Reviews written by registered user
Cephyran

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95 reviews in total 
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Watchmen (2009)
6 out of 12 people found the following review useful:
A visually stunning narrative that captures the novel almost page-for-page with passionate respect, 26 March 2009
8/10

I read the graphic novel before seeing the film. In turn I went into the film knowing what I was about to see - a living embodiment of the story with an ending I already knew. In doing so I immediately found myself asking these questions upon the start and ultimately the entire way through the film: Will the narrative of the film respect the narrative my mind constructed as I read the novel? Will the shots structurally reflect the same visual craftsmanship of the novel in it's move from page to screen? To answer this, we have to grasp that the way your mind reads a book and watches a movie are two vastly different faculties. With a book - in this case, the graphic novel - your mind constructs the voices, the tone, the choreography and the pacing as a response to the static visual narrative. In films it's all done for you. Ultimately, I found myself able to recall the novel page for page as each scene progressed. Very little of the narrative is rearranged, and those elements that have been shuffled are structured in a way so as to make the character development happen smoothly for an audience that has not read the book. I think the cleanest and simplest way I can describe it is that everything necessary to the telling of this story has been included and everything unnecessary has been left out without damaging the final product. As far as capturing the true visual of the novel, I think the film was completely successful. It is one of those works where the novel itself would have been literally used as the story-boarding. Speaking strictly from the perspective of a comic book fan, one of our greatest desires in film adaptations is seeing how successfully the cast matches the look and feel of the characters. This is also near-flawless. If there is one difference it is in the women, but this is to be expected because from my experience women in comics are never drawn realistically - figures are too toned, too elongated, faces are sharper, and they almost always are overtly sexualized. Obviously, the genre demands it. And the film manages to capture that, the combination of grace, sexuality and strength in a real body and real costumes. Rorshach comes out exactly as I picture him in the novel - a gruff, Punisher-like force of violent vengeance, willing to go right to the edge to prove the ends never justify the means. The back story of his mask is not explained in the film, and it is one of those elements I would argue is it's own compelling detail in the novel, but is peripherally unnecessary in the film translation.

I don't believe you have to read the novel prior to seeing the film. Nothing structurally critical in the novel is lost on-screen. The establishing of the political climate and the superhero generations is done perfectly fine. What you get from the novel is the understanding of the minor details - characters you see momentarily in the film whose lives are fleshed out in subtle asides throughout the novel. The characters of the young man reading the comic by the news vendor, the vendor himself, the heroine Silhouette, and so forth - to the unknowing audience these are inconsequential elements resolved in a manner that balances their introduction; to the book-first audience, it's almost a little feeling of satisfaction, knowing more than what's shown, as if the character was played by a close friend, allowing you to lean over and say, "See that police-man? That's my cousin." Most importantly, what you take from the novel is knowing how it ends. This is one area of the narrative that was modified for the film. To have taken the ending exactly as it was written creates two problems. First, the literal ending