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5
Jan

Three End of 2012 Must See Films

Of the many films that were released in 2012 there were three that could be said to be the most anticipated throughout the year up to their release as the year came to a close. Those three films are The Hobbit, Les Miserables and Django Unchained. Each of these motion pictures has either breathed new life into an aging genre or has been innovative in some way that may change how films are made in the near future.

The Hobbit

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Hundreds, if not millions have been waiting for a number of years for this film to finally make it to the big screen; especially after Peter Jackson returned to the Director’s chair. Jackson not only accomplished the same dramatic scope and majesty with The Hobbit as he did with The Lord of The Rings Trilogy, he also did something truly innovative. He and the rest of the crew on The Hobbit chose to film at a higher frame rate of forty frames per second—the standard is 35 fps—this resulted in a picture that is so clear, the viewer is hard pressed to believe that the characters are anywhere else but in the same room. Truthfully, the “hyper-realism” took some getting used to. Nonetheless, it only served to bring the story to life—literally.

 

Les Miserables

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For those familiar with the process of filming a musical, they understand that the standard way is to have the actors lip sync to pre-recorded tracks of themselves singing. This sometimes results in a less than authentic emotional performance from the actors/actresses because they may have made different character choices when they originally sang than when they are filming. Director Tom Hooper—wanting to capture a more authentic musical experience on film—chose to have the actors sing while filming with only the music to sing to. The result is astronomically moving performances by Anne Hathaway, Hugh Jackman, Eddie Redmayne and Amanda Seyfried. Every cast member had the ability to respond to the moment as they normally would while filming a speaking part making each character seem much more genuine in their emotionality. This was truly an original way to approach a generations old genre and give it new life.

Django Unchained

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Any genre that Quentin Tarantino touches is going to be changed from old and dry to new, edgy and purely entertaining. This is something that Tarantino does well and has his entire career. Django takes the western and flips it on its head. What we get is a story with as many twists and turns as the best thrillers, mingled with ingenious dialogue that intrigues instead of bores and Tarantino’s own brand of brutal, fast-paced and bloody action. This one is bound to be as popular as Inglorious Basterds and Pulp Fiction. Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz and Leonardo DiCaprio give effortless performances. Django Unchained is a film worth seeing for any fan of Tarantino’s work.

 

 

If you haven’t seen any of these three films yet, stop hesitating. Regardless of which you choose they will leave you breathless, inspired or just plain exhilarated.

 

 

 

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13
Oct

Taken 2 Review

ImageFinally had a chance to see Taken 2 that was released last week on October 5. The film reunites Liam Neeson, Maggie Grace and Famke Janssen from the first Taken film. For those familiar with Taken, they would remember that Neeson’s character, Bryan Mills takes matters into his own hands when his teenage daughter is kidnapped by white slavery traders while vacationing in Paris.Image

In Taken 2, Murad Krasniqi; the leader of the group who kidnapped Kim Mills, has chosen to take out his revenge for the men who were killed by Bryan Mills. Instead of kidnapping Kim, Murad and his men set out to take the entire family to exact their revenge on the man who took friends and family from them. Murad is portrayed by Rade SerbedzijaImage

Without divulging too much about the plot, it is sufficient to say that things do not quite go the way Murad has planned resulting in Mills practicing his own brand of justice. Two other points about Taken 2 that can be made: 1) The film is not as gut wrenching as the first because the first Taken involved Mills venturing into the world of white slavery to find his daughter and in Taken 2 the premise is slightly different though it still involves kidnapping. 2) Once things get rolling, the action and suspense is non-stop.Image

In conclusion, this was a thoroughly enjoyable film. There is a strong plot and with a PG-13 rating this is a good film for families with teens. Additionally, it may be fun for fans of the first film to see how Bryan Mills deals with the consequences of his actions in the first Taken.

