Friday, December 18, 2009

Orphan


Here we have a refreshing look at a tired story line. We have seen the typical suspense/horror flick where an evil or possessed stranger is introduced to a family and tears the family apart both figuratively and literally In this fresh look we have an average dysfunctional family who are reaching out to fill a void and instead find that the saving grace is exploiting these weaknesses. And the irony here is that the only way they can survive the manipulation and sabotage is to trust each other and work together.
What also makes this movie work where others have so often failed is that the director, Jaume Collet-Serra has assembled some solid actors. The real star here is the beguiling young catalyst played by Isabelle Fuhrman. Her portrayal is so strong that the alternative overseas title for this movie is 'Esther', her character name.

So in close, I am recommending this movie to all viewers, even those that typically stay clear of this genre.

Adventureland



I just caught a movie that I have been intending to see for a while, Adventureland. To sum up how I liked this movie I can only say that it made me happy. Why happy? We all like to reminisce about our formative days of youth and first love and this movie does an admiral delivering those memories. Be it party, angst, sorority hijinks or slasher movies the teen demographic is well represented. What is really rare however are movies targeted at teen that forces them out of their box and makes them think or for us older folks reflect. This one tackles the awkwardness of those first crush moments and the crush of dreams and birth of new ones.

In Adventureland, Greg Mottola (director of the also fine Superbad) steers away from his typical laughs and goes for that little part of us tucked away in the memories of vulnerability in our quest for love and adulthood. By bringing up these repressed memories, he reminds us that it wasn’t so bad back then and in fact we can look back at those times and long for those days where we had an abundance of time, meaningful live changing friendships, mind numbing jobs for no pay and for some reason worried about getting out of there and getting to where we are now.

Adventureland’s strength is the acting and particularly the acting from the two leads. The characters here are smart, cerebral and flawed. This makes them real and otehrwise likable. Kristen Stewart (Twilight, New Moon) proves that she is miles better with a good script, and a lot prettier without the vampire sympathizing make-up that makes her so pale. Jesse Eisenberg (Zombieland) returns to the amusement park setting and delivers another fine portrayal of an intelligent kid that borders on geek but proves to be cool with how he handles his challenges.

The story is a realistic tale of college bound teens struggling with middle class parents, saving money for college in dead end summer jobs and the coming of age into their own adulthood and the difficulty of navigating its relationships.

To be spoiler free, I can’t discuss the results of these relations, but I can recommend this film.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Road


Although I haven't seen this film yet, I thought I would mention that the great Roger Ebert has, and I encourage all to read his review. From my experience with the novel and Roger's review I can assert that Roger truly understood the book and as a result it enriches his fine review. Here it is:
I'll return soon once i have the opportunity to see Cormac's work put on the screen. http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20091124/REVIEWS/911249990

Sunday, November 22, 2009

2012 - The Comedy

Well if anything good comes out of seeing a movie like 2012, its a great opportunity to prove that I do not like every movie I see. Since I'm pretty discriminating about what I see, you will find that I like most things I review. This one came with a guarded feeling. I got a strong feeling that it would be a typical Roland Emmerich piece of beautiful garbage, but some respected critics like Ebert, had some nice things to say, and if all else was lost I was sure to see a spectacle of technical effects. Our local cinemas have recently been upgraded to stadium seating and digital projectors, so I was hoping that 2012 was a nice opportunity to test out the limits of our new digs. OK I'm beginning to fell like I am trying to justify going to this picture as opposed to reviewing it. So lets go.

Let me start by mentioning that I absolutely detested all of Emmerich's earlier risks behind the camera most of all, Godzilla, The Day After Tomorrow and of course Independence Day. I could write a book on how much Independence Day insulted my and everyone else's' intelligence. However it like 2012 were huge at the box office, so I guess we get what we deserve.

