Friday, July 30, 2010

Movie Review: Shutter Island

Before I start of this little mess of messiness, I want to apologize for the unfortunate lack of posts this week. It's been a pretty crazy time at the home of The Face Guy, and writing reviews of movies - be they good or bad - have gone onto the back burner a bit. But I am back now, and ready to write my heart out!

Seriously, this will probably happen.

I've been reviewing a lot of the more recently released movies lately, trying to be current and edgy to all of those teenage kids with their Hip Hop and Rock & Roll. However, the blockbuster season seems to be dying down a bit and the movies that are coming out are becoming less and less appealing... which is saying a lot, since I went out to see Eclipse and Sorcerer's Apprentice.

However, the time is coming around where a lot of DVDs are being released en masse like an army of genetically altered super soldiers. Most of these DVDs are movies that came out early in the year - movies that I therefore missed due to my not reviewing movies at the time. Therefore, for the next couple of weeks or so, I'm going to be reviewing movies from earlier this year that are now coming out on DVD. The first of these films is Martin Scorsese's so-called suspense thriller Shutter Island.

Now, I don't know if I got this across all that well in my review of Inception, but I really like Leonardo DiCaprio as an actor. I've enjoyed just about every single performance that he's ever given - I loved him in Inception, he was spectacular in What's eating Gilbert Grape, and even though I didn't like Titanic that much I still enjoyed his performance. He's a very good actor, and does not deserve to be mistreated by being put into bad movies... you know, like what people keep doing to Liam Neeson.
Is it just me, or does his expression say "Please kill me now"?

While I'm told that the book Shutter Island was based on was relatively decent, the movie interpretation was... not. I felt like I should be embarrassed for DiCaprio as I watched this movie, the same way you want to look away when someone who cannot sing has been pressured to getting up at the karaoke bar. I honestly felt bad for the guy as I went through this film. He was clearly trying, but given the writing it was a seriously uphill battle.

The movie follows the story of Teddy Daniels, a U.S. Marshal who has been tasked to investigate the disappearance of a patient at Ashecliff, a Mental Institution for the criminally insane that is definitely not based on Alcatraz. It is also apparently the place where they keep all of the movie composers who cannot tone down the mood of their music from "overwhelmingly dramatic and imposing". From the very beginning, Shutter Island bombards us with some of the most inappropriately overdramatic music that I have ever heard from a film. It's like if someone played the Imperial March during a scene where two people are playing chess.

"Knight to B-6."
"No, Luke... I AM your father!"
"...What?"

After going down the long walkway of composers who need to be shot, he meets with the head of the institution, Dr. John Cawley, who is played by...
Ben Kingsly, NO! What did they do to Ghandi???

Yep, yet another actor whose talents are wasted in this painfully over the top film.

So anyway, during Daniels' investigation of the disappearance of the patient, he slowly becomes convinced that there is something horribly wrong with this institution, because of a history that he has with one of the supposed patients. There's this big conspiracy theory about how patients keep disappearing without a trace, along with some vague suspicion that there might be something going on involving human experimentation. Over the course of the movie, Daniels becomes more and more convinced that Cawley is evil, and that the institution needs to be brought down.

To give away more would be spoiling it too much, which is something that I don't want to do that often (no matter what my review of Sorcerer's Apprentice might convey). Suffice to say that at the end of the movie, there is a big twist because, after all, it's a Scorsese movie.

Here's the problem, though. Both the people I was watching the movie with and Isaw the "twist" coming. In fact, we had seen it coming since the first five minutes of the film. I challenge you to watch the movie and see if you can beat our time. It's really not that hard. See, real psychological thrillers are supposed to gradually give tiny, almost invisible clues about what's really going on in the movie - stuff that's there, but that you wouldn't notice unless you watched the movie a second time. Shutter Island, however, takes a radically different approach that goes as follows:
That's not the way you're supposed to do it, guys.

This movie is crap. I know that it got really good reviews and was liked by a lot of people, but by God I am NOT one of them. The plot is ridiculously predictable, the characters only barely two dimensional, the writing is bad, and the music... I still have nightmares about the music. It's theoretically possible that you might like this movie, so I'm not going to go so far as to tell you to avoid it... but if you think more than your average tulip, you'll see this movie the same way I did.

