twisted and well-conceived this film actually is.

[4.00/10] ChromeSkull: Laid to Rest 2 (2011)

Laid to Rest 2 (2011)

QuickRating: Slightly better than the cheap and ugly original, but still quite hideous in terms of execution, "Laid to Rest 2" is a gore-driven sequel that relies mostly on its nasty death scenes and in-your-face graphicness, but truth to be told, Robert Hall's direction hasn't evolved at all, the acting is still atrocious, and the mysterious killer behind the ChromeSkull mask continues to be as uninteresting as he was in the first movie.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

[3.75/10] Sector 7 (2011)

Sector 7 (2011)

QuickRating: Bad news for all creature feature fans. Koreans most anticipated movie of 2011 ended up being monsterously disappointing. Its premise is promising, the choice of location is rather brilliant and the sea creature itself is impressively designed and has a unique look, but "Sector 7" is completely ruined by a by-the-number script, utter lack of thrills, lots of pointless scenes, and Ji-hun Kim's dull, messy and terribly unimaginative direction.

[5.00/10] The Cat (2011)

The Cat (2011)

QuickRating: This potentially good cats-inspired Korean horror flick has a somewhat original concept, and it features a decent cast, some truly ominous images and a few graphically gory kills that fans of the genre would enjoy, however, after an intriguing first half, "The Cat" transforms into the typical Asian story, dealing with ghost kids and unsolved deaths, and it's all too familiar and hackneyed to be effective or very memorable.

[3.00/10] Ghastly (2011)

Ghastly (2011)

QuickRating: Yes, there are some truly iconic Asian horror movies from the past, but sadly, it seems like the filmmakers from the Far East have really ran out of fresh ideas. A couple of fairly gruesome death scenes aside, this Korean horror mess of a movie has nothing to offer in terms of scares, gore and creepy images. With its confusing plot, poor script and amateurish execution, "Ghastly" is an Asian horror cinema at its worst.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

CineMarvellous Preview: Impressive First Trailer for Ridley Scott's "Prometheus"

(Click to enlarge)

Impressive First Trailer for
Ridley Scott's Prometheus

It's finally here! Almost ten days after the poster release, a teaser trailer for Ridley Scott's upcoming "Alien" prequel, "Prometheus", was released a couple of hours ago, and even though it doesn't show a lot, so far everything about this ambitious project looks beyond promising. The cast is stellar, the visuals are out-of-this-world stylish, and the whole story sounds very intriguing. Check out the teaser trailer below, and enjoy this short, yet fantastic space journey.

The cast includes Noomi Rapace, Michael Fassbender, Charlize Theron, Patrick Wilson and Guy Pearce, and that's the official plot synopsis:

"Visionary filmmaker Ridley Scott returns to the genre he helped define, creating an original science fiction epic set in the most dangerous corners of the universe. The film takes a team of scientists and explorers on a thrilling journey that will test their physical and mental limits and strand them on a distant world, where they will discover the answers to our most profound questions and to life's ultimate mystery."

"Prometheus" is scheduled for a release date on June 8, 2012

[5.50/10] Fright Night (2011) [200th Horror Review]

Fright Night (2011)

QuickRating: Mildly entertaining, often silly, never frightening and nowhere nearly as delightfully cheeky and memorable as the original, this 2011 version of "Fright Night" flaunts its talented cast, interesting characters and stylishly-executed gore effects, but sadly, it's neither funny, nor scary, nor smart enough to work as a well-balanced horror comedy, as instead, it ends up being a rather stupid, pointless and mediocre one.

[6.00/10] Retread (2011)

Retreat (2011)

QuickRating: Despite its low budget, relatively slow pacing and limited cast, "Retreat" is still a gripping, quite unpredictable, and incredibly effective virus-themed UK horror thriller, that succeeds mainly due to the brilliantly disturbing portrayal by the underrated Jamie Bell, the excellent performances by Cillian Murphy and Thandie Newton, the tense atmosphere, and the deserted island setting, that is a stunning as it's claustrophobic.

