On: 2010-06-11 12:09:30
Its natural to feel slightly disappointed when films that intend to reprise a historic figure, just touch upon the display of his heroism and elaborate a different aspect of his life altogether. Different and new as it may seem, the story of an ordinary man who is yet to put a full fledged display of his extra-ordinary archery skills somewhere lacks that punch needed in a historic epic.
I do not doubt the creativity of Ridley Scott or his story telling skills but it’s the story itself (by Brian Helgeland) that lacks what it takes to make a ‘Robin Hood’ movie. Had it been just another film, the story wouldn’t seem flawed.
With ample scope to a sequel, Scott’s Robin Hood is a back-story of the ordinary archer Robin Longstride (Russell Crowe) before he went on to become the iconic legend and outlaw, Robin (of the Hood). In simple words, the film ends where you want it to begin but it’s not all that bad, thanks to a brilliant cinematography and superb background score.
It goes like this. Robin Longstride is an archer in the army of King Richard the Lionheart (Danny Huston), who bankrupted England with his Crusades. On his way back to his country, Richard and his army ransack French castles. In one of these expeditions, Richard gets killed. Robin decides to deliver the crown of his dead king to the king’s mother in London. En route, he stumbles across a dying Robin of Loxley
On: 2010-05-28 11:09:01
Naturally, such a device could prove a powerful weapon in the wrong hands, and Dastan soon finds himself on the run, accompanied only by Princess Tamina (Gemma Arterton), who claims to have been anointed by the gods (whose gods, we’re never told) to protect the Dagger from those who covet it -- namely the king’s brother Nazam (Ben Kingsley), whose evil machinations are rather obviously telegraphed by his sinister fu manchu.
Tamina plays dual roles, functioning also as the sacred Keeper of the Backstory, serving up portions of the film’s mythology during lengthy bits of exposition after each milestone in Dastan’s quest. In this sense, Prince of Persia nods conspicuously to its videogame roots, mimicking the structure of a traditional quest game: A period of feverish action is followed by the narrative equivalent of the “Thank you, but the Princess is in another castle” trope from the original Super Mario Bros.
As in the classic Nintendo game, the process grows tiresome, if not boring. And yet, like a lean, swarthy, greasy-haired Mario, Gyllenhaal soldiers on, laboring vainly to overcome the film’s narrative deficiencies and Mike Newell’s often jarringly mediocre effects work. He loses the battle, but in the process proves himself a worthy action star. Unfortunately for Gyllenhaal, his princess is in another castle.
On: 2010-05-21 11:12:23
The 3D experience undoubtedly makes almost every animation film a treat to watch. Although, when it comes to films like Shrek and the recent ‘How to train your dragon’, content too plays a vital role in making the film as likeable as it is.
‘Shrek Forever After’ is the fourth and supposedly final instalment in the Shrek film series based on the popular children's book ‘Shrek’ by William Steig. The previous three prequels showed how Shrek, the ogre and the cursed princess and thus an Ogre, Fiona’s love happened, evolved and stood steady overcoming all possible hurdles. The fourth instalment is somewhat a prequel of all the previous instalments as it’s about a day in Shrek’s life before he was born, thus before he was married to Fiona and before he had his three children!
Shrek Forever After is every married man’s story who feels his life for himself has come to an end. Responsibility towards wife and children seems like a burden. Days when there were no strings attached are missed and that is what happens to Shrek, the ogre. Shrek is no more the fierce Ogre he used to be. He is now a domesticated family man who misses being a real ogre who can roar.
Rumpelstiltskin (Walt Dohrn), the wicked magician takes undue advantage of Shrek’s plight and dupes him into signing a pact that magically erases the day Shrek was born! Shrek thus suddenly finds himself stuck in a situation where
On: 2010-05-06 11:24:46
Iron Man 2, Jon Favreau’s much-anticipated follow-up to his breakthrough 2008 blockbuster, is less a comic book flick than it is a superhero version of Arthur, the Oscar-nominated 1981 comedy that starred Dudley Moore as a drunken, wise-cracking dilettante.
In his second turn as Tony Stark, Robert Downey Jr. recasts the billionaire inventor as the Dean Martin of industrialists, strutting from one star-studded event to another on a bacchanalian victory tour, dishing out choice one-liners and stirring up minor controversies for his exasperated babysitters, Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) and James "Rhodey" Rhodes (Don Cheadle), to quell.
Whether gloating about his achievements at a defense industry expo, upbraiding Senators during a congressional hearing, or getting wasted and donning his armored powersuit to play DJ at his birthday party, there's no telling what kind of madcap mischief Tony Stark will get himself into next!
