Thursday, February 26, 2009

Movie Journal: Hulk

Hulk is what I like to call a "flawed masterpiece". It may be rough around the edges in parts, but boy does it have it's moments.

As you may already know, Hulk chronicles the rise of The Incredible Hulk. The events leading up to this are portrayed in rapid succession as a science division of the US government attempts to develop human regeneration for soldiers on the field of battle. The theory was that this ability could be inserted as a genetic trait, which would be activated by physical stress: a gunshot wound, for example. But the thing about genetic engineering is that if you alter even one trait, the results are highly unforeseeable. Dr. David Banner discovered this, and was in the process of developing a cure when the government shut him down for failing to follow procedure. The true disaster takes place years later, in the form of David's son, Bruce Banner.

Bruce Banner, though having no knowledge of who his real parents were or what they did, ends up a scientist working in the exact same field as his father did. He(played by Eric Bana) works together with Dr. Betty Ross(Jennifer Connolly) to develop therapeutic regenerative traits using gamma radiation. Eric Bana was very well cast for his part and does an exceptional job. Jennifer Connolly, on the other hand, takes on the role of Dr. Ross almost perfectly. It's not like she did a perfect job because she was perfectly cast or born for the role, but rather because she knew exactly what she was supposed to do. She was able to see something deep and facinating in that character that no one else saw, and then portray it outstandingly. And I expect nothing less from an actress of her calibur.

Yes, if I were to list all the things that made this movie great, one of the topmost ones would be "Jennifer Connolly". At the same time, every other major actor reflected their character notably. This, tied together with ingenious editing, managing to carefully and intricately capture the feel of the comic in outstanding cinematography, alone makes this story worthwhile.

Unfortunately, especially in areas well into the movie, you may find your belief to be suspended at times. Still, giant mutated french poodles aside, Hulk is a faithfully artistic comic book adaptation, and while it does have it's share of flaws it is still a must-watch.

8 out of 10

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Movie Journal: Atlantis: The Lost Empire

There's a reason many people these days have an aversion to animated movies. Why? Because they've become cheap and manipulative of the low standards of children. That's been the truth behind the majority of kid's movies for a long time now, and Atlantis: The Lost Empire was perhaps the last truly great animated movie Disney made.

Released in 2001, it's a movie behind it's time in many ways. First of all, it's a genuine cartoon. At the time of it's release computer generated effects and animation were becoming the norm, and while Atlantis makes use of what appear to be a few CG visual effects here and there, it's mostly the real deal, and it's the better for it. The main plot concerns a centuries-lost civilization and a archeologist/linguist attempting to find it in his father's place, aided by a group of bizarre and charming mercenaries. I don't believe the sense of style, personality, and charm portrayed here could have been accomplished utilizing the CG effects of the day, or even of today's.

And it's really the sense of style, personality, and charm that sucks you in, almost instantly. The main character, Milo, is an extremely dedicated professor who is never given credit, and is always looked down on as a kid. Even his expertise seems to be part of his social problem; he's a nerd and nobody seems to like that. And yet, his child-like fascination and curiosity is infecting for us viewers. The group of mercenaries he works with comprise of a large and rather hyperactive medical doctor, a world-class professional engineer who happens to be a teenage girl, a charmingly dry and unenthusiastic demolitions expert, a(I suspect) psychologically disturbed dirt and tunneling expert nicknamed "Mole", a commander who is clearly in the expedition for fame and fortune, and a blondie named Helga Katrina Sinclair who, despite her very seductive and intoxicatingly attractive gestures and outward appearance, is actually a real tomboy.

The way this group of mercenaries behaves and interacts together, you'd think that they were siblings. It's amazing the small ways they manage to portray this, really. Over time, Milo slowly starts to become one of them. That's how when they finally do manage to find the lost city for which they've been searching all this time, things get pretty intense as the priorities of Milo's friends turn out to be little different from what he expected them to be.

I think that's why I ended up loving this movie so much: it's just incredible how real it manages to be, even behind all the magic and mystery. In a few ways it's actually rather comparable to Princess Mononoke, but not excessively. It's a Disney movie that, for once, manages stands on it's own two feet, and I pity those that would rather miss it.

