Saturday, September 25, 2010
Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time is based off of the popular video game series and tells the tale of a disgraced prince on a quest to save the world. Prince Dastan must stop his evil uncle from unknowing releasing the sands of time, which will destroy the world. Overall, it isn't a bad story and is put together pretty well. However I do have a couple of points that subtract from the movie. First the Prince isn't really a prince, rather a poor orphan whom the king decides to take in and raise. This is a Disney movie and that is clearly a nod to Aladdin. Heck, I half expected him to be called a "street rat" in the beginning of the movie. Secondly, and much more important, since when do Americans pass as a Persians just because they use terrible British accents?
The cast of Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time just seemed off to me. Jake Gyllenhall as the prince is totally out of place. His acting is practically phoned in and his fake British accent is just awful. Gemma Arterton plays Princess Tamina. Her acting is fine, but again it just seems like she doesn't belong. The only bright spot in the movie is Sir Ben Kingsley who is fantastic as the villain in this. He is the only actor in the whole movie that looks like he even remotely belongs there.
The high point of the movie is its design and execution. Mike Newell is a seasoned director and does a great job to capture the spirit of the game without being constrained by it. He does a great job to show the platforming aspects of the game. In addition, the sequences using the dagger to turn back time are also very good.
I would be willing to bet that when Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time was being pitched to Disney it was talked about as "Pirates of the Caribbean in the Desert" and it is close, but not close enough. It is pretty entertaining, but its shortcomings outweigh its victories. You will be entertained while it’s on, but won't really remember it once it’s over. Overall, there are just better things to do with your time.
My Rating: 2 Prince’s out of 5
Ridley Scott’s Robin Hood is a completely different story that most people are used too. This version is based off of the real men who inspired the legend, rather than the legend itself. Robin Longstride returned to England from the crusades to find the land in turmoil under a corrupt government. Robin Hood tells the tale of this man fighting on both sides of the law as he tries to make things better for the common man.
Ridley Scott, in my opinion, is one of the finest directors of all time. The movie is technically sound and extremely well shot. However, there are moments, especially during the director's cut version of the movie, which are kind of slow. The battle scenes, although not his best work, are still better than what most directors could put on film.
The cast of this movie is full of serious and quality veteran actors and it shows. Russell Crowe's version of Robin Hood will remind you a lot of his role in Gladiator, but it works in this movie. Cate Blanchett was born to play nobility in period movies and is excellent, as she always is. The stand outs to me are Mark Strong as the corrupt main villain, Godfrey, and Oscar Isaac, playing the best Prince John ever seen on film.
I really don't think Robin Hood is going to be one of the movies Ridley Scott is going to be remembered for. However, it is a solid well-made and well-acted movie from top the bottom. Most critics have panned this film, but i think it’s because they couldn't get past what they thought Robin Hood should be. I, however, saw a very good movie that is well worth your time.
My Rating: 4 outlaws out of 5
Saturday, September 11, 2010
The Killers tells the story of a woman going on vacation with her parents to the South of France soon after being dumped. While there, she meets the man of her dreams. A frantic romance leads to a quick marriage and the perfect life. Fast-forward 3 years later to their perfect life hitting a snag when her husband’s old life catches up with them. As it turns out her husband used to be an assassin for the CIA and now he is the target.
Most of the actors in this movie just seemed to be going through the motions. The leads in this movie Kathrine Heigl and Ashton Kutcher just seemed like they were collecting a paycheck for most of the movie. They never really seemed to have any real onscreen chemistry and were totally unbelievable as a married couple with one exception: their marital fights were both very believable and very entertaining. The bright spot to me in this movie was Tom Selleck, he was very entertaining and it’s nice to see him in a movie again.
There is one area of this film I had a serious issue with. Now, I understand that product placement is a necessary evil of the modern movie industry, but this movie went totally too far. There were almost 10 different times of product placement and some of them were nothing short of commercials. It was totally out of hand and took me out of the movie.
Overall The Killers has an interesting concept, but was never really developed and not really well done. If I had to guess, I would be willing to bet this whole movie was financed through its ramped product placement. There are a few moments that are pretty funny and the film is mildly entertaining to watch; however, by the end is totally forgettable. It is worth a single viewing at best and nothing more.
My Rating: 2 ex-assassins out of 5
Tuesday, September 7, 2010
What happens when you wake up one morning and discover you are a monster? This is the question that Jude Law's character, Remy, has to answer in Repo Men. Repo Men is set in a near dystopian future where artificial organs are bought and sold like cars. The only problem is, if you can't pay for them the repo men come to collect the items purchased. After an accident on a job, Remy is left with an artificial heart. He soon discovers what it is like to be the customer. Remy decides to go on a path of redemption, which leads to one of the best twist endings I have ever seen in a movie.