Thankfully, Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. arrive at his compound to stage a kind of intervention, bearing a powerful dual-pronged Deus Ex Machina device that instantly wrests our hero from his para-suicidal stupor — just in time to build the upgraded powersuit he’ll need to thwart the army of powerful robot drones that Whiplash is about to let loose upon on the unsuspecting citizens of Queens, New York.
On: 2010-04-30 16:34:15
When Platinum Dunes, the production house created by Michael Bay, Andrew Form, and Brad Fuller, first came into being, it took on the father of modern horror films, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. It's safe to say everyone expected it to be a total failure given who was involved; when it turned out that it actually wasn't too bad of a film, fans were justifiably surprised. A few mid-level misfires later, Platinum Dunes raised their aim at iconic horror franchises even higher, bringing back TCM's director, Marcus Nispel, to tackle Jason Voorhees. Again people weren't expecting much, so it was another pleasant surprise that 2009's Friday the 13th turned out to be a thoroughly entertaining, respectful recombination of the cabin-in-the-woods slasher. From there the studio didn't even bother to go back to lesser franchises, they notched their crosshairs as high as they could go; Freddy Krueger.
Fast forward twelve months. The main thing anyone will want to know about A Nightmare on Elm Street is whether it is, at the very least, a worthy remake of the original Wes Craven film about a slain pedophile who resurrects in the dream world to kill teenagers in their sleep. The short answer is a resounding yes. Samuel Bayer's film is the best remake in the Platinum Dunes stable; Jackie Earle Haley is an excellent successor to the original's Robert Englund; and Freddy Krueger isn't just scary
On: 2010-03-26 13:43:05
Parodies are a dying art. I hate to say it — because I love them so much — but over the last few years, the unrelenting hacks known as Friedberg and Seltzer have systematically killed the art form with their brainless pop culture-stroking disguised as commentary.
I remember the good ole’ days of Abrams and Zucker (prior to their Scary Movie entanglements) when parodies where funny precisely because they established their own voice, and didn’t use the material they were lampooning as a crutch. Airplane! mercilessly mocked the bizarre run of airport disaster movies in the '70s, but it also transcended easy jokes and script aping.
Today, thanks to inexplicable box office validation, an entire generation now thinks that the “Random celebrity, what are you doing here?” gag is the appropriate formula for parody.
Kick-Ass is going to put a giant boot in the face of that mentality. It is a pitch-perfect send-up of everything that is characteristic of superhero films. It is versed enough to cite convention, but clever enough to find the humor in the genre’s absurdity.
And the biggest advantage Kick-Ass has in the parody department is that it is unrelentingly entertaining. It seems that in the last few years, terrible parodies have made undeserved fortunes at the box office while better-crafted entries have gone largely unseen.
On: 2010-03-26 12:28:46
I love it when a film surprises me; it’s my favorite thing about being a critic. This year’s South by Southwest film festival saw the regional premiere of The Runaways, a biopic of the titular all-girl rock band from the late '70s, starring Dakota Fanning as lead singer Cherie Currie and Kristen Stewart as guitarist Joan Jett.
Having despised the Twilight films, and doubting seriously that Stewart could act her way out of a paper bag, I expected to hate this film. But what I saw from her turned out to be the biggest surprise of the festival.
I have to admit I was completely wrong about Stewart’s ability to play the goddess of punk. Stewart clearly did her homework, because she is fantastic. It’s not just the eerie physical resemblance; Stewart inhabits Jett with every movement she makes.
In her first few scenes, the lines coming out of her mouth sounded more petulant than rebellious, and I was worried. But as the movie progresses, the character begins to communicate more with movement than with words and it is phenomenal. The strongest part about her performance is that she captures Joan’s raw, uncompromising love for rock music.
Fanning plays Cherie with such fearless discovery that it’s impossible to take your eyes off her as she slowly discards her suburban shell and embraces the rock diva within her.
On: 2010-03-26 12:18:12
Some comedies fail because of poor execution, their humor somehow lost in the transition from script to screen. Others, like the Jennifer Aniston/Gerard Butler rom-com The Bounty Hunter, are doomed from the outset, lacking even the potential to be funny, even in the best of circumstances.
If you substituted Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn in the lead roles, and screened the film in a theater pumped full of nitrous oxide, you would still hear nary a laugh emitted from the audience.
