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Django Unchained (2012)
Fun movie but not as good as his other work
For those who don't want an in depth review, the easiest way to describe Django Unchained is to say it's Inglorious Basterds set in the Wild West. Just not quite as good.
That's not to say it's bad movie. In the world of movies it is a good movie. However, this is Quentin Tarantino movie and in the world of Tarantino movies, this is not his best work. It feels very stock.
From the very first few seconds of the opening of the movie it is immediately clear this is the Wild West Tarantino style - all kitsch, cool, badass, and darkly funny. However, Tarantino does exceptionally well at highlighting the real tragedy and brutality of American slavery. It's fair to say that although everyone knows slavery is and was bad, they don't really know how bad it was, how cruel it was, and what African-Americans had to go through just to have a chance at survival. Being made fully aware of this through this movie, in graphic visual detail, for me, jarred with the trying to add a cool element to it. On top of that the cartoonish violence, the buckets of blood, spouting like torrents when someone is shot, take away from the the impact of the redemption that Django is looking for. You really want the bad guys to die, but by killing them comically it takes away from the impact and righteousness of their death.
Jamie Foxx does an OK job as Django, he doesn't drive the movie though. Although this is his story the movie is stolen by Leonardo DiCaprio as Calvin Candie. His portrayal is a triumph, at once both engaging, funny, yet deeply dark and violent. When he realises the ruse Django and Dr. Schultz (played by Christopher Waltz) are trying to con him in to selling them Djangos wife, his switch from southern gentlemen to violent, racist, murderer grips you.
Christopher Waltz, on the other hand, although he gives a good performance, feels very much as if he is just repeating his performance as Hans Landa in Inglorious Basterds. Furthermore, a lot of the scenes seem to be similar to those in Inglorious Basterds, just with different characters. There are very few stand out scenes. In fact the best scene is a comical moment when the KKK, on their way to kill Django & Dr. Schultz, have an argument about how poorly their masks were made by one of the KKKs wives, and how they can't see where they were going.
Although this movie promises much, it just doesn't deliver as much as it does in other Tarantino movies. It feels much more as if Tarantino was just taking it easy, doing the expected Tarantino things in the Tarantino way, not really pushing himself at all. It doesn't have the visual flair of Kill Bill vol. 1, it doesn't have the pace or freshness of Reservoir Dogs, it doesn't have the coolness or surprises of Pulp Fiction, or the great action scenes from Death Proof and Kill Bill.
Tarantino is right, it's very doubtful it will win best picture at the Oscars. The surprise is it was even nominated at all to be honest. I think the subject matter may have been the reason why, it seems a very political nomination as this is far from Tarantino's best work.
When is a prequel not a prequel?
I saw the Blu-Ray of this. I was planning on catching it in a movie theater at some point but missed out and, having now watched it on Blu-Ray, I'm glad I didn't waste the cost of a cinema ticket.
The whole idea of this movie intrigued me, Ridley Scott stating in interviews that it's not a prequel, it's an original movie that references Alien. Being a fan of Alien & Aliens I was intrigued as to what that meant.
Having now watched the movie I now know what he meant was that it is a prequel, but it's so bad I'm going to try and distance it from Alien because I screwed it up and I don't want people to associate it with the Alien franchise because they will lynch me.
It's not original because it's virtually Alien without the Aliens. All of the references to Alien are clearly there but what they do is completely screw up the Alien mythology as it originally stood and if you were to watch Alien now everything you loved about it would make no sense because the prequel that isn't a prequel has destroyed any of the concepts and understanding of Alien and the Aliens in it.
Naomi Rapaces character is Ripley from Alien in a different guise. A strong woman who is not trained to be a leader or killer but who ends up leading everyone else and killing the alien baddie in the movie and, just like Alien, the ending takes place in the escape pod. Hell, even though she's just a scientist, she decides at the end of the move to not return to earth but instead to fly off and go and take on the entire race of the 'human engineers' who created the Aliens to begin with, all on her own with a broken headless robot at her side. The robot is played by Michael Fassbender, and is a direct copy of Ash in Alien, even down to having his head torn off at the end.
