Reviews written by registered user
|33 reviews in total|
I think it's time to cut poor Robert Pattinson some slack. Since he was
cast as the sweet-talking and pale vampire Edward Cullen in the teen
hit "Twilight" all boyfriends in the world are jealous of the one guy
their girlfriends are more in love with then them at times, and have
therefore labeled him as an atrocious actor with no talent and a face
that lacks any sort of expression. Well, granted "The Twilight Saga" or
"Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire" certainly haven't shown him in
the greatest light as a performer, but then again those two film series
are not exactly best known for their outstanding opportunities to
demonstrate fine acting. Therefore, the adaptation of Sara Gruen's
novel about a circus during the Great Depression era in the 1930s
"Water for Elephants" turned out to be the first big screen trial, and
as far as I'm concerned, he passed the test with flying colors. The
film turned out to be an extremely well-made, enjoyable and superbly
acted drama, that was by far the best film about the circus I have seen
in a long time.
In 1931, Jacob Jankowski is just about to get his degree in veterinary sciences from Cornell, when his parents pass away in a car accident and leave their son homeless and without a future. Traveling along the railroads, he one night encounters a train full performers from the Benzini Brothers Circus, who take him to a brand-new life and offer him a job. He soon meets the animal trainer and ringmaster August, a charismatic, but arrogant and brutal man, who first wants to throw Jacob of the train but hesitates when he finds out he is a veterinarian. Instead, he hires him to treat the injury of his star attraction, a beautiful horse, trained by August's wife Marlene. But soon August discovers a new attraction, an elephant named Rosie and he picks Jacob to train her. But when he sees that Jacob is unwilling to establish complete control over her, he turns raging and brutally forces the elephant to listen to his orders. Jacob turns more and more against August, and falls in love with Marlene, who is torn between being with the man she loves, or the man who was responsible for making her a star.
Although Francis Lawrence's only two works as a director so far have been the comic book adaptation "Constantine" and the acclaimed science-fiction horror thriller "I am Legend", he handles a historical film with great ease, and transformed Gruen's novel onto the big screen in a mix of lush sets and colors, but also a tone of sadness and melancholy in regard to the Great Depression. "Water for Elephants", while more of a fairy tale than historical fiction, is brilliantly executed on a fairly small scale that rightfully indulges in its sparse, but well-constructed sets. The film conveys a perfect circus atmosphere, especially when the tent is built and dozens of workers are pulling on the ropes, or a montage of circus acts is shown with the underlying and incredibly nostalgic music by James Newton Howard. Ultimately, it's a tour de force that relies on its escapist tone and particularly a scene when Jacob and August first met, and the latter takes the newcomer on the roof of the train, you feel the thrill and excitement of taking a journey that you are curious to witness. Although the story is not nearly as creative, with a rough, yet charming young outsider falling in love with a beautiful circus performer, who is married to an older and brutish man, and certainly does trip over one or the other cliché occasionally, it's told with passion and dynamically, so there's always the occasional unexpected twist. The film is also a bit light on the real despair that went on during the Great Depression, and although the true horrors are hinted at occasionally, there's a reason it's merely rated PG-13.
As mentioned, Robert Pattinson deserves some props for stepping up his game big time for this film, and considering his face finally doesn't look like a bucket of chalk has been emptied over it, he has a quite weathered and charming aura, that will come to serve him well in the future. His chemistry with Reese Witherspoon though was a bit dry, especially compared to the sizzling of her and Christoph Waltz, which may be because she's 11 years older than him. Nevertheless, individually they are both superb, with Witherspoon giving a tough and sympathetic performance as a star, who's been at the very bottom and will do anything never to get back there again. But the show is once again stolen by Christoph Waltz, who is one of those actors, who never seems to miss a beat or step out of line in the slightest. The delivery of every single syllable is perfectly timed and precisely planned, and he is easily one of the most intimidating and brilliant actors Hollywood has seen in a long time. But it really was quite amazing that August always seemed to be able to pull his bodyguards from hammer space, whenever Jacob was ready to attack him, which was my only real issue surrounding his character. Hal Holbrook also leaves an impression as an older Jacob, narrating the story, and finishing up the film with a moving and wonderfully final line.
Mostly due to the fantastic leading trio of actors, especially Christoph Waltz, and the surprisingly inspired direction by Francis Lawrence, who has just recommended himself for more historical film projects, the film is enjoyable and moving at the same time. I have just won back my love for the circus thanks to this film.
Harry Potter, a series of novels that defied everything that was
possible and started a phenomenon unlike anything that ever existed or
ever will exist. An entire generation has come to identify themselves
with the books and the movies, especially those who shared a similar
age with the characters when they came out. Last night, when I saw the
eighth and final Harry Potter movie at the midnight screening, I was
yelling and cheering when the curtain came open and once again yelling
and cheering when the credits started to roll. But I had tears in my
eyes, both of joy and immense sadness that it was now over, as one of
the greatest film series of all time comes to an end.