Continuing his tragic post-300 freefall, Butler plays Milo, a scruffy, irascible cop-turned-bounty hunter with a pile of debt and a mounting drinking problem. The source of his troubles, we learn, is his pugnacious ex-wife Nicole (Aniston), a hot-shot investigative journalist who walked out on him a little less than a year ago.
On the trail of a potentially explosive news story, career-obsessed Nicole unwisely opts to skip a bail hearing relating to her accidental injuring of a police horse some months prior. When the fed-up judge declares her a fugitive, a still-resentful Milo is only too happy to bring her to justice. Nicole, unsurprisingly, refuses to go quietly.
Aniston and Butler are both charismatic enough to form a decent screwball rapport (though Butler increasingly speaks as if his mouth is stuffed with peanut butter), but neither possesses the comic chops necessary to extract lemonade
On: 2010-03-26 11:59:29
Hot Tub Time Machine, a comedy about four friends transported to 1986 by a malfunctioning jacuzzi, is funnier than a film built around such a patently dubious premise has any right to be. It’s so funny, in fact, that it could rightly be called — and I promise never to make this analogy again — the Hangover of home-appliance time-travel comedies.
A title like Hot Tub Time Machine creates certain expectations, and so its story spares little time getting us to the eponymous plot device, laying down the barest of setups before its four protagonists are jettisoned back in time: Lou (Rob Corddry) is a caustic drunk who must feign suicide to get friends to return his calls; Nick (Craig Robinson) is hopelessly whipped by his domineering wife; Adam (John Cusack) is a type-A insurance salesman reeling from a nasty breakup; his acerbic nephew, Jacob (Clark Duke), lives in the basement, his every waking moment devoted to his Second Life virtual world. And he’s arguably the coolest member of the group.
The quartet of schlubs sets out for a bromantic ski vacation, but no sooner have they unpacked their bags then a bizarre accident involving a grimy hot tub, an illegal Russian energy drink, and an ill-tempered squirrel sends them hurtling back to 1986, where they awake, bewildered and hungover, in the middle of the momentous Spring Break weekend that childhood friends Lou, Nick, and Adam
On: 2010-03-26 11:33:54
Oh, how Pixar has spoiled us. After a decade and a half of the studio releasing one classic after another, from 1995’s Toy Story to last year’s Up!, we’ve grown accustomed to animated films both visually stunning and emotionally captivating.
And when another studio’s animated offering, however solidly-crafted, falls short of these impossibly high expectations, it’s inevitably damned with the faint praise of “It’s not Pixar, but...” Such is the plight of Dreamworks’ How to Train Your Dragon, a movie only superior to, say, 65% of live-action films as opposed to 99% of them.
Based on the children’s novel by Cressida Cowell, How to Train Your Dragon is set on the mythical island of Berk, home to a tribe of macho, stubborn Vikings who refuse to relocate despite near-constant attacks from fire-breathing dragons.
The most macho and stubborn of the tribe is the their chief, Stoick the Vast (Gerard Butler), a brave and burly ginger beast whose teenage son, Hiccup (Jay Baruchel), inherited virtually none of his father’s traits. Scrawny, self-effacing and intellectually curious — making him pretty much the anti-Viking — he’s a constant source of shame to his mighty father.
Eager to win his dad’s approval — and by extension the respect of his tribe — he enrolls in Dragon Training, where young Vikings learn to slay the winged demons that prey upon Berk.
On: 2010-03-26 11:28:54
Love Happens is a film with a good intent but a misleading title. The film’s promo gives an impression that it must be a romantic comedy but that’s not the case. The film is in fact a drama which reiterates that life must go on and that one has to let go of the past no matter how tragic it is.
Burke Ryan (Aaron Eckhart) becomes a self-help author after his wife dies in an accident. His personal loss makes him write a best-selling book on coping grief. He conducts seminars for people who want to confront their past and get over the loss of their loved one. He successfully does his job but also realizes he himself seeks redemption the most from his biggest regret – having to live a life without his wife. Caught in the web of his thoughts one fine day, the widower accidentally bumps into a mysterious florist Eloise (Aniston) in a hotel lobby and realizes love can find a way out.
Eloise who herself has had a string of unsuccessful relationships in the past knows how to put it all behind her back and move on while Burke doesn’t practice what he preaches. The two then help each other to move on and give love and life another chance.
As mentioned earlier in this review, Love Happens is not about romance really so the title itself is a let down. Had the film been promoted differently with a more realistic title, the film would come across in a much better way than it does.
