Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Avatar review


Alright, everyone on this blog seems to be weighing in on the biggest release this year, so let me add my two cents. I saw this epic yesterday on IMAX 3D in the best possible seat (back row centre) seeing Avatar in the best possible way you can in Toronto (I think the true 3D projectors James Cameron prefers are in New York or some such thing). So, after all the hoopla -- is Avatar any good?

Effin' yeah it's good! Look, everyone knows the premise of this movie by now, but really, it's what James Cameron adds to the thing that's the key. Heck, it's the key to any movie. Afterall, the original 1977 Star Wars film was derivative of any number of concepts but did Akira Korasawa's Hidden Fortress have anything like R2D2 and Darth Vader in it? Did the story of Gilgamesh have the Death Star and X-Wing trench battle scene? So it is with Avatar. Sure, native people being infiltrated by an outsider who is taught the ways of the tribe by a woman whom he falls in love with and is thwarted by a pissed off tribesman whom he eventually befriends is totally lifted from Dances With Wolves, and the idea of telepathically linking with flying creatures who can only be ridden by the person they choose is dangerously close to the Dragonriders of Pern book series (um, why haven't those books been turned into movies??), but James takes all of these elements and inserts characters that you care about, a love story where you actually see the two characters bonding and actually falling in love (heck, most romance movies can't even do that) and this whole biological network idea that neatly ties in his messages of environmentalism and empirial ignorance. And really, the action is clear and crisp on screen with some neat sequences involving alien animal chases, flying bird creature dogfights, army space ships blowing stuff up and a cool update on the loader from the movie Aliens fighting the protagonist towards the end.

As for the effects, the CGI Na'Vi are examples of the best CGI animation ever shown on screen. They're still not fully photorealistic, but they're damn close. When standing still or seen in a still shot, they look like CGI renderings, but when they move around and act, they're amazingly life like. The facial expressions on Neytiri alone are so good, you forget that these folks are CGI, which I guess was the goal. The animals still had that Jurrasic Park vibe to me, but that doesn't mean they're not cool looking. And you get clear looks at all of this stuff. No shakey cam and skimping on the creatures here.

Although the themes in the movie are not new, they bare repeating of course. I really liked how they all tied together here though, with the humans' reaction to the idea of a global neural network being one of indifference "They're just trees!" and the notion of a diety being looked upon the same way war mongering Christians look upon something like Mecca -- with uncaring disdain. I also liked all the details of the tribe (how they bury their dead, how they teach their young ones, how they address each other) and I really loved the glimpse we got of the other trbes in the area.

All in all, Avatar is a solid example of storytelling on film. Off the top of my head, nothing seems out of place and everything makes sense in the story. And it's hugely entertaining. From the sympathetic characters to the bad guys (and one of the most pumped up villains in movies -- drinking coffee during a battle is genius!) to the cool action scenes and the glory of discovering section after secion of Pandora and its wildlife, this movie breezes by its over two hour running time.

5/5

Now, a word about Avatar as a cultural item, since everyone seems to be comparing this thing to Star Wars and saying that Avatar changes everything:


Will Avatar touch off a phenomenon? Nope, I don't think so. Perhaps I'll eat those words. But look, I think Avatar might make back its money, may even be one of the "all time top grossing films" and it will be fondly remembered years from now as a "classic" much the same way we view Total Recall and Terminator today. It isn't the industry changer that Star Wars was and frankly I can't see a lot of merchandising potential for this beyond the inevitable toys which have just missed the Christmas season. No Avatar toothrushes, pillowcases, night-lites, T-shirts that people proudly display to show off their love for the movie, etc. And I don't think the toys will sell as much as people think. There just isn't alot of diversity beyond "this blue guy" and "that blue guy" and "this army guy" and "that army guy" etc. (the birds and beasts are cool though!). The most important demographic for a phenomenon is kids. They propelled Davey Crocket and Superman in the 50's, and they propelled Star Wars and Indiana Jones in the 80's. Will they get into Avatar with the fever pitch my generation did with Star Wars? Perhaps, but with so much more vying for their attention nowadays, I just don't see it. Avatar, as good as it is, doesn't really stand out from the alien laden Star Wars movies playing constantly on TV or the CGI cartoons kids watch today.

Is this movie a game-changer in terms of effects? Hard to say. I remember seeing the life-like characters in Final Fantasy (the movie) and thinking that every CGI character after that film would look that good. Didn't happen. After I saw Gollum, I thought there was no excuse in not having photo-real, expressive CGI characters in movies after the Two Towers, and boy was I wrong. Hell, Cirque du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant came out this year and the CGI looked like total ass. And that was a 2009 release! (And don't give me some shit about how that was a style choice -- why would your style choice be ass style?). Honestly, I'd say that District 9 was the far more important movie this year. Avatar shows what you can do with a $500 million budget and unlimited access to all facilities in Hollywood. District 9 was made on a meager budget (by Hollywood standards) and displayed amazing special effects and a terrific story and went on to gross its budget many times over. If anything, District 9 is the model Hollywood studios will follow in the future; this kind of lean, mean movie with more bang for the buck. I really don't think studios will be jumping on the "let's make movies with a half-billion dollar budget a piece" band wagon. The results on screen are nice and all, but what a risk! I think some movies will take advantage of the breakthrough in mo-cap that Avatar represents, but it won't be a game-changer across the board.

All that said, great movie and I look forward to whatever else James Cameron has planned for the future.


-Deceptisean

Not the Air Bender


Avatar.

James Cameron has brought us many great films, Terminator 1 and 2 and Aliens seem to be the best examples. Titanic is the one that made the most money, over a billion dollars. So basically this guy needed to top that. Now we have Avatar. A simple story of a man who joins up with some aboriginal blue guys called Na’vi on a moon called Pandora. His mission is to infiltrate the tribe appearing as one of them. He uses an Avatar to accomplish this.

An Avatar is a mixture of our DNA with theirs, so that we can form a psychic link to our Avatar and control him on Pandora (regular humans cannot breath the air on Pandora). Jake Sully (played by Sam Worthington – who seems to have the best agent in Hollywood due to his great filmography) uses an Avatar to learn about the Na’vi (note his Avatar has 5 fingers and the Na’vi have 4) and then report back to the military. In order to learn their culture he teams up with a young female Na’vi who teaches him a lot of cool stuff like how to fly a dragon! You can pretty much guess what happens after that.

The story to the movie is simple. Then again, Titanic was simple, and to an extent Terminator was simple too. The story of T1 – An evil sentient computer sends a robotic killer back through time to kill the future leader of resistance before he is born. The only difference in story from T1 to T2 is that the target is Sarah and in part 2 its John.

That’s it. That’s Terminator. So why is it so good? Because James Cameron can take a simple story and tell it in such a way that makes you care. You care about these people in this world that he has created. This is true in Avatar even more so I think than in those other films. The story is familiar but the plot is amazing. Most of you who read this blog took some kind of film course. Story is the overall story of what is going on. The plot is the details that take us from scene to scene. It’s dialogue, setting, character development, etc. Inglourious Basterds has almost no story – the Basterds want to kill Nazis. That’s it. But the dialogue and tension of the plot are what makes it so good.

Avatar has a good story, and amazing plot and really awe inspiring effects. That being said I really should give this 4/5 in order to make up for the story, but I just cant give it less than 5/5.

