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The Expendables (2010)
Pretty stupid but purely awesome
If this movie were released say, 15 years ago, it would have probably failed, but since we're given almost every action star of all time thrown together, we get such a rush of nostalgia that we don't even care if it's good, we're just stoked to see so many terribly aged killing machines working under the same banner that we turn off our inner critic and shut our brains down for 2 hours.
Technically speaking, the movie is pretty bad. The direction is all about the payoff and less about the tension. Every character's development was done in a previous movie (every actor here, is essentially playing their most famous character to date, just now they have a different name) and the music is exactly what you expect.
The Expendables is thin on plot, directional fortitude and character development, but it's actually really fun. The joy of the movie is that you can shut your brain off and still feel pretty smart! Normally this would offend me as a viewer but this time however I enjoyed it.
Even though it sounds like I was essentially ripping the Expendables, I was actually having loads of fun with it.
6.5 out of 10
Shutter Island (2010)
Shutter Island is a thriller that sees Two Federal Marshals (DiCaprio, Ruffalo) investigating a missing inmate of a mental hospital on that said island. Almost immediately after their arrival, DiCaprio's character starts having bad thoughts and is certainly concerned about the Island workers' dodgy demeanours.
Quickly the investigation takes a turn for the ugly as a hurricane sets it's sights on the island, keeping the marshals stranded. DiCaprio digs deeper into the island's history and finds more and more dark secrets, all of which he plans to take back to the mainland and show the world what is really happening at the facility. But will he be able to make it back?
Scorcese certainly proves he is still one of the best directors working today with creating this wonderful claustrophobic atmosphere and tight camera work. The cinematography should earn an Oscar nomination as will editing. As far as the acting goes, the shout outs are to DiCaprio, who is every scene nearly, Ben Kingsely, as the brilliant Dr. Cawley, and to the biggest surprise, Michelle Williams takes a wonderful turn and most likely could've earned a best supporting actress nomination if this were to have been released in Oscar Season.
All and All Shutter Island gives you a genre movie with some wonderful camera work and acting. Worth multiple viewings.
8 out of 10
What the Cinema should be
Remember when you went to the movies to be entertain and not to judge? Yeah me neither, so enter Avatar, pure fun, pure visual adrenaline mixed with a basic but effective story. Lets face it, we're pretty done with original stories we're left with original ways to tell it, again enter Avatar.
Now Avatar has of course changed the way movies CAN be made and can be SEEN, which is praise enough in itself but there is more to it than visual. I happened to enjoy the stories, the simple effective story and dialogue, i think an overly complex approach to an already complex visual would A) be boring and B) defeat the purpose of a movie going experience.
Jake Sully's twin scientist brother is killed a week before shipping out to a distant world called Pandora, where he would control an Avatar (an avatar of the natives of Pandora, the Na'vi) and Jake is called to fill in his place. With the incentive to get some money and face a new challenge Jake accepts. Of course Jake clashes personality wise with science in general and bonds well with the military, but soon accepts "science" after he really gets the hang of his Avatar body. during an outing in his Avatar Jake meets Neyteri (an oddly attractive Navi) and here enters the love story and of course Jake's reason for not wanting to deceive them all. So there we have our love interests and personal conflicts which of course will create outer conflicts, all of which pay off nicely in this movie.
I digress i know so i'll just skip to it. Avatar = a movie who's story enables you to be transported into a NEW world and enjoy the ride while it lasts. A first step in the right direction.
Let Avatar 2 give us complex story in a world we'll then be familiar with.
7 out of 10.
A show that started grand and fell into mediocre territory.
Now let me start off by saying: this is only a good show. It is not great.
Entourage started off with such promise, I can fully remember truly wanting Vince and the gang in succeeding. They were fun and ultimately they were learning the ropes as we were as the audience (with Ari Gold as our teacher essentially).
Since season 2 however I started caring much less for every character who wasn't Ari or one of the guest stars. The "entourage" are arrogant, undeserving and sadly uninteresting. Kevin Dillion is the only one of the bunch that brings actual character to them.
Ari with his assistant and his constant drive to make his clients succeed is the only fun part of the show now, and I suggest a switch in momentum towards that.
Sadly 6 out of 10.
Inglourious Basterds (2009)
Offensive, Brutal, Vulgar and a sheer Joy to watch!
Quentin Tarantino has delivered one of the most bizarre films i've seen in the theatres in a long time, from the beautifully evil and charismatic Hans Landa (Christoph Waltz), the silliness and brutality of the Bastards (Pitt, Schweiger, Roth, Novak etc...) to the calm and beautiful Shosanna (Melanie Laurent) we get a strange roller coaster of scenes that explode at the ending.
While the movie's violence is truly brutal it fits the story and the characters who make that violence happen. I found myself wincing at time but couldn't take my eyes away, it is just so incredibly hard not to watch due to the direction being sublime and playful.