Final Grade: C-

Friday, July 23, 2010

Top 7 Greatest Movie Villains

I've reviewed a lot of the big summer blockbusters now, and have actually reviewed all the movies (big or otherwise - I'm looking at you, Ondine) that I have seen in theaters since I started this blog. In an optimal world, I'd be reviewing Predators right now - but I have yet to see this film. Now normally I would be game for a challenge - I might even be okay with making stuff up - but that would be wrong.

Speaking of people doing things wrong (check out that awesome segue!), I want to talk about villains. I love villains so much - I see them as the heart of almost every story, as heroes can only truly be measured by the enemies they face and the challenges they overcome. Great villains stay with you forever, helping define a person's view of evil. Because of this, good villains are often the things that people remember from movies more than anything else. So grab your black cloaks and practice your evil laugh, this is TheFaceGuy's top 7 Movie Villains.


#7: Dolores Umbridge, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

"Because deep down, you know you deserve to be punished. Don't you, Mr. Potter?"

I just want to say, before I get any further, that I love Harry Potter. I grew up with the books, and followed them loyally through both good times and bad. It's not great literature, but it's still something that I treasure. I've read each book multiple times, and enjoy them all to some degree. My least favorite of the book series is the fifth - Order of the Phoenix. Not only did we deal with ANGST Harry, but they killed my favorite character in the series. So how how is it that the film adaptation is my favorite of all the Harry Potter movies?

I love this movie, and one of the biggest reasons that I love it is the pink-laced queen of honeyed poison herself, Professor Dolores Umbridge. I have always been a fan of villains that are the sadistic tools of the government, following the ideals of the ends justifying the means. Dolores Umbridge is just that - a disturbingly cheerful psychopath who turns a beloved, magical sanctuary into a fascist prison camp.

...So basically, she turned it into high school.

#6: The Joker, The Dark Knight

"Why so serious?"

If you remember my last top 7 list, you might recall my opinion of this film. I do really love this movie - it may be seriously overrated, but that doesn't mean that it's a bad film. And the biggest reason that this is a great movie is The Joker.

There's not much more that I can say here that hasn't already been said time and time again about Ledger's spectacular performance as The Joker in Dark Knight. He manages to pull off one of the most difficult kind of villains imaginable - the villain whose motive is evil for evil's sake. He's given no backstory, no motive, and no real character development beyond how completely psychotic he is. And yet despite all of that, my God is his character fascinating and engaging. He's the best part of Dark Knight, and boy do we remember him for it.

#5: Hannibal Lecter, Silence of the Lambs

"Hello, Clarice."

Of all the people on this list, only one of them has managed to actually give me nightmares. That man is Hannibal Lecter: the cannibalistic socialite. And by God is he creepy. He's one of those villains that excels at getting into people's heads. For almost the entire movie, he is behind bars - simply talking to Detective Clarice Starling. And yet, despite the fact that he is behind bars throughout most of the movie, he is still absolutely terrifying. He uses his words and charisma to screw with people's heads - even to the point where he convinces a fellow inmate to swallow his own tongue.

... and the fact that at the end of the movie he butchers his way through half-a-dozen police officers certainly doesn't hurt his villainy cred, either.

Bottom line? He's charming, charismatic, creepy, terrifying, and one of the most purely evil characters to ever grace the silver screen.

#4: Yzma, The Emperor's New Groove

"First, I will turn him into a flea. A harmless little flea..."

Not all bad guys are to be taken seriously, but that doesn't necessarily mean that they aren't worthy of being labelled as great villains as well. My favorite example of this is Yzma.

Like just about all Disney villains, Yzma's motives are relatively simple - revenge and thirst for power. But unlike most other members of Disney's rogue's gallery, Yzma manages to be both entertaining and threatening at the same time. She and her henchman, Kronk (voiced by the incomparable Patrick Warburton) provide some of the most adult and genuinely amusing comedy that Disney has ever brought to the table. However, at the same time she also manages to be genuinely frightening - even when she is transformed into a small pink kitten. Anyone who can pull THAT off deserves to be considered great.