Jude Law plays a good lead in the film, being both indifferent early in the movie and being able to show a great deal of emotion at the end. Forest Whitaker, Remy’s buddy Jake, is also very entertaining as the company repo man who is out to do what’s best for the company. My favorite character was Liev Schreiber as the sleazy company executive who doesn't care about anyone. Alice Braga continues to get better and better as the main female character in action movies as well. I was a bit annoyed by the fact that they gave Remy a family to drive the plot and then just kind of discarded them as they became less necessary.
Overall Repo Men is a solid sci-fi action film with a very interesting plot that was well developed. The characters were well-written, as well as well-performed. Also as a side note, one of my key issues with movies lately has been the rather crappy attempt a digital gore. This movie is the exception. Most of the gore effects in this film were very well done. All of that added together creates a good sci-fi. Add all that to the exceptional twist ending and you have a great sci-fi movie. One of this year’s best.
My Rating: 4 repo'd organs out of 5
From Director Robert Rodriguez, Machete tells the story of an ex-federale who, after watching his family be murdered, moves to the U.S. and becomes a day laborer. After being framed for a crime he didn't commit, Machete finds himself the most hunted man in Texas, but also finds himself with a chance to make things better for his people and chance at revenge.
Machete is based off of the trailer Robert Rodriguez made for his Grindhouse movies. Apparently Mr. Rodriguez is to the point in Hollywood where he can make a movie no matter how bad the plot is. The plot to Machete is entirely ridiculous and way over the top. I, for the most part, enjoy the Grindhouse movies; however, I am not sure why Rodriguez and Tarantino have this reverence for this cinema and think it is art. These were low production movies designed to use their shock value to sell the movie. The problem with that is the shock value isn't what it used to be. In today’s theaters, movies need to stand on their own merit and, at least for this movie, there isn't much to stand on.
This would usually mean the movie would be bad, but actually, due to the cast, was very good. Danny Trejo has been in almost 200 movies and even though this is his first leading role he commands the screen every time you see him. I also found myself quite surprised by the jobs Jessica Alba and Michelle Rodriguez did in this movie as well. I have long thought that neither one of these women had any acting ability at all, yet both were very good here. Robert DeNiro, the evil senator, and Steven Segal, the evil drug lord, gave both very bland performances and obviously were just collecting a paycheck.
Overall, Machete was pretty enjoyable. It gets a little clunky at the end and kind of bogs down in the final actions set piece. Also, the battle with the drug lord is a letdown and utterly ridiculous. Overall, if you enjoyed the Grindhouse movies then you will enjoy this as well. If you didn't enjoy the Grindhouse moves, I suggest you pass.
My Rating: 2.5 Grindhouse trailers out of 5
Wednesday, September 1, 2010
Drag Me to Hell marks Sam Raimi's return to the horror genre for the first time since Army of Darkness in 1992. The movie revolves around a young woman trying for a promotion at the bank she works. The only problem is her boss thinks she can't make tough decisions. To prove him wrong, she has to tell a sickly old woman that the bank will be reposing her house. This does not go according to plan. As it turns out, that sickly old woman is a gypsy and curses her for taking her house. Now she has 3 days to lift the curse before the demon chasing her takes her to hell.
The movie stars Alison Lohman as the young woman named Christine Brown. She is very good at portraying a weak and vulnerable woman. As the film progresses she is able to really reveal the strength deep inside the character. Her boyfriend, Clay, is played by comedic actor Justin Long. Taking him as a straight actor is very difficult to do. Every time he is on screen he takes you out of the movie.
The real star of this movie is director Sam Raimi. To tell you a little bit about me, I love Raimi's Evil Dead Trilogy; they are my favorite movies in the horror genre. In a lot of ways Drag Me to Hell reminds of those movies. From the way he uses simple movement of inanimate objects to the way he uses the camera to create fear. It is actually rather refreshing to see a departure from the ultra-gore that has plagued the horror genre over the last couple of years. There are scenes that will gross you out, but are as funny as they are scary.
Drag Me to Hell is a good movie and is enjoyable to watch. It is a little predictable towards the end and Justin Long wasn't the best casting choice, but even with those flaws aside it is still one of the best horror movies of the last year. If you haven't seen it yet and would like to see a good scary movie, check it out.
My rating: 3.5 gypsy cures out of 5