I loved every single thing about Pandora and we get there within 20 mins of the film and we almost never leave (sometimes we leave for some exposition – but that’s it). James spent a lot of money on this baby, and I think for the most part I saw it on screen. The effects with 3D are just amazing and I couldn’t help but get into this movie. I love fantasy and sci-fi and I love getting into a world and staying there. The first 90 mins is Jake learning stuff about the world, and we get to learn too. This isn’t just a quickly mocked up world created for the sake of action. This is a well thought-out, creative world where these beings live. Yes they are fashioned after our Native Americans or Indians etc. But all sci-fi takes it cues from something real. This film is an adventure. And YES I think in 2D it would be great too. This is a good movie. Towards the back half I forgot it was 3D, that’s because I got into the movie so much that I didn’t notice. Plus the 3D is not “in your face”. Most 3D movies tend to overuse the 3D to no end (see Friday the 13th part 3 – but I love that movie), this is a MOVIE first, and 3D second.

Do I think Avatar is equal to the moon landing? NO. Do I think it’s the best movie of the year….NO. It’s not better than Watchmen. But Watchmen’s characters are so well written, and well acted and the plot AND story are so great, with a lot of depth. Nothing will beat Watchmen for a long time. But Avatar must certainly be number 2, or at least in the top 10.

Anyone who doesn’t enjoy this film really doesn’t enjoy fantasy or science fiction. I mean the world of Pandora is so rich and wonderful who wouldn’t want to have an Avatar to go running around in it?

5/5

J-Man.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The Dream Team


A fun little movie involving 4 mental hospital escapees. Their doctor thought it would be therapeutic for them to attend a baseball game, only he witnesses a murder and gets knocked out and taken to the hospital leaving the 4 of them free in the city.

The premise for this movie was better than its execution, but it was still fun to watch and it had some really funny moments.

Two that pop to mind are when the doctor doesn’t come back Chris Lloyd says “We are on a tight schedule, he will be back any minute.”
Then the shot dissolves and its night time, and Mike Keaton says “Oh yeah, this is a great game. We got some good seats here.”
Hahahaha

And the other scene is where Peter Boyle (who thinks he is Jesus) goes to a church and start preaching a sermon and starts to take off his clothes!!! You’re like what the hell is this guy doing!!!
Hahahaha

Anyway, it was a fun movie. Not the funniest thing ever, but enjoyable.

3/5

J-Man.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

I want my scalps.


Inglourious Basterds

I am a Tarantino fan…I own all of his films, and I pretty much like them all. I bought Pulp Fiction in widescreen vhs (wasn’t old enough for theatres) and watched it and thought it was just ok. Nothing great. I watched it again and loved it. What can I say, when I was younger I didn’t get a lot of movies unless they had Freddy or Jason in them.

Once I started getting into them, I really started to admire QT and I like his attitude in general. So I like him and his movies. He’s a bit weird but then again no one ever accused me of being normal, so we are even.

That being said, I have to tell you that I loved this film. The Basterds are not really the main characters, but they are kind of like the hitmen in Pulp Fiction. They are the guys that everyone is wanting to see. Well I liked the Basterds and the villains and ALL the characters in this one.


This may be QTs best film in the sense that it is very grown up. Nothing too “cool” happens. The dialogue is long, but there is a reason for it. Plus it is very suspenseful. At no point in time did I know what would happen. I mean I kinda knew, but didn’t. I love how it all played out.

Ok, now for the bottom line stuff.

A – there is A LOT of reading to do here. All the characters speak in their native tongue, so only the Basterds speak English and as I said, they are not the main guys here. You will be reading dialogue spoken in German and French for the majority of this film.

B – there is violence, but VERY minimal I found. Maybe I’m a gorehound, but I thought it was pretty toned down. Which isn’t a bad thing. It was more effective that way, because it added to the tension. You never knew when someone was gonna pull a gun out and start blazing.

C – this is definitely NOT historically accurate. This is a QT fantasy for sure. This makes 300 look like a documentary.

Anyway, you really should be buying this movie. If you are a QT fan, it’s a duh, but I think this is a good one for regular people to get into also. Very well done.

Id also like to give a shout out to Melanie Laurent. She was just so good in this movie. A real treat.

5/5 – one of the years best!

J-Man.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Dances with Avatars


O.K. Avatar. I saw it today...in 3D. Not IMAX, thanks to a ridiculous screw-up at the box office, which I won't go into now, but still, in glorious 3D. Everyone seems to be jizzing their pants about this movie, about the 3D, about the effects, etc, etc. No one seems to be talking much about the story, and for good reason: the story is very, very ordinary.

How ordinary, you ask? Think of Dances with Wolves, but replacing the Americans of yesteryear with the Americans of now. They're ignorant, they're greedy, and I'm pretty sure that the chief villain, Stephen Lange's character, owes more than a little bit to one George W. Bush. Intersperced throughout, there is quite a bit of recent events imagery (the Hometree's fall felt a lot like the fall of the World Trade Centre, for instance). I am actually kind of disappointed that Cameron felt the need to just throw his name into the hat of filmmakers who constantly remind us on how evil and corrupt the American military and American corporations are, instead of choosing a better topic. Yes, we know the Americans are evil, and yes, it is going to be their downfall, I don't think we need to hear this in every single movie where the American military is portrayed.

Now, how about the 3D? Honestly? There were times where I forgot I was watching a 3D movie. That might be because it was SOOOOOOO LONG, and also, it might have something to do with the fact that yes, the 3D looks nice...as did the 3D in Journey to the Centre of the Earth...and I heard the 3D in the latest Final Destination was awesome...so, it wasn't something mind-blowing. You still have flickering at the edges of the screen when objects were in 3D, and they also lost definition. Am I being too hard on it? Only because I've heard so much damned hype about the technology in the first place, for this movie.

So, how about the effects? Yes, they are great. Cameron has a wonderful imagination, I got a kick out of little details like the CGI alien counterparts still had a distinction so that you knew who their human controllers were, the world of Pandora is very colourful, and just wonderfully shot, and it has an assortment of different creatures, the blue aliens were not the only species on the planet. That being said, should we expect any differently from movies, these days? I mean WETA, the guys who worked on this film, also worked on the Lord of the Rings trilogy, and does anyone remember an ass shot from any of those flicks?

The movie is just too ordinary. The aliens are literally Indians (they wear warpaint, give war cries, and are even mentioned at one point as being "Aboriginals"), the Americans are greedy, corrupt, and give faint lip service to diplomacy, when you know they just want to go in and take out the species, and our hero, Jake, even though it's not really well told (he seems to not think much of the aliens "tree-hugging crap", until he gets a piece of alien tale, then everything's hunky-dory), does switch sides, and leads them on to eminent victory. If you've seen the trailers, you've seen the story. It's not bad, but with all the hype, and rave reviews, I was expecting something more.
I realize this review isn't going to sit well with everyone, so I invite you all to either write a comment here, or on the forums.


Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars (for the cinematography, and creatures in the film).

I bid thee a fond goodnight.

- Stephenstein

Monday, December 21, 2009


Arsenic and Old Lace.

CARY GRANT stars in this FRANK CAPRA film. I caps that because this is UNLIKE any Capra/Grant movie you have seen.

It starts where most Capra films end. The bachelor (who is reluctant to get married – and he even writes book about how marriage is a bad thing) finally ties the knot. That is the start of this oddity of a film.

So he brings his wife to meet his 2 joyful, wonderful aunts. They are the sweetest of the sweet. Jolly, fat and always ready to help strangers. The local police officer and minister swear by these 2 great ladies. His uncle is completely mad – he believes his is Teddy Roosevelt and every time he runs up the stairs, he screams “charge” and then bolts up the stairs like a fat madman. He turns out to be the sanest of the bunch!!!! Later Grants brother shows up and this movie and he looks like Boris Karloff on a very very bad day!