Well as previous reviewers mention the casting and acting are acceptable. given the cornball script. More on that later. First the plot. I think given the topic we can afford a few breaks on the plausibility meter. Walking into this film you expect and hopefully look forward to a steady diet of visual effects. For those that know me I always preach that when someone puts this much effort and money into a film it really deserves to be seen by all. My theory behind this statement is that without an audience, directors like James Cameron would cease to take the risk on producing blockbusters. Once I have my thirst quenched on well written thoughtful independent films, I still like to occasionally go to the theatre to see a mind blowing spectacle. Now 20 minutes into this beast I was reevaluating this loyalty. For every Michael Mann we get a Michael Bay. So the key is to know at which Micheal you want to throw your money. My advice is stick with the 'Mann'.

The visuals are many and impressive. We certainly gets our money's worth. Where we are cheated however is the lack of seriousness the films gives the scenario of global annihilation. The crazy part is that I think the film is actually trying to take itself seriously. However with the characters' plethora of unrealistic reactions to the horrors that unfold in the plot we have Emmerich falling a tectonic chasm short on realism.

Now for the victims of the script. We have the always entertaining Woody Harrelson reduced to a crack-pot conspiracy theory radio host that in the face of certain death acts like an idiot. Yes the script of 2012 made the mostly cutting edge Woody Harrelson look like an idiot. Now my pal John Cusack pulls off his best David Blaine imitation by actually walking away from this picture by not looking like a fool. Hats off as I am sure it was no easy feat navigating through the disastrous script. Then there was other characters that we had to endure like the billionaire Yuri's girlfriend (believe me I'm doing her a favour by not looking up her name) who has absolutely no place or purpose other than annoying us Jar Jar Binks style. Out of respect for fine actors link Danny Glover, Amanda Peet, Chiwetel Ejiofor and cutey Thandie Newton, I will plead the fifth on their part in the 2012 experience. One other favourite of mine, Oliver Platt, deserves some props. Although he was expected to be the villain here, his presence and acting ability actually allowed him to come off as the only person I would want to associate myself with in the face of a catastrophic emergency.

Now another thing that bugged the hell out of me was the ridiculous exchange between characters. On numerous occasions loved ones picked up the phone to have their last conversation with loved ones as mountains of water rush towards them or rubble falls at their feet. The apoplectic affect of these scenes is that after sharing some touching sentiments and/or words of parting wisdom characters never (I mean not even once) properly finished their conversations and just dropped the call with an apparent sudden loss of words or a strong urge to brave their death in solitude. Perhaps they should have went with Verizon.

Now I don't have enough time or scientific venacular to properly brief you on the obvious technical glitches of this movie, but I will direct you to a fun read that compiles these for us at http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1190080/goofs.

I guess once December 21 comes and goes and we are all safe and sound in our living rooms we may conclude that worse then getting the end of times right, the Mayans true sin upon humanity was having a hand in feeding Emmerich the plot to 2012. To their credit they did not have to live to experience it.

So in closing, like with all threats of impending death stay clear.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Favourite New Shows


Let's hear what your new favourite shows are this season. I think Community (you need to see more than the first episode to have an opinion) and HBO's Bored to Death lead the way. Both are different, quirky and funny. Better yet the writing is what makes them stand apart from the rest.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Inglorious Basterds




All of Tarantino’s movies are really about the movies. His career seems to be a story of experimentation from genre to genre. In each he turns a genre on its head, adds some panache and at the same time pays homage to the film-makers that came before him. Like a great musician he steals from those that came before him and does his best to go a little bit farther and push the door wide open for what comes next. Once he touches a genre it seems that the film-makers that come after him do the same by stealing from him and/or paying homage. Most will deny this, but it’s definitely a fact as I see him being imitated time and again. Guy Ritchie does a great job at this, yet he sticks to one genre.

Here Tarantino pays his respects to the characters of 1967 flick Dirty Dozen. Although darker in nature, this special ops troop streamrolls ahead to carry through a seemingly impossible task with refreshing naivety and bravado. This makes everything they discuss, threaten to do and positively follow though on, both hilarious and disturbing at the same time. I cannot be easily disturbed, but I am certain that some viewers will hate this aspect of the movie, while disturbed individuals like me will revel in the originality.