Idris Elba's character is a copy of Dallas in Alien, and all of the crew members are copies of all the other crew members in Alien (i.e. the ones who get picked off one by one in Alien). Crew members get inseminated via aliens in metal pods rather than seed pods in Alien, and then something grows inside of them, just like Alien, but it doesn't look like the alien in Alien. See how this movie is original so far?
What Charlie Theron's characters point is I don't know. She doesn't do anything, is hardly in any scenes, and then gets killed. Weyland also appears in this prequel that's not a prequel, but is a completely different looking and sounding Weyland to the Weyland in all the other Alien and indeed Alien vs. Predator movies. How does that work? Why make all the other characters copies of characters in Alien but make Weyland, who appears in all the other Alien movies, different?
This whole movie is bizarre, and it's no wonder if you have a director claim it's original when the story is virtually the same as Alien, with characters poor copies of the characters in Alien. The action scenes are poor, there is nothing scary about the movie, the acting is poor and the accents even poorer (Rapace is Swedish but plays an English woman, Elba is English but plays an American - and both can't do their respective accents properly).
If you wanted to make an original movie make an original movie. If you want to do a prequel to Alien do a prequel, but one thing you can't and shouldn't do is try to do both in one movie. Ridley has quite literally done a Lucas, and completely screwed over an entire franchise to make some money. If this movie was the first in the Alien franchise there never would have been an Alien, because this is so poor no one would want to see anything more. Because it's so poor Alien now makes no sense if this is indeed it's prequel.
If you like Alien and want to keep those good memories of Alien never, ever, ever see this movie. It destroys the Alien franchise.
A cinematic experience that you should give yourself
I came across the trailer for Samsara having never heard anything about it before, or the filmmakers involved, but the trailer alone made me want to check it out. I got to see it in IMAX and I'm glad I did as, as everyone else has said, visually it is stunning, so the bigger the screen you can see it on the better.
I have never seen Fricke's previous work such as Baraka so I had no idea what to truly expect when I sat down before it started. I see people have mentioned they got bored after 30 minutes due to the lack of dialog/narration and that overall it's too long but I couldn't disagree more. From the first scene to last, I was totally engrossed in the visual and audio experience. The juxtaposition of concepts and themes worked, I got to see places and activities I didn't know about in a way I have never seen before. The soundtrack is spot on, capturing and switching the moods perfectly. It moves you.
I see critics have said that the message of Samsara isn't clear but I don't think it needs a message. Seeing Samsara has enhanced my understanding, and appreciation for, the way our world is and works, and what really matters most to us. How many times can you go to the cinema and come out a more knowledgeable person?
Samsara is quite simply a work of art and, like all great art, you interpret it in your own individual way and it makes you think. Do yourself a favor and experience it.
There is a fine line between controversial comedy and blatant offensiveness, and this crosses that line
I saw this movie as I am a fan of Sacha Baron Cohen and his alter egos Ali-G and Borat.
I also understand the point of his characters and how he uses them to show us peoples true feelings and reaction to controversial issues when their guards are down, holding the mirror up to society as he would say, and I find such comedy funny. However, with Bruno I think Sacha has finally gone too far. I don't know if it is because Bruno is the lesser known/popular of his characters so he felt he had to up the ante to get more attention but there is a fine line between being controversially funny and being plain offensive and I'm afraid, with this movie, the line has been crossed and it is overwhelmingly just offensive about the subjects raised.
Clearly some subjects, such as him pretending to be casting for a baby ad campaign to highlight the extremes parents will go to in order to get their baby cast (including agreeing to have a baby lose 10 pounds via liposuction to get the job), highlight misjudged actions and opinions. But pretending to interview Ron Paul and then try and strip in front of him and come on to him, or going to the middle east in a bid to cease the hostilities by singing offensive songs in what is already a hostile situation just crosses the line. Indeed, it shows the misjudged actions of the star than the unwitting people being pranked. Maybe a mirror should be held up to Sacha Baron Cohen himself because, based on this movie, I don't think he'll like what he sees.
