Monday, September 7, 2009

Movie Journal: X2

Plot Synopsis:The X-Men band together to find a mutant assassin who has made an attempt on the President's life, while the Mutant Academy is attacked by military forces.

The first and second times I saw this movie were a few years ago. Seeing it again now, I remember just how much I really liked it. In fact, I enjoyed it even more this time. Why? Because I've seen a lot of action films since then and I've realized one thing: there are many films with intense, plot-driven action, and there are many films with cool, over-the-top, visually striking action. But it's very rare that a film has both: intense, plot-driven action that is also cool, over-the-top, and visually striking. X2 is one of these rare instances.

X2 is not only one of my all-time favorite superhero flicks, it's also a personal favorite action film of mine. It's also one of my very favorite sequels. Despite some of it's subtle flaws, it's probably one of the best times I'm ever going to have with a crazy, wild action flick, The Matrix notwithstanding.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Movie Journal: Prince Caspian

I remembering reviewing this film when it was released in theaters. I was in a good mood, and there were aspects of the film that(at the time) I preferred over The Lion, The Witch, And The Wardrobe. I rated the film an 8 out of 10, which was essentially stating that it was a "great film". I was wrong.

Why? Well, for many reasons. The new Prince Caspian film has some serious problems, one of the most prominent being the failure to establish a sense of danger and dread. Consider the fact that the very first scene in the original Chronicles of Narnia dropped us right into the middle of a bombing run. People were dying, and if the Pevensie family didn't move fast, they were going to die too. What better a way to establish conflict? Intense scenes like those helped make up for the film's obvious visual misinterpretations of the story in terms of the action.

In contrast, Prince Caspian does not have any bombing runs or crashing waterfalls. Just more of the same, kid-friendly conflict. Only this time, it was cheesier. To tell the truth, I don't think the first film ever really established that the Pevensie kids were really capable of the majority of the violence they inflict in the Prince Caspian film, and that's only part of the problem.

I would again submit that the creators' kid-friendly approach to the action is very unrepresentative of C.S. Lewis' stories. Sure, his books weren't explicit in terms of violence in a sense. But Lewis does mention that it takes place. Having said that, I find the complete and utter lack of true violence simply castrating in terms of the story, not to mention silly and unbelievable. The Chronicles Of Narnia should not be treated with any less authenticity than the Lord Of The Rings series.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Movie Journal: Happy Gilmore

Happy Gilmore is a sports comedy about a pro hockey player wannabe who's grandmother's house is repossessed by the IRS. By sheer chance he discovers he has something of a talent for the game of golf. Being in need of funds for the sake of his grandma, he manages to join a local tournament, after which he is admitted into the pro tour.

Now, from that brief description of the first act, one may be lead to believe that Happy Gilmore is quite typical and standard. But that's quite far from the truth. One thing I really find amazing about the film is, no matter how good at golf Gilmore gets, the plotline still finds ways to retain his status as the story's underdog. It's a sports tale that is less about the main character's constantly pushing himself physically, and more about the calming of his inner conflicts and the harnessing of his emotions. Hence the complete lack of any training montages; the kind that have, quite frankly, plagued the genre for years.

It's really hard not to be impressed by the film's...well, simply bizarre sense of humor. If you just take a few steps back, the whole premise is entirely absurd. And just when you think things are starting to become normal and make sense, there's always that over-the-top twist that never fails to leave you speechless. The utterly incredible final twist of the film's third act is a testament to this.

While it's true that there are a couple major flaws in the plot, they barely register in the first viewing, whereas the sly wit of the jokes get better every time. While it's certainly not perfect, I wouldn't be surprised if this was the very best sports comedy yet produced.

9 out of 10

Monday, July 27, 2009

Movie Journal: Kung Fu Panda

To tell the truth, I initially had every suspicion that this film was all anime spoofs and fart jokes. Turns out, not only is there not a single fart joke, but anime spoofs are kept at a chill minimum. It also turns out that the film's goofy slapstick and quirky humor have somehow managed to compliment the dark and epic themes of the backstory. Who knew?

I didn't, so that was a pleasant surprise. Featuring a great action-oriented plot that stays fresh from beginning to end, Kung Fu Panda is one of the first recent CG animated films I've seen in a while that has truly impressed me.

8 out 10

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince Review

Right from the opening shot, I knew I was going to love this movie. It had this strange sense of genuine visual and emotional focus that all past films in the series have essentially lacked. Plus, it just knew how to do something every past installment lacked the guts for: the altering of the book's original storyline, if ever so slight.

Some may be thinking, "Isn't it bad enough that they can only adapt so much of the essential pieces of storyline in the book, but now they are altering some of the story's events completely?" But I wouldn't say that at all. While it's true that you are not going to find nearly the amount of material the book has in the film, it's really impressive how they've been able to fit all the paramount bits of storyline together as a cohesive whole within the two hours or so that the film runs. In addition, by altering some of the events, or rather the context in which they happen, certain aspects of the story have become much more cool and epic in feel. This is the very first Harry Potter film for which I can honestly say that I did, in many ways, greatly prefer it to the book.

Yes, you heard me right. There are some ways in which Harry Potter 6 is, in fact, better than the book. Even definitive.

Now, I know that the creators have taken a great risk, and that there are just as many praising this movie as accusing it of being unfaithful trash. I, for one, shall stand up for the fact that this film is, in fact, the greatest Harry Potter film yet.

9 out 10

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Movie Journal: The Rock

The Rock is a film that has managed to surprise me on more than a few levels. The plot is engaging, the characters fascinating, and the action truly intense. For better or for worse.

My quarrel with the action in the film hasn't so much to do with it's intensity so much as there being just so darn much of it. For a greater part of the film I underwent an experience rather like that of having a variety of good yet filling treats being shoved into my mouth, often faster than I could properly chew.

Another issue the film seemed to have is that of the musical score, which happens to be, for the most part, very obnoxious. Maybe one of the reasons it was so much so was because of the fact that it never failed to adjoin the action sequences, of which there were undeniably many. In other words, the music rather got old, rather fast.

On the flip side, it is overall, a very intelligent story that sets out to bring to the viewers mind some very important issues that the leaders of every nation must at some point face. The Rock isn't so much a bad movie as an imperfect one.

7 out of 10