#3: Darth Vader, Star Wars, Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back

"You have failed me for the last time."

If you're like most geeks, then you probably associate Darth Vader as the face of evil. While this character may have been castrated by George Lucas and Hayden Christiensen in the past few years, Vader was once one of the coolest and most frightening villains in cinematic history. I listed Empire Strikes Back specifically because, more than any of the other films, Vader is at his best here. Starting off with a brutal and effective assault on (and victory over) our heroes, continuing on to casually murder his own officers, and finally toying with Luke in their horribly one-sided duel - Vader never loses a tick in his long line of incredible villainy.

Don't get me wrong, Vader is awesome in Episodes 4 and 6 - and he even has the occasional moment in the prequel trilogy. But in Empire Strikes Back, Vader was at his mostcool, terrifying, and threatening, which makes him eternally memorable

#2: Nurse Ratched, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

"If Mr. McMurphy doesn't want to take his medication orally, I'm sure we can arrange that he can have it some other way. But I don't think he would like it..."

If you've ever been in the hospital for more than a day, you know that nurses are scary, scary people. Even more so, if you have ever dealt with health care professionals in mental health wards, you know that these people are even more terrifying. The reason they are so scary is because these people have a tremendous amount of power over people when they are at their most vulnerable. Knowing these things, Nurse Ratched is one of the scariest characters that I have ever encountered on film. Why?

Simply put, it's because she is one of the most accurate depictions of a mental health professional gone wrong that I have ever seen. She doesn't care about her patients - instead only cares about maintaining order and control in her ward. She hands out medication to her patients at her own discretion, and resorts to barbaric treatments simply as retaliation for bad behavior. Well written female villains are hard to come by, but of all of them that there are, Nurse Ratched takes the cake, making her the Queen of All Villainy.

#1: HAL 9000, 2001: A Space Odyssey

"I'm sorry, Dave. I just can't do that."

Of all the villains in all the films in all the world, none of them come anywhere near as impressive as the computer system known as HAL 9000.

The world has seen a lot of movies about Artificial Intelligence taking over the world, being evil, and generally going not according to plan. One of the biggest examples of this is Skynet, the defense system responsible for the Terminator movies. While Skynet has indeed become a more recent icon for when computers go bad, it does not hold a candle to its predecessor.

Compared to HAL 9000, Skynet - and its army of Terminators - is a whiny, pathetic little wuss. HAL 9000 was terrifyingly intelligent, coldly logical, and murderously callous. It was omnipresent and - within the confines of the ship on which the film takes place - omnipotent. There has never been a villain so powerful, terrifying, and memorable as the little red eye on the wall who is sorry, but he just can't let you do that.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Movie Review: The Sorcerer's Apprentice

WARNING! CONTAINS SPOILERS!

Disney is so cute sometimes. Watching them make their movies is like watching a very small dog jumping up and down desperately trying to reach the doggy treat while making sounds similar to an over-caffeinated rat.

Once upon a time, Disney made a really good live action movie - it was called Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl, and it remains one of my favorite films around. It was wonderfully written, the acting was charming and fantastic, and the characters were brilliant and well developed. It was a great movie, loads of fun and one that I've watched again and again.

Disney has been making live action movies for a very long time - the problem with almost all of them is that they were so bad and easily forgettable that not that many people really noticed. In truth, the company should have stuck to their animated features.
Because that ALWAYS GOES SO WELL.

After Pirates of the Caribbean's success, Disney threw even more effort into promoting their live-action films. Big name actors and actresses started appearing in these films, and things looked like they were going to be good for Disney. That would have been great... if the quality of those movies hadn't started plummeting like someone who has been given a serious overdose of gravity.
"My only regret is Race to Witch Mountain!"

There have been a few movies that have been sorta kinda good maybe since Black Pearl came out - Chronicles of Narnia, the other Pirates movies (yes, I did like them. Yes, both 2 AND 3) being the most notable. However, the vast majority of them were painfully bad no matter how high you happened to be at the time. The latest attempt that Disney has made to imitate past glories is Jerry Bruckheimer's The Sorcerer's Apprentice. And boy do they try HARD.