I will say this, you will NEVER guess where this film is going. I was completely shocked at what was going on.

Don’t read about it, just watch it.

3.5/5

J-Man.


The Weather Man.

Nick Cage (who I like – I know some who read this don’t like him, but whatever) plays a weather man who has some family problems. His little girl wears tight clothes which cause the kids to scream “camel toe” at her. His son is being treated by a child molesting gay psychiatrist, his wife is re-marring and his father (Micheal Caine) is dying. It doesn’t help that Cage is constantly being harassed by “fans” of his show and that people continually throw fast food on him when they pass by – perhaps because he doesn’t predict the weather as accurately as he should. Even though you cannot really predict the wind.

This was an odd movie, but a good one. Well shot, acted etc. But what I liked was how Cage found some joy with archery. He learns to focus, to aim and to shoot. All metaphors for what was going on in the film, and in life in general.

Good little movie. Not as good as Adaptation, but way better than Leaving Las Vegas.

3/5

J-Man.



George Washington Slept Here.

This is similar to Mr. Blandings Builds his Dream Home – a much better film, however, this had its moments.

A family movies to a run-down old home in the country. The lady of the house bought it because she wanted to live in the country and because she learned that George Washington once slept there. Well they find out that it was actually Benedict Arnold that slept there.

You can guess what happens. The house is completely destroyed, no water, no anything. Everything has to be build from the ground up and the couple keeps losing money. Their neighbour is a bastard etc. A lot of fun shenanigans.

Catch on tv if you can. If you want a funnier version BUY Mr. Blandings.

3/5

J-Man.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Fantastic.


Fantastic Mr Fox

You don’t see stop motion around too much anymore. My hero, Ray Harryhausen was the master of it, but his is a dying art. Even cell animation, rotoscoping, and puppeteering are getting close to extinction. Too bad in my opinion. I love the tangibility of stop motion. I mean the thing is actually there. Harryhausen has the Kraken in his house! I know, it’s a mini Kraken, and I know it takes forever to move and shoot each little motion, but it’s worth it. It gives the viewer a feeling of a different world. It’s part of the magic of film, but today the magic of film seems to be about money, and how much you can make.

But every so often you get something like this. This is a wonderful film adapted from the Dahl novel (who also wrote Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Matilda and James and the Giant Peach). I wont get into the plot, but its cool. The main thing here is the characters and the dialogue. Sooooo funny!!! I cant tell you how enjoyable this movie was. Please go to the theatre for it. I am buying this on dvd large and maybe bluray too. It’s in my top 10 of the year!

If what’s going on here is what I think is going on…it better not be!

5/5

J-Man.

Chaos


Chaos

My wife wrote a poetry book and take my opinion for what you will, but I must say this is a great collection of poetry. I made sure not to read many of them while she was working on them, and I’m glad. It was a real treat to read each of these works with a clear and fresh mind. There are so many favourites, and each one is very touching in its own way.

The title is fitting because I felt as though my mind and feelings were in Chaos. I sometimes felt sad and depressed, but some of them really made me think too. And all of them were excellently written and I really enjoyed some of the longer ones.

In any case I cant really write an objective review, but I think if you are into poetry you will love this book, and even if you are a casual reader, I think you’ll find a lot to love here.

Thanks hon.

Jason.

1920-1929

The Roaring Twenties.

James Cagney plays a WW1 vet, who returns home to find he has no job, no money and no hope of paying his rent. He drives a cab, but that only leads him to getting arrested for smuggling illegal booze – prohibition was around. He’s innocent, but found guilty, serves a day or two in prison gets out and becomes a real gangster.

This movie works so well because Cagney and Bogart (his meaner accomplice) are so great in these roles. Cagney is so awesome as this forced to be gangster and how he manages to follow his own code, and not become a real bastard. He falls in love with a girl who is in love with his best friend, and when he finds out they have been cheating his reaction is so well acted that I am tearing up while writing this!

It’s an unexpected reaction too. What a great film and what a great actor. Cagney is slowly become one of my all-time faves.

5/5

J-Man

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Get yourself armored


Armored. Doesn't the title sound cool? Like, "I'm going to get all armored, and then we'll see who is laughing at who for bed-wetting!" Not me. I don't wet the bed. Any more. Anyhow, the movie hooked me because of the insane amount of "we're not really headline stars, but we're known" actors in this movie. Matt Dillon. Laurence Fishburne. Jean Reno. Skeet Ulrich (that's right...Skeet...Ulrich), Milo V. (I refuse to spell his last name, as I don't really know how to spell it, but you know, he's Rocky's kid in Rocky Balboa).

Overall, this movie was solid, if unspectacular. Basically, it's about a guy, Ty Hackett (Columbus Short) refusing to give in his principles, even when there is overwhelming reasons for him to. His folks died, he's got two mortgages on his home, there's a stack of hospital bills, Child Welfare wants to take his little brother away from him, because he's skipping school, because the little brother is looking for a job to help support him and Ty...and all Matt Dillon and his guys want to do is take a little bit of money ($42 million worth), to help him and his family out...and themselves, of course (no duh), so he reluctantly agrees, even though his experiences as a soldier in Iraq had scarred him. Wow, I haven't been this depressed since Up.

So it all goes bad of course, and then it's him against his fellow guards, and since he's a solider, that's a good excuse for how ludicrously resourceful he is. He makes a bomb in no time flat, he burns money, in no time flat, if you want something done, in no time flat, then this is your guy.

However, I can't help but feel that his nobility is a tad misplaced. His main gripes are against anyone getting hurt, and getting caught by the cops, as they would definitely take his little brother away from him. However, he bails at the first sign of danger, which doesn't make much sense, considering that he has the most to gain by the heist succeeding. Consequently, the "bad" guys (who aren't really that bad, when you think about it), take far too much time pounding away on the hinges to the back door, when really, they had an alternative that I thought of, that would save them both time, and allow them to succeed. Ty's locked in the back of one of the trucks with half the money, so why not torch that truck, and split the remaining money? You still have 21 million, and a perfect scapegoat for the crime, but I guess you also wouldn't have a movie, would you?

That's the inherent problem with these movies, though: logic has to go out the window for it to be a movie, but these sort of movies rely heavily on logic for them to succeed. It's a Catch-22 situation, that very few movies can overcome. This isn't one of them. It is a decent movie, there's so good suspense, and I laughed out loud when he set up the bomb, as the guys who were killed in the explosions DEFINITELY deserved it (at least Laurence Fishburne did...he was pissing me off the entire film), and I liked the main guy, Columbus Short (though he got 7th billing or something, and I don't know why, he was the star of the show), but this one really is either a rental or a $6 cheapie DVD purchase.

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars.

I bid thee a fond armored goodnight

- Stephenstein

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Only a ninja can destroy a ninja.

Ninja Assassin.

When you say the word “Ninja” it conjures up an image of a Japanese guy in all black with a katana (sword), and Ninja Stars (shuriken), who can disappear, climb walls, AND kill you in 100 different ways, and if you really know your stuff, you may even conjure up an image of Sho Kosugi.

Well if you thought of any or all of those things, then Ninja Assassin is the movie for you. Wait, did J-man, just say ALL of those things…but he said Sho Kosugi…THAT’S RIGHT!!!!

