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Disappointed I was. After being thoroughly excited to see this film ever since I first caught wind of it, I left the theatre in a state of bewilderment. How could such a masterful director and a bevy of talented performers and crew produce such meaningless and pointless drivel? More than that, how could they have fooled damn near the entire population into thinking they had actually made a good film? At this moment the film is #71 on the IMDb top 250. The #71st best movie of all time? Are you kidding me?
Brad Pitt fails to register a single honest emotion. Pitt utters every single line in exactly the same manner. I don't think his facial expression changed once throughout the entire 2 and half hour run time. Benjamin Button himself is not even remotely close to a fully developed character. He plays piano and likes Daisy. That's all we know about him. Oh, but he ages backwards. Yet that fact lends absolutely no circumstance to the entire picture until the very end of the movie when the writers needed a cheap copout in order to get out of the complete mess that they had put themselves in, it's like "Wait a minute, we can't possibly earn an Oscar if this thing actually ends happily, let's make our main character do something only a complete S.O.B. would do to create some tension and then completely excuse him for it." It's cheap, easy-way-out writing.
The special effects are superb, do not let this review diminish the efforts of the technical team. The characters change drastically physically, yet they do not go through a single change mentally. They are all static. It's almost as if the performers put too much faith in the make up and effects teams and didn't even bother to put a different edge on their characters. In my opinion, Benjamin and Daisy were utterly boring, the Clockmaker who is given two minutes of runtime was a far more interesting character than those two. Every scene in the hospital halted any momentum that the film was gaining, they simply brought everything to a dead stop. There was absolutely no point to the scenes at all, the moments of revelation were completely predictable, and how many times do we need a film that is set up by somebody reading a diary? And holy crap, Daisy's southern accent miraculousy became about ten times as thick as she lay dying in the hospital than it did in the early years of her life. Weird....
All told, the film seemed like it was brewed in a lab to win awards. However, the filmmakers forgot a couple of important things: developed characters, meaningful scenes, conflict, and a believable ending.
Koroshiya 1 (2001)
I think a lot of people have simply missed the point of this film. People either love it or hate it based upon the amount of gore and violence in it. But what if Miike pulled a trick on all of you? The majority of the violence takes place off screen, and most of what you do see is completely outrageous and not meant to be taken seriously.
Make no mistake about it, this movie is about love. Sick and twisted love, but it's love none the less. Kakihara's search for a new lover and Karen's desire to win Kakihara's heart are the prime examples. It's something we all want, but these characters go to extreme ends to acquire it.
The characters are all amazingly defined and well written. But the one that everyone seems to have no clue about is Jijii played by Shinya Tsukamoto. We all know he wants to destroy the Anjo group but why? Well it doesn't matter. Jijii is Takashi Miike, the director personified within the film. Think about it. His sole purpose is to set the characters on their paths to the final confrontation. He even exhibits god-like powers. This is evident when he tells a lesser character "Ichi has more important matters to take care of" and disrobes to reveal a bodybuilder's physique. This is a prime example of the intricacies that Miike has layered about the film that nobody seems to pick up on.
When you combine all that Miike has slipped below the radar with the brilliantly written character's, Miike's amazing style and some of the most unnerving music I've ever heard you have an instant classic. I recommend everyone take a second look at this movie and analyze what you've seen, because I can garuantee that you didn't even begin to pick up on all of it.
Some viewers will witness the rape and murders and dismiss it as exploitive dribble, but that's simply not the case here. It's an excellent well crafted picture I believe everyone should experience.
Predator 2 (1990)
Almost as good as the original...
Ok, for some reason a lot of people are down on "Predator 2". Yeah, there's no Arnold, but Danny Glover does just fine by me. The action is superb, with plenty of nice scenes including the penthouse and the showdown between the Predator and the federal agents in the meat plant. Bill Paxton, Reuben Blades and Maria Conchita Alonso are solid as ever, providing support as Glover's fellow cops. Of course, they're not as cool as Bill Duke, Jessie Ventura, or Sonny Landaham, but "Predator" did have as perfect of a supporting cast as you can get.
