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Django Unchained (2012)
Leonardo DiCaprio & Samuel L. Jackson has the most memorable performances in this film.
"Django Unchained" is Quentin Taratino's version of a spaghetti western. Leonardo DiCaprio & Samuel L. Jackson has the most memorable performances, as they portrayed characters that are very different from their previous roles in their filmography. Christoph Waltz plays the most likable character, as if it was Taratino's gift to repay him, after Waltz played the evil villain from his Oscar winning performance as a Nazi from "Inglorious Basterds".
Overall it's a good movie, but it pales in comparison to his 1994 film "Pulp Fiction" & 2009's "Inglorious Basterds". There are definitely a few brilliant scenes in this movie, but not as many as Taratino's better films, as it also drags with a running time of just under 3 hours.
Zero Dark Thirty (2012)
An intense, realistic, uncomfortable, intelligent, emotional, suspenseful, dramatic & spectacular piece of work.
It's easily my favorite movie of the 2012 year. This film reminded me a lot like the 2006 movie "United 93"; where it seems more like a documentary without the commentary, and where the audience is living & witnessing all the scenes with the actors. "Zero Dark Thirty" chronologies the events leading up to the location & death of Osama Bin Laden; a movie that very few people could've made, where it really shows the directing talents of Kathryn Bigelow. This is a much better film than "The Hurt Locker", which won he Academy Award for Best Picture of 2009. "Zero Dark Thirty" also showcase the incredible acting talents of Jessica Chastain, whereas the entire movie has excellent dialogs & amazing acting from the entire cast. "Zero Dark Thirty" is an intense, realistic, uncomfortable, intelligent, emotional, suspenseful, dramatic & spectacular piece of work. This isn't a gung-ho or a political film..; but instead, it shows the talents & intelligence it took for the men & women behind the CIA & military had to take, in order to catch the most wanted man in the world.
The Dark Knight Rises (2012)
Watch it in IMAX only!!!
To start my review, this movie is not as good as "The Dark Knight". I'm glad that I cleared that up, but for the record, it's still a really damn good film! It stays true to its previous films, as it continued to be very dark with more ties to "Batman Begins". As for the IMAX sequences, it's worth every penny of the extra surcharge.
Surprisingly, Batman has a lot less screen time than I originally thought, as it focuses more on Bruce Wane. It is unfair to compare Bane to the Joker, so I will not do that. In doing so, Bane is a terrifyingly, memorably well-written villain; as his presence & dialogs are performed nicely by Tom Hardy. Anne Hathaway does a good job as the sexy Selina Kyle, as she stays true to the comics as screwing over Batman, while equally being an ally.
This movie is very dark with even more dialog; as you're not sure what type of conclusion this film was heading to, or the type of fate the characters were going to have. Christopher Nolan continued to do an excellent job; misleading the audience with the villains' plot, just as confused as Gotham's heroes were. As the movie comes to an end, the conclusion is satisfying, leading you wanting more. That's the accomplishment Christopher Nolan achieved with his vision, in directing & writing a trilogy to a classic comic book story.
As for the IMAX sequences, there are a lot more scenes in "The Dark Knight Rises" that its predecessor. The POV shots are excellent! Be sure to go to a real IMAX theater, that will carry the 70mm print. Watching a regular format, will be greatly diminishing its full theater experience.
The Kids Are All Right (2010)
Your typical story about American family values, but NOT about your typical American family.
This movie is your typical story about American family values, but it's NOT about your typical American family. This movie is unique and original in every single way because it concentrates on a family lifestyle that is rarely ever depicted on film.
This movie is a comedy, so there are a lot of funny scenarios and awkward situations between the characters; although the last half an hour does become a serious drama. This is a hard "R" rated film, so there are a lot of swearing and a handful of short visual sex scenes that contains nudity.
All the characters are likable and there are no villains, but every character goes through their dramatic emotions to the chain of events that occurs between their loved ones. The film never goes in a predictable manner, because this isn't a typical America family. The scenarios that occurs between the characters are situations that the audience are not familiar with, which makes the movie fresh and original.
You don't know where the film is going or how it will end, but the ending is satisfying. I wouldn't say it's a happy ending, but it concludes the way it does in defining what's best for this American family. In other words, the American family values are upheld in this film, even though the parents are a lesbian couple. At the end of all things, the kids are going to be all right. As for the adults, not so much; but they have to work hard to sustain their relationships with everyone they love.
The Green Hornet (2011)
Campy, corny, but visually entertaining.
I've been keeping my expectations low for this film and I'm glad that I did. I was a big fan of the 60's television show, but I didn't watch any episodes until the mid 90's; so I've been waiting almost 15 years for a film adaptation on the Green Hornet.
The film is campy, the story is corny, the villain is wasted and Seth Rogen wrote the script. Based on the plot and the dialogs, it's not a well made movie; but it doesn't try to be. This movie could have been written more seriously and be on the same map as a Christopher Nolan's Batman film; but instead, it went on the road to be a comedic film with a lot of explosions. Some stuff didn't work, other stuff was clever & visually entertaining.