8 out of 10

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Movie Journal: Michael Clayton

This is what we call an overrated movie. There's no denying it. Not only was it nominated for Best Picture in 2007, but also rated a score of "perfect" by Roger Ebert, Owen Glieberman of Entertainment Weekly and Claudia Puig of USA Today. I admit that it is an interesting thriller and a profound movie in many ways, but it also fails where so many average movies succeed.

First of all, the script is overflowing with cheap baggage and fluff. Inspired baggage perhaps, but baggage nonetheless, and the overall storyline is forced to haul it around in a rather unseemly fashion.

Secondly, it's controlling idea, if there indeed is one, fails to come across in a gripping or impacting way. It's a message we've seen so many times before, and it's no more profound here. The result is obvious. The lack of a proper controlling idea, as you can imagine, dealt a heavy blow to the pace. All three acts grinded tremendously, to the point that at parts it was just painful. It's very often that the plot, as well as the scenes themselves, appear to be just drifting without true direction. At times, it was a mess.

I watched an entire two-hour movie called Michael Clayton, and yet I still have absolutely no idea just who Michael Clayton is. Which is rather frustrating, considering that the main character took up a major chunk of the screentime. All I know about him was that he was a bad person experiencing a mid-life crisis, wanting to fix what was wrong. At least, that's what I think he was. Some of his actions and statements indicate a different scenario, so I'm not really sure. I doubt anybody will be, perhaps even including Tony Gilroy, the writer and director of the film. Come on, Tony. You've made better movies than this.

And yet, having said all that, Michael Clayton features some really intricate and intense dialogue that grips you. It made me giddy. For that, Mr. Gilroy, I applaud. But know this: I honestly believe your movie could have been so much more.

6 out of 10

Movie Journal: Burn After Reading

There are two things you should immediately know about the Cohen Brothers' new "comedy". Firstly, it is not a kid movie. And all that that entails. The language is foul, the sex and innuendo is rampant, and the violence(what there is of it) is shocking. Secondly, it's not really funny. At least, not in the sense you are probably thinking it is.

To elaborate: as a film it may have distinct and colorful characters, some of which actually do behave pretty funny. But don't expect it to be anything like so many other wacky and chaotic comedies, where the jokes are innocent and despite all the chaos everything seems to miraculously work out in the end.

If anything, it's my belief that Burn After Reading is a movie about idiocy. More precisely, the complete failure to consider the consequences of the actions you take. The story picks up as an employee of the CIA is more or less fired. It's at this point that the man begins to experience what many of us know to be something along the lines of a mid-life crisis. He feels the world has passed him by, and yearns for the virtuous and patriotic passion of his youth. Feeling nostalgic and without much purpose, he decides to write a memoir of the experiences of his much-missed youth. Namely of his experiences in the CIA. Little does he suspect that these memoirs may be found and read by someone else, and just what that would mean.

Much of the rest of the movie revolves around a main cast of stupid yet empathetical characters, making stupid yet(much of the time) empathetical decisions. It's kind of painful really, because as an attentive viewer it's rather hard to miss the writing on the wall, and you sort of wish you could just yell out to the main characters just what they are doing to themselves. You know that should the spaghetti hit the fan(and it will), things are not going to look good(and they don't).

In the end, it's a fine movie, if a flawed one in parts. Just the kind of crazy episode of insanity you'd expect from the Cohen Brothers, though one not nearly as satisfying as that of some of their other works, such as Raising Arizona, O Brother Where Art Thou?, and No Country For Old Men. I guess I was just expecting something a little more.