7
Oct

Looper Review

Looper is the sort of film that is enjoyable; not because it has plenty of action and violence, but because the story is solid and well thought out. As the story goes, Joe is a “Looper”-a type of contract killer in the future. Through narration, Joe explains that time travel is invented and outlawed thirty years from the time set in the story. He says that the crime bosses are the only ones who use time travel illegally in order to dispose of troublesome individuals who exist at the time. So, Joe and other Loopers are contracted to kill those people sent back in time and dispose of them.

Joe is one of the best Loopers in the business, but his job and future are threatened when his thirty years older self is sent back and escapes. This creates a number of paradoxes which are all addressed by the films end. We do learn that the reason old Joe escapes has to do with a man from his timeline called “Rainmaker” who has been sending the aged Loopers back in time to be killed by their younger selves.

The action gets intense and the visual effects are top-notch however, the most astonishing achievement visually is how the film makers made Joseph Gordon-Levitt; who plays Joe, resemble Bruce Willis (Older Joe) so closely. There were moments where they looked identical. Levitt should also be praised for his ability to mimic Willis’ facial expressions and even his manner of speech. Emily Blunt and Jeff Daniels play integral roles in the film as well.

Looper is definitely worth a watch though it might be a good idea to leave the kids at home. This film has quite a few bloody scenes, plenty of swear words, some female nudity and themes that children will not understand.

4
Jun

Snow White and The Huntsman Review

Charlize Theron as the Queen

Most individuals who have been alive since Disney first released the now classic animated film, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs are very familiar with that version of the Snow White fairy tale. Snow White and the Huntsman is not that version. Nor is it remotely close. In fact, the only piece that might have been inspired by the Disney version is the dress that Snow White wears throughout the film.

Kristen Stewart as Snow White

The basic elements of the story are still there. The evil Sorceress Queen hires the Huntsman to kill Snow White and bring back her heart and the Huntsman of course, spares the fair and beautiful Snow White.  Beyond those well known themes Snow White and The Huntsman is a story about a woman corrupted by her fears and a lust for power. A corruption so severe it taints everything and everyone in the kingdom with decay, bitterness and sorrow.

By contrast, there is the story of Snow White; who loses her father and is imprisoned by the Queen, only to become the very thing the Queen needs to extend her own life indefinitely. A fugitive in her own kingdom, Snow White flees the castle with the help of the Huntsman who has pity

on the Princess despite his orders from the Queen. As they travel towards the Duke’s castle, they learn of Snow White’s true destiny and meet the Dwarves who are nearly destitute after the near decimation of their proud race. Together these unlikely comrades determine to take action and rise up against the oppression of the Queen in order to return the kingdom to its former glory and place Snow White in her rightful place as Queen.

The Huntsman (Chris Hemsworth) with the Dwarves

Charlize Theron, Kristen Stewart and Chris Hemsworth star in the three principle roles. Each  does so  extremely well bringing  life to these characters that one can’t help but believe that they are real. Combined with a great supporting cast and visuals on par with those in The Lord of The Rings movies, Snow White and The Huntsman is a film destined to be the best incarnation of a well loved fairy tale.

7
May

Avengers Packs a Wallop!


Easily one of this years most anticipated movies, The Avengers has already broken box-office records by earning over $200 million in just the first weekend. It really is not so surprising when you think about it. The film has Thor, The Hulk, Iron Man and Captain America. All four are characters from the last few years of summer box office hits. The most recent being Thor, Captain America and Iron Man 2. Add in highly advanced secret government organization–S.H.E.I.L.D–and a power hungry demigod set on ruling the world, it all amounts to an epic superhero movie.