The stuff that I admired the most are the homage to the original television show. There were some criticism to the 60's show about how the Kato character was just a sidekick, butler, manservant, an aid or a chauffeur to the Green Hornet. Bruce Lee didn't have much dialogs and he didn't have much screen time. It was during the 60's and just having an Asian-American to be an everyday character on a show was a big deal, so I never saw that as an insult. In this movie, they make a HUGE deal about that subject as Seth Rogen & Jay Chou are constantly arguing about Kato's role throughout the whole film.
Other homage to the television show is a drawn image of Bruce Lee, Al Hirt's theme "Flight of the Bumblebee" tune, and there's even a scenario from my favorite episode that has been written into the movie. The Black Beauty is also a very awesome car! The funny thing is that in the TV show, the Black Beauty was a brand new & very recent 1966 Imperial Crown sedan. In the movie, it's the exact same vehicle; but it's now a classical vintage car.
I saw the 3D version and there were very few sequences where the 3D effects was worth the extra price of admission. I recommend saving your money and watch the 2D version instead.
To finally sum everything up; the movie isn't good, but it brought back my love for the characters inside the Green Hornet world. The film is visually entertaining for what it is. I hope there's a sequel, but that somebody else will write its screenplay.
The Karate Kid (2010)
It's a pretty cute movie, but it doesn't nearly have the type of impact the original had.
This movie is more than just an updated version of the 1984 film "The Karate Kid", it's a remake! There are scenes, dialogs, editing and even facial expressions that are completely identical to the original. Sometimes it can even be a distraction, as you can't help but to compare the two films from one another.
This new version has nothing to do with Karate, as it focuses only on Kung Fu. The name of The Karate Kid is strictly to let the fans know that this is a remake, so that the audience doesn't feel that the story is unoriginal or as though this film is a rip-off. As an updated remake, it works; but it's way too long as there are numerous scenes that seems to put the movie to a halt. This film should garner new fans of the 1984 story & include more younger fans, especially the pre-teens.
Ralph Macchio was already 22 when he starred in the original film, but he was playing a teenager. Jaden Smith almost seems too adorable to be playing this role, as he's the new kid who is being bullied after moving to China. Even though Jaden Smith is supposed to be 12 in this film, he was actually 10/11 years old when he shot the movie. He's too young to be involved in this story, including his bullies and his love interest. Since his parents (Will Smith & Jada Pinkett Smith) are the producers and Jaden's youth would generate fans of his own age; are the main reasons for the characters being a lot younger in this remake. Even though I believe that Jaden Smith is too cute to play this role, I have to give him a lot of credit as I was very impressed with his performance in this film.
As for Jackie Chan (Mr. Han), this is a perfect role for his veteran status. He is getting up there in age and it's harder to believe in him as a martial arts hero in the leading role. This supporting role as a mentor works well for him, as he can act his age and still use his charm & humor to help carry this film. Even though he does a fine job as the new teacher to the new kid, nothing can compare to the impact that Pat Morita had with the Mr. Miyagi character.
There are similarities behind the two methods of how these teachers taught their apprentices, but the original was much better & more effective to its film. Jackie Chan started Smith's training by initially repeating the motion of picking up, putting on/off & hanging his jacket. This is similar to Mr. Miyagi's "Wax on, Wax off" method; although in the original version, Mr. Miyagi had his apprentice do A LOT more tedious work instead of just the jacket method that Jackie Chan demonstrated. The art of waxing Mr. Miyagi's cars, painting his house & fence were a lot more effective in the original film; which really seems lacking the new version. Also, the final tournament in the 1984 film seemed more realistic; as the remake seemed more like a video game.
The major character dilemma that is lacking in the new version that the original had, were the stereotype, prejudice & racism that Mr. Miyagi had to endure; which is something that Jackie Chan never has to face since he lives in his native country. That dilemma now faces Jaden Smith's character; which in reality, causes a dilemma for the producers of this film if they ever want to make a sequel. Since this movie is now successful, it will be difficult to do a remake of "The Karate Kid part II", which takes place in Mr. Miyagi's native country; which is already occurring in this remake.
If you grew up or loved the original 1984 version of "The Karate Kid", you will be doing a lot of these side-by-side comparisons. It's inevitable! For anyone who've never seen the original movie, it's a refreshing & updated story for a new generation. It's a pretty cute movie, but it doesn't nearly have the type of impact the original had.
The Karate Kid (1984)
An 80's classic for anyone who was bullied.
For anyone who was bullied in school, this is the ultimate movie where you will root for the underdog and wish for the villains to get their asses kicked! Most importantly, it made Pat Morita's character "Mr. Miyagi" into a household name! This is a classic 80's movie that will forever be famous for its generation. It was refreshing to see this movie again as it has been released on Blu-ray this year (2010). It makes you feel like a kid again! There are some scenes where it seems outdated; but the universal story of the underdog standing up to his bullies, still holds up strong after all these years.
After watching this movie again, I really appreciate & admire Pat Morita's character even more! It's the classic bond of an everyday ordinary old man who becomes more than just a sensei to Ralpha Macchio; but also a teacher, a mentor, but most importantly, a dear friend.