SHO KOSUGI is in this, and not only is he the trainer and father of the Ninja’s, he’s also the main villain in the piece and has equal screen time with the good guys! That there, may be enough to see this movie.

But there’s more…if gore is your thing, then this also delivers. Think Kill Bill, but in every scene! At times it’s almost laughable, but I think they want you to laugh! At one point Riso (rise-o – played by popstar Rain) gets his stomach and chest cut open and the lead girl is trying to make this big metaphor or something…I was like “the man has no stomach! I don’t think he cares right now!"

Also, Ninja stars. Not sure what you all think of them, but in this movie they are treated as bullets. Every time someone turns a corner, there are 1000 Ninja stars thrown at them! At one point the girl’s car is attacked by Ninja Stars and her entire bloody car is filled with them. Like she is driving a spiked car from Road Warrior. The amount of Ninja’s in this movie is also crazy! And the amount of physical damage that Riso sustains is bloody (and I mean bloody) crazy! I have never in my life seen a man take so much punishment. And I know I mentioned the gore, but my god man! It’s worse than Friday the 13th, if you watched Friday the 13th 5 times in a row!

That being said, it’s not all good. The Ninja’s (true to form) attack in the dark, so all the fights are at night and you cant see what’s going on, unless you really focus. Also the storyline is pretty lame, and the non-Ninja characters are really whatever.

The high points are Sho, and Rain (he was cool) and the Ninja stars and gore.

But I would’ve traded 60% of the gore to see more of the fighting.

3.5/5

J-Man



Text Color

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Bad Day at Black Rock

Spencer Tracy comes to Black Rock to find a friend of his and the town treats him like crap. Even threatening to hurt him if he doesn’t leave. Well he is crippled (his left hand is no longer functioning) but not scared. He decides to stay to learn the fate of his friend.

This movie was fairly predictable, but that wasn’t the point. The point was that Spencer is a man on a mission and he wants to complete it. He is not scared by the locals, and even fights back against them, and they find he is one hell of a good fighter! The point of this movie was that it was a bad day for all at black rock.

Some of the townsfolk are bastards, others are too scared to stand up for right, etc. So everyone has a bad day! But the best line occurs when the sheriff is speaking to the doctor. We know that the doctor and sheriff are keeping a secret and its been eating away at them for 4 years.

The doc says to the sheriff if he’s feeling ok, the sheriff says no, I need a prescription. The doc asks for what? The sheriff says for a guilty conscious, and the doc replies that he too is in need of that prescription and then the doc finally says:
“maybe the stranger (referring to spencer) has one.”

Wicked.

4/5

J-Man


The Thin Man

Part of long series of films starring a husband and wife detective team. This is the first of that series.

I must say that the couples relationship is just amazing! They make fun of each other, they laugh at themselves, they undermine each other and all the while you know that they really love each other. It’s all done very playfully and smart. The writing here is top notch!

Now the murder mystery aspect of the film was a bit downplayed. Which was too bad, since I was getting into it. It’s kind of like Gosford Park, where the mystery is only seriously discussed in the last scene. But that being said, if you go in just wanting a fun movie with great leads, then this is it!

3.5/5

J-Man


The Devil and Daniel Webster

Farmer Jabez is down on his luck. His wife and mother live on his farm, and he has nothing. Mr Scratch (aka the devil) comes to him and makes him an offer. Your soul for 7 years of good luck. Well souls don’t exist, so Jabez makes the deal. He becomes rich and mean. He used to be a kind farmer, but now he’s just a bastard. He gambles, cons people, and treats his wife and ma like crap. The devil comes to collect after 7 years, but offers Jabez a renewal if he gives up his son. Jabez by this time has learned that he was wrong and decides to cancel the deal. The devil is not impressed and is about to take Jab’s soul when Politician and attorney Daniel Webster shows up to defend him in a trial! So 12 ghosts show up for the jury (Benedict Arnold is one of them!) and they have a trial.

This movie was again, predictable, but enjoyable. But it’s like Thin Man in the sense that the trial is just 10 mins in the end, and I wanted to see a bigger trial. But this was an enjoyable afternoon of viewing.

3/5

J-Man

Lawrence of Arabia

TE Lawrence goes to help the Arabian people and he does good! He’s white, but they end up respecting him (duh) but how and why is just amazing. This film won 7 oscars, and for good reason. It is one of the greatest films I have ever seen.

Ben-Hur, is it’s only rival (not counting Watchmen and Conan, and 2001 – my personal faves) but I am talking epic here and for good reason!

This film is just so amazing, I don’t know what to tell you about it. You have to just watch it and learn from it. Peter O’Toole is just AMAZING in this role and I never knew what to make of him.

Was he mad, or a genius or simply a man forced to do something he never wanted to, or was a man who knew what to do, and did it! I don’t have these answers, but I only know that this movie is worth watching several times to figure out.

Buy it.

5/5

J-Man.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

The Hurt Locker (where people get hurt)


I've always been rather adamant that the U.S. should pull out of places in the Middle East, like Iraq, as they really aren't solving anything, and all it's doing is putting American soldier's lives in danger. Then along comes a movie like The Hurt Locker. Now, I'm sure they should pull out, and better yet, not even enlist to go there, because if you think war was Hell, you should see what the guys in this film goes through.

Basically, the film is about the last days of a 3 man platoon of bomb specialists, knows as Bravo company, and the "unique" situations that they come across. Things like, bombs in the streets, bombs in cars, bombs attached to people, bombs in corpses, everything, and anything may be a bomb. As well, there are snipers, kidnappers, insurgents, and guys who might have any sort of device to detonate a bomb, from phones to watches. If I walked away from this movie knowing one thing, it's that the terrorists in this movie know how to make frigging bombs.

The other thing I realize, is that you have to be insane to go over there and serve, especially in that unit, and if you're not insane when you leave, you definitely are when you leave. A former co-worker has a brother who served in Afghanistan, and when he came back, he would do things like drop down to check under his car for bombs, or suddenly zone out and check for snipers. The soldiers in this movie are depicted as being paranoid, and with good reason. You never know who the hell is out there with a bomb, or a gun, or something to end your life. It's absolute madness, and if real life is even ten percent of what this movie showed, then they should be pulled out of there, right now.

The really screwed up thing though, is the lead, Jeremy Renner (who has been mentioned as possiblities to play both Captain America or Hawkeye...he centainly has that All-American look), returns home, and finds that all he's good at, is defusing bombs. He comes back with horror stories about murders in the streets, and what not, and his family just has no frame of reference to talk to him about it, so he returns for another tour of duty, because these guys can't intergrate back into "normal" society, the stuff that happens over there is just so deranged and unbelievable, that the only place they feel comfortable is in an environment like that, you can't watch a father of four blown to bits in the street, and then return home to pick out cereal, it's just too surreal.

So in the end, this was a really good movie, a little draggy in parts, but nothing to get too excited about. It doesn't have a lot of re-watchability, but it is something I would recommend watching at least once.

Rating 4 stars.

I bid thee a fond goodnight

- Stephenstein

500 days of anger


I watched this movie, because of a serious attraction I have for Zooey Deschanel. Hey, I can admit it, I'm weak...I think she's really beautiful, I love those big blue eyes of hers. Oh yeah, and up to this point, I've been searching for a film of hers I've liked. This one, I did not know much about, and generally when I come across one of those, I end up being pleasantly surprised. Was I here? Let's put it this way...I'm still searching for a film she's done that I've liked.