On: 2010-03-19 10:37:20
In addition to his current job as the plus-size thorn Southwest Airlines’ side, Kevin Smith also happens to be a filmmaker, albeit one of steadily diminishing relevance. After earning widespread acclaim with his 1994 debut, the d.i.y. comedy hit Clerks, Smith followed up with two solid efforts, Mallrats and Chasing Amy, before beginning a slow, sustained descent into the crowded ranks of Hollywood hackdom.
And yet, somehow, he still managed to corral the likes of Bruce Willis and Tracy Morgan to star in his latest film, Cop Out, an inane, infantile buddy comedy that might very well represent his creative low-point.
Sample any of Smith’s countless anti-Southwest screeds and you’ll doubtlessly discover material more interesting than anything found in Cop Out. It’s a pity that Smith, directing for the first time with someone else’s script, couldn’t have harnessed all that creative fervor and vitriolic wit to punch up Robb and Mark Cullen’s lifeless screenplay, which pits Willis and Morgan as a mismatched detective duo on the trail of a stolen baseball card. Or he might have focused that energy on polishing the film's sloppy aesthetic, which looks as if it was pieced together with scissors and scotch tape, then soaked in bongwater.
On: 2010-03-19 10:31:20
One can’t really discuss the new science fiction film Repo Men without mentioning the ten or so other films it steals from whole-hog. It’s a no-brainer that the entire premise is lifted from 2008’s silly b-picture, Repo! The Genetic Opera, but because Repo Men takes on the story with a completely different tone, I’m willing to let that brazen theft go. What I can’t get past is how a speculative sci-fi movie like this insists that its audience to leave their own speculation at the door in order in order to buy into its paper-thin premise.
Jude Law plays Remy, a Repo Man in the near future where folks can buy artificial organs of all sorts from a generic Mega Corporation of Evil. Remy and his partner/best friend Jake (Forest Whitaker) get their marching orders from bureaucrat Frank (Liev Schreiber), who sends them out to reclaim their company’s organs from folks who can’t make their payments.
They do this by killing them, cutting them open, and putting the organs in ziplock bags to bring back to the company, which rescans them to sell to the next desperate customer. When a piece of company equipment malfunctions and injures Remy, he has to take a company organ himself or die. Since he's no longer earning a regular paycheck, it’s not long before his own ticker's account is past due. Soon, the hunter becomes the hunted, with even Remy's pal Jake joining the pursuit.
On: 2010-03-19 10:29:27
The new rom-com She’s Out of My League requires a pretty hefty suspension of belief, asking us to believe that a goddess like Alice Eve would not only be attracted to the fidgety schlub played by Jay Baruchel (Tropic Thunder, How to Train Your Dragon), but that she would aggressively pursue him, tolerate his erratic and often bizarre behavior, and endure the ceaseless taunts of his incredulous social circle while never exhibiting obvious symptoms of some brain-eating third-world disease. Moreover, it asks us to believe that Baruchel can carry a film. And frankly, that’s just too much to ask.
Insecure, socially awkward Kirk’s (Baruchel) list of girl-repellant qualities reads like a recipe for permanent celibacy: He works a boring job, never went to college, lives with his parents, possesses no visible muscle tone to speak of, and is constantly ridiculed by his family and friends. Despite all this, the charming, smoking hot career girl Molly (Eve) is instantly smitten when she meets him while passing through airport security (he’s a TSA agent), and decides to ask him out.
Thus begins the unlikely courtship of Kirk and Molly.
On: 2010-03-19 10:27:33
With every non-Twilight role he chooses, Robert Pattinson seems determined to wipe from our minds the popular image of him as Edward Cullen, the sensitive, chivalrous teen vampire in the blockbuster adaptations of Mormon author Stephenie Meyers’ young-adult novels.
Last year, he played a decadent, bisexual Salvador Dali in Little Ashes, Paul Morrison’s drama about the artist’s formative years in Madrid; in his latest film, the romantic drama Remember Me, he smokes, drinks, has premarital sex, and engages in a variety of other unwholesome activities that would surely appall the saintly Edward.
And he isn’t half bad, truth be told. Pattinson’s turn as 21-year-old Tyler, a rebellious, resentful child of privilege who falls for Ally (Emilie de Ravin), the bright, pugnacious daughter of a cop (Chris Cooper) — the same cop who just days prior busted his face up — is easily the best part of Remember Me’s otherwise mediocre ensemble piece.
The film works perfectly well when director Allen Coulter concentrates on the romantic bond forged by its two troubled leads, but he has much higher aspirations — American Beauty-level aspirations — and he's ultimately sabotaged by his vaulting ambition, overloading the action with hair-trigger melodrama that leaves the film's cast in a permanent state of hackneyed hysterics.