7 out of 10

Monday, February 16, 2009

Why I'm Looking Forward To G.I. Joe: Rise Of Cobra

To tell the truth, I have been waiting for a movie like this to come along for some time now. Why? Because, if the trailer and the past history of the franchise is anything to go by, it's a movie featuring tons of cool characters who are immersed in backstory, with strange and cool abilities. It's not so much that these movies are rare, but rather that filmmakers usually tend to avoid the belief-suspending and over-the-top action sequences that they deserve. The way I see it when it comes to television is this: if it looks real, it's real. There is no such thing as being "realistic" in movies.

is a noteworthy element, that if implemented properly can lend itself to enhance a movie by making it more immersive. But that's not how most action movies should work. Movies like The Matrix, Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children, and Spiderman 2 are so immersive because they push reality. When The Matrix came out, millions of viewers watched Trinity leap into the air and perform a double side-kick, then run across the wall. The beauty of it was that what they were seeing on-screen looked very real, yet defied their expectations of real life. Those people that originally saw that first very famous scene in The Matrix were thinking something along the lines of, "OMG, THAT IS SO NOT HAPPENING!!!" Of course, that was why they enjoyed it so much.

It's often that people say the novelty of The Matrix has worn off what with all the "rip-offs" coming out. But I find it rather naive to call an over-the-top and slowmoey action flick a rip-off when The Matrix itself was merely an east-meets-west movie. Asian entertainment(specifically cartoons and anime) had been portraying that type of action for over twenty years. In fact, you can trace the origin of many of the most famous The Matrix scenes back to Japanese cartoons. It's just that only by around the year 2000 that we had the technology to pull off the same brilliant choreography in live-action.

What must be done now is push the boundaries of belief, coming up with wilder and wilder yet real-looking choreography. There's always room for more of these far-out, stylized action flicks; and Rise Of Cobra should be a good start.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Movie Journal: West Side Story

The classic musical West Side Story is actually in many ways based on another classical and widely-acclaimed work of fiction. Am I going to tell you what that piece of fiction is? Of course not. That would be a major spoiler. But I will tell you that West Side Story holds it's own, and it's novelty is so striking that I wouldn't be all that surprised if the author had never heard of the work of fiction I have in mind.

The location in which the story takes place is within the crowded west side of Manhattan, where local hoodlum gangs battle it out for control of the streets. Our hero Tony used to participate in these territorial struggles, but has moved on and now has a job. He has the distinct feeling that something worthwhile is just around the bend.

Meanwhile, the gang called "Jets" has been pushing around the recently immigrated "P.R.'s" ever since they arrived, and the the Puerto Ricans are starting to feel like pushing back. This is one of those movies that if I get into too much detail, I'll give it all away, so I'll leave the specifics at that.

The dancing, singing, and choreography are some of the best I have ever, ever seen. Various songs will either get your blood pumping extremely fast with exciting dance moves and acrobatics, or even slow and soothing yet hauntingly nostalgic songs of love and adoration; the latter of which you are in some cases likely to never forget. I'm afraid that you can't call yourself much of a fan of musicals if you haven't seen this movie. The way the different characters express themselves through both song, gestures, and very carefully constructed dialogue, is so vivid and believable that it's almost impossible not to get sucked into it's world.

And yet, around halfway through the movie, all the singing and laughing and dancing suddenly take a bizarre turn. Perhaps one of the reasons this movie has such an average viewer rating on movie sites is because the manifestation of the film's darker side is a rather harsh wake-up call, even if a necessary one. One of the reasons the ending stuns you so much is that deep down, you didn't believe it was going to happen. The world isn't that cruel, is it? But it is. West Side Story points you straight in the face and says, "This is what you've done," and you can't help but walk away feeling convicted and ashamed, knowing that you yourself are guilty of these same crimes in your own way.

No other movie has accomplished the projection of such a powerful controlling idea without getting preachy, and un-entertaining. And yet, West Side Story stays gripping from beginning to end. It's one of the few movies I have dared to describe as "Beautiful." There's only one other movie I would dare compare it to. And so, when you see my rating of this movie, don't misunderstand. I'm not saying that it's perfect or flawless in any way, only that it's truly in a league entirely of it's own.

10 out of 10

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Taken Review

If your daughter was kidnapped by a ring of foreign sex traders, and you knew that within ninety-six hours she would be auctioned off and never seen again, what would you do? Well, if your daughter was absolutely everything to you, and you used to work as a specialist for the government, you would probably do something along the lines of what Liam Neeson does in Taken. Tracks down and kills every person involved until his daughter is safe.