The Sorcerer's Apprentice feels like Curse of the Black Pearl redone with more magic (you know, for special effects) and in a more modern setting. It has the same producer, similar music style, and it tries to pull of a similar mood and feel. Don't think I'm right? Let me explain.

The movie starts by introducing us to our hero: Hiccup from How to Train Your Dragon.

... No, really, it's the same damn kid.
See? SEE? They're exactly the same!!!

Anyway, in this movie his name is actually Dave Stutler. It starts with him being a young boy who comes across a Sorcerer's store. There he witnesses a terrible battle between two powerful sorcerers, but not before he is given a token, a magical ring of considerable supernatural significance.
Switch Shop for Ship, Sorcerer for Pirate, and Ring for Medallion. Next!

The movie then cuts to ten years later, revealing the young man to have turned into a socially inept outcast geek.
Since the incident at the Sorcerer's shop, Dave has been unable to really live life to its fullest. He is generally a recluse, and doesn't do well when he has to interact with people. In general, he lives a rather bland, boring life. However, this all changes when the two Sorcerers return to the world! The first one to find him, Horvath, is the evil sorcerer who then tries to kill him. However, he is saved just in time by the good sorcerer, Balthazar, played by Nicolas Cage. Balthazar rescues young Dave, but is quickly revealed to be a bit off his rocker. Nonetheless, Dave agrees to go with Balthazar and learn more about the life of a Sorcerer, including the art of magic itself.

Barbossa. Jack Sparrow. Piracy. NEXT!

Oh, right, did I mention Dave's also in love with a girl who was a good friend in their childhood?

Put away your crazy face, Keira.

Or that Horvath has a stupid yet funny minion with a painful British accent?

And the creativity award goes to...

So, anyways, a lot of stuff happens in the middle that can be pretty easily described as "antics." There are a lot of explosions, lots of special effects, and lots of Horvath being vaguely evil. We are introduced to the character of Morganna, the most powerful evil Sorcerer to have ever lived. She is bound within one of those Russian doll in a doll thingies, and if she is released horrible things will happen. Something involving the dead walking the Earth.

Apparently this is undesirable.

So we find out that Dave is the Prime Merlinian, the only Sorcerer capable of defeating Morganna. It's never really explained why, but at this point I'd be willing to be that it involves being the only descendant of "Bootstrap" Bill Turner.

So anyways, the ending of the movie is very rushed. The long and short of it is that Dave ends up facing down Morganna and (surprise) emerges victorious using some of the skills that he knows from his ten years as a physics nerd. Wow! Way to stretch your wings, Disney! Good guys win and bad guys lose? What a shocker! What incredibly new and unusual thing are you going to next?
Oh, right! The guy gets the girl, and they all live happily ever after!

The saddest thing about this movie is that it could have been absolutely amazing. It had such incredible potential, and was surrounded on all sides by more than competent cast and crew. Nicolas Cage does a great job in this movie as the Sorcerer Bathazar, and Alfred Molino delivers a really fun and entertaining performance as Horvath. The movie was beautiful to watch (although what isn't these days?), and overall gives a strong technical performance. There are some really fun bits in the movie, including a great tribute to Fantasia when Dave tries to clean his place up in anticipation of his approaching girlfriend.

However, this movie falls apart in the knowledge that everything you are seeing has been done time and time again. There is absolutely nothing original about this movie, nothing new and entertaining that you couldn't find somewhere else. It may be entertaining while you're watching it, but the knowledge is still there that you're basically watching a movie of fluff. Right after the movie ended, I thought I really liked it. Since then, with each day that passed by my opinion of it lowered. In the end, I find this film to be almost aggressively mediocre. It's extremely forgettable, painfully derivative; in the end, it's more of an aftertaste than a feast.

Final Grade: C

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Movie Review: Despicable Me

Imagine the worst villain ever... the single figure that inspires the most overwhelming feeling of loathing and hatred that you can possibly muster.

RAGE.

Now imagine that this paragon of horribleness becomes a ridiculously good person for no reason other than the sudden appearance of "cute" children. You now have the premise of Despicable Me.