A few people will remark about the negative stereotypes in the film. Latino's in a police station??? What a suprise, it is LA!!! I mean, how can you scream about negative racial stereotypes when 3 of the 4 main protaganists of the movie were minorities. All the dickheads were white....hmmm....maybe I'M onto something here....*blah*
The film does have a certain unpleasant atmosphere about it, which I happen to like....however some people may find it too dark and dreary.
It's a good film that's been given a pretty bad rap. 7/10
This movie blows...
"Daredevil" is one of the worst comic book movies I've ever seen. I'm not a serious Ben Affleck hater like the rest of the world seems to be nowadays but he sure as hell had no idea how to play a blind man. It's like he figured he'd just stare straight ahead and the sun glasses would take care of the rest. Jennifer Garner was totally miscast and her character was just not believable.
The film features some of the worst CGI I've ever seen in my life. The fight between Daredevil and Bullseye in the church was just pathetic. I actually wished I could slap the film makers for insulting everyone's intelligence by putting it into the final cut. And an even greater insult is the fact that they had Cheung-Yan Yuen (Yuen Woo Ping's brother) on board for the wire work and instead they opted to use the atrocious CGI. I guess that's the trend now in Hollywood....instead of actually working at making something look real and convincing they'll hire some CGI artists to draw up some crap.
Oh, and the studio, producers etc. decided to pick up some cash by making a soundtrack that would sell a lot.....instead of making one that actually suited the movie. Nothing is more stirring before a big fight than Evanesence.
As for the story, I liked how they kept the origin and beginning scenes moving quickly (something Ang Lee could've learned from) but they just keep simplifying everything including the fall of the Kingpin. Yeah, he's a black dude from New York and whenever somebody wants a fight he's gonna let him waltz into his headquarters for a one on one brawl........riiiiiiiiiiiiight...
Joe Pantoliano and John Favreau added a little bit of positive to this trash but ultimately not enough. Skip it at all costs....
The Day After Tomorrow (2004)
First of all, I only saw this movie because "Shrek 2" was sold out. I figured it would be decent to see the special effects, even though I knew Emmerich was a manipulative hack of a director. I can ignore the scientific inaccuracy if the movie was entertaining, but unfortunately it wasn't. Yeah, it shows tornado's ravaging LA and waves destroying NY, but I wanted to see the human side of it. I wanted to see people run for cover, hide, do whatever it takes to survive. Instead of that we just get some extremely wide shots of the random destruction. The buildings are made to look almost empty, just shells being destroyed by big bad mother nature. The disasters just didn't seem like disasters to me. It was all a monumental let down. And I'll only mention the fact that in the second half of the movie our heroes spend their time running from COLD AIR and horribly rendered CGI wolves.
The story is filled with clichés that we've all seen before. You've got the cheesy love story between kids, the obligatory scene of self-sacrifice, the sick child, and perhaps worst of all, the homeless guy with a dog.
I like Dennis Quaid, but his part really was standard crap. Jake Gyllenhal is too old to be convincing as a 17 year old, and plays pretty much the same character in all of his movies. I liked watching Emmy though, perhaps the only thing I could look forward to during the movie were the scenes with her in them.
"The Day After Tomorrow" was directed by a hack, and plays like it was directed by a hack. Overall the film sucks. Don't go see it....
Ok, we've all seen this movie before. Mix one part "The Mummy" with two parts "Men in Black" and you have "Hellboy".
If you like movies with a good plot, meaningful characters and inventive dialogue then steer cleer of this pile of CGI rendered crap.
If you get a thrill out of watching Hellboy fight the same beast half a dozen times you'll like "Hellboy". If you enjoy seeing the "ritual to raise the ultimate evil, only to be thwarted at the last second" ending for the ten millionth time you'll like "Hellboy". If you like seeing stupid blonde chicks with no business in a movie like this ham it up with a horrible German (or was it Russian? I couldn't tell) accent then you'll like "Hellboy". If you thought the reincarnated bald sorceror from "The Mummy" was worth a third look then you'll like "Hellboy".