500 days of Summer is not a love story. The movie goes to great lengths, and great pains to point this out. In this way, it is ususual, because it is not a romantic comedy, the two leads do not end up together (oh there I've gone and spoiled the movie, so everyone will now not see this picture...not that they were going to, anyway). I would commend a film for being honest about how much finding love sucks nowadays (spoken like a true bitter single man...but then again, I am a bitter single man, so who better to say it?), but the problem is, it's just too realistic, and makes me pissed off, just thinking about it.

Surprise, surprise, I have major problems with the Summer character (Deschanel). She starts out with this big soapbox speech about how she doesn't want a boyfriend, doesn't think that people should have labels, etc, etc. Okay. However, she calls Gordon Joseph-Levitt a "friend." Okay, class, any questions? Yes, you in the back! The guy with his hand up! "Isn't that a label?" Shut up! You're making sense! We can't have that in this movie.

Okay, so calling someone a friend isn't a label, but calling someone a "boyfriend" is. Fine. As long as you aren't, you know, trying to initiate a kiss in the photocopier room, or jumping into bed with him, or suggesting that they have shower sex, based on a scene you've seen in a porno you've both rented. Oh wait, she does all that. So...wouldn't that make him your boyfriend. "I'm not sure." Okay...are you doing this with your other friends? No. WELL THEN, HE'S YOUR BOYFRIEND, ISN'T HE? It's like, I think this attitude actually exists with some girls, but I dont' need to be reminded of this.

Then she states she doesn't believe in love, or getting married. That's one of things she tells him, and one of the reasons she leaves Joseph-Levitt, later on. He wants a commitment, she doesn't believe in that. However, she does appear to believe in that later on, when she gets married...oh yeah, but not before leading on Joseph-Levitt, that he still has a chance with her, before she ignores him at a party, and shows off her engagement ring to someone else at the party. Later on, when he confronts her about this, she explains that what happened with her decision was "what always happens...life." Okay, can I say something now? Bulls**t. It's a cop-out to say that, and shows the character would rather hide between generic platitudes then own-up to her own deception.

See, it wouldn't anger me so much, but I have to stress, that the Deschanel's character initiated everything...the first kiss, the first night of sex, everything. Then, she just drops him, (saying that favourite bone crusher when she does "Tom, you're still my best friend"), and despite all of her speeches, she ends up falling in love, and pays absolutely not penalty for the damage she inflicted on Tom. That is why I did not like this movie.

I did however like the Gordon Joseph-Levitt character (with his greeting card soliloquy being the highlight of the movie), and that's what saved this movie from being a complete and utter disaster, but nevertheless, I was not impressed.

Rating: 2 stars

I bid thee a fond, angry goodnight.

- Stephenstein

Zombies and Annoying Girls


Zombieland...a movie I thought I would like more than I did. In fact, it's probably going to make my worst list of the year. Why? Well, let's put it this way: this movie was top ten material until the girl's showed up...and the pop culture references came with them...and isn't it cool how hip we are with this story, isn't it so about the here and now! I mean yeah, we can have zombies, but let's also have a weak ass romance, as well...and Bill Murray! Let's put in Bill Murray! Yeah, that's good.

But he'll play Bill Murray! Yes! That will be cool! What can our heroes do in Bill Murray's home? How about, smoke some pot! Yes! That's cool! That's so here and now, because everyone sparks up! [high-fives are handed out]

I swear, that must have been what the writer's were thinking. The main character, Columbus, is a nerdy kid who has never been with a girl, has poor social skills, and lives by a list of rules to keep himself alive in Zombieland (there was a virus or something, and everyone except a few people are zombies...not real explanation provided, nor needed). He meets Harrelson, who is searching for the last twinkie on Earth. That's right. Harrelson actually brings some life to the movie, and works as a good foil for Columbus, but it all goes downhill when the girls show up.

First of all, these girls worked as con-girls before the virus hit, which means they were already taking advantage of people before the world basically ended. Now in Zombieland, with so few people not zombies, do you think they've changed their ways? Nope. "Wichita" and "Little Rock" (Wichita's little sister) screw over Columbus and Harrelson twice, even though there's really no reason to do so, especially the second time. Then they tried to play Wichita and Columbus having a romance (which seems really forced, and when Columbus goes to save Wichita at the end of the movie, it makes no sense, considering how many times she screwed him over, especially the 2nd time, which was pretty bad).

This movie also references Facebook, "He's Not That Into You", and other pop culture things of today, which just pisses me off. I hate that sort of thing, because it's just a sad attempt by the writers to show how hip they are, they know all this pop culture stuff, meanwhile, it's all going to be gone in 5 years anyway, I mean Twitter has already partially replaced Facebook, so how long until the rest of this stuff is gone, too? I did like the references to Ghostbusters in the film, and they even kind of acted out one of the scenes from that movie, but all it made me do is watch Ghostbusters, instead of Zombieland.
In the end, there were zombies, there was action, and there was Woody Harrelson...and that's about it. If that's all you want, and you can ignore the other annoying things I mentioned, then you may like this film...and you may also be a redneck!

Rating 2.5 stars

I bid thee a fond pop culture goodnight

- Stephenstein

Down with Up


So Pixar is in this streak right now, where it can't lose. Every Pixar movie that comes out, people are dying. Up is no exception. Right now, this movie is ranked as the 65th best movie on IMDB, of all time. Let me repeat that: OF...ALL...TIME. Wow. That's quite a lot to live up to, even for a Pixar movie.

Well, not only is this film not one of the best films of all time, it isn't one of the best films of this YEAR, or one of the best films Pixar ever MADE. Why? Well, for one thing, it tries to be both thought-provoking and cutesy. Sometimes this works...and sometimes, this doesn't. In this case, it doesn't. It's like combining ground beef with chocolate...I like both...just not together.

What do I mean by this? Well, this film's first 20 minutes has probably some of the most depressing scenes I have ever seen. I'm like wow, can this be any more depressing? Yes, it can! Boom! Howdya like that, sailor? So, yes, it's depressing, and when Carl sends the house away on a balloon, you realize he has no choice, as his life couldn't get any worse. However, you now combine that with:

When he lands, he brings along Russell, a dim-witted yet good-hearted boy scout, needing a surrogate father for his absentee one. Fine. Russell is the comic relief for this picture. Fine. Russell can tend to be annoying. Not...fine. Okay, then along comes Doug, the dim-witted but well-meaning dog with a collar that translates his thoughts into English...so now we have the dim-witted kid...and the dim-witted dog. Okay...and they're both comic relief. Okay, how much comic relief do I need? Is this to make me forget those first 20 minutes when it seemed life was no longer worth living?

Then we have the other dogs, the ones who are part of Doug's pack, the ones controlled by the villain, the old insane explorer. These dogs can be distracted by saying the word "squirrel" (which is kinda dumb, considering I don't know of many squirrels in the jungle, where most of this film is set), and they can be fooled by just yelling "squirrel" (which has consequences later in the picture). Their main leader, Alpha, a vicious doberman, is defeated by one of the most insanely stupid moments in film history...literally. I couldn't describe how he is defeated, because it's so insane.

Anyhow, I liked Carl, and this movie had some strong themes, such as never giving up on a dream, and letting go of things, and moving on with life, pretty heady thoughts, which doesn't really correspond with the dumb humour. This film was okay, but I really wanted to like it more than I did.

Rating: 3 stars

I bid thee a fond Pixar.