Completely not deserving of all the hype
Once again, I'm amazed at how a movie such as this gets the score it gets on IMDb.
I can't remember the last time I've been so bored watching a movie. I'm glad I didn't catch this in the theaters because I'm pretty sure this would have been the very first movie I ever walked out of. I hear tales of other films in which people were supposedly so bored they left half way through and I would never have even imagined myself doing such a thing until now.
The premise of Splice is that two scientists (who are also a couple who don't have children) illegally create a new human/animal hybrid species and, despite nearly killing it in the beginning, don't because they develop paternal instincts for it, that is until it grows up into a monster. This premise sounds like good horror fare, but it's let down in several major departments.
The first is the script which, at times, absurd. I mean the final third of the movie has the male scientist Clive (played by Adrien Brody) first trying to kill the monster (Dren played by Delphine Chanéac), then falling in love with it and having sex with it, and then being killed by it (this is supposed to literally happen in the space 2 days - who tries to kill something and then fall in love with it within 2 days? And that something being a human/animal hybrid of all things). At the same time the female scientist Elsa (played very badly Sarah Polley) loves the monster as if it's her own child, then hates it and cuts off its tail to perform experiments on it, then loves it again, then gets raped by it, and then thinks twice about killing it after it's already raped her (and it's this delay that gets Adrien Brody's character killed), then kills it but not because it raped her but because it killed her partner and, if the ending is to be believed, is now pregnant and willing to have a baby from being raped by the monster. It's the dumbest thing I've ever heard, let only had to painfully watch.
Secondly, this is billed as a horror movie but it's not scary in anyway, all of the supposed scares are signposted well before they happen, so you know who is going to die and when, and you know when the monster is going to jump on screen, which just adds to the boredom. Horror movies are supposed to surprise and scare you, not give you big warning flags about scary moments coming up.
Thirdly, the acting is bad, I mean really bad. You don't believe in either Sarah Polley's character being a super bright scientist who just wants to help save lives by creating this new monster to harvest special proteins, or in her somehow developing paternal instincts to the monster she's created. There is no chemistry between Sarah Polley or Adrien Brody, so you don't believe in them being a couple, hence you don't believe that he's willing to go along with it out of love for her, or that he then becomes attracted to the monster because it looks like his lover because she used some of her DNA to create it.
Finally, the pace of the movie is soooooooo slow, it's only in the last 15 minutes that anything remotely action orientated happens, the rest of the time is spent on boring conversations about whether creating a new species is right, or how they can't kill this creature because it's like a child etc, it's boring.
I don't get this movie at all, it doesn't know if it's supposed to be a horror movie or high brow social commentary on the dangers of gene science (or a splice of the two - pun intended). It fails on both those, and many more levels. I'd steer well clear of this movie, it's not worth the effort.
Another example of why video games don't convert well to movies....
It's been a while since I wrote a review on IMDb, but I felt compelled to write this one because this is a very poor effort of a movie that seems to somehow have gained more recognition than it deserves.
I will first state that this was watched once the movie had come out on DVD, I wasn't compelled enough to want to see this in the cinema but thought it might make a good night in rental. That ideas was wrong.
I could only watch this in 15 minutes sections, after which time I would become so disgusted with either the story, acting, or directing that I would be sure there was something better to do - and every time it turned out there was. I ended up watching this movie over a 2 day period, I had to take that many breaks from it because it was so bad.
The story itself is too complex but still very cliché, it's hard to keep up with who's double crossing who, what the whole myth of the dagger is, which person is from which tribe and who's good and who's bad. I think the script writers think constantly keeping things changing and people guessing is entertaining and creative. It's not, it's annoying. The story is supposed to guide us as viewers and take us along for the ride, not keep trying to throw us off. Of course a good thriller has you double guessing or following a red herring, but the good ones lead you down one path and then revealing the other true path the end (think Sixth Sense or Shutter Island).