This is one of those movies that is woefully misrepresented in the advertisement campaign. I was very excited about this movie for a very long time - it looked like it was going to be a fun, tongue-in-cheek, smart animated comedy about a supervillain. It looked like it was going to be one of those movies that appeals to both kids and adults (such as movies like Shrek, or How to Train Your Dragon). However, these hopes turned out to be... rather false.

Despicable Me follows the story of Gru (voiced by the...unique talents of Steve Carell), a self-proclaimed supervillain who has seen better days. He develops a rivalry with the younger supervillain Vector, who represents the geeky, socially inept new generation of villainy. In Gru's quest to outdo Vector in being bad, Gru arranges to acquire some children to infiltrate Vector's Base, steal a shrink ray, and use it to steal the moon. Then this potentially entertaining and interesting plot is interrupted by the fact that the little girls are actually characters too, and they start making Gru's life difficult. At this point, the movie could be salvaged... but then Gru starts inexplicably growing attached to the annoying little gremlins.

If only these were the Gremlins in question, this movie could have been saved.

Gru soon develops paternal feelings towards them, leading him to give up his life of villainy and become a single parent. If the movie had bothered to develop any characters here, this MIGHT have made sense, but as it is the sudden change of heart (it literally goes from hate to love in about 3 minutes) feels forced. But then again, forced story and forced humor is what I've come to expect from Steve Carell.

Despicable me did not appeal to me as a young adult. It was unimaginative in execution, despite a premise that had considerable potential. The humor was relatively juvenile, and while this is just fine for kids, I found it to be repetitive and rather dull.

Now I fully admit that, as far as films directed solely towards children go, Despicable Me is probably rather good. However, the fact that the advertising campaign marketed it as something that would be entertaining to audiences of all ages damages it for me. I walked in expecting something that would appeal to audience members of every age, and walked out singularly disappointed. If you have young kids, go see this movie. They'll have a great time. Just be sure that you bring yourself enough concessions to keep yourself entertained in the meantime.

Final Grade: C

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Movie Review: Inception

Before I begin, I want to do a quick exercise. Follow my instructions:

DON'T THINK ABOUT THE NATURE OF REALITY.

Now what are you thinking about?

If you were thinking of the nature of reality, then you understand the basic premise behind Inception.

There have been a lot of big-name movies coming out recently, all in one massive wave. Last Airbender, Eclipse, Sorcerer's Apprentice, Despicable Me - all of these and more have come out within the past few weeks. While many of these movies have received a large amount of publicity over the past several months, few of them have been anything tremendously special. However, there is a gem - a precious diamond of a film among them. That movie is Inception, and it is awesome.

More awesome even than Cyborg Pirate Ninja Jesus.

Christopher Nolan has a bit of a reputation these days. His movies to date have been good, but have also suffered from various problems - mostly related to the writing. With Inception, however, this is not the case, and is one of those movies where I don't have a lot to say about it. Telling you much about it would, unfortunately, give away more than would make me comfortable. Suffice to say that it is simply... brilliant. Boasting a high quality cast, excellent writing, spectacular visual effects and a wonderfully engaging plot, Inception provides a movie experience the likes of which have not been seen in a very long time.

It's mood something of a cross between The Sting and The Matrix. Inception is all about specially trained people entering people's dreams to gather information. However, this job carries with it the danger of losing one's perception of reality, and becoming trapped inside the dream. The movie follows one such agent, named Cobb (played by Leonardo DiCaprio), who has delved deeper into the depths of this dreamscape than anyone else. When he is hired to assemble a team to put information into someone's head instead of removing it, things get a lot more complicated. The resulting tale is filled with danger and adventure, and forces the audience to question the nature of reality over perception... and if the difference really matters.

One of my favorite things about this movie is that it is one of the first in many years that I have seen not talk down to its audience. It expects and forces us to think and keep up, rather than patronizingly carry us along and explain every little thing. It forces us to make our on decisions on what is real and what is not, and whether we care about the difference. In many ways, it asks similar questions to those posed in Ondine. However, unlike Ondine, Inception answers nothing and leaves everything to the viewer.


Like if The Matrix focused more on plot and writing than on Keanu Reeves knowing Kung-Fu.