As I left the theater, I was really baffled at the negative reviews I had witnessed of this movie beforehand. Well, I can tell you right now that the majority of the negative feedback you have heard about this movie is absolute bogus. I have to say that I was unimpressed by the over-exaggerating hyper and giggly behavior coming from the teenage characters Amanda and Kim, but other than that, for the most part Taken is a very immersing and satisfying movie. Not only do the action sequences rival the intensity of that of the Bourne series, but behind all the violence and gore is a very touching story about a man who loves his daughter, and I'm really glad I got to experience it.

Seriously, don't listen to them. Taken has fabulous action and a well-crafted plot that never grinds. It's cool, it's fun, and it works. Go see it.

8 out of 10

G.I. Joe Teaser Trailer

Ok, so I'm a little late to the party. But you if haven't yet seen the teaser trailer for G.I. Joe: Rise Of Cobra, then see it now. Once you have; if you're not even in some way looking forward to this movie, there's something wrong with you.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Movie Journal: The Incredible Mr. Limpet

It's a widely accepted fact that during the first World War the U.S. Navy made use of a top secret weapon codenamed "Limpet". Thanks to "Limpet", the Navy was able to quickly pinpoint and sink hundreds of Nazi submarines. The Nazi's fear of the Navy grew, and so in order to eliminate this threat they called "Das Limpet", German engineers developed a high-tech weapon specifically for the job. However, when the time came, these weapons backfired, and an entire Nazi fleet was destroyed, making way for the U.S. Navy's passage to Europe.

And that, my friends, is how we pushed back the Nazi's U-boats surfing the Atlantic during World War I. Although, I may have failed to point out one minor detail; Limpet happened to be a talking fish, who was once a man.

Such a promising premise, isn't it? But I have some unfortunate news. Everything especially good about the movie is long over before the film is even a third of the way through.

I am referring, of course, to Don Knotts. His charm was so genuine and yet at the same time so different from so many other characters he's played, I have to say I was blown away. And then he had to go and get himself turned into a fish, which from a storytelling perspective is like sliding into a straight-jacket, as all the underwater characters he then had to interact with were shallow stereotypes. Even his exchanges with characters above water after that point were often ridiculous and hard to believe; since the voice-recordings for Limpet and live-action recordings for other characters were done separately, the timing is often off and the connection just isn't there.

I'm afraid this is just another mediocre movie trying to sell itself as a classic. Pity, because with a few tinkerings with the plot among other things, it really could have been great. Don Knotts was really something. As a result, The Incredible Mr. Limpet is both one of my very favorite films, and at the same time one of my most hated.

6 out of 10

Movie Journal: Ronin

Ronin are samurai whose lord has been slain while they went on living. They are warriors without a master, men and women with skills and abilities that are no longer under control. These are the kinds of people that the story of Ronin focuses on, and they are so interesting and different from normal people and the kinds of guys you usually see in movies that it's hard not to thoroughly enjoy it merely for it's genuine novelty.

If I really had to compare, I'd say Ronin is a lot like the 2003 The Italian Job meets The Bourne Identity. Although, both those movies came out years after Ronin did. In fact, I wouldn't think it too presumptuous to say that perhaps those movies were somewhat influenced by this one. In it, many trained killers and outcasts of various organizations(such as the CIA and KGB) gather together to plan the theft of an extremely high-priced object. This object is in the hands of a group of people who keep it in a small metal case, and just about every major character in the film wants it.

Ronin has no shortage of deep characters, intriguing plot twists, satisfying action, and clever dialogue. In one part, Sean Bean's character taunts Robert De Niro's by asking him if he's worried about saving his own skin, to which De Niro replies, "Yeah, it covers my body." Also, it's probably worth mentioning that Ronin features the most intense car chase sequence I've ever witnessed, and it's worth checking out for that aspect alone.