After having destroyed their first Horcrux and having buried Dobby, Harry, Ron and Hermione are hiding at shell cottage with Ron's oldest brother Bill, his wife Fleur, as well as the goblin Griphook and the wand maker Mr. Olivander. Griphook tells Harry that the sword of Gryffindor in his possession was supposed to be in the Gringotts vault of Bellatrix Lestrange and the three eventually start to suspect that a Horcrux might be hidden there. After successfully breaking in and barely escaping on the back of a dragon, the three realize that the last stop in their journey will have to be Hogwarts, the school they went to for six years, and where the final showdown between Harry Potter and his nemesis Lord Voldemort will take place. Neither can live, while the other one survives.
As far as I'm concerned the right adjectives to describe this film haven't been invented yet. No words I can think of would do the grandness and perfection of the spectacular conclusion of this film franchise justice, and for now I'll just have to leave it at saying that this has good chances of becoming my favorite movie of the year. When you sit there and watch the movie at midnight with a group of teenagers all nearing the age of 20, who define their childhood with "Harry Potter' you are swept right into a different world of enthusiasm, emotions and nostalgia. I didn't think it was just great, I thought it was flawless. The sad and emotional scenes are so heart-wrenching that I could hear the entire movie theater tearing up, mainly during the scenes involving Snape and his memories that Harry watches in Dumbledore's Pensieve. Snape really comes to define this movie and his character really got to me as a man, who seemed to be the epitome of coldness and villainy throughout the entire series, and in the end turns out to be a tragic hero of the greatest measure, who would even have made Shakespeare proud. The movie is a huge extravaganza of action and visual spectacles, and while the first part was really solemn, apocalyptic and quiet, this one almost indulges in its grand scales and procures a huge battle of magic and some very powerful spells, bringing rock statues to live and creating an enormous energy shield around the castle. I always said that I wanted the series to go out with a bang and in the most memorable way possible and David Yates ensured with his vision that this film will be remembered for years to come.
The acting in Harry Potter has never been as good as it is here. Daniel Radcliffe in his final performance as the hero of this great franchise takes absolute center stage here and after ten years in the role he makes an incredibly convincing, brave and courageous hero, who conveys emotions with credibility and there are some scenes, where his facial expressions are just heartbreaking. Rupert Grint and Emma Watson are really just supporting players here, but they have both made quite a name for themselves in their roles as well and all three actors are capable of continuing their careers far beyond Harry Potter. However, I think the key to the film's immense success are the performances by Ralph Fiennes and Alan Rickman, both of whom are more than deserving of an Oscar nomination. Fiennes, who is one of my favorite actors working today, finally hits the mark completely as Lord Voldemort and he is so menacing, cold and scary in his role that he has now become the living embodiment of evil and the defining villain of a generation. Alan Rickman though has a personality unmatched by any actor I have ever seen before. Snape is someone you love to hate and hate to love at the same time. Rickman's facial expressions as Snape are incredible subtle, but just the slightest change can reveal so much about him, and his carefully chosen enunciation of each syllable he utters is beyond belief. Although he is scary and seems cold-hearted most of the time, in the end when all comes to a close, everyone will feel so sorry for him. Finally though I have to give a shout out to Matthew Lewis who played Neville Longbottom, and after starting off as a chubby and not too bright lad in "The Philosopher's Stone", he's become a rough, determined and courageous fighter who believes in freedom and defending yourself. I was really impressed with his transformation.
For the first time in eight movies, I honestly believed that the screen version worked better than the written version. The pictures just seemed to tell the story so much better, and while some of the book almost felt like a letdown to me, the film finished it all off on such a brilliant and high note and the final image was heart-warming and really felt conclusive, and that's when I knew that it was all over. This franchise will never quite finds its equal, as it has moved and influenced so many people who now come off age. It's always sad to say goodbye, but long live Harry Potter, the boy who lived!
The new shows this fall have almost all been hugely disappointing,
starting with the new "Law and Order: LA" which proves that the concept
of the show is starting to get old, "The Event" is yet another bunch of
twists and turns that will end in the middle of nowhere sooner or later
and the hugely anticipated "Hawaii-Five-O" started out strong, but has
now taken a turn for the worse, although it's still among the better
new shows, which frankly isn't saying much.
"Blue Bloods", on the other hand, really stands out as a gritty and quite realistic police drama, made by the producers of the hugely successful and dearly missed "The Sopranos". Now, we get to see inside the daily lives of a family whose job is to solve crimes, instead of committing them, and thanks to an ensemble of gifted actors, it's quite interesting to see their interactions, both personally and professionally.
Frank Reagan is the chief of police in New York City, a man deeply respected by his family and the people he works with. His oldest son Danny (Donnie Wahlberg) is a homicide detective with a reputation for not doing things by the book, and in the first episode already he sticks someones head in a toilet to get the location of a missing girl out of him. While people admire as someone who gets the job done, he has alienated several people over the years through his views and methods, including his sister Erin (Bridget Moynahan). She is a district attorney, and since Danny often uses unorthodox and even illegal methods to arrest criminals, she has a hard time with convicting them, causing them to argue quite frequently. Jamie (Will Estes) is their youngest brother, and after finishing law school, suddenly decides to become a police officer, much to the dismay of his fiancé. Although still a rookie, he is approached by a secret society called the Blue Templars, who wish to hire him to investigate the death of his brother, who was a cop himself and was shot while investigating a case.