- Stephenstein

Bruce Willis is my Surrogate


In the future, everyone will have a surrogate, who will do everything for you. It's basically like, you build a robot, you control it, it does all the stuff for you, and if it blows up, hey! You just go and get another one. Kind of like what the American politicians are doing with the soliders over in Iraq and Afghanistan. This is Surrogates, a movie I missed in the theatre, but watched recently all in the confines of my home...without the stick floor, and the people whispering behind me (I hired two people to simulate the experience by whispering behind me, but fired them, when they weren't doing their job properly...I could still hear the movie).

Anyhow, this movie is all concept. The world is without war, or crime, because no one feels anymore (though people still find a unique way of getting high through their surrogates...even when we have developed a technology that revolutionizes modern society, people still use it for absolutely useless and destructive behaviour), there is no more human contact, and everyone looks way better than their real self. When someone kills a surrogate, there is an investigation, that leads our good guy Willis, to this zone where people refuse to get surrogates because it is artificial life, and thus not the real experience of life. Heavy. Things get even more kooky, when Willis' surrogate is destroyed, and his real self (who looks like Hell) tries to investigate, and realizes that society is now a shell of its former self, because it's all fake now.

Interesting idea, and something I could see actually happening, considering the sad state that society is in, now. I mean, the idea of a surrogate is enticing, as the person you present to the world is often idealized, stays that way forever, you can do extraordinary physical feats, and nothing can really harm you, because if your destroyed, you just get a new one and send it out there. In fact, people are stunned when they see real people. However, they also lose the capacity to feel, as whatever happens to your surrogate never happens to you (except the aforementioned "getting high", and oh yeah, there's also this weapon that can take out you and your surrogate...all for one low, low price), and you can see people begin to degenerate, as their physical selves are neglected in favour of their artificial dopplegangers.

If I have a criticism of it as a movie, and I do have one, it's that on the level of a murder mystery, it fails as it is hugely apparent who is behind the deaths of the surrogates and their operators fairly early. In the case of some thrillers like that, it's the journey that matters, not the mystery, but that is not the case in this one; you are supposed to not know who is behind it, even though the motives of the brains behind it is painfully obvious, and all the other developments in the film are easily predicted, as well. It seems that despite the concept of the film being interesting and provoking discussion, the filmmakers or the studio, or your Aunt Sally, or whomever was calling the shots, was content to have the plot unfold as another formulaic whodunit, with a ridiculously obvious antagonist.

Anyhow, I did enjoy this film, for the concept, and for Bruce Willis, who despite not winning any movie awards, always seems to turn in a solid performance.

Rating: 3.5 stars

I bid thee a fond goodnight...you and your surrogate.

- Stephenstein

Saturday, November 21, 2009

2012 (aka things blow up)


For those of you who don't know, 2012 is the year according to the Mayan calendar, Nostradamus, and a bunch of other sources, that the world is going to end...at least, as we know it. I've known a few people who actually think the world is going to end in this year. I think that's a bunch of crap, though I think we are damaging the planet to the degree that at some point, either we're going to be wiped out like the dinosaurs, or we're just going to make this planet uninhabitable. In either case, I don't think you can pinpoint 2012 as the year we're all going down, but hey, Hollywood needs a reason to pour $150 million into effects for another movie, so it's as good a reason as any.

The plot for this movie is about as bad as you would expect. The U.S. President nobly stays behind to die with his people, rather than get his ass out of danger (and you know that Barack Obama would do the same in real life...yeah, right), Woody Harrelson stays behind to watch a volcano erupt, and blow flaming chunks at him...because he predicted it would happen (uh-huh...I've heard of people going to lengths to prove they were right, but...), you have plastic surgeons who can fly planes with minimal experience, and of course, you have the altruistic scientist, who uncovers a sinister government conspiracy to make sure that only rich people would survive the apocalypse (and people do survive, the entire race isn't' wiped out...which is a pretty far leap, when you consider the nature of the earthquakes, tsunamis and volcanic eruptions in the movie)

This is a visual effects movie though, and the effects are good, as you would expect. Nothing beats the harrowing flight through a crumbling Hollywood, with subways, houses and other obstacles being thrown at our hero's plane. The cast, lead by John Cusack, are serviceable, and at least didn't piss me off. I did like the fact that movie at least admitted that only the rich would be allowed on the arks being built by the government to save the populace, and didn't give me a line about the best "genetically" viable people being saved. I mean yeah, if the apocalypse happened, heaven forbid we didn't take the politicians, then who the hell would swindle us in our new society?

Rating: 3 stars out of 5.

I bid thee a fond goodnight

- Stephenstein

Not-So-Funny People



I caught this one at my friend's place in London. I usually like Adam Sandler, and I've paid to see Click, 50 First Dates, and Anger Management, so who was I to turn down a viewing of his latest movie for free?

Needless to say, I did not really like Adam Sandler in this movie. In fact, I didn't really like anyone, other than Seth Rogen, (and Jonah Hill, but his part was too small to focus on), and that's saying something, because I don't usually give a monkey crap about Seth Rogen. Here are the reasons I don't like the other characters:

Adam Sandler - has sex with a girl after she tells him she has a boyfriend; belittles Seth Rogen to an insane degree on 2 separate occasions; tries to break up the marriage between Eric Bana and his wife in the movie (her name escapes me, right now), all because he suddenly decided her loved her...which in fact, was really about him supposedly dying (he doesn't die) of a rare disease.

Jason Schwartzman - tells Seth Rogen he will sleep with the girl he (Seth) is interested in after 10 days, if Seth doesn't make a move. Seth makes a date with her, but Jason sleeps with her anyway...but 21 days later, instead of 10 (that's his reasoning, anyway).

Seth's "girlfriend" - sleeps with Jason Schwartzman after making a date with Seth; claims she would sleep with Jude Law and Brad Pitt because they're hot, and famous. It's women like this that make me consider joining a convent...or hope that 2012 comes soon, so we can be put out of our misery (coincidentally, I'll be reviewing that movie, next).

Eric Bana - cheats on his wife

Bana's Wife - considers leaving Eric Bana for Adam Sandler, and destroying her family, all because she's convinced she's in love with Sandler, even though she broke up with him when he didn't care about her, anymore.

Unnamed 2 girls Sandler/Rogen hang out with after standup - 1 sleeps with Sandler immediately, the other one refuses to do anything with Rogen, because she has a boyfriend, but still bangs Sandler, afterward.

Wow, what a great gang of characters. Also, why is all the stand up acts based around genitalia? Every stand up act in the movie, shows the comedians talking about their private parts. It's like, is that all it takes to be a stand up comedian? I can do that! I can stand in front of people, and talk about a conversation my penis and balls had this morning. Is this really what "comedy" is coming to?

In the end, some funny bits, but nowhere near enough to make up for the rest.
Rating 2 out of 5 stars.

I bid thee a fond don't watch this movie.

- Stephenstein

Life is a Box


I wanted to check this one out when I saw the trailers, but I wasn't sure if I would catch it, just because, I don't know, it doesn't look like a "theatre movie". I wasn't dying to see it, but was interested enough to check it out. Well, visiting a friend in London, Ont, and I suggested we check it out when he asked that eternally entertaining question "what do you want to see?", and I was certainly not disappointed.

For those of you who wonder, yes, the box is a box, with a button, and you push the button, and someone you don't know dies, and Frank Langella gives you a million dollars. Yes, someone does die, and yes, they actually do get a million dollars. The ramifications of pushing that button, are staggering, though.