The acting is wooden and poor. Ben Stiller isn't menacing, Gemma Arterton isn't engaging, and Jake Gyllenhal isn't funny or heroic. You really don't care for any of them, particularly Gemma Arterton, who just grates by constantly flipping from a damsel in distress to mythical queen spouting hokum' pokem' nonsense. The only saving grace was Alfred Molina, at least he was watchable.
The action scenes are not well choreographed or directed, it's hard to really tell what's going on or get a sense of the action as the editing is so quick and swift you don't really get a chance to see any of the sword play, it's lots of quick cuts of close-up of swords hitting swords and then running and jumping away. There's no grandeur to them at all, and the elements taken from the video games (i.e. running along walls and back flipping everywhere) turn these scenes from the ridiculous to the absurd.
What is this movie supposed to be? It's not an actioner, it's not a comedy, it's not an epic, it's not a romance movie, it's just a very bad attempt at trying to be all of these. Thank God I got this on DVD, at least I could turn it off. If I'd have seen thins in the cinema it may well have been the very first movie which I actually walked out of.
A more mature X-Files
I wanted to post a comment here because I think this movie deserves a wider audience than it has got so far.
No, it's not the blockbuster people were expecting, nor is it truly an X File in the mold of the first movie or TV series. But, it is a good movie.
Just as Christ Carter and the cast and crew have matured, so have the X Files characters and their story line. Belief in aliens has been changed to beliefs in religion, and monsters of the fantasy kind changed into monsters of the reality kind, in this case a pedophile priest and 'Frankenstein' like doctors. In many ways, it shows how the fantasy of the TV series plots isn't that much removed from the reality of what really happens in the world today.
As a story, it's intriguing and keeps you guessing, it well scripted and acted (although Anderson does over play it at times), and there are some nice cues to fans of the show. The development of Mulder & Scully's relationship is good to see although odd that, now lovers with a deceased child, they still call each other by their surnames? However, it's pacing is at times slow, because you get ahead of the story line and characters into what's going to happen next, and the finale is quite anti-climatic. It a good suspenseful movie, with a mature attitude and plot, but not an edge of your seat experience.
While on one hand a brave move and one to be quite respected, it does leave you, if your a fan of the show, quite disappointed in that you know these characters and have seen and done much more fantastic and amazing things that this seems like a walk in the park for them really. It doesn't really stretch them as characters or exponentially expand on our knowledge of them. If it was an episode of the TV series it would be enjoyable, but not a favorite, and not one you'll likely watch again.
The capper on this is the sequence over the credits, with long shots of vistas and then finally Mulder rowing Scully to an island and then waving t the camera - what was that all about?????
Superman Returns (2006)
It sounds so right, yet it turns out so wrong
What a HUGE shame. The hype around this movie was immense, the public fervor rampant, and the hope high, which makes the disappointment so deep.
Superman should be on the big screen, and it's amazing that he was missing for so long. All the elements seemed there for something amazing and yet we got this? How?
What's right with this movie?
- Brandon Routh (great casting, really comes across as Superman, and is not a major departure from the legend that is Christophe Reeve)
- Music - uses the original score to great effect
- Space shuttle sequence (bad ass and really has you tingling as Superman does his super mojo thing)
- Parker Posey (she shines in this movie, whether that's down to Parker's acting, or the poor performances of the other cast members is one for debate)
What's wrong with this movie?
- Story/screenplay (just total pap, from the super-boy plot line to Lex Luther's plans to take over the world - just utter doggy doo)
- Kate Bosworth (not Lois Lane, not by a long shot, doesn't look right, doesn't sound right, doesn't play the character right - just rubbish)
- Jimmie Olson (more like Jimmie needs a punch in the face - just an annoying pointless character/performance)
- Superboy (I just wanted to kill that kid every time I saw him on screen, what a ridiculous plot point)
- James Marsden (why was in the movie at all?)