Ronin's final act, while not overflowing with over-the-top action and effects, presents not only a series of exciting twists after another, but also a bizarre revelation of the main character's true motives in this game. If you enjoy a diversely satisfying plot that knows how to build and present action, and you haven't yet seen this movie, you owe it to yourself big time.

9 out of 10

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Movie Journal: The Ghost And Mr. Chicken

You know those cheezy movies you find on discount racks with a little gold bar along the top of the case containing something along the lines of "Golden Classics Collection"? And even more so, with an actor's name next to this proclamation? It's one thing when a DVD claims it's a classic, another when it capitalizes on an actor's name. The latter occasion can be real hit-and-miss when it comes to the quality of the movie in question.

Just recently I had the chance to see such a movie, called The Ghost And Mr. Chicken. The bar along the top of the case said "Comedy Classics". In betweeen those two words was the name "Don Knotts". Don Knotts is a funny guy. So, actually quite naturally, The Ghost And Mr. Chicken is a funny movie. In it Don Knotts plays a rather stereotypical reporter, who happens to be a hyperactive and blundering idiot. In his blunders and hyperactivity, he completely and unknowingly uncovers the secret behind an old murder long shrouded in mystery.

There were many things about the movie I didn't really understand. Actually, now that I think about it, it was only one thing. Tell me, why is it that beautiful woman in these movies always go for the idiotic and bumbling types? I honestly did not see what was drawing that woman to the main character. Also, come to think of another thing: what the heck was with that last twist? Did it tie into the rest of the plot at all? Didn't seem so to me. Just screwing with my mind perhaps? Well, it worked, because I thought and thought about exactly what it meant and I still have no clue.

Anywho, the movie works. But it's not a classic. Don't you believe it.

7 out of 10

Movie Journal: The King And I

I had seen this movie many, many times as a really young kid, and as I revisited it recently I began to wonder something. Sure, the movie was funny. It was bright, and colorful; not just visually but in terms of the characters and the events taking place. But at the same time I wondered: is this movie really considered a classic?

I wondered this for several reasons. Anna's(the main character) son is a total stereotype, and though he is supposed to be really close to Anna, he is onscreen only a handful of times; and he actually talks even less. While colorful, vivid characters like the King more than made up for this, I also found that for a musical, few of the songs were actually memorable.

Until it came to that one scene, the only scene I had remembered and had somehow grasped the significance of, even as a small boy. The scene featuring the song, "Shall We Dance?". It's when this movie's romantic elements kick in that it becomes so powerful. In fact, it is one of the most powerful scenes I've had the good fortune to experience, and even if the rest of the movie were but cliched trash, this one scene would make it all worth it.

8 out of 10

Friday, February 6, 2009

Movie Journal: Blood Diamond

Now here is a movie I did not expect to enjoy nearly as much as I did. Elegant, intense, and interesting; I couldn't take my eyes off it. Though the movie is long it wastes no time diving into a very early and impacting action scene. The film is clearly action oriented, and yet at the same time Leonardo DeCaprio's exchanges with Jennifer Connolly were so deep, intriguing, and well-written I couldn't help but be reminded of the dialogue-oriented films of the 1950's. Not to mention the plot itself, which is so professionally constructed that there was never a dull moment. One part Goldeneye and another part Schindler's List, Blood Diamond is, all things considered, certainly one of my very favorite action films.

8 out of 10

Movie Journal: Stranger Than Fiction

The truth is, I sat down to watch Stranger Than Fiction thinking it was a Will Ferrell movie. That over the course of this movie I would be mildly entertained by a somewhat intriguing plot, and that the main appeal would be Will Ferrell's over-the-top antics. Well, I couldn't have been more wrong, because Stranger Than Fiction is not "a Will Ferrell movie". In fact, in a way, it's not even a comedy. It's a thriller so vivid and bursting with imagination that it simply exudes a charm so intoxicating you can't help but be very, very amused.