The show comes up with an interesting concept,showing us the interaction of these four family members while investigating crimes and how they often clash in their believes and principles. Donnie Wahlberg's character Danny is probably the most interesting one of the bunch, mainly because it's hinted at that he was in Iraq, and that his tendency to loose patience with the people he arrests is rooted in something he experienced there. It's good to have Tom Selleck back on TV, who is a better actor now than ever, and since I already liked him in the Jesse Stones movies, it's great that I get to see him every week now.
You can watch Blue Bloods every Friday at 10 on CBS, and since it's one of the most successful shows that have ever aired in the time slot, it looks like it stands a very high chance of surviving for more than a season, which will be an achievement not shared by too many of the new shows, I'm sure.
Arthur Golden's famous tale from 1997, "Memoirs of a Geisha" was one of
these films that everyone wanted to get made, but for one reason or
another it took forever to finally find someone who actually wanted to
sit on the director's chair. For a long time Steven Spielberg was
pegged as the one to bring the novel to the screen, but now Rob
Marshall from the "surprise" Best Picture Oscar winner "Chicago" is the
one who can take the credit for this masterpiece of a film.
The young girl Chiyo and her sister are sold by their father to a geisha house, but they are soon separated and Chiyo begins her training as a geisha. Soon though she catches the eye of Hatsumomo, the vain head geisha, who is mostly responsible for the financial well-being of the house, and is forced by her to destroy the kimono of one of the most respected geishas in the city, Mameha. Because of this and her falling off the roof when she tries to escape, the mother of the house decides to make Chiyo a mere servant girl until she has paid off her debt. One day, Chiyo meets a handsome and charming man, who buys her a cup of sweet ice, and from that moment on she is in love with him and tries to everything to win his heart, such as to become a true geisha. Years later, Mameha decides to adopt Chiyo as an apprentice and she can finally fulfill her dream of becoming a geisha and to reunite with the chairman she desires above everything else.
Cynics will say that this is just a feminist propaganda film for women, but it really is a stunning and powerful film about women, or rather their strength and determination in a culture and profession that is quite different than the view Western countries often seem to have of it. Geishas were dancers, artists and mistresses, who satisfied their customers through their skills, and not their bodies, selling themselves away like common prostitutes. It's amazing to see how being a geisha is really about learning self-discipline and control of ones body, and essentially that is the process Chiyo, or Sayuri as she is later called, goes through in this wonderful, exotic and moving film. I was interested in the psychology and personality of every single character, particularly Sayuri and Hatsumomo, who almost redefine the word "catfight" in this film, through the game of intrigues, betrayal and lies they play with each other. Hatsumomo is the villain of this movie, yes, but when she is on screen for the last time I really did feel sorry for her, because despite her arrogance and rotten character, she was capable of love and was denied her feelings by the boundaries and limitations of the life she swore herself to. On the other hand, the geishas are shown to be true artists and athletes, who have to have complete dominance of their posture, their moves and their timing. The most beautiful scene in this movie, which will most likely cause everyone to get goose bumps, is when Sayuri goes through her training to become a geisha and the sensitive, but emotionally gripping score by John Williams is heard, particularly when she receives the task of captivating a man through one single glance. Whether the film was perfectly historically accurate in its portrayal of the hardships the geishas face, is something I don't know much about, and that's probably a good thing as it would have destroyed the haunting spell of the movie. The film is truly beautiful in its production design and the gorgeous cinematography and is just as much a work of art for the eye as it is for the heart. Rob Marshall really managed to hit the right tone and doesn't make "Memoirs of a Geisha" overly sentimental, but created an intimate love story, where Sayuri always wants to follow her heart and her desire to become a geisha, and ultimately realize that she cannot have both.
The film also features the who's who of Asian actresses, starting with the pretty Ziyi Zhang, who gives a haunting and mesmerizing performance as Sayuri, especially when she performs her art of dancing and charming men. Her eyes are captivating and she has exactly the right aura to play such a role, and nobody except the Japanese will say something about her being Chinese in reality. The same goes for Michelle Yeoh, who has a hypnotic presence as Sayuri's master Mameha, and especially the stunning Gong Li, who is perfect as the seemingly cold-hearted and spoiled, but really desperate Hatsumomo. Ken Watanabe, who already showed his powerful screen aura in "Last Samurai" plays a much more low-key character this time, but he has charisma and kindness written all over him.
"Memoirs of a Geisha" does not deserve its reputation as a film that only lives from its visuals and production achievements, although those are indeed the strongest point of the film. It tells a passionate and moving love story, involves a lot of cultural history, and is so beautifully photographed and scored that it becomes a grand cinematic adventure, that will apply to both genders and every person who wants to be reminded of the great class of movies.
I always wondered why nobody ever thought about turning Ken Follett's
brilliant epic "The Pillars of the Earth" into a movie. Without a
doubt, it is the greatest book I have ever read, with a cleverly
constructed and well-researched story, engaging characters and is full
of intrigues, violence and sex. There is so much going on in the book
that not a single page seems to be wasted, which is saying a lot about
a novel that has over 1000 of them. Now, over two decades after the
novel hit the bookshelves, Ridley and Tony Scott bring you an
eight-part miniseries that promises to be one of the best ones I have
seen in recent years.