Like a classic song there are other aspects, subplots or movements to this movie. For one, we have the German detective, played by Christoph Waltz, who lays down the quintessential Christopher Walken dialogue with haunting ease. The last time I was this captivated with what a Nazi soldier was saying, I was absorbing the haunting justifications of Ralph Fiennes in Schindlers List. In a similar way, Waltz almost steals the show, and he would have if it were not for Brad Pitt’s portrayal of Lt. Aldo Raine the cruel but just leader of the Basterds. These were the two characters that filled the screen and will long be remembered. The others held their own but were truly supporting staff. Their crossover scene was small and memorable, however it was the build up of each of the character’s story to the climax that drives this tale.

I want to get back to Christoph Waltz’s stunning portrayal of Col. Hans Landa, Where did Quentin dig this guy up? Again Tarantino might make another actor into a superstar with the quality of the role and casting. This should get a supporting actor nod. If not, it will the greatest injustice the world has ever seen, since Ralph Fiennes lost his Oscar to Tommy Lee Jones 1993. Each word he uttered keeps you pinned to your seat and demanded absolute silence in the theatre. This is all the more impressive as moments earlier the audience was reeling over live scalping. We all know that Pitt is a genius and one of the industry’s bravest actors. He accepts different and challenging roles that always seem to be out of his range, yet he always stands out and delivers in a way that has us talking about it at our water coolers. He does the same here by adapting a seemingly out of place southern American tough guy that leads his life and team set in the creed of mercenary duty. Although we shouldn’t be pulling for this oft-kilter hero his dedication to the destruction of Nazi tyranny seems to trump all moral and logical thinking.

The strength and quality of the dialogue available in this script could be just as captivating if delivered by two local theatre actors in a coffee shop. Its not that its overly highbrow or sophisticated, but it’s just so real, visceral and memorable. Add Tarantino’s directorial cues, Pitt and Waltz then it becomes magic.

As evident in the Kill Bill series, Tarantino is fond of the strong willed heroine character to drive the basis of the plot to which all the interesting characters converge. Melanie Laurent pulls of the other story line of a young girl who matures through the power of vengeance after being wronged by the story’s villain.

Here’s a plug for the minimal exposure of The Office’s B.J. Novak who was fun to see on the big screen.

I will warn you that a good part of this film is spoken in German with English subtitles. For me this wasa a minor distraction and actually gives the film an authentic feel. For a moment in an early scene it appeared as though we were going to see a clever way out of the subtitles, but I think this was just a tease.

To sum it up this is a movie of memorable and quotable scenes, and intricately crafted characters that are paced into both palpable and at times drawn out moments. Together we have a strong 8 out of 10, that cements this director into one of the all-time distinctive greats and proves that none of his earlier accomplishments were flukes.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

500 Days of Summer



Gentlemen, if you have too see one movie this summer with your significant other, this is the one to see.
The plot gives us two leads Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel. Their relationship is less than normal and miles apart from those of traditional film roles (key word 'film'). Here we have the emotional and sensitive man demanding commitment while the woman wants to keep it casual. Although this happens all the time in the real world we seldomly see this at the movies. Forgetting Sarah Marshall had a slightly different plot but is another good example of role reversal. To keep this spolier free, I don't want to get into specifics but the film provides a steady diet of interesting takes of peaks and valleys within this relationship, and that of Gordon-Levitt and his two best male friends that provide the intermittant comic relief.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt is a star. This picture, 2005's Brick and 2007's The Lookout have people taking notice. Granted few have seen these films, but the acclaim from critics and independent film fans will certainly catch the attention of big studio directors and thus more visable roles. I'm not sure though that Gordon-Levitt will embrace this exposure as I am under the impression that his acting style of loosely knit intensity might be more suited to independent film roles. I know I am reading a lot into an actor with such a young career, however I get the feeling he is more suited to a Sean Penn type career path with challenging choices or high quality rather than high profile roles.

Zooey on the other hand is as exotic and quirly in her mannerisms and acting style that her name flower-child name suggests. She is solid and perfectly casted as this willful yet carefree experimenting single.

Overall, I hope for big things from this movie and it certainly appears to be gathering momentum. It certainly can't be described as formulaic, but it should benefit from the heavy trailer promotion it has been getting. Here's crossing my fingers. Given the genre this film is in I out of 10.