- Directing (just a total lack of creativity on Bryan Singers part, in both the tension within scenes and his shot selection. He shoots with such a clichéd summer blockbuster style, it has no grandeur about it at all)
There are other things that just don't make sense either. For a movie with a supposed production cost of $200 million plus, where did all that money go? The CGI isn't the most amazing, certainly not on actors salaries, and if it went on sets then Singer could of shot them better, you don't get a sense of a grand-i-ose production, that's for sure. Also, did Singer run out of ideas, every time there's a rumble we get mutiple close up shots of things shaking - pens in pots, plates, pictures, drinks, blah blah blah, there are at least four separate occasions he shoots the scenes this way, it's overload, and smacks of a lack of creativity - total rip-off from Jurassic Park.
It's as if everyone involved suddenly got scared of what was expected, so did everything by the numbers, but in the end the numbers don't add up. It's not one major thing that's wrong, it's several little things that add up to one big mess. Please God let 'Man of Steel' be good, we don't want Superman to disappear again.
Pointless and poor
Wow, talk about a movie not living up to the hype, or even it's own trailer.
I can't begin to tell you how disappointed (and sick, more of which later) this whole movie made me feel. Who's fault is that? The studio for all the great hype, the reviewers and critics for falling for it and calling this great? Or for the clear references and rip offs of the 9/11 tragedy that are seen throughout this film? First off, I will mention that I watched this on DVD, and had to watch it in 2 installments. Not because it was bad, but because the whole camera constantly moving around made me feel sick and I had to take a break half way through for fear of throwing up. If you suffer from any form of motion sickness be warned, this will bring it out in you. Making your audience vomit through scares and gross out scenes is good, making them sick because of the way you shoot the movie, NOT good.
The idea itself I like, following a group of random people enjoying a party and then suddenly tragedy strikes and we watch it all unfold, as confused as they are, not too sure what it is that is attacking - great idea. Shoot it from a POV - great idea too. However, it's the execution of the idea that this film is poor.
The whole guy meets girl, guy loses girl, girl & guy get separated by monster attack, guy try's to save girl from monster attack thing is fine, but the story elements within it are quite cliché.
The problem also lies in the POV itself. The point of it is that is supposed to be in the style of a video you might see on YouTube or something, but it doesn't actually look like one, because it's shot in Hi-Def for a start, not a proper everyday camcorder, but also it's directed in a very specific way. Although the camera is POV, it's panning and looking in a very specific way, to show very specific things (be they close ups of hands holding or people faces, or quick look at a monsters leg or something crashing into something). And it's so obvious that it doesn't feel on the fly, or amateurish, as it's actually supposed to be. You're very aware that you're deliberately being shown certain things, which goes against the point of shooting it this way, and stops it being the last video of an amateur camcorder user trying to capture events on camera that the premise of the movie sets it out to be.
My biggest gripe though is that, having seen the 9/11 tragedy unfold on TV, as many of us have done, you can clearly tell someone looked at the events of that day, and the many amateur clips seen on TV during that day capturing the attack, and thought they'd do that for this movie. People in NY being caught up in a sudden unexpected attack - check. Amateur footage of the unexpected attack taking place - check. Famous NY land mark being destroyed - check. Clouds of dust chasing stunned NY'ers down the streets as buildings collapse - check. It's so obvious that it's offensive. The producers, writer and director have taken a national tragedy, turned it into a monster movie and used it to make themselves money. I'm disgusted by the clear 9/11 references in this movie.
Add in the lack of character depth allowed by the story the way it's told in this instance, it means you quite frankly couldn't give a rats ass about them either. I understand the need for picking a bunch of unknown actors to help tell this story, as we need them to be everyday people, but the acting is very poor, with Hud (the guy holding the camera and from whose POV we view the entire movie) particularly cheesing you off, with his light relief/comedy role within the movie just not working at all.