It is 1135 and a dark time in the history of England. 15 years earlier the king's only legitimate heir died during the sinking of a ship, and England's monarch has neglected God and the church during his reign. The priests and bishops are most eager to ensure a religious man ascends the throne after the death of the king, and in return for swearing allegiance to them, they promise Stephen, the nephew of the king, to put him on the throne. A fierce battle of succession ensues between Stephen and King Henry's only legitimate child Maude. In these times, a young and ambitious monk named Philipp is made Prior of Kingsbridge, a fairly large city that has suffered in recent times and that is in dire need to have its church remodeled. Tom Builder travels through England with his son Alfred, his daughter Martha and after his wife Agnes died in childbirth, they are joined by the two outlaws Ellen and Jack. Finally, Tom finds a job in Shiring, but the Lord Bartholomew is conspiring against the new king Stephen and the William Hamleigh, who was rejected by the lord's daughter Aliena, finally sees an opportunity to take revenge. Philipp, Tom and his family and Aliena are faced with several challenges and hardships, but their paths cross in Kingsbridge, and they all will play a vital role in the construction of the brand new cathedral.
Two episodes into the miniseries, I'm quite impressed by how much the atmosphere of the book was kept and although I was prepared to be disappointed, I am really enjoying it so far. It seems that the best and most expensive stuff was just good enough for this series and the medieval cities of the book such as Kingsbridge and Shiring look stunningly real. I am glad that eight episodes were dedicated to tell the story of "The Pillars of Earth" instead of merely a two-hour movie, although it's not nearly as epic as Ridley Scott's big movies such as "Gladiator". The series does have combat scenes, but ultimately it's more of a dark drama, focusing on characters and relationships before anything else.
The miniseries stays very close to the plot in the novel, and only minor details were changed. One of them is that Tom knows that his son is raised in Kingsbridge from the beginning, and in the novel it's only revealed at almost the very end. And then there is the king, who dies at the beginning of the novel, but here lives through almost the entire first episode. Those are merely small deviations though, unnecessary perhaps, but not really something to make a big deal about. The series was mostly shot in Hungary and Austria, although most scenes are actually confined to the insides of a castle or a town. On a side note, there's a lot of blood, obscenity, violence and nudity in the series, and if you have seen HBO's "Rome", you should already know what to expect.
While there are not too many big names in the cast, some of them you have probably heard of and those are the ones standing out acting wise as well. Ian McShane was the perfect choice to play Bishop Waleran, and he is wonderfully slick and cunning as the main antagonist of Prior Philipp, played by Matthew Macfadyen. I actually find Macfadyen to be almost a little dry in the role of Philipp, but since the character is described with exactly that word many times in the book, I guess he should be commended for his performance. Rufus Sewell so far is the best of the actors in the series, and he is very emotional as Tom and exactly how I imagined him from the books. Natalie Woerner, a German actress, really stands out so far as Ellen and it's unbelievable that she is 43 years old already. She and Sewell have an amazing chemistry together and I completely believe the character's passionate, but scorned upon relationship. Hayley Atwell and Eddie Redmayne as Aliena and Jack will have more to do as the series progresses, as will David Oakes who doesn't seem evil enough for William quite yet. Anatole Taubman, whom you might know from the last James Bond film, is also quite good as Remigius, the manipulative sub-prior of Kingsbridge and Donald Sutherland also appears as Bartholomew in a few episodes. The cast is not well-known perhaps, but definitely strong and I really like what I'm seeing of them so far.
I suppose the miniseries won't be quite as epic as the book, but from what I'm seeing so far it will be a big candidate to pick up a couple of Golden Globes and Emmys in the miniseries category next year. "The Pillars of Earth" deserved a fantastic adaptation, and I'm glad to see that the producers and the director Sergio Mimica-Gezzan were seemingly ambitious enough to ensure that this would be a memorable series, worthy of this great book. But watching the series, no matter how good it is now and will be in the weeks to come, will never be an adequate substitute for actually reading the book.
During the 1930s, which marked the infamous era of the Great
Depression, a number of gangsters appeared on the scene and went on
killing and robbing sprees throughout the United States. Among them
were Bonnie & Clyde, who were immortalized through the 1967, but also
Machine Gun Kelly, Pretty Boy Floyd, and John Dillinger. Now, the book
"Public Enemies", by Bryan Burrough, which I have indeed read, is about
the careers of all of these criminals, and one can assume that the film
would have been about six hours long, if all the material from the
source would have been incorporated.
Michael Mann, director of acclaimed crime thrillers such as "Heat", and "Collateral", decided to focus on the bank robber John Dillinger and his permanent cat and mouse game with the just recently established FBI. While several historic liberties were taken, the film creates a wonderfully nostalgic atmosphere in 1930s Chicago and other locations, and gives the audience an interesting perspective on the increasing crime spree during these days. Gangster thrillers are not exactly my favorite genre, but this film is a notable exception, as it is more the portrait of two extremely different men, one is the hunter, and one the pray, but both are outstanding in their wits and cunningness.