This movie is everything that science fiction should be. It is smart, fast-paced, engaging, beautifully presented, masterfully directed, and phenomenally well-written. This is a ridiculously good movie, and one of my favorites of the year. If you do not see it, you will be missing out on something wonderful. It's so amazing that I'm going to do something for this movie that I will only very rarely do. Ready?

Final Grade: A+

Movie Review: The Road

Hey! Are you feeling happy and optimistic? If you are, then watch The Road! It will make that cheerful feeling COMPLETELY VANISH WITHIN MOMENTS.

As far as post-apocalyptic fiction goes, The Road is one of the most realistic and serious movies you will find. Based on the Pulitzer prize winning novel by Cormac McCarthy, The Road follows the story of a man and his son wandering through the United States several years after a devastating and unnamed armageddon. Their desperate attempt to survive in a world where almost all life on earth has been wiped out is fraught with danger, and has a healthy dose of being depressed a lot.

With a movie this overwhelmingly gray and depressing, it's hard to find anything to laugh about. There's almost nothing about this movie that isn't incredibly grim, and the few "high points" in the movie are so bittersweet and short lived that they'll still make you feel as though you should be tearing up a bit.

That said, the movie is very well made. The cinematography is fantastic, even though the world is mostly gray and covered in ash and soot. The writing is very good, not to mention very true to the original work on which the movie is based. The acting is also impressive, particularly Viggo Mortenson's portrayal of the father trying to teach his son the values of humanity in a world that has nearly abandoned all such ideals. On a technical level this movie is fantastic, and I am hard pressed to find anything wrong with it in any way.

So... why did I not like this film?

That's actually not difficult to figure out, with a bit of thought. While the movie is brilliant in all of the technical aspects, The Road is unfathomably depressing, and has little to no message behind it. While it does follow the story of the book almost to a T, the story is basically about how the end of the world is bad and that humanity, when stripped of all that makes it comfortable, degrades into bloodthirst and madness. Essentially, The Road is a ridiculously well done character study about two humans in an inhuman world, trying to survive both literally and metaphorically as they try to keep their human values.

A lot of people would probably really like this movie, as it is almost nothing but wonderful character development. Even I like to put over-the-top explosions to the side for a bit and watch character growth for a while. But here's the thing about the Road - through all the character development and talk of carrying on humanity, both the characters and the audience are aware of the futility of it all. Everyone involved in the movie knows that humanity is giving out its dying breaths, so what's the point of all of this? It's not a resistance of an inevitable doom like most movies of this genre, but instead a dark grim acceptance that mankind's days are over. That's what ruins this movie for me - the knowledge that in the world of the film, none of what we see matters at all. Nothing changes. The world continues its slog down the road to nothingness, head hung low with dead and hopeless eyes.

Final Grade (Technical): B+
Final Grade (Overall Experience): C

Monday, July 12, 2010

Movie Review: Eclipse

Before I get to the meat of this pain-filed horribleness extravaganza, I first want to give you the definition of the word Saga.

Saga (noun): A narrative of Legend or Heroic Exploits. Synonym: Epic.

I don’t know about you, but when I think about Legend and Heroic Exploits, the image that comes into my mind is something along the lines of this:

Not this:

And yet, thanks to the culture of today, a story about a bunch of super-hormonal emo kids has grown to a level of legend and mystique unseen since the Harry Potter series. With the dread legion of zealous fans (who possibly have access to their own private crusade/inquisition) the Twilight series has put on a big fancy hat and called itself a Saga. Personally, I consider this display of ridiculous Hubris to be an act of war, and will respond to such a thing accordingly.

“THIS… IS… FACEGUY!!!!!"

Eclipse, for those among you fortunate enough to escape the unholy legion of Twi-hards, is the third installment of the Twilight series. It wraps up one of the only remotely interesting plot-hooks of the series, that of a Vampire who wants to kill the main characters because of something that happened in the first film. Since then, she’s been causing a lot of trouble by running around really fast. At least, that’s all we can glean from what we’re shown of her “causing problems.” Seriously, if your villain’s special power is the ability to run away really fast, you don’t have much of a problem. However, she then makes an army of vampires with the purpose of finally doing the main characters in once and for all. Needless to say, she was the character whose motives I related to the most in the whole film.