Public Enemy

Sorry about the hiatus.
I have a few pictures to run by you, luckily they are still in cinemas.
They picture won't knock you off your feet, or keep you riveted to the edge of your seat, however it will entertain those that respect historical character studies that offer solid writing and great performances.
If you are alive and well in this universe you don't need me to tell you, that Johnny Depp can act, and deserves all the respect he gets for pursuing challenging interesting roles that keep him as far as possible away from being typecast. In Public Enemy he delivers again. The performance is a bit subdued and although I admit I wasn't around in the 1930's I am guessing the portrayal is probably pretty accurate. I think the director Michael Mann chose Depp for his ability to pull off Dellinger in this not so larger than life way. After all this is a criminal that was always in hiding and elusive, so playing him big and boisterous probably isn't too realistic. Johnny knows exactly how to do this while keeping viewers in an unbiased state in their opinion of Dellinger by not glorifying the criminal's not so admirable qualities. Like in Tim Robbins' 1995's Dead Man Walking, he had Sean Penn play the death row inmate's character in such a way that we did not get carried away in character admiration or sympathize with the criminal. He accomplished this by having Penn play the role in a subdued non-remorseful way, while at the same time constantly reminding viewers that this guy wasn't a great guy with gruesome flashbacks of the crime. I love when directors allow us to make up our own opinion of a character instead of cramming sentimentalities or propaganda down our throats. Mann accomplished this with the Dellinger character and for me that was the best part of the movie.
The supporting cast was strong, most notably the ever underrated and intense Christian Bale. Bale was the intense ying to the reserved yang of Depp's Dellinger.
I also want to mention that Mann delivered us another classic gun fight, reminiscent of his 1995 flick Heat. Catch it also in video, as it accomplishes cinematic history by casting DeNiro and Pacino on the screen at the same time. Riveting.
Overall I give this movie a 7 out of 10 and can't recommend it to everyone so please consider my review and see it if what I describes interests you.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The Hangover

If you are looking for a steady stream of laughs, this movie has them.

A large portion of these are original and fresh. You might see similarities with the Peter Berg 1998 film Very Bad Things, but it is different enough to merit you watching them both. Berg's film was quite a bit darker, while Todd Phillips is going for light although far from innocent laughs. The settings are similar. A bachelor party that goes very wrong. The group of male characters in The Hangover might be a bit more likable and their dialogue better written and delivered. The misadventures are non-stop, and you will not be bored.
There are a steady supply of pretty random things that happen in this movie and each should keep you engaged. Some might be of the opinion that shock value is used to openly throughout the film, but I would disagree. Their quest makes sense, drives the story, and the acting pulls off slightly flawed characters that we can sympathize with as their challenges bring out cathartic reward. Good comedies are always driven by good characters, where each have their own purpose and add to the laughs be it as the originator of the laughs or the straight guy that absorbs and reacts. Where comedies often go wrong is when the most unbalanced character sticks out in the movie and detracts from the pace and purpose of the story. How many times have we asked, 'that movie was pretty good, but did that one guy really have to be so____' I like to refer to these characters as crutch characters that are often funny and gifted actors that directors too often rely on to bail a movie out of bad writing. Zach Galifianakis and director Phillips ride this tightrope perfectly. The brother in law character is not over-used. All of his quirks and interjections are well spaced and pulled off so naturally that we find ourselves anticipating his next line. John Belushi had this gift, and Zach could just be that kind of comedian if he chooses his roles intelligently. The rest of the characters are well cast and each offers their own piece to the story and experience their own self discovery in a believable, non over-the-top way.

I would not recommend this to everyone, as some may find it hard to get past some of the distasteful parts of the humour, but for friends like mine its a can't miss.

Up


What's up with UP?