I'm not going to reveal more of the plot, but it's done by the Donnie Darko guy, based on a Richard Matheson short story (and yes, it was a Twilight Zone episode), but man, this movie was interesting as hell. I mean, I'm sitting there watching it, and I don't always know what's going on, but I always wanted to find out what was going on. The explanation of who Frank Langella is, and what his purpose is, is just awesome, in my opinion, and at the same time, I felt kind of bad for Cameron Diaz and James Marsden, because the concept of someone giving you the box is kind of preposterous, when you think about it, but at the same time...they shouldn't have pushed the button. I also loved Frank Langella's analogy that life is a box, we spend our entire lives in some form of box or another, and when life ends, they put us in a box, in the ground. Neat stuff.

I will say this movie was a tad confusing, and it will definitely be one I'll pick up, and watch again, just to see if I can pick up more the second time through. I'll give it 4 stars for now, but it could go higher with multiple viewings.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars.

I bid thee a fond box

- Stephenstein

I Don't Really Love You, Man


I'm not really going to write much about seeing this movie, because it doesn't really warrant a lot of discussion. Other than the fact that this movie is one of the few ones I've seen in recent years, that has a male protagonist and female protagonist, that I like, and that I believe would work as a couple. Usually, the chemistry isn't there, but this one has it.

That being said, this movie is just average, mostly due to the annoying Jason Siegel. Okay, maybe he himself isn't annoying, but his character kinda is. He actually reminds me of a guy I used to work with...however, Siegel doesn't try and sleep with his best friend's fiancee, and this guy certainly would have tried...and probably succeeded...which just is my comment on the state of affairs these days. Anyhow, this movie is mildly amusing, it has Lou Ferrigno, who is the best part of this film, so it's not all bad, just really, really non-descript.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

I bid thee a fond goodnight (actually, I have more posts)

- Stephenstein

Friday, November 20, 2009

Two Masters


So I get a call from my cousin, and she’s like. You wanna go see Stephen King, he’s in town. I say sure, but I have no money. She says its your Christmas present. I was like, yeah that sounds pretty darn cool. Then she says, oh and David Cronenberg is there too…I was like HELL YEAH we’re going!!! Cronenberg is my top guy man! Him and John Carpenter are my favourite directors and I actually think Cronenberg is a genius. So him and King together in one room is destruction good!

So I make sure Stephenstein tags along and we all go. What a great evening it was. King read from his new book “Under the Dome” which was promptly purchased by Stephenstein (he owns all King books in hardcover, I own all Cronenberg films on dvd). They also were giving out autographed copies, which none of us got (bastards!), and basically it was just King and Cronenberg talking to each other.

But man, it was great to have these two masters converse. I mean Cronenberg is just so wicked, and I love listening to his voice! Man, in Nightbreed, when he was the serial killer and he was talking about the filth of humanity; What a great moment in celluloid! And Stephen King is basically the only author that seems cool to read by everyone. The stiffs like him cause there’s some great messages in his books and they are well written, the punks, rockers etc like him cause he has sick thoughts and the geeks like him cause he creates wicked characters and great fantasy worlds, and the general public likes him because he himself is very likable and humble. This guy is the total package of authors. I mean the guy wrote over 50 novels! He will go down in history as one of the great authors!

Plus I loved how they plugged each others works, and Stephen King mentioned Watchmen and V for Vendetta! Woo hoo! See, even King knows Watchmen rocks!

That being said, Cronenberg also made a great comment on how writing comes from anger (he had read that somewhere) and King agreed, and actually I agree too. If we never got angry about stuff, we wouldn’t write anything.

Really interesting stuff. The only downside was that there wasn’t an autograph session, but that didn’t bother me too much, it was just great to see them both together!

J-Man

Monday, November 16, 2009

2001 minus 2.


1999.

My good friend co-directed this picture as well as acted in it. So my review doesn’t mean a heck of a lot. I liked it. What can I say.

That being said, I will try to give a review that is for average people, and be as objective as I can be.

1999 is about Tamil gangs during the 90’s. A lot of young Tamil males felt that it was important to their survival, and culture to join gangs. They felt at home with their gang and it was more like a family. In the 90’s a peace treaty was formed among the gangs but at the beginning of this film, Jeevan (brother to Kumar head of one of the big gangs) kills the brother of the other big gang. Kumar learns of this and fears that the treaty will be broken, and there will be war on the streets.

Kumar is a nice guy (as nice as a gang leader can be) and doesn’t really want to be this leader anymore. His posse tells him to frame someone for the killing so Jeevan wont go to jail. Kumar, against his better judgement, frames his best friend Anpu.

The story is really about Anpu, and Akilan, two former best friends turned casual acquaintances because Anpu joined Kumar’s gang, and Akilan is nice schoolboy. The story shows their lives in a parallel style of editing. We see them pass by each other and then we follow Anpu. Later, we see the same exact scene where they pass each other, only this time we follow Akilan.

The story is interesting and I liked the style. The music was killer too (both songs and score), and I really didn’t know what would happen at the end. The “love story” is an interesting one because it only exists in the minds of Anpu and Akilan. They both love Geetha, but none of them have told her yet. Geetha (who is not shown in the film at all) doesn’t know that they like her, and we don’t see her choose. This is interesting in the sense that we (the audience) can make up our own dream girl Geetha and think about how we would approach her?

That being said, the pacing was a bit slow at times, and at a 2 hour mark, I felt that some stuff could’ve been cut. But it never gets boring, the musical score really helps, and all in all I think a lot of non-Tamil people would like it.

Check it out.
Ill be buying it of course!

*/* (no rating since I know the film maker)

J-Man

This is not just a vacuum

Dust Devil.

From the man who brought you Hardware comes Dust Devil. I don’t know which came first, but I liked both movies. This one may be slightly more accessible to the casual viewer, but its just as slow paced, crammed with imagery and just as artistic as Hardware. Both are horror movies in a Lynch-Cronenberg style. Half the time we don’t know what the heck is going on. But we know its good.

That being said, I liked both movies a lot, even though they are slow. The Dust Devil himself is pretty cool and the way he is defeated is the bloody (and I mean bloody) best. Deceptisean and I had to rewind his death a couple of times to truly get the most value out of it!

If you have the chance to see it, take it!

3.5/5

J-Man

Add Video

Billy Crack Corn.


The Born Losers

Billy Jack is part Indian (native American) and part white. He’s a jean-jacket wearing cowboy who drifts from town to town breaking horses. He’s low on cash and when he saves a skinny guy from being beaten to death by a biker gang, he is fined $1000 for vigilante activity.

Meanwhile the gang got a $200 fine for assault and they are let go. They decide to rape 4-5 girls (one is willing, so only 4 I guess) and then none of the girls want to testify because they are scared. Billy Jack comes in to TCB and its all good.

This is one ODD MOVIE!!!!!!! Plot sounds simple enough, but it’s very slow and Billy Jack doesn’t appear enough till the third act. And the biker gang is oddly sympathetic… till the rape of course. But one cool thing is that Jeff Cooper is in it! Jeff Cooper is the guy from Circle of Iron! WHOO HOO! He’s wicked!

All in all, this was fun to watch with a group of like minded friends, and there is actually a Billy Jack series! It formed after this movie. Billy Jack is defiantly the best character and I am dying to see the other instalments of the franchise.

I just like the fact that there is this 4 movie franchise on a character I never heard of!

If the series is good, ill get it! (right now a friend is loaning me part 2 – called Billy Jack)

3/5

J-Man

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Saw 6

Yes, that’s right Saw 6. There is a new Saw movie every year. There will be 2 more confirmed as well. You’d think that with so many sequels coming out in so little time that the series would get boring or stupid. Not the case.