Here’s the sad part about this film. If they had focused on the army of vampires, led by the revenge-fueled Victoria, fighting against a unified force of vampires and werewolves, this could have actually been a good film. It would have been a semi-ridiculous action flick, but it could have been fun and entertaining. Instead, the movie decides to focus elsewhere: on the most inane love story of the 21st century.

One of the things that seriously disturbs me about Twilight is the message that it sends to girls. It basically says that having opinions is a bad thing, and that being free-spirited is basically heresy. In New Moon we saw Bella pining for MONTHS (not to mention acting suicidal) just because Edward, who she had been dating for less than a year, went away. In short, her life was meaningless due to lack of man. To me, this implies only one thing - Bella has the emotional and intellectual maturity of your average bean.

And when Edward is around, he’s an overbearing, controlling stalker who has no qualms about doing anything at all while justifying himself by saying it’s for Bella’s safety. There’s actually a word we have for that kind of behavior, and it does not even rhyme with “love”. When he gives her a diamond heart charm, I expected him to say that he made it himself by crushing a piece of coal with his overwhelming obsession. With the way Edward treats Bella, I find myself wondering if he has had any other girlfriends before, and what happened to them.

“Stop whining, it’s for your own good.”

But enough about my problems with the full series - this post is about Eclipse.

This movie was painful to watch. Eclipse falls apart right at the very beginning with Edward and Bella being in "love". We are faced with some hideous acting and some even worse writing. It seems a lot like the cast doesn't even want to be in the movie. I feel like I should feel sorry for these poor people, whose careers are so small that most of them aren't in anything else. Kristin Steward? Robert Pattinson? Dakota Fanni- wait, Dakota Fanning? That incredibly annoying little blond girl who was really popular a few years ago? That can't be right, the only really annoying little girl in this movie is a brunette.

This is the incredibly surprising part of Eclipse, and it's the sole redeeming quality of the film - the Volturi family. In a movie that shatters and ruins everything sacred and holy about both vampires and werewolves, the Volturi stand as a memory of the soulless, vicious, ruthless monsters that the undead should be. And the most terrifying and awesome of them all is played by Dakota Bloody Fanning (pun totally intended).

Absolutely terrifying.

I never thought I'd say this about her, but as far as sole redeeming qualities go, she's enough to make this movie was almost bearable, and actually watchable as long as she is on screen. The short time that we see her, she dominates the film, perfectly playing the role of the sadistic sociopath with terrifying powers over the mind. In a film full of whiny little emo-kids, she is cool, ruthless, and in short: A goddamned VAMPIRE.

Unfortunately, she's simply not around long enough to make this movie anything even approaching good. Even the "climactic" fight scenes tend to fall short of interesting, simply because you really couldn't care less about the outcome.

If you want my opinion (which I am assuming you are, seeing as you're reading my blog and all), avoid this movie. If you think you might enjoy it, wait for it to come out on DVD and get it through Netflix or something. It's not worth the money you'll pay to get into the theater - I could have just bought my blue raspberry icee and looked at the posters for 2 hours and felt like my time had been better spent.

Final Grade: D

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Movie Review: The Last Airbender

It's time for me to review Avatar.


No, no, no... Not the horrifying James Cameron movie that stole the name from the film that really deserved it. I'm talking about the real Avatar. You know, the movie based on one of the most amazing TV shows of all time.

Pictured: Flawless Victory

Before I start, I need to let you all know that I am absolutely, completely biased about this movie. But, then again, if you were looking for an unbiased opinion of things, you'd probably be somewhere else. Like, somewhere not the internet.

Avatar: The Last Airbender is one of my favorite TV shows. I avoided it for a long time, as I was under the opinion that nothing that Nickelodeon produced could ever be good. I can never thank the friend of mine who sat me down and made me watch the show enough. I have never seen another animated series that has better character development and a more engaging plot. Avatar: TLA has some truly wonderful episodes, along with characters that you really feel emotionally connected to, despite the fact that they're animated. All in all, the show is absolutely wonderful. So, naturally, when I saw that there was going to be a live action adaptation of the first season, turned into a trilogy, I was excited.