Well, the corner of your mouths for one. This is a movie that does a few things like make you laugh, tug on your heart strings, satisfy your eyes all while teaching you the lesson to sit back, slow down and enjoy what you have in life.
Often original stories like this just don't stand up to live action pictures. Instead they can only be realized effectively in this very open venue of animation and CGI. Its not that these Pixar creators can ignore acting, directing, casting and story, but they are afforded a little poetic licensing in starting with a blank slate and creating a whole world where typical constraints can be ignored or glossed over. What is however unique about this Pixar movie is because of the setting and story line it had to deal with live action challenges. It was set in a real world setting and dealt with the burdens and mysteries of human interactions and all of life's complexities.
I have to tell you when I saw the trailers I wasn't convinced that I was going to like a movie about an old man who escapes his life in a helium propelled house. It kind of sounded to ordinary and not what I've come accustomed to in the Pixar universe. I imagined that who I assumed was the main character would be a hard sell as an interesting lead. I asked myself, how was Pixar going to entertain me with this one, without the crutch of an imaginary world full of creative possibilities, like the sea, toy, bug or monster world. Well I think they accomplished this by initially relating us to the old man by telling a back story that made him a real boy of wonder that was lost in love, imagination and finally loss itself. Then after dealing with that we were thrust into the more comfortabme world of pixar in an adventure to an all-American quest for entertainment, heroism and the escape and human need for closure. And of course, like in life, when you finally get there its a little disappointing and you wonder why you longed so to get there.
So in retrospect, I can turn my initial scepticism around and instead wonder how exactly Up will capture children's attention as opposed to us hardened grown-ups. That's funny, I just called myself a grown-up. I did see this with my 9 and 5 year old, and although I am sure they were mildly entertained, it not like they have been talking up or carrying on about it. Given that I dropped $90 on this experience its a little bit of a downer.
To be fair though, this picture is truly an impressive accomplishment, and the story and supporting characters are interesting, real and likable. While I sat there in the dark of the theatre with my upgrade from goofy 3D glasses I thought that this might be the kind of movie I could just as easily take my parents to. So the selling point on that is that its a really accessible movie. Fun for all.
The visuals as always were amazing, however it saddened me part way through the movie that I was taking this 3D spectacle for advantage. I noticed kids taking there glasses off, as I think the typical literally in your face theatrics of arrows and objects flying off the screen where absent. Like everything else about Up it steered away from these cinematic crutches and stayed true to a real grown up story seen through the venue of animation.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Paolo Nutini - Sunny Side Up - 2009




Although I wasn't lucky enough to be around when people heard Dylan for the first time, I certainly know how they felt. Paolo Nutini a 22 year old Scotsman has truly stunned me. He describes his first album, recorded when he was 18, as naive and full of angst. He wanted to do something 'different' and 'organic' with his next project, and boy did he. I haven't heard anything this different in a long time. To be two discs into your career, and pulling off deep rooted, catchy music like this is truly staggering. You would think that 'Sunny Side Up' was preformed by a band with multiple singers, but this all comes from the same cat. I don't use cat loosely. because sometimes he sounds like a swinging cool cat from the ragtime era, dragging out one verse to the next, while other times his velvet tone reminds me more of Simply Red's Mick Hucknall.
The disc's mood and sounds range all over the map from eclectic to Louis Prima improv. Paolo calls it a random mish mash, and although I see his point I better describe it as well planned experimentalism. It really makes me wonder what he can follow this up with. Well, I need to stop over analyzing the craft and just enjoy the music.
To give you a taste, he has a song about a conflict with marijuana called 'Coming Up Easy' where he stunningly comes up with an introspective line like 'It was in love that I was created, and in love is how I hope I die.' And in 'Candy' a song about a fight with his girlfriend he modestly laments 'I'm a heartless man at worst, babe, and a helpless one at best.' This is mature stuff for a 22 year old to expose himself so. He writes an ode to his father called 'Simple Things', where he respectfully thanks him for defining the cool confidence of living simply.
This may not be for everyone as it is out there and not mainstream, but in uniqueness alone very satisfying.
Please give it a listen and tell me what you think.

Monday, May 25, 2009

The Green Day Challenge

Ok everyone. Now that you have had a chance to hear both of Green Day's last two groundbreaking CD's, which one is better? Both are punk operas, reminding me of classic rock concept album classics. For cover to cover quality and catchiness, my vote is for 21rst Century Breakdown. What's your opinion?