I won't get into the plot details other than it oozes and relishes in every moment of revenge and violence and in every moment of beautifully acted scenes (Melanie Laurent, Diane Kruger, Christoph Waltz and Pitt stand out).
9 out of 10 for the bastards and crew Chistoph Waltz is sure to win plenty of awards.
District 9 (2009)
A sci-fi actioner that doesn't dumb down the elements or make it too complicated. District 9 starts off slowly and gains so much momentum it nearly explodes at the end, but it doesn't self destruct, it comes to a close rather beautifully.
There is a subtle social commentary (more obvious if you know anything about Johannsburg's history) but it certainly is not preaching. The movie eventually turns into a balls to the wall visual action treat, but it doesn't ever once seem like a cheap-shot to the audience, in fact it's a reward.
The direction is sublime, the acting is a huge surprise from a cast of mostly unknowns and visually it's realistic and actually quite lovely to watch.
The story is simple but not dumbed down and the pacing is pitch perfect. A well deserved 9 out of 10 for District 9.
Public Enemies (2009)
Different style of Crime
Public Enemies is beautiful in ways one wouldn't have expected. It isn't flashy, it isn't shot with a clean style loaded static camera angles or slow zooms and portrait shots, no instead Public Enemies was shot almost entirely with hand-held cameras and because of that, makes you feel that you're at the table with John and the gang, or with Melvin Purvis addressing his fellow G-Men. That style choice makes Public Enemies unfold in an entirely different way. I felt like I wasn't watching characters, instead i felt I was watching real people, wonderful style choice in my honest opinion. (I can understand that hate for such a style choice though) The true surprise here wasn't Johnny Depp's unusually toned back and powerful performance or Christian Bale's quiet strong underlining supportive role, it's actually Marion Cotillard's performance, she holds so much emotion it's astounding. (a scene near the end between Marion and a G-man is almost hard to watch) Direction, performances and cinematography are all top notch, expect a handful of Oscar Consideration for this one. Wonderful film.
8 out of 10
Man on Fire (2004)
"Creasy, You're smiling"
A semi-retired, problem drinking militarily trained man, played by a delightfully quiet and somber Denzel Washington, is hired, at a discounted price, to protect the daughter of a wealthy man. The daughter play by Dakota Fanning is smart, likable and chatty, she gets along with everyone, even Washington who is resistant to allow his feelings come out (due to his turbulent past involving his job). This relationship between Washington and Fanning's characters is the cornerstone of the movie and takes a little bit before they really let each other both in. When Pita (Fanning) says to her bodyguard "Creasy, You're smiling" we really see how much of a liking these two have for each other. A man who never thought he could feel anything other than pain again feels happiness and purpose.
After a length of time Pita is kidnapped after her piano lesson, in which Creasy is gunned down in the ensuing gun fight. He survives, oh boy how he survives.
Creasy takes some sweet sweet revenge on all who are responsible in Pita's kidnapping (I won't get too into it all, but boy is it one hell of a ride) A beautiful performance from Denzel Washington and a solid supporting cast, fun direction from Tony Scott and a solid script make Man on Fire an action ride with heart.
8 out of 10
Wall Street (1987)
Mixing Uppers with Downers
Is the best way to describe Wall Street, at least in my honest opinion. On one hand we have brilliant acting from Mr. Douglas, good direction from Oliver Stone and a strong script, but on the other hand we have an unusually weak/boring supporting cast (Ms. Hannah).
The story follows Charlie Sheen's ambitious character's journey through the trading world under the mentor-ship of the wonderfully evil and greedy Gordon Gecko. Now you think that Wall Street would break anyone and everyone but not Charlie Sheen, nope instead he does what he can do to make things "fair" so to speak. The story is a joy to watch unfold, even if it gets bogged down by the supporting cast.
A fine film that could've been brilliant through and through if someone spent a little more time on casting :)
7 out of 10
Terminator Salvation (2009)
Let me start this off by saying that TS is very but not entirely different from the previous installments. T1 was thrilling and fun, T2 elaborated and twisted the original's plot and themes, and the unnecessary T3 is almost entirely ignored (aside from the Kate Connor character).
Now TS takes to the beginnings of the battles and war between Skynet and humanity. If you know anything at all of Fallout series of games, the atmosphere and landscape of those games is almost identical to that of TS'.
I'm sick of reading the same review (ie. Plot sum up etc.) we are all familiar, so let me say this simply with Pros and COns
-Solidly continues the legacy without repeating the same idea (send a terminator back in time to kill one of the Connors) - Characters are likable (although kinda wooden here and there) - Action is fantastic - Score is actually engaging (i love the old school synth soundtrack, but i prefer Danny Elfman's live strings more) - Visually fantastic (direction, cinematography)
- Stated above, while the characters are likable they are wooden-ish - Script is a little rushed (a few moments of cheese :P)
There you have it.
Not THE BEST MOVIE EVER MADE!!!!!! but a damn fine film and WORTHY film to be included with T1 and T2.