I totally kept my cool, though

So I heard, and I waited, and then I finally saw the trailer. It looked perfect! The effects looked amazing, and the first trailer featured the main character being badass while the bad guys show up in their awesome ships looking incredibly badass! All the while, the whole thing is delivered with beautiful, epic music in the background. Even the POSTER is awesome!


It looks totally amazing! How could this possibly go...

Um...

...Oh, shit.

Now, I once had respect for Shyamalan as a director - namely, right after Sixth Sense. I really enjoyed that movie. It was smart, creepy, and altogether well done. Then, Signs happened. Then The Village. And later, The Happening. Throughout this period of time, I lost just about all respect that I ever had for the man. Despite the fact that I was one of the few people who actually really enjoyed Lady in the Water, I still had my serious doubts about a Shyamalan-directed version of something like Airbender.

So time rolled by and, while the trailers continued to be epic, my lingering doubt still clung to me like a really annoying and vaguely depressing leech. When The Last Airbender came out last week, the initial reports were bad, to put it lightly. People were hating this movie in the reviews, especially people who were fans of the show. Due to a convention, it took me a few days to see it myself, and I was braced for the worst. So I sat down, started on my drink, and...

Damn. This movie isn't bad at all.

While Airbender does suffer from Shyamalan Syndrome (a main character who cannot act his way out of an open field), the movie is actually quite enjoyable. While it does not have the time to get into the level of character/plot development that an entire season of episodes does, TLA manages to run rather smoothly. The only real problems that I had are the acting performances of two characters. Noah Ringer's portrayal of Aang, the main character, is stiff and boring at best, and can get really awkward. On the flip side, Asif Mandvi's character of Commander Zhao, one of the primary antagonists, is so ridiculously evil and slimy to the point of being almost comical.

Look at how EEEEEEVIL I am! I'm so horribly EEEEVIL because I'm EEEEEVIL!
...EEEEEEEEEVIL!!!!!

Seriously, if he had a mustache, he'd twirl it so hard he'd sprain his lip.

But beyond that... I really have to say that the movie is pretty solid. It tells the main plot of the first season of the show, and does so in a way where you really don't miss out on any of the important parts. More than that, though, the movie is bloody gorgeous. On a considerably smaller budget than Cameron's Smurf-Opera, The Last Airbender pulls off some special effects that make Cameron's Avatar blush. Needless to say, the bending duels are the highlight of the film's effects, though the ice city on the North Pole is also quite beautiful. While the effects are still impressive normally, this is definitely a movie that I would suggest seeing in 3D. It really is worth it.

Bottom line. Is the movie as good as the show? Of course not. The thing that really makes the show great is the amazing cast of characters and how well they are developed - both among the heroes and the rogue's gallery. The movie is a fun time, definitely, but it does fail to capture the full scope and depth of the Avatar world. I would suggest seeing this movie - it's fun, gorgeous, and decently written, so long as you can struggle through some less than great acting jobs.

But more than anything else, I'd suggest you go and watch the TV series. You can find it online on Netflix Instant Watch, along with various other Anime sites. It's only three seasons, and it is more than worth every episode.

Final Grade - Movie: B-
Final Grade - TV Series: A++

It's nice to get a good movie reviewed, especially one that I was fearing would be awful. I'm really looking forward to Monday, when I get to review my next movie. Now I just have to figure out what it's going to...

...be?
... Oh God.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Trailer: Deathly Hallows

There are two reviews that will be coming in the next week. One is Knight and Day, and the other (God willing) will be of The Last Airbender. However, in the meantime, I am starting a new kind of blog post now: Movie Trailers!

And the first one is one that I have been looking forward to for a good while. Introducing...


I was not hopeful for this movie for a long while. The seventh book was decent enough, but not what I wanted out of it, and therefore disappointing. That said, I have been generally impressed by most of the Harry Potter movies (we'll just pretend they skipped Goblet of Fire, shall we?), particularly the last two. I actually enjoyed the film version of Order of the Phoenix more than the book!

This trailer is epic. Everything about it is epic. The effects are epic, the music is epic, and the series it's for is epic. My hopes for a good HP7 movie started off low, but this trailer has lit a flame of hope in my chest. Here's hoping that flame blossoms as time goes on.