Having pointed out that it is a thriller, I shall certainly do my best to give away as little as possible. After all, it's so easy to spoil a thriller, isn't it? But I will tell you that never so well have I seen Will Ferrell portray this type of character, a person who's so very boring and normal. An agent of the IRS, in fact. A man who counts how many brush strokes he applies to his teeth every morning, and keeps track of the seconds during lunch breaks. A man who is so caught up in all the systematic routines of life he no longer remembers how to simply stop and enjoy it. And that is about as far as I'll get before exposing an inciting incident so unique and thrilling, I doubt I will ever see one quite like it again.

If you missed this movie in 2006 because Will Ferrell was starring in it, as I did, then don't make my same mistake twice. It's true that it's not without it's flaws. I found the romantic elements a bit too gratuitously sexual for my liking, and felt it could have been much more poetic. But no movie is perfect, and I doubt that I will forget this one for a long, long time.

8 out of 10

Thursday, February 5, 2009

New Dragonball Evolution Trailer

This is by far the best trailer for Dragonball: Evolution I've seen yet. Though I'm only mildly optimistic, I'll probably end up going to see it theaters anyway. What can I say? I'm a huge fan of the Dragonball series, and I'd hate to miss this if it turns out to be any good.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Movie Journal: Last Man Standing

Ever feel that when it comes to action films, you've seen it all? You're not the only one. That's why action filmmakers struggle constantly to bring forward movies that at least look or feel different than those that came before. Last Man Standing is unlike any action flick I've ever seen in my life, but I wonder if it's really the better for it.

Though I have not seen Sin City yet, I imagine it's very similar to this film. Bruce Willis stars a man without a conscience and in search of peace and refuge; presumably from the authorities. He comes to a small, dusty town on the outskirts of Texas, called Jericho. It's here he discovers two gangs warring for control of the town. Being an experienced gunman, he decides that this may be his chance to make some easy money.

The storyline is guided, much as in Sin City, by Bruce Willis' entrancing voice-over narrative. The events that unfold are interesting and engaging to watch, and the dialogue, especially many of Bruce Willis' lines, are very memorable. However, as the movie moves quickly from one scene to the next, as we watch everything unfold, you can't shake the feeling that the final shootout won't be quite so climactic after so many twists and turns.

Watching Bruce Willis gun down his enemies one by one can be exciting for sure, but where are the plot twists? The drama? Sadly, they are not present in the third act; perhaps what is often the most important act in an entire film. I wouldn't want you to miss out on some great dialogue and ingeniously choreographed action, but just don't expect this movie to deliver as other truly great action films have done before it.

7 out of 10

About "Movie Journal"

You may have noticed some recent articles whose names start with "Movie Journal". This is a new feature on this blog where I will write my own review of pretty much every movie I see. The links to these posts will then be moved to the sidebar titled "Movie Journal". If you look now at the time of this writing, you will see a total of...four movies. But don't worry; I see a lot of movies, and the list will quickly grow, so be sure to check back every so often. Also, from this point on any of my reviews of a movie I see in theaters I will also add to the list of movies in the movie journal.

In addition, every so often I may refer to one of my favorite movies or a movie I've seen before now. So when you see a Movie Journal in the future on a classic must-see like The Godfather, or Casablanca, chances are it is not the first time I've seen it. But rather, unless the post says otherwise, I have either just recently revisited it or just felt I should write about it.

Not to say I've seen every single must-see movie. Lately I've been tracking down tons of movies I've heard alot about and wish to experience myself. The Movie Journal's purpose is to share a bit of that experience with readers and let them know whether or not it was worth it. Seeing as how I will also be chronicling every movie I see in passing as well, I doubt it will be very long before there are a good amount of movies on this list.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Movie Journal: Princess Mononoke

I absolutely adore Japanese anime and manga. They just tend to be much more interesting and character-driven than our cartoons. In fact, many of their TV shows such as Naruto, Bleach, Samurai Champloo, and especially One Piece make many American animated shows look totally pathetic. Sure, there are tons of bad anime out there, but the good ones are so much greater than our "good" ones. They feature believable characters and empathetical scenarios of conflict that happen between them. The events are structured so well that by the time the action comes into play, even though it's often really well structured and choreographed, it is but the icing on the cake.