I think this movie was made for 15 year olds, anyone older than that or who actually has a brain will see right through the "creative" execution of POV story telling for the bad, rip off, story that this actually is.
Oh dear Dr. Jones....
Nostalgia - sometimes it's a good thing and sometimes it's bad. In this instance, it's bad.
Yes, the 80's throwback continues, we see it in fashion, in music, and in movies. It's a shame as I'm an 80's child, and I'm seeing all these teenagers now trying to imitate the look of the 80's and I feel slightly miffed that they're trying to copy and claim my childhood as if it's their own, and also as if they're the first to discover it and we didn't actually know what we were doing in the original 80's. We did know what we were doing, because we had the original Indy trilogy, and it was bad ass.
However, the reason it was bad ass was because it was of the moment, it was part of that history of that time and captured it perfectly. As with when I look at all the kids in the leggins and pumps and day-glow colored clothes today, it doesn't work because it doesn't actually reflect the times, it's not worn with the same attitude, it's a fake imitation, and imitations are never as good as the real thing. The 80's look was cool was because it was in the 80's. Take it out of the 80's and it doesn't work. The same can be said for Indy 4.
Reading the trivia section on IMDb, you can tell it has had a long and troubled production history, and it actually shows in the finished movie. The story feels a mis-mash of different ideas from different screenplays (which it is), written to incorporate set piece ideas from the director rather than tell a story (which it was), and filled with one liners and pointers to how good the other movies were rather than continuing the story of the life and adventures of Indian Jones (which it does).
And it gets worse. The directing is actually pretty poor (I know, who'd have thought you'd ever here someone say that about Steven Spielberg). Some of the shot selection, or repetitive points of view and camera pans, is ridiculously amateur. The cinematography is not great either. There's an unbelievable amount of lens flaring in shots (and if this was by design, then it was a poor decision) and the lighting is poorly executed, because you can easily tell the difference between location, studio, and green screen shots, because the lighting changes so dramatically. The sound man also needs to be shot, the amount of re-dubbing, particularly during the first 3rd of the movie, smacks of a poor job.
The action sequences are cartoonish, especially the motorbike scene at the beginning of the movie, and the jungle sequence (Mutt swinging through the jungle a la Tarzan, monkies attacking the bad guys, and killer ants? Come on, this is not a cartoon!). And what was with the whole jumping the car of the cliff to land on a tree that slowly bends down to land them in the river? I'm sorry, did this just become a fantasy film? And the poor CGI execution doesn't help but add to the cartoonish feel of the movie. That goes completely against the history of the franchise. The whole point of the originals, and how Harrison Ford approached the character, was that this was a hero you could believe in. That was clearly trashed in order to appeal to todays CGI market.
Harrison Ford does carry the old Indy swagger well, and it's nice to watch him, but Shia LeBouef is off in his execution of character, while Cate Blanchette and John Hurt play their characters with poor stereotypical traits, and Karen Allen is particularly bad and grating in her scenes, just very poor acting on her part.
I'm sure some of that can be put down to the script though. As mentioned before, it's a mismatch, scenes are clearly there to allow for a certain action sequence to take place, or for a joke or reference to previous Indy films to take place, not to actually tell a good story. And at the end, the whole alien thing makes you feel like they just mashed the endings of Raiders of the Lost Ark and Close Encounters of the Third Kind into one. I think having watched this, and Star Wars 1-3 & Clone Wars, it's clear that George Lucas is clearly now out of touch with story telling. All of the franchise movies he's re-visited in the last 8 years have never been near the standard of the originals. Sorry George, but it's true.
It's sad. As with seeing teenagers wearing 'Frankie Says Relax' t-shirts today, watching this movie makes you realize how good the originals were, but also angry that someone is trying to cash in on your child hood memories by imitating them now so they can be sold to today's kids as something brand new. And, just like the t-shirts, this movie doesn't hold the same power as the original because the original represented a time and feeling, this just represents the need for a quick buck. Indy sold his soul, and all of us 80's kids should be very disappointed by that.