[3.00/10] The Amityville Haunting (2011)

The Amityville Haunting (2011)

QuickRating: Set in a ridiculously inaccurate location, and featuring an implausible story, poor direction, annoying characters and tons of cheap thrills and overly-familiar horror gimmicks, The Asylum's "The Amityville Haunting" feels and looks like a lame "Paranormal Activity" rip-off, so terribly made and so un-scary, that even die-hard fans of the 'found footage' genre will find really hard to appreciate.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

[5.50/10] Hostel: Part III (2011)

Hostel: Part III (2011)

Brief review: The creator of the first two Hostel movies, the brilliant Eli Roth, has quit the franchise, leaving the second sequel it in the hands of director Scott Spiegel, who manages to deliver a surprisingly decent and well-crafted entry into the horror series. Thanks to the smartly-written script and the competent direction, "Hostel: Part III" stands a notch above the rest cheap straight-to-DVD horror sequels, however, the film is not without its weaknesses. It's overstuffed with many twists and turns, some of which work well and some which simply fall flat. For instance, the early twist at the beginning of the movie is completely unexpected and rather brilliant, but the one at the very end is a huge let down, and pretty much ruins the good impression the film has made until that point. Set in the posh Las Vegas, "Hostel 3" offers some lush settings, but the lack of budget is still obvious. The acting is passable, if a bit amateurish and stiff. Unlike its predecessors, this sequel does not rely much on the graphic, in-your-face gore and the nasty torture scenes, as instead it focuses more on the story and the characters. But while "H3" succeeds in providing a fairly good plot, a few cool death scenes aside, it fails to deliver the creative gruesomeness of the previous two movies.

Overall summary: Even though "Hostel Part III" may surprise the fans of the franchise with its clever ideas and solid execution, sadly, it's marred with some rather unnecessary twists, and lacks the nasty goriness and slick production values of the first two, far superior, Eli Roth films.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

[8.00/10] Arthur Christmas [3D] (2011)

Arthur Christmas [3D] (2011)

Brief review: Forget about the traditional Santa Claus and the old-fashioned way he delivers Christmas gifts to a billion kids all over the world in one night, because Sarah Smith's "Arthur Christmas" has a really cool and inventive contemporary spin to it, and will blow you away with its creativity, clever wittiness and fantastic CGI visuals. The script is original, funny, well-written and filled with smart jokes and tons of hilarious situations, but most importantly it has a heart, and that what makes the movie as touching as it's enjoyable. Smith successfully involves high-tech stuff such as computers, smart phones and other sort of cool gadgets used by Santa and his little helpers, but she also has respect for the traditional, throwing in the well-known vintage sledge and adorable deers, in order to honor the spirit of Christmas. The animation is crisp and clean, with vivid colors and some truly beautiful sequences, and the fantastic 3D effects give tremendous depth and detail at times. Each end every one of the characters is wonderfully-designed and full of life, and Santa's gloriously modern workshop, in particular, will leave you in awe. Sadly, I can't comment on the voice performances from the stellar cast involved, because I saw a dubbed version of the movie.

Overall summary: Witty, amusing, and splendidly-animated, "Arthur Christmas" is a modern take on Santa Claus and Christmas, that not only fascinates with its rich 3D visuals and colorful characters, but also delivers an emotional story and a powerful message for kids.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

CineMarvellous Preview: Action-Packed First Trailer for "G.I. Joe 2: Retaliation"

Action-Packed First Trailer for
G.I. Joe 2: Retaliation

Back in 2009, "G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra" ended up being a guilty pleasure for many action junkies out there, including me, as it was pure mindless entertainment, filled with explosive action and flashy visuals. The fans of the franchise should be happy, because next summer we'll all witness the "Retaliation"! The first super-cool trailer of the upcoming sequel is already out, and it promises that "G.I. Joe 2: Retaliation" will be a lot of fun, just like its predecessor. Check it out below.

Directed by Jon M. Chu, and starring Channing Tatum and Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson (Yay!), this sequel revolves around the G.I. Joe team, which faces off against Zartan, his accomplices, and the world leaders he has under his influence.

"G.I. Joe 2: Retaliation" hits US theaters on June 29, 2012.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

[5.00/10] Cowboys & Aliens (2011)

Cowboys & Aliens (2011)

Brief review: It's hard to believe that the creator of the fantastic "Iron Man" 1 & 2, Jon Favreau, has directed this disappointing mess of a movie, based on the 2006 graphic novel of the same name. He tries to merge two completely different genres, sadly very unsuccessfully, and as a result, his latest blockbuster "Cowboys & Aliens" ends up being unimpressive, uneven, and pretty lackluster in terms of execution. Although the action sequences are remarkably well-shot and pretty striking, surprisingly, those are very few and far between, and that's not a good thing for a movie that pretends to be a sci-fi epic. The scenery is typically western, and mostly consists of a sterile wilderness that is quite boring to watch, but the saturated color scheme of the cinematography makes it a bit more appealing to the eye. The special effects are absolutely first-rate and pretty slick, but they can't compensate for the director's lack of inspiration and а clear vision about what he's really trying to achieve. Daniel Craig is solid as usual as the central character, and Harrison Ford, while a bit underused, does his best with the material he's given. Olivia Wilde, gives another average performance as
Jake's love interest, and the supporting cast does a passable job.

Overall summary: As silly as its title suggests, "Cowboys & Aliens" boasts some top-notch special effects and great action scenes, but it's mostly a dull, disjointed and unspectacular sci-fi/western hybrid that fails to engage, despite its capable director and competent cast.

Monday, December 12, 2011

[7.00/10] Don't Be Afraid Of The Dark (2011)

Don't Be Afraid of the Dark (2011)

Brief review: Are you afraid of the dark? You should be. And you will be, after you see Troy Nixey's effective and surprisingly scary remake of the 1973 ABC made-for-TV movie of the same name. There was something uniquely sinister about the original "Don't Be Afraid Of The Dark" movie, that the 2011 version is lacking, however, Nixey's recreation has its own strengths and moments of horror brilliance. Despite the predictability of the script and a couple of rushed scenes, the story is well-built and offers a descent amount of genuine scares and tension along the way, plus, the movie's taut direction and smooth pacing make it constantly entertaining from beginning to the end. With its ominous atmosphere, dark and gloomy settings, eerie sound effects and murky cinematography, this artfully-crafted little chiller will make your skin crawl. The hidden basement of the lavish old house is as creepy as it can get, the stunningly-designed little ancient demons are scary as hell, and the heavy emphasis on blacks and shadows suits the grim tone of the story. The darkly charming Bailee Madison is impressive as the uneasy, yet clever Sally, and both, Katie Holmes and Guy Pearce are very convincing, if slightly underwritten, as the busy renovators.

Overall summary: Although it's fairly predictable and lacks the haunting chills of the original, "Don't Be Afraid Of The Dark" is still an effective and visually-atmospheric horror remake, that delivers plenty of solid scares, good old-fashioned thrills and some truly creepy images.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

[8.75/10] The Adventures of Tintin [3D] (2011)

The Adventures of Tintin [3D] (2011)

Full review: Based on a series of Belgian comic books of the same name, created by Hergé, "The Adventures of Tintin" is the first animated film in Steven Spielberg's long and enormously successful career, and thanks to his experience and undeniable directing talent, his debut animated feature hardly disappoints. Spielberg once again does wonders, combining his directing versatility with the strength of an old school storytelling and contemporary 3D and CGI techniques, to deliver one of the most spectacular cinematic experiences of the year. Minor flaws aside, "The Adventures of Tintin" is everything an animated movie should be - it's entertaining, briskly-paced, absorbing, enjoyable, funny and charming, but most importantly, it has a great sense of adventure to it, something that most movies seem to be lacking these days. The story itself is exciting, unpredictable and brilliantly-executed, and the dialogues are smartly-written, and full of witty lines and clever jokes, that will make you either smile or laugh hard. That's right, there's never a dull moment in this movie, and that's something that both, those familiar with the material, and those who have never heard of Tintin before, will be pleased and happy with. Moreover, "The Adventures of Tintin" offers some of the best animation ever put on film, because here, the CGI work is an absolute technical marvel! The animation itself is so slick and beautifully-crafted, and the attention to detail in some shots is so impressive, it truly feels like you're watching a live-action movie. Some of the graphics are simply a work of art, with the rich and breathtaking CGI scenery of Bagghar being the visual highlight of this stunning-looking movie. The use of 3D is just as superb, and certainly adds depth to the already gorgeous visuals. Each and every one of the characters is as wonderfully-designed as enchanting, plus, their 'animated' movements are unbelievably smooth and realistically fluid. The voice work is also exceptional. Jamie Bell's voice has so much character, and his tone is so cheerful and lively, he breathes life into our charming protagonist effortlessly. The amazing Andy Serkis gives another stirring voice performance as Captain Haddock, Daniel Craig delivers as Red Rackhamand, and the always funny Pegg/Frost duo do an excellent job voicing the hilarious twin detectives Thomson and Thompson.

Overall summary: Adventurous, hugely enjoyable, utterly enthralling and stunningly-animated, this impressive first-ever animated film, directed by the mastermind Steven Spielberg, should have been called "The Amazing Adventures of Tintin", as it's absolutely extraordinary in every way, and undoubtedly, the best animated feature of 2011.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

CineMarvellous Preview: Stylish Teaser Poster and Impressive First Trailer for "The Cabin in the Woods"

(Click to enlarge)

Stylish Teaser Poster and

Impressive First Trailer for

The Cabin in the Woods

Finally! The first trailer for the "doomed" project "Cabin in the Woods" has arrived, and it's nothing like we had expected. In a good way. At first sight, it gives you the impression that this is the painfully familiar "young-people-stranded-in-the-woods" type of horror story, but the movie actually has some new tricks up its sleeve. It provides a unique sci-fi twist on a classic story, and judging from the trailer, it looks quite promising and pretty original as well. After it survived the bankruptcy of its distributor, MGM, and a delay (February 5, 2010) after delay (January 14, 2011) after delay (April 28, 2011), the new owners Lionsgate announced that they had acquired the distribution rights to the film and set a release date of April 13, 2012. It was about time! Check out the fantastically bizarre trailer below, and let me know what you think. :)

Monday, December 5, 2011

[6.50/10] Albert Nobbs (2011)

Albert Nobbs (2011)

Brief review: Based on a short story by Irish novelist George Moore, "Albert Nobbsn" revolves around a woman passing as a man in order to work and survive in 19th century Ireland. This unusual story is slow-paced, yet compelling, but it never reaches its potential in terms of development, and it's neither as touching nor as emotionally dramatic as it should be. In terms of acting, "Albert Nobbsn" is definitely an Oscar material. The fantastic Glenn Close is back, and she's in top form indeed, delivering one of the best performances of the year, as the naive and struggling, yet loyal and kind-hearted woman who lives as a man. Mia Wasikowska gives another impressive performance as the tricky and confused hotel maid, Helen, and Aaron Johnson does a solid job as the manipulative charmer, Joe. Set in 19th century Dublin, "Albert Nobbsn" is about as authentic as it can get. The production design is highly effective, Rodrigo García's camera work is exquisite, precise and refined, and the era is captured beautifully, but yet, his direction lacks the 'wow' factor and the dynamic diversity that could have made this a great movie. The muted color palette of the cinematography also fits the time period well, and adds to the film's overall authenticity.

Overall summary: Subtle, oddly gripping and beautifully-made, if hardly anything special, "Albert Nobbsn" celebrates the welcome return of the incredible Glenn Close, who showcases her acting versatility, with an amazing, Oscar-worthy 'male' performance as the title character.