Worst of all (spoiler) if you like to see the hero get eaten and explode the monster from the inside (MIB anyone?) then you'll REALLY love "Hellboy".
If you hadn't figured it out by now. "Hellboy" isn't a very original movie. It's a shame, because this is where I stopped becoming a Guillermo Del Toro fan.
Aoi haru (2001)
Without a Doubt, My New Favorite Film...
I read a review of "Blue Spring" on a movie festival page, and thought it sounded interesting at the very least. I purchased it blindly, hoping it would live up to some of the rave reviews it received. Not only did it live up to it's billing, it replaced Takeshi Kitano's "Fireworks (Hana-bi)" as my all-time favorite movie.
From the opening scene we get the feeling that this is not your normal highschool and these are not your normal students. However, the students face problems that are extremely similar to the problems we have all had. However, we come to realize that the setting and the characters are not that different and that the story is in fact believable. This above all else is the reason why "Blue Spring" touched me so much.
The main character Kujo wins a game of "Clapping" and becames the boss of a gang at an all-boy high school. The idea of the game is to clap as many times hanging from a roof-top fence without falling to your death. At first he finds his role mildly amusing as he deals out punishment to anyone who disrespects him or his best friend Aoki. Eventually, as with everything, he grows tired of his role and begins to lose his control of the school.
Aoki is dependent on Kujo. He needs Kujo to tell him what to do, how to act. But when Kujo alienates Aoki, it sends him into a tail-spin of destruction.
The other members of the gang hit were very easy to identify with. One member devoted his entire childhood to chasing the dream of taking the baseball team to Nationals. However, when he blows their chance on the final pitch of a game, he can't get past it and is unable to move on with his life. What makes this even more difficult for us to watch is the fact that he is a tutor of sorts to a freshman student who is beginning to take the game too far and is seemingly destined to live out the same fate.
Another student has no absolutely no direction. No clue as to what he wants to do. As the time for him to decide begins to run out the pressure becomes to much for him and he commits an unbelievable act. Perhaps my favorite character in the entire film.
Other kids include many who are controlled by the whims of the leaders, some who genuinely want to get out of there and go to school and one who is cruely called "Ghost" (even by teachers) because he has a terminal illness.
The direction is simply amazing. Toshiaki Toyoda always manages to find the right angle. Some scenes are absolutely beautiful. One example is when a character waits on the rooftop after school lets out and the camera fast-forwards through the entire night and into the morning as he waits for the next day to begin. Another is when Ghost is seen running away from school, as other students contemplate his motivation. Yet another example is one student's penchant for coloring things black and there is a quick shot of him standing atop the school, which has been seemingly been painted black over night, only to have a another cut back to reality shows the school is still white leaving the viewer thinking "Did I just see that?"
Dramatic moments are intercut with shots of the beautiful cherry trees that border the school (one character takes care of them with extreme devotion), blooming flowers, clouded skylines ect. Even in moments of extreme violence or desperation we are never allowed to forget that this is a beautiful film. The soundtrack is simply one the best I've ever heard. The Japanese punk-rock fits in perfectly as it pounds our ears during slow-motion shots and equally well with chases through the school and acts of violence.
The ending of the film is unforgettable. It's one of those endings that - when the credits roll - you're just left staring and wishing it didn't end, but you know it couldn't have ended any other way. I've never given a film a 10/10 before but I whole-heartedly believe this film deserves it. It's not particularly easy to watch but it's undeniably moving and powerful.
Entertaining Yet Too Long...
Ryuhei Kitamura has developed quite a large cult following due to his massively entertaining genre-busting zombie/yakuza/martial arts hybrid film "Versus". Now he has given us "Azumi", a samurai film with a rock music soundtrack and young, attractive leads.