It is the Great Depression, and several gangsters emerge over the United States and go on a crime spree as there has never been one before in the country. J. Edgar Hoover, the ambitious head of the newly established Federal Bureau of Investigation, asks for more government funding, but is denied and his capability as a leader is repeatedly questioned. One of his most outstanding men, Melvin Purvis, manages to kill one of the most notorious criminals of the time, Pretty Boy Floyd, and earns Hoover's recognition and is entrusted with the task of heading the Chicago field office. Meanwhile, John Dillinger breaks out several of his friends out of the Indiana State Prison, where one of his best men is shot and killed by a guard. After robbing another bank, Dillinger meets Billie Frechette, and she is immediately charmed by his passion and enthusiasm for freedom, even though he tells her quite quickly how he makes his living. Purvis quickly gets onto Dillinger, but during a stakeout at a hotel, Purvis realizes that it wasn't Dillinger hiding out there, but another gangster known as Baby Face Nelson. Quickly, a cat and mouse game ensues between the two, and it is only a matter of time before one of them kills the other.
The mood of this film is extremely dark and the entire atmosphere is nostalgic, perfectly recreating the tone of the 1930s in the United States. Mann cut out several of the story lines found in the book and left out a number of criminals or reduces them to supporting players, like Pretty Boy Floyd and Baby Face Nelson. The entire film, which is just short of 2 1/2 hours, concentrates on the bank robber John Dillinger and his relationship with Billie Frechette, as well as his numerous escapes from the FBI. Even though the majority of the agents are portrayed as clueless amateurs, who make numerous mistakes that allow Dillinger and his gang to get away, the book points that out even clearer, and it's quite evident how much the Bureau has changed in the last 70 years. "Public Enemies" is a very quiet film most of the time, that only uses music sparingly, and that heavily focuses on character development. Once in a while the dialogs are interrupted by short shootings, which more or less succeed in keeping my attention, but unfortunately they also made me realize how long and slow-paced the rest of the scenes really were the movie really could have been quite a bit shorter. It almost seems like the writers couldn't decide whether this film should be about Dillinger and his love interest, or Dillinger robbing banks and shooting up the Feds, and instead of going deep into one or the other, at times they don't really seem to get into either one of the two. The cutting and action scenes look almost a bit sloppy and amateurish at times, but for some reason it seems to fit with the mood of the film.
One of the greatest parts about this film is without a doubt Johnny Depp, who cleverly avoids being stereo cast too much by occasionally playing dramatic roles instead of weird ones for his friend Tim Burton, and succeeds in bringing John Dillinger back to life. He brings an incredible personality to the character, without making him seem really likable, but instead playing him like he probably was in real life, cold and risk-taking. On the other side there's Christian Bale, adding another impressive performance to his resume, as FBI agent Melvin Purvis. Even though he stands on the good side of the law, he comes over as extremely cold and calculating, and there are very few scenes where he actually shows his warm and friendly side.. Marion Cotillard shows once again how much talent she has as Billie Frechette, Dillinger's naive, but eventually really tough girlfriend. Even though her acting is superb, I didn't find Dillinger's and Frechette's relationship too convincing and much too cold to have actually worked out. Maybe that is, because whenever they got really close, the scene was interrupted by another shooting. Those three dominate the plot and very few other actors manage to leave an impression, mainly because you can't keep up with the rapid introductions of new characters. Billy Crudup makes a convincing J. Edgar Hoover, but the character is really not explored too much, which also goes for Giovanni Ribisi and Channing Tatum.
Michael Mann went down with "Miami Vice", but with "Public Enemies" he went straight back to the top again, and let's hope he'll stay there with the next round of ammo he'll deliver.
Let's be honest, "Lord of the Rings" ruined the genre forever, simply
because the three movies achieved such cinematic perfection that they
remain untouchable by any other fantasy book adaptations. "Eragon",
based on the first book in Christopher Paolini's best-selling trilogy,
back then still duology, is not essentially a bad film, but it has too
many parallels to "Lord of the Rings" and ultimately fails in almost
every comparison. Having said that, I really enjoyed the film and it
looked fantastic, but again, a fantasy movie these days has to be more
than enjoyable to leave its mark.
In Alagaesia, there used to be an army of dragon riders until they were all betrayed by a Galbatorix, who drove the dragons into extinction and proclaimed himself king of Alagaesia. But one night, a young farm boy named Eragon discovers a mysterious stone in the woods near his home and decides to take it home. Shortly afterwards, the stone turns out to really be an egg, when a baby dragon hatches from it, and when Eragon touches it for the first time, a mark is left on his hand. The dragon grows up quite quickly, but Galbatorix has become aware that a new dragon has been born and puts the task of killing Eragon on the shade Durza, a dark sorcerer. His forces ravage through the villages killing several people, including Eragon's uncle, and the boy is only saved by Brom, a strange man from the village, who trains Eragon into using his dragon. He wants Eragon to make his way to the Varden, a group of rebels opposing the rule of the king, and in the process him, the boy and the dragon named Saphira, form a close bond of friendship. But Eragon keeps dreaming of a young woman, who is kept prisoner by Durza and against Brom's advise makes his way to the castle with Saphira, but the evil shade has already put out a deadly trap for him.