Summarily, Asgardian Loki (Tom Hiddelston) is in search of the Tesseract also known as the cosmic cube, which has the power to open a bridge between worlds. He intends to use this power to bring an army from another planet in hopes to subjugate the people of Earth. The Tesseract is the same cube that The Red Skull used to power Hydra’s weapon in Captain America. As an act of desperation, Nick Fury decides to put “The Avengers initiative” back into action and recruits Bruce Banner (The Hulk), Tony Stark (Iron Man) and Steve Rogers (Captain America) to join S.H.E.I.L.D agent Natasha Romanoff (Black Widow) in an effort to recover the Tesseract from Loki. Thor and Agent Clint Barton (Hawkeye) join of their own volition. Once the team is put together, they find that Loki’s plans are not the only threat the heroes must deal with. Each of the heroes are loners in their own respect and used to doing things in a certain way without having to consult with anyone else, thus they must learn to work together if they are to have any hope of bringing down a fanatical Loki and his insurmountable horde of alien assailants. Oh the incredible things that happen when the heroes finally work as a team! Pack a wallop indeed! Perhaps that is an understatement, but the action is certainly epic.

However, the epic nature of the film is not solely due to the unification of seven of Marvel’s greatest heroes, but the unwavering portrayal of the characters by Robert Downey Jr, Chris Hemsworth, Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo; Jeremy Renner, Scarlet Johannson and Samuel L. Jackson who fill their shoes and the skilled collaboration of action, humor and drama within the story. It is in the dedication of Director Joss Whedon and the crew behind him to bring the fans a film they will love. They certainly succeeded. The Avengers is entertaining in every way. It has been a while since this movie goer has heard the entire audience cheer and laugh together. With certainty that will be the experience of any who goes to see this film.

15
Mar

John Carter: No Ordinary SciFi

Disney’s new film John Carter (starring Taylor Kitsch) is far from the usual everyday Science Fiction film. Sure, it has many elements of science fiction films that we’ve seen before however, John Carter has one thing nearly every science fiction film ever made doesn’t. The book on which the film is based–A Princess of Mars–was originally published in 1912 under the title:Under The Moons of Mars and later novelized and given the current title in 1917. As a matter of fact, Edgar Rice Burrough’s Barsoom series has been credited as the inspiration for such works as The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury. It could be said that Burrough’s Barsoom series became the model of modern science fiction, or science fantasy. At its very core, John Carter could be–in essence–the first science fiction tale. However, the story is more than simply a man gets transported to another planet and sees aliens.

John Carter is a tale of a late 18th century man lost among the human race with no purpose for life other than becoming filthy rich. He intends to do so by finding a cave a gold. In almost an ironic sense, it is that cave of gold that changes his life completely. Just not in the way John Carter had envisioned. Instead he is transported to a world with two moons. A dying world, whose inhabitants are in turmoil; desperately in need of a savior–Mars. John Carter is that savior. He discovers this as he seeks a way to return to Earth only to find that he must fight for the freedom of Mars if he is ever to get back to Earth.By losing himself in the service of those who call Mars home John Carter finds himself.

John Carter shows us the Mars we all dream of. Complete with green men and ancient civilizations. One can only wonder while watching this film, if the story of John Carter inspired the likes of such films as Dune, Flash Gordon, or even Star Wars. It is well worth watching on an enormous screen as the cinematography provides some gorgeous views. With John Carter, Disney gives us a special tale different from the usual science fiction audiences have become accustomed to. In many ways the film reminds one of those old Sinbad  movies from the Golden Era of film, only with 21st century computer graphics. Delve into a story with century old sensibilities that somehow speaks to our modern day ones. Allow yourself to be transported to another world.

22
Feb

This Means War: An Action Packed Comedy

If you are looking for an action comedy that actually has some really good laughs, then This Means War is the movie to see. The film stars Chris Pine (Star Trek 2009) and Tom Hardy (Inception) as two of the CIAs top agents who are also best friends who would do anything for the other. All bets are off however when the two of them begin dating the same woman (played by Reese Witherspoon).

Most of the laughs occur while the two friends are using their resources—something that would most likely get them fired in real life—to one up each other, or in attempts to ruin the others date with Lauren (Reese Witherspoon). FDR (Pine) and Turk (Hardy) find the bounds of their friendship tested and Lauren discovers that she has to choose between the two men. The two spies manage to uncover this truth thus, the stakes become higher.