I saw the remake version of the new Karate Kid and they pay multiple homage to this original film. So even though the new version is for today's generation, the 1984 version will always be the film that is remembered. You know a movie is a classic when you can say "Wax On, Wax Off!" and people know EXACTLY what you're talking about!
Toy Story 3 (2010)
What it lacks in originality, it makes it up entirely in its ending.
After 11 years later, we finally get to see another Toy Story movie! Even though it wouldn't be realistic to expect this sequel to be as good as Toy Story 2, you can always believe that Pixar will deliver another entertaining film.
It was so refreshing to see all the Toy Story characters again. Surprisingly, the only speaking toy character that was in the first two films that was absent in Toy Story 3 was Bo Peep. Other than her, the rest of Andy's toys have returned and all of them get a good amount of screen time. As for the new toys, Lots-o'-Huggin' Bear (Ned Beatty) & Ken (Michael Keaton) have the largest roles.
If there is something negative about this movie is that it lacks originality, but the ending is golden! As for the generic portion of the film; you will notice that the formula for this movie is very similar to Toy Story 2, such as the villain and the toys' rescue mission. As for the conclusion of this movie, it is so good that I hope they do NOT make a 4th film. It feels so fitting to have this movie end the trilogy, as the moral & theme of the story represents the entire Toy Story films.
I was surprised at how emotional the final scene was; but then again, Pixar is great at adding the human elements into their stories & characters. As for the main theme song "You got a Friend in Me", it's a universal message throughout the entire Toy Story films, to the very last sequence of this movie. As for the moral of the story (including the whole trilogy), it is learning to let go when the time is right; whether you are a toy, a child or a parent. I loved how this film ends! What it lacks in originality, it makes it up entirely in its conclusion.
The Hurt Locker (2008)
A war movie unlike any war film that you've ever seen!
The Hurt Locker is a war movie unlike any war film that you've ever seen! Just like the current Iraq War; this film shows the intensity, craziness, despair, paranoia, the dangers and hopelessness of this war. This is no end in their battle. The Hurt Locker doesn't have much of a story but instead, it concentrates on giving you the realism of this actual Iraq War.
Unlike any other war film, there isn't a body count or taking over any property or land that determines the winner of this war. Instead, the priority of this war focuses on defusing bombs. The Hurt Locker only follows three main characters in this film, as they are members of a United States Army Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) unit in Iraq. We travel their tour together as they contend with defusing bombs, the threat of insurgency, and the tension that develops among them.
The Hurt Locker is perfect for what it is; but it doesn't have any re-watch value as this is a very uneasy movie to watch, similar to the film United 93. The only plot is for the characters to stay alive. What works in the film is the directing, photography and its cinematography. With how this film is shot gives you the experiences of how the soldiers are exactly feeling as they are in constant dangers. This film ends perfectly, as it takes one sentence to explain your respect & sympathy for the American soldiers; including our awareness of their fight within an unwinnable war.
The story is unoriginal, the dialogs are flat, and the premise is clichéd; but the visuals and special effects are absolutely stunning!
My review on this film is purely based on watching the IMAX 3-D screening. If you are planning on watching "Avatar", spend the extra money and watch it in IMAX 3-D! The regular format would be a waste of the pure creative efforts that was dedicated to this film.
Even though the story is unoriginal, the dialogs are flat, and the premise is cliché; the visuals and special effects are absolutely stunning! The imagination to create the colorful extraterrestrial jungle is amazing and the action sequences are incredible. Raising the bar on special effects & action sequences are what James Cameron does best. He dazzled movie goers with "Aliens (1986)", then "The Abyss (1989)", then "Terminator 2: Judgement Day (1991)", and then "Titanic (1997)". "Avatar" cost nearly $300 million to make and like all James Cameron films, you can see every single penny that was spent on this film. The movie had the best 3-D effects than any other films that I've ever seen. It was very rare that anything ever jumped out at you, but the 3-demensional look throughout the entire movie was extraordinary.
As for the story, it was a generic tale where the main character's mission is to assimilate with a foreign civilization with an intended agenda; but he falls in love with a native and begins to appreciate their culture that he becomes torn between their society and his own. It's like a futuristic version of "Dances with Wolves" where the Na'vi culture and language are similar to Native Americans; including a lot of current political metaphors that are tied in with messages that are portrayed in the film. Even the final battle scene is very similar to the Battle of Endor in "Return of the Jedi". The dialogs are just as bland as James Cameron's previous film "Titanic", but watching the creative world that he produced with the images of the special effects & action sequences are the types of experiences that all movie goers are hoping for when they are expecting to see a highly action packed movie where the visuals will astound them.
I have to stress that if you decide to watch this film in a regular format or wait till home video, you will NOT be able to fully appreciate or enjoy the spectacular experience of watching this film the way it was intended for us. I wish the story was better & more original, but I really enjoyed the refreshing movie experience that I always get whenever I watch a highly over-budget film by James Cameron. I can always rely on him for putting the extra effort into dazzling us with his creative & imaginative action sequences.