For the most part, I found the same to be true for the Japanese animated feature Princess Mononoke. I can't say I love it nearly as much as some other animated Japanese creations, but for a cartoon it is interesting, intelligent, and well-structured throughout.

The story takes place in a mythological Japan where gods and spirits govern over provinces of natural wildlife. One such province is a forest belonging to the Deer God, who is the sole embodiment of life itself. The story wastes no time in kicking into gear as prince Ashitaka, last remaining heir of a legendary tribe of warriors, defeats a corrupted god endangering his village. In the process, the god curses Ashitaka. The villages oracle tells Ashitaka that in order to get to the bottom of this he is to investigate what is going on in the lands east of them. Ashitaka sets out knowing he may soon die from the curse that plagues his body, but wishes to do what he can to resolve the conflict taking place in the east, for what power could do what it did to the god that cursed him?

As with most any Japanese film imported to America, the option for Japanese audio with english subtitles I found much preferable to the english dub. In fact, the english voice-acting was much of the time downright terrible. Many of the voice-actors were shamelessly recycled, and Billy Bob Thornton was badly and rather redundantly cast.

So in terms of the Japanese version, I found it to be a very solid and enjoyable film. It had good dialogue, a huge emphasis on interesting characters, a great plot, and in some parts really fantastic action, though not in the over-the-top fashion that people sometimes expect from Japanese television. Rather, it was suspenseful, and intense; more along the lines of the kind of the action in Braveheart and Kingdom Of Heaven than in Bleach or Jubei Chan. Which brings me to this fact: that this movie does not go out of it's way to showcase blood and gore, but it's sure as heck not afraid to, either. For the first time in a long time, there was actually a couple parts where I really cringed, mainly when it came to the injuries some of the battling god-animals withstood. Yikes.

But moreover, Princess Mononoke displays a bizarre and unique sense of style and charm. The environment and atmosphere of the film is both breathtaking and beautiful. Though it's not one of my all-time favorite films, it is one of my all-time favorite animated films and I highly recommend it.

8 out of 10

Monday, February 2, 2009

Movie Journal: War And Peace

It's true: up until recently I had never had the chance to see the classic book-to-film adaptation War And Peace. In fact, I had heard little about it. What I had heard was promising enough that for a long while I had looked forward to seeing it when the opportunity presented itself. I only wish I had seen this undeniable masterpiece sooner.

Though I had known that the film starred famous actress Audrey Hepburn, I was surprised and delighted to also find the likes of Henry Fonda and many other great actors present. The mixture of established yet eclectic professionals seemed out of place to me in theory, but in action I saw that these people knew precisely how to portray the characters they represented, and it all came to together very well.

The main storyline's emphasis seemed to move back and forth between the war taking place as Napolean Bonaparte invades Russia, and soap opera-esque interpersonal conflicts taking place between the main characters, many of which reside in Moscow.

The characters are so real and the development they experience so vivid that every event that took place over the course of the story is still fresh in my mind. Which is saying alot, considering it runs for almost three and a half hours. It is, quite honestly, probably the longest movie I've yet seen. The last time I viewed a movie anywhere near this long was when I saw Seven Samurai. Gosh, that movie was long.

Don't get the wrong idea, though; because War And Peace is the better for it. Though it is probably the longest movie I've yet seen, there is not a single moment that it drags or grinds, in any way. It remains fresh and interesting from beginning to end. In that sense, you could call it the perfect three-hour epic. Definitely a film I will have to add to my list of favorite classics from the 1950's.

9 out of 10

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Transformers 2 Trailer From Superbowl TV Spot

For a brief TV spot, this is a pretty darn cool 30 second teaser. I enjoyed the first Transformers, even though the structure and choreography for some of the action scenes were quite lacking. The graphics were good, but think of how bad most of the head-to-head combat must have looked on paper? Absolutely no twists and very little strategy. The action in the later half of the second and third acts was mostly just well-rendered robots repeatedly bashing into each other and what-not. Despite it's flaws, it was a lot of fun though. I'm looking forward to this sequel, but mostly because I'm hoping it will improve in the areas where the original did the worst.