The action element of the film is achieved at the beginning of the movie where we see FDR and Turk on a mission, when FDR and Turk have a “disagreement” and when the consequences of their earlier mission catch up with them through a man named Heinrich. There is also a great scene during a paintball game that is action filled and funny at the same time.

The action comedy formula seems to be a genre that is growing more popular despite some missteps (Starsky& Hutch) and more memorable successes (Cop Out, Rush Hour, The Other Guys). This Means War is a very welcome addition to a relatively short list. Unless you count Lethal Weapon’s 1-4 as action comedies—which some might. Nevertheless, This Means War is a vastly entertaining film that blends comedy, action and a touch of romance. Well worth the money to see it.

 

26
Jan

The Man Who Brought us ‘Star Wars’

I originally posted this on my Tumblr Blog, but thought it might help to post it here. If you read it and like it please share it. Heck, share it even if you don’t like it. I wrote this because it seems to me that some fans of the Star Wars franchise–which in my opinion has defined an entire generation and their children–need to be reminded of just what George Lucas did. Who knows, some film industry folk may even read this and go: “Oh yeah, he did do those things.” So here it is below. Enjoy!

A Few Words About George Lucas

After reading an article on The Hollywood Reporter website in which George Lucas says, ““I’m retiring. I’m moving away from the business, from the company, from all this kind of stuff.” (The Hollywood Reporter Erin Carlson, 1/18/2012) I became dismayed that a man who has greatly contributed to the film industry as it is today would feel the need to stop. Further disappointment set in as the reported reason for this decision is the constant negativity and outrage from fanboys and girls aimed at him for making changes to HIS films that are blasphemous in their eyes. I’ve added the link to the article for those who wish to read it: “Star Wars” Creator George Lucas Fires Back at Fanboys’, “Red Tails” Snub.

The idea that individuals who are fans of one of the greatest sci-fi franchises in the last thirty-five years would be so willing to be hateful towards the creator of that franchise is mind boggling. Are these “fans” so wrapped up in their own narcissism that they can’t see the value in what George Lucas has done by adding to the Star Wars films and making the Star Wars prequels? Are they really that upset because he wanted to make the films what they were originally intended to be? That’s like getting mad at Domino’s Pizza for improving their pizza or Infinity Ward for making yet another multi-player map pack to Modern Warfare 3.

The point is that George Lucas made those changes and added scenes because he wanted the fans to get the full product not just an incredibly close representation of it. Consider also that he mad the films despite not having the technology he needed to make them the way he had originally intended and the result was mind blowing. Not only did Star Wars define the “blockbuster film”, but George Lucas and those who were on his visual effects staff had to invent methods for achieving certain effects. Thus, ILM (Industrial Light and Magic) was born.

Today, ILM has helped to create the visual effects in numerous science fiction films and continues to be innovative in that respect. Some of the films that ILM has worked on includes: Avatar, The Abyss, Back To The Future Trilogy, Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, and the Harry Potter movies. For the entire list, go to http://www.ilm.com/ If it hadn’t been for George Lucas and his desire to create spectacular visual effects and do it in ways that others weren’t at the time, Industrial Light and Magic may never have existed.

Besides ILM Lucas created THX and Skywalker sound simply because he wanted the audience to experience the best in sound quality while watching his movies. If you remember, THX sound became the standard in theater audio and still is to this day. Is it any stretch of the imagination to think that by creating THX George Lucas paved the way for Digital Surround and IMAX?

The long and short of it is that George Lucas is an innovator. He invented Star Wars, thought up Indiana Jones, was brave enough to change the way special effects were created—also put the credits at the end of the movie instead of the beginning—and made it possible for the audience to “feel” like they were in the middle of the action because they could hear every blaster sound, x-wing engine, light saber ignition and explosion in clear pristine audio. Best of all, George Lucas inspired an entire generation of filmmakers, video game developers and novelists.