I think that with the number of Saw films in the series coupled with the time they are coming out and going against all other franchises, this may be the best franchise in any genre. Even James bond had a few stinkers along the way. Godzilla (as much as I LOVE Godzilla) had a few bad ones here and there. But not Saw, they are all great films!

You get what you pay for. Gruesome deaths, interesting contraptions, suspense, and a few twists.

All this and more was in Saw 6. Basically these movies are really just one big epic movie. Like Lord of the Rings, horror edition. Things get explained later on, then there are flashbacks to discuss any missed story elements.

Like in part 3 Amanda shoots the doctor…sort of for no reason. Later it’s explained that Amanda was just a wacko and wanted to kill people, not teach them the value of life (which is Jigsaw’s/John Kramers real purpose). But in This film you see the real reason she shot her. Interesting.

Anyway, if you liked Saw 1-5, I’m sure you’ll love Saw 6!

5/5

J-Man

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Where no viewer has gone before...


I have gone where no viewer has gone before...well maybe not, but I did watch all 10 in a row, recently. Not all 10 in a row as in sitting there and just throwing the DVD's in there one at a time (though, I kinda wish I had, now)...but NO! I had to go to work, or some b.s. like that. Anyhow, I did watch all 10 recently, going from 1 - 10, and here's my ranking of them, from most to least favourite. (Keep in mind I never watched the shows, so I'm sure to piss off some fans with my rankings...bring on the hate!)

1. Star Trek: The Motion Picture - okay, yes, it's slow. Let's get that out of the way. I really liked the storyline, though! With V'ger, and how it's trying to merge with its creator, and all that, and I really loved the girl coming back as the probe, and there was all that stuff between her and Decker, and the whole wormhole thing...I thought it was damned good! Also, I appreciated the original cast coming together, and doing this film, years after the show ended. All in all, my favourite one, and deepest storyline of the bunch.

2. First Contact - back on familiar ground now. The Borg is one of my favourite villains of all time in film, period, and I really just liked the idea that Picard's all conflicted with having to deal with them, having been assimilated before. Also, I thought the Zefram Cochrane character was interesting too, and how they remembered him being this big humanitarian, while he wanted to do the mission just for money.

3. The Undiscovered Country - I just liked how this one was more of a murder mystery (and was quite happy that they just didn't blame it on one faction in this one, pretty much everyone had a conspirator involved), and how this was the last journey for the original cast, and they actually acknowledged it.

4. Generations - okay, I know I'm going to take heat for this one, but I don't know, I really dug the Nexus, and how Soran was trying to get back into this thing, even though it had pretty much destroyed everything in its path. Yes, I also thought it was neat how Picard and Kirk managed to share a scene together and (spoiler, for those who haven't seen it), if Kirk had to die, at least he died in a heroic way, and not some cheese way.

5. The Wrath of Khan - number 5 man, I know everyone loves this one, but after the first one, the storyline is kinda whatever. I mean, it's just a revenge tale, it doesn't have the meat that the first one did. Luckily, Khan is just such an awesome character, he can't be ignored. Fueled just by him, this movie makes my top 5 of Star Trek movies.

6. The Journey Home - Ahhh...the whales. I remember really liking this one as a kid, and watching it years later, it's still good, though not quite as good as I remembered. I don't know, there's something about going back in the past that irks me...like they're out of their element, which is cool, but also they don't quite get a chance to fly around the universe, and do stuff, which is what I think Star Trek of being, they're kinda stuck in San Francisco. Whatever, it's still good, though.

7. Nemesis - Why do people hate this one? It's still good! Picard's got a clone, who wants to take him out! The clone has Nosferatu guys with him! What's the reason? Is it because (spoiler, again) Data's destroyed? They don't like Shinzon? (I thought he was awesome, by the way). I don't know, this one was really good, and the Enterprise really had to fight to earn the victory in this one.

8. Insurrection - okay, another one people don't like, and I don't know why. You have a deep storyline, that is really kind of neat (when is it right to move 600 people off a planet, without them knowing), you have cool villains (the Son'a's), you have plot twists, and you have a chase, and the Enterprise duking it out with Son'a ships. What more do you want?

9. The Search for Spock - I was still into this one, but to be honest, it was kind of a ho-hum storyline (Spock's alive, and we know he probably won't die again, so no suspense), and there wasn't a lot going on, other than the Enterprise tricking the Excelsior, and the Kirk/Kruge fight at the end...though, Christopher Lloyd is a pretty damned good villain, so the movie had that going for it.

10. The Final Frontier - Okay, number 5 is the worst of the bunch, and yeah, the humour is pretty lame, but it still had some good ideas...I mean, the Enterprise crew go on a mission to find God, it doesn't get much bigger than that. It's true that such a heavy storyline doesn't really mix well with the hokey humour, but this movie wasn't a total disgrace, just a misguided mismash, which needed some direction in what it was going for.

So, disagree? Want to send me some hate mail? Think I'm bang on? Post on the boards!

Oh, here's my ratings for the movies:
The Motion Picture - 5
First Contact - 4.5
The Undiscovered Country - 4.5
Generations - 4.5
Wrath of Khan - 4
Journey Home - 3.5
Nemesis - 3.5
Insurrection - 3.5
The Search for Spock - 3
Final Frontier - 2.5

I bid thee a fond live long and prosper.

- Stephenstein

We didn’t start the fire…

Firestarter.

Drew Barrymore and company (David Keith, Martin Sheen, and George C Scott) star in this Stephen King adaptation.

Don’t be alarmed, I have seen this before, but not since I was younger, so when I recently saw it again, I decided to review it.

Drew can start fires, her father can Push people into doing things (basically mind control, which they call Pushing – not to be confused with the recent movie called Push – hmmmm). They are on the run from THE SHOP, scientists that wanna use them and abuse them and make them into weapons – which would be cool mind you, but Drew doesn’t wanna be a weapon, she’s a little girl!

Basically they are on the run for act 1, and act 2 they are captured and a bunch of cool stuff happens. Drew is a cutiepie in this movie and she acted really well.

There is a lot on her shoulders here. She loses her mother, she sets guys on fire, she gets taken from her dad, held hostage and then forced by the government to do experiments and not to mention that George C Scott lies to her, pretends to be her friend only to betray her later…holly crap!!!!

That’s more acting that all of the movies that came out this year combined!

Anyway, Drew makes them all pay with one hell of a fire show and basically blows up everything that can be blown up with the budget they had.

You should see/buy this movie.

4/5

J-Man

This is the Twilight Zone and you are on your own…


Twilight Zone: The Movie.

TZ was a TV show, that was all about screwed up stories that alter time, reality, and space. Anything and everything was possible. It was great show so obviously a movie would come to be.
I have seen this before, but since it was on during Halloween, I decided to watch it.

There are 5 stories in this one. Most are re-created from old TV episodes, and just modernized a bit.

The first (and maybe the best) is about 2 guys driving down a lonely road and trying to pass the time. The driver starts to do weird stuff to scare the passenger (played by Dan Akroyd). Later the passenger asks if the driver wants to see something really scary. I wont tell you what happens next!

The stories were directed by Joe Dante, Steven Spielberg, George Miller, and John Landis. All are good and worth seeing. I also love the last story where a man, who is travelling on a plane, looks out the window and sees a monster eating the engine!

All cool stuff.

You should all see it.

3.5/5

J-Man