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Star Trek

Here we go.
Above all, the original Star Trek was a show about relationships. At the core of every story a moral nerve is struck and tested . The pace being driven by interesting characters all alone in the eerie solitude of deep space. By remaining true to this formula JJ Abrams has been able to deliver on expectations in this thoroughly enjoyable prequel. Some reviewers are calling it the best prequel ever. Well without opposing arguments (and yes I am opening it up here) I can’t think of a better one, (except perhaps Batman Begins). This new kick at an old premise hits the mark where prequels like the three newest instalments of Star Wars couldn’t. This of course might have a lot to do with acting, directing and casting.

I’m not one to give out any plot spoilers or details that would take away from your experience. So I will not do that here (or ever), and I will urge the other reviewers on our site and those that comment on the reviews to respect the same. In fact, if I see spoilers I will edit them out. My sole goal is to try and direct you to the movies that are good and keep you clear of the bad ones. I might gives expose glimpses of the film's artistic flavours and such, so that you can assess them with your preference and make up your own mind. I’ll concentrate on story, acting, directing, pace, visuals and other intangibles such as entertainment value/watchability.

To start with this movie has great pace. I was thoroughly interested and engaged the whole time. There were no overindulgent preaching, set-up scenes, added characters (save for possibly one, you guess, think innocuous JarJar Binks) or unnecessary monologues. You will not be forced to endure obvious branding for aftermarket action figures or board games. Instead the quality and success of the movie will certainly earn it that marketability. I heard Burger King was the lucky chain to get the drinking glass rights. Note to self, Burger King has a good history of picking quality movies to sponsor. They scooped up the early Star War flicks and stayed clear of the newer ones.

The story is intriguing and sports an ultra-cool cool villain, played by Eric Bana (recognized the face but couldn’t place him until the credits rolled). I think Nero (Bana) would describe his actions as ‘justice’, and who’s to argue with that. This makes him slightly likeable. As an effective villain, he actually has a motive for being nasty. Wow back-story can really make a movie, and this whole movie cleverly entertains you while serving up the necessary back-story.

Chris Pine’s portrayal of James T Kirk is the strongest part of a strong movie. I am and will always be a William Shatner fan, but this guy makes the transition look easy. He has the mannerisms and source characteristics down. The driving bravado we have all come to love is present in every scene, all without the lame attempts to imitate his predecessor. Pine brings the cool back to the captain’s chair. Some would argue that Spock is the most interesting character in the Star Trek series, however it is Kirk that is the point man and all the personality showcasing revolves around how he feeds off of the supporting casts’ quirks and eccentricities. Bringing us back decades, we get to experience Pine, like Shatner make it believable how he orchestrates a talented yet seemingly misdirected crew into great astral feats. This gives the audience a reassuring feeling that under the direction of Kirk, all is possible. Let’s also mention that Kirk handles every situation the way we all wish we had the guts to do. And attracts the most beautiful interplanetary women, while exercising superior out of the box strategies and owning the strength of many men. Shall I go on? Well Pine as Kirk seems convincing in all these areas, while still adding his own personal touch to the Kirk persona. You’ll have to see it to fully understand.

Spock is the most unique character in TV history and this instalment finely casts it with Heroes look alike Zachary Quinto. Christ they could have revealed that Spock’s real name is Zachary Quinto and not have missed a beat. As the plot dictates, Zachary brought his own style into the Spock character giving us a little more emotion than the Nimoy Spock.
Leonard Nimoy himself was not out of place while delivering a swan song of reason in his plot crucial role. There was a moment when he may have been out of place, but to not spoil anything I’ll let you guess and decide for yourself.

The rest of the cast was soundly cast, and provided the customary comic tension that their characters did in the television series. They did not define the plot but rather helped move it along, giving us the occasional laugh. The laughs are genuine here. While they all of the film's supporting cast seemed to feel at home in their roles the standout was clearly Simon Pegg as Scotty. His comic timing was genius and every nuance and facial expression brought crowd reaction.