I have to admit that I have never read Paolini's books, but considering they were such bestsellers, I assume that they were a lot better than this movie. Ultimately the film, which is also rather short for a fantasy book adaptation with a running time of just over 100 minutes, feels empty and the plot seems to lead into nowhere. Brom leads Eragon to the Varden, but once he arrives, it never becomes quite clear why he was supposed to go there in the first place. The relationships between the characters felt completely dry, there was no powerful emotion, no history, and essentially the film manages to tell its story but there is no depth in there at all. The script written by Peter Buchman, whose only writing credit was the third installment in the "Jurassic Park" series, is not horrible, but full of the typical "young man leaves his home to become a hero" clichés, and there are of course the monologues by the mentor about foolishness, responsibility and his deep dark secret that becomes obvious the first time he appears on screen. While the cinematography and landscape shots are not as present as they were in "Lord of the Rings, they are still quite beautiful and much of the film was shot in Hungary, showing that you don't need to travel all the way to New Zealand to get some fantastic pictures. Patrick Doyle might not be the most well-known composer, but delivers a powerful and epic score, that even gave me goose bumps once, when Eragon sat outside of the farm staring into the far reaching plains of Alagaesia.
So, the cast of this film is absolutely top-notch and I was surprised by how many big names were brought together for this fairly mediocre movie. Edward Speleers tries very hard in the title role and he does have the spark of charisma to him that you need to be a hero in a fantasy film. He also reminds me a bit of Simon Baker, who plays Patrick Jane in "The Mentalist", and ultimately he gives a good performance that should hopefully get him recognized. Jeremy Irons is stellar as Brom and his robust presence on screen makes the mediocre quality of the lines he says almost irrelevant. Although he is the typical mentor for the protagonist, and his motives and history are relatively transparent, I enjoyed to see him again in one of his rare appearances in movies these days. Sienna Guillory makes a beautiful figure as Arya, but unfortunately her character is a complete mystery and her background is never explained at all. Robert Carlyle gets to pull off his role in the craziest way possible and although his character, the shade Durza, is in no way explained as well, it was a lot of fun to watch his maniacal laugh and his grimaces. John Malkovich was in this film, yes, but he can't have been on screen for more than maybe five minutes, and his lines of dialog are limited to about a dozen. A pity that such a talented performer was wasted in such a way. And then there is Rachel Weisz, who doesn't act, but merely provided the voice for Saphira. Merely, are you kidding? This woman has such a fantastic and haunting voice that she outplays almost all the other actors on screen, which really does not speak for the quality of the characters.
Although it in no way reaches the very good representatives of the genre, the film was enjoyable and simple to understand, without the drama and philosophical aspects of "Lord of the Rings" or even "Harry Potter". The actors are mostly fun to watch, although their characters seem like nutshells without the real prize in. I'm neither surprised it wasn't a big success, nor that no sequel was made, but maybe that would have answered a lot of the questions that came up in this film, but were never answered.
Although the James Bond movie franchise is among the most successful
and popular ones ever, playing the title role doesn't automatically
guarantee future success in other projects. Except Sean Connery, who
made several huge hits and won an Oscar in 1988, none of the other
actors ever managed to make an impact in the film industry again.
George Lazenby. Roger Moore and Timothy Dalton all made appearances in
small and obscure films, but ultimately they were never really heard of
again. And now, it's Pierce Brosnan's turn to show that he is a good
enough actor to leave the typecasting of the James Bond role, and
appear in projects that appeal to the audience, and challenge him as a
While this is certainly not a film that requires a lot of acting from any of its actors, Pierce Brosnan turns his image around by 180 degrees, playing someone on the other side of the law, with a shabby beard and an addiction for stealing high-priced jewels. Silly and ridiculous at times, "After the Sunset" is nonetheless an entertaining heist flick, with one or the other surprise.
Max and Lola Burdett are among the most successful jewel thieves the world has ever seen and for years they have been stealing some of the most valuable diamonds. After a really big heist, where they steal the diamond directly out of the car of FBI agent Stan Lloyd whom they put to sleep, the couple decides to retire and moves to the Bahamas. But eventually Lloyd shows up, convinced that Max is planning to steal the famous Napoleon III diamond from an exhibit on a ship that is docked in Nassau for three weeks. Max swears to Lola that he has no intention to steal the diamond, but she is reluctant to believe him, especially since he hasn't written his wedding vows yet, something he promised to do months ago already. After paying the exhibit the visit, Max is introduced to Henri Moore, one of the greatest criminals on the island, who needs the diamond to finance his so-called "humanitarian program". But Moore already has local policewoman Sophie after her, who teams up with Lloyd, to get her the attention of her superiors, to regain Lloyd's reputation, and to bring Burdett behind bars.
Brett Ratner, who already directed the successful action-comedy film "Rush Hour" with Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker, makes another film in that genre, but this time can't seem to find the right balance between the two. Although I did laugh maybe half a dozen times, this is not really a film that aims for laughs, but on the other hand doesn't have enough action to compensate for the lack of them. So, this film is not exactly a great representative of its kind, but I would be lying if I said that I didn't enjoy it. Maybe it's the fact that this film could have easily been used as a promotional movie for tourism on the Bahamas and its all there, the alcoholic beverages, the white beaches, the tropical vegetation, and in the middle two fugitives appreciating a luxurious lifestyle. I doubt there is a better way to promote a career being a criminal rather than one in law enforcement, and although the entire premise is completely ludicrous, it's certainly not the first time the people on the wrong side of the law get to spend more money in a day than a federal agent gets on his paycheck for ten years. But the relationship between Agent Lloyd and Max Burdett, who are playing somewhat of a cat and mouse game, is funny and while I had a hard time believing that Lloyd is trying to arrest Max, it's absolutely hilarious how Max tries to bribe him into leaving him alone, like paying for the famous bridge suite in the Atlantis Hotel.