The film follows a clan of ten young assassins trained since childhood to carry out a special mission. Azumi, the lone female in the group is considered the most skilled of them all. Their master is an ex-samurai warrior who acts as a father figure to the teens. The assassins await the day of their mission with growing anticipation, until the day it finally presents itself. Their mission is to kill a shogun who is threatening to overthrow the ruling class of Japan. Quick to overestimate their own abilities, the assassins find their numbers dwindling as they battle the shogun's warriors including the sometimes-honorable, sometimes-manic ninja Saru and a mysterious feminine Samurai clad in white who's so good he has "never had to defend an attack". As things start going downhill for the assassins, Azumi begins to doubt herself and begins to long for the life of a normal Japanese woman.
This film is all about sword-fights and Kitamura delivers more than he probably should. People take on hundreds of swordsmen single-handedly and buckets of bright red gore are splashed about with every sword slash. While these fights are entertaining at first, they grow tedious as the hundredth person is killed. Not only that, but our heroes do not show any sort of skill that gives us reason to believe that they are capable of killing dozens of men effortlessly. Also, Kitamura has trouble finding the right lengths for his films. "Versus", "Alive" and "Azumi" are too long, while "Heat After Dark" is much too short. I really think if 10 minutes of slow-motion sword fights were cut this movie would flow much better.
Now, "Azumi" is not a bad movie, by any means. It's very entertaining, just a tad tedious. The characters are very unique and developed quite nicely, and Kitamura has a knack for giving us exciting camera angles. Although it does not live up to "Versus" (I didn't expect it to, and never compared the two until now) "Azumi" is still an entertaining film, and any fans of "Versus" should find "Azumi" a very good time. 7/10
Heat After Dark (1996)
Not Much to Appreciate.....
This is Ryuhei Kitamura's (director of "Versus") first theatrically released film. Overall, I felt it was a dissapointing film by a talented director. It runs too short at about an hour, we don't get to know any of the characters long enough to even care what happens to them.
The action is a mixed bag, some scenes are quite intense, while others are just plain stupid (the cop fighting one of the bad guys). We really don't get explanation for the main villain's actions, he just does what he does and acts like his head hurts.
The music is good at first, but it quickly becomes annoying and I considered hitting the mute button and just reading the subtitles. Not only that, but Kitamurai is too infatuated with over-the-top gun sounds. Every time someone waves a gun or picks one up, we're met with a series of "click-clack-chick-click" noises.
While, it's not horrible to sit through, I doubt I would ever watch "Heat After Dark" again if given the choice. It does have a bit of the style found in Kitamura's infinitely superior "Versus", but overall it's just an undeveloped director's first gig, and plays as such.
Kill Bill: Vol. 1 (2003)
So Tarantino wanted to pay an homage to Kung-Fu films and Hong Kong action cinema. Well he tried...and failed. For a "kung-fu" film it sure is missing quite a bit of Kung-Fu...in fact it doesn't have any kung-fu. The only martial arts in this movie is a poor display of Japanese swordsmanship. And that's being generous. It's actually a white chick holding a samurai sword, swinging it wildly occasionally while being surrounded by talented actor/martial artists like Sonny Chiba and Gordon Lui. Tarantino completely wasted the talents of Yuen Woo Ping by putting an uncoordinated sloth in the title roll. And yes IT IS a kung-fu film, every interview Tarantino does he calls it a Kung-fu flick. So based on this, he completely and utterly failed in crafting an engaging and creative martial arts genre film.
Not only that but Tarantino took a complete and inaccurate dump all over Yakuza society. And no, "Wiggle your big toe" is not the least bit funny. No, a few cheesy fountains of blood does not make this film totally violent. If you gorehounds out there want cheesy gore go watch "Versus" or "Ichi - The Killer" and then get back to me.
By the way, the character of Go Go was completely bitten from Chiaki Kuriyama's character in Battle Royale...in fact he rips off an entire scene from that film...good job Tarantino...