His Star Wars franchise is one of the largest in the world and we have enjoyed the Star Wars universe at the movie theater, in the books we’ve read and the video games we’ve played and do we show him the respect and admiration he deserves? Well, there are millions of us who do, but it seems that some “fans” are hell bent on ruining it for us and the man who invented the franchise these fanboys love so much.

To the fanboys: Give respect where respect is due and leave your negativity and narcissism to yourselves.

To George Lucas: I would sure hate to see you retire under these circumstances and I am sure there are millions of fans and many filmmakers who share that sentiment.

Sincerely,

Jonn H. aka Trippyjedi

 

24
Jan

Underworld Awakens With Vengence

Once again Kate Beckinsale dons the now familiar tight leather armor of Death Dealer Selene in the fourth installment of the epic Underworld film series. When last we saw Selene it was at the end of Underworld: Evolution in which she and Michael fight against the two Corvinas brothers. Twelve years after being captured and separated from Michael during the human purge of vampires and lycans, Selene is rescued by a mysterious “subject two” and finds herself searching for this unknown individual.  Selene takes out her vengeance on her captors finding that she must once more fight for survival. Soon she finds that the “subject” who freed her is a young girl (played by India Eisley)and makes a discovery that gives her renewed hope in being reunited with her beloved Michael.

Underworld: Awakening is chock full of everything fans of the Underworld films have come to expect. Spectacular fight scenes, displays of supernatural strength and ability and a blessed amount of good old explosions (everyone loves things that go boom right?). Amidst the battles and escapes from certain death, Selene finds that she has more enemies than friends especially while protecting the young girl who rescued her. For some reason, the lycans are hunting the girl and the other vampires are loath to harbor her. Sorry, no spoilers here. See the movie to unravel the mystery of the girl and what she represents.

For those unfamiliar with the Underworld films, the first ten minutes or so brings the story up to date, including the events that separate Selene and Michael. That said, it may be a good idea to at least watch Underworld and Underworld: Evolution to understand the relationship between Selene and Michael, because it is that relationship that sets the stage for the events of Awakening and gives the film an emotional connection. Also, fans of the series will also better understand the history that exists within the world that is Underworld. For example: the importance of Michael being a descendant of Alexander Corvinas, and why Selene can walk in the sunlight despite being a vampire. Otherwise, the film can be enjoyed for what it is; a great fantasy action film or just to watch Kate Beckinsale kick werewolf butt.

27
Nov

Hugo Is The Stuff Dreams Are Made Of

There is a certain magic in the air when going to the movies. The smell of popcorn, a feeling of anticipation as the lights dim, then the audience is transported to other worlds, the past, a fictional present or become a silent observer on a journey. When this happens, then the film has accomplished its purpose and the film maker’s theirs.

The film Hugo directed by Martin Scorsese, takes us on an exquisite journey of discovery and wonder. The intrepid adventurer in this story is a boy named Hugo, who winds the clocks at the train station in Paris, France. Hugo is attempting to unlock the secret of an autonomous man made of clockworks and in doing so he becomes friends with Isabelle, the daughter of the toy maker named Papa George.

While uncovering the secrets of the clockwork man, the two children make a discovery so wondrous and delightful that revealing it would only ruin the magic. Suffice it to say that they learn there is more to Papa George than meets the eye. Hugo also finds a strength within himself he did not know he had.

The beauty and majesty of Martin Scorsese’s film is not only in its presentation—the 3D effects are impeccable—but in it endearing story and how that tale is brought to life through the loveable characters of which this film is about. Asa Butterfield plays Hugo so splendidly that he is captivating. Chloe Grace Moretz fills Isabelle with a wonder and curiosity that seems almost tangible, and Ben Kingsley as always, delivers a magnificent performance as Papa George.

Through the inspired direction of Martin Scorsese and the dedication of the films cast (including Sascha Baron Cohen as the Station Inspector) Hugo captures the magic of story-telling through the medium of film and reminds us that it is the “stuff dreams are made of”. Whether you are a child, adult, film enthusiast, or simply a person who enjoys a good story; Hugo is not a film to be missed.

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