Probably the best thing about this film is its array of usual suspects in unusual roles, all ahead of course Pierce Brosnan, who throws off the gentleman image that comes with playing James Bond. Leaving his shirts half unbuttoned and wearing a shabby gray beard, he is a lot of fun in this movie, and it's good to see him taking on some roles completely different than what he did before. Salma Hayek, who is thirteen years younger than Brosnan, looks incredibly hot and sexy in this film, and for the entire film I had absolutely no clue what took Max so long to write his wedding vows, considering he would be married to such a gorgeous woman. Woody Harrelson plays Agent Stan Lloyd, a colorful and instantly sympathetic character, and although nobody would probably want him to succeed to arrest Max and Lola, one can't help but feel sorry for him when he constantly laments about how the two make him look like a clown in front of his superiors, and especially, members of the opposite sex. Naomie Harris is a lot of fun as the native Bahamian cop, who has no problem proving her point to the people with a little more violence than necessary. And then there's Don Cheadle as a humanitarian island gangster boss, who is hilarious in his role, but unfortunately completely underused and rarely on screen.
So, while "After the Sunset" might not be the biggest catch out there, it is quite a bit of fun, and not a complete waste of time. The actors take their roles with a lot of humor, and especially Brosnan, Harrelson, and for the five minutes he's in this film, Don Cheadle are absolutely hilarious to watch. Salma Hayek and Naomie Harris are both adorable, and the latter makes a good figure as the no-nonsense cop. If the money is short, or you can't get away from work, this film will have to do as a replacement for a vacation, and after sipping a margarita or two, you will totally have the island atmosphere in your home. Or at least almost.
This film, as the title suggests, is affiliated with the famous
children's TV Series "Land of the Lost" from the 70s, which was about
Rick Marshall, and his two children Holly and Will, who got stranded in
a strange and mysterious worlds, where time and space collided. Now,
this take on the story is a parody on the original story, with the same
basic concept, but a more humorous storyline.
I have never seen the original TV Series, but I doubt it would have made too much of a difference. "Land of the Lost" is without a doubt one of the worst films of the year 2009; especially considering that I actually thought the movie looked pretty decent in the trailer. I will never know how such an interesting and original concept was screwed up so badly and turned into an unfunny and pointless mess.
Dr. Rick Marshall is ridiculed on national television after he suggests the existence of time warps that could be used to solve the worsening energy crisis. Reduced to teaching science classes at elementary school, Marshall drops his theories, until Cambridge student Holly shows up at the school, and urges him to test his tachyon amplifier, a device that can create the necessary energy waves to open those gates. They drive far out into the desert, where the crazy redneck Will is running a cave entertainment park. While giving them a rafting tour through the cave, Rick and Holly get the tachyon amplifier to work and the three fall down a massive waterfall. When they wake up, they find themselves in the middle of a desert, right next to a Viking ship, proving Rick's theory of an alternate dimension, where the past, present, and future collide. Unfortunately though they lost the tachyon amplifier and now can't get back home to prove to the world Rick's been right all along. After the saving a primate from being sacrificed by his own people, the little monkey-like creature named Cha-ka reluctantly guides them through the strange "land of the lost, which is inhabited by green aliens, large dinosaurs, and filled with objects from the human world.
Several words can be used to describe this film, among them being uninspired, dull, pointless and unfunny. The entire movie pretty much consists of the three main characters stumbling from one enormous mess into another, which for one reason or another doesn't turn out to be so dangerous after all. If you try really hard you might find the attempts of creating a plot once in a while, but all in all the entire thing is just all over place and never seems to find a point of focus. First the dinosaur appears, but when that "plot line" is finished after around ten minutes, the aliens are introduced about halfway through the film and they, of course, have the incredibly evil master plan of conquering the universe. The humor, which includes several sexual references, is childish and ridiculous, with many of the lines often not fitting with the scenes they are said in. And when the primitive monkey man Cha-ka has grabbed Holly's breasts for the fifth or sixth time, I just got really tired of it. To be fair, I laughed about half a dozen times in this film, once when Will Ferrell pours dinosaur urine all over himself in order to cover his human smell. It's really quite amazing how such a disaster was created with a $100 Million budget, and a director like Brad Silbering, who made "Casper" and "Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events", both great and inspired movies. Most of the blame here can be put on the writers, Chris Henchy and Dennis McNicholas, who both don't have too much experience writing comic dialog, and most of the punch lines just completely fall flat. Those unfortunately occur at least two or three times a minute, and it's just painful to see that if the script had been completely rewritten dialog-wise the film could have been so much better.
I'm really not the biggest fan of Will Ferrell, since most of his comedies tend to be hit and miss and often don't really work for me, and this film without a question belongs in the category "complete miss". Surprisingly though, I don't think Ferrell is really the one at fault, and if, once again, the script had been better, this could have been the perfect role for him. But here, he just stumbles around and has absolutely no chance against the horrendous words coming out of his mouth. The same goes for Danny McBride, who is the expert of sexual humor in this film, or at least he was probably supposed to be. While I thought he was amazing in "Tropic Thunder" last year, in here he pathetically fails at being funny. Anna Friel's role is not really a very comic one in the first place, and since she's incredibly serious among the two idiotic men accompanying her, there's not really that much bad stuff that can be said about her performance. Jorma Taccone though, as the primitive Cha-ka, is just plain awful, because even though he doesn't say too much, all of his attempts to be funny are somehow related to sexuality, and that's just not really my kind of humor.