To sum it up there was a high probability for ‘camp’ in a remake of this classic, however my feeling is that the upgrades and dedication to the source characters is as good of a passing of the torch as an audience could expect.
See this movie.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Xmen Origins - Wolverine


What makes Wolverine so appealable? He's the prototypical tough guy. Clint Eastwood certainly made his career playing a group of such characters in Inspector Harry Callahan and the three mysterious strangers of the Sergio Leone spaghetti westerns. These men are of few words, strict standards, and volatile dispositions. They live in solitude and seem haunted by some unknown demons. They are mere humans, though they continually escape the most improbably dire situations. They live by their own rules, while having a blatant disregard for their own preservation. Well Wolverine isn't exactly this, but he does possess a fair share of these daring qualities. In the Xmen era of comics Wolverine perfectly represented this archetype of the tough-guy character. Although he is arguably the weakest member of the Xmen clan he is carries the most loyal following. Now in the movie version Hugh Jackson certainly looks the part and is a decent actor, however figuratively the Wolverine shoes are difficult to fill. Its not that he lacks the familiar scowling facial expressions or the knack for quick sarcastic dialogue, its rather his lack of the intangible toughness. He just isn't believable as the rebellious gritty anti-hero I described earlier. So lets cast that criticism aside. I have to be fair and give casting agents a break. If they would have cast a giant muscle bound actor like Vin Diesel I'm afraid I would have been complaining about acting skills and ability to believably deliver lines instead. The other part of what makes Wolverine so appealing is that although he sports some handy mutant skills (like regeneration), they pale in comparison to some of the all worldly talents of his Xmen brethren. I think what makes him different is that he is damaged goods. Others have taken advantage of him and altered him into a better killer than he may have chosen to be. Since his skills often fall short of his enemy's, harder work, fearlessness and desperation is needed for him to get the job done. So in a way he like the actor, is the underdog, which allows readers/watchers to better relate to him.
This movie seems to get most of that across. Again, no spoilers. The story line takes us back t0 1845 to bear witness to the tragedy that sets into motion who Wolverine will become. His transition from boy to Wolverine is well chronicled and gives us all some interesting tidbits that even the most serious Marvel fans might not know (like the origin of his name). There are some great action and fight sequences and the story keeps us engaged.
Although Hugh Jackman lacks some intangibles, his work in this and the previous films in the Xmen Marvel installments allows us to find it easier to buy him as the character. Like I said earlier he doesn't talk much, but what he does say is true to the comic book hero. Liev Schreiber is the biggest surprise. Liev plays Wolverine's brother Victor. Liev is realistic and intimidating in the role and really pulls off the troubled blood thirsty quasi villain. The brotherly relationship is strained and sometimes bloody but realistic nonetheless.
The supporting cast of Project X are just 'acceptable'. Short of Schreiber, no one is worthy of praise. Its probably accurate to remark that they just did their job. The story is lacking a real villain. Everyone in opposition to Wolverine were just working on a different agenda. There wasn't anyone that was really fun to hate. Wolverine's real enemy was his own demons.
Let's see, some other things of note. It was cool to see the transformation of Kevin Durand (fellow Canadian) into the Blob. The inclusion of Gambit was also a nice touch, but unfortunately his interesting skills remained unexplored.
I can't be as bold as to tell everyone that they will love this movie, as I believe that devoted fans of the genre or even avid cinephiles may find some of the glaring shortcomings hard to ignore. I am comfortable however, setting it straight by letting you know that if you are a big fan of Wolvy or can be wowed by some cool superhero fight sequences and insight into the Wolverine origin there just might be enough for you here. On the other hand, if you only have $10 to spare and one outing, see Star Trek, its superior in every aspect.
Later

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Let's Take On the Establishment

Let's take on the task of setting people straight. A group of friends coming together to give the 'everyman' (no sexes excluded) a reliable take on anything new and noteworthy in the entertainment industry. No more bloated, stilted preaching on what one may have learned in film school but couldn't put into practice. Instead as a group of film and music fans we can collectively give our opposing views and let the readers decide. We will see these films and listen to these CD's early and with the people. Then post our opinions on the most important attributes of entertainment, being watchability or listenability. Of course we will not hold back on weaknesses and the absurd. Let me know lads if you are interested in taking part, and we will set down some ground rules and put this baby in motion.



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