"Land of the Lost" was definitely the biggest disappointment of the summer, and I actually really enjoyed the trailer, which literally contains all the funny moments of the film. Will Ferrell certainly didn't do himself a favor by taking on this role, even though it would be unfair to bash him alone for the failure to deliver a solid movie here. While "Land of the Lost" is not the worst film of all time, which is mainly due to the fascinating sets, the absolute majority of it was catastrophic and it would have been better if the entire project would have landed in the land of the lost.
Sadness, hatred and bitterness can be found behind every corner in the
so-called "city of angels", racism dominates everyone's life in one way
or the other and people yell and scream at each other simply because of
their color and their language. Words are misinterpreted or
misunderstood, which leads to conflicts and arguments, sometimes even
fatal. This sad, but wonderful movie documents 36 hours in Los Angeles,
with more or less average people finding themselves in unusual
situations, and often colliding with each other in the most surprising
ways. Whether you are a detective, a cop, a district attorney, a movie
producer, a locksmith or a car thief, nobody is safe from being pulled
into the Maelstrom of hatred and prejudice, which is ever present in
L.A. The film is dramatically and intelligently intertwined, which will
bring the audience to tears but at the same time is a piece of hope and
optimism at the end.
In Los Angeles, racism dominates the interaction between people and over the time of 36 hours many of them encounter it in closer ways than ever before. Detective Graham Waters is working on a case where a racist white cop shot a corrupt black one, and after finding $300,000 in cash in the black cop's car he is almost sure that the dead man was trafficking drugs. But the city, that wants to save face, wants to present the community with a fallen black hero instead of a drug dealer and persuades Waters to drop the case, in exchange for the clearance of his brother's criminal record. Jack Ryan is a racist cop, who after pulling over a couple that performed fellatio, sexually molests the wife under the eyes of her husband and his partner Tom Hanson. The movie director Cameron Thayer and his wife get in a huge fight after being pulled over by Ryan and Thayer's wife accuses him of being worried more about his reputation than her. Rick Cabot, the district attorney, and his wife Jean are attacked by two black thieves and their car is stolen. After that incident, Jean is in constant fear of people that are not of her race, and Rick tries to spin the incident to his advantage, no matter the cost. Daniel Ruiz, a Hispanic locksmith, gives his daughter a necklace, that is supposed to protect her from any danger, even bullets. After a communication problem with the Persian owner of a store, the store is robbed and trashed, and the insurance refuses to pay because of negligence. The owner is desperate and goes after Ruiz and causes a catastrophe to happen.
This movie is a painful mosaic that spreads out over the city and involves numerous people of different ethnicity, languages and social classes. Just one small event, can cause a dangerous chain reaction that will end in casualties. Paul Haggis, in one of the best screenplays of the decade so far, ties up the plot strings convincingly and created a film with a powerful message. There are no good people in Los Angeles, no heroes and no saints, but some have their moments and most of them have their eyes opened by the end of this film. There is no true beginning or end, as it is just a glimpse into an average day for these people, one of many that is filled with sorrow and pain, but occasional happiness. The viewers are pulled in from the very first word on and won't be able to let go until the end credits start rolling. Some of the dialogs are even funny to a certain extent, because they are full of insults and swear words, but their content is so serious, that the smile just won't come in most cases. The language is extremely dirty and includes dozens of "f-words" that is because the atmosphere in L.A. was supposed to be as authentic as possible, and it certainly is.
Don Cheadle is very calm and moving as Graham Waters, a detective, who tries everything to get accepted by his mother, and in the end she is always more fond of his criminal younger brother than him. Matt Dillon just blew me away, beginning as the racist asshole, who sexually molests a young woman, to the hero, who risks his one life to pull someone from a burning car. Sandra Bullock as the racist wife of a district attorney has not a lot of screen time, but she is so perfectly unsympathetic that one has to congratulate her for a job well done. Michael Pena, playing the only truly good guy in this film, is extraordinary and some of his scenes will move anyone to tears, especially the one that is shown on the poster, of him letting out a tortured scream as he is holding his young daughter. Ryan Philippe proves that he can be considered one of the best young actors in Hollywood right now, giving a great dramatic performance as the young, naive police officer, who goes through an unfortunate transformation over the 36 hours the film takes place in. Terence Howard's character also changes considerably, from an ambitious, well-worded man, to the aggressive, foul-mouthed one at the end. Thandie Newton as the victim of Ryan's sexual molesting gives a sad and moving performance and her scenes with Dillon are among the best in the movie.
Coincidences shape the lives of the multi-ethnical people in L.A., often for the worse as this movie shows. In any case, Paul Haggis crafted a masterpiece of story-telling that goes deep into the people that have to survive the daily life in a city, where racism is constantly present are where trust is a word nobody has ever heard of. Nobody can prevent the crashes and coincidences of life, but we can make the best of them,instead of blaming each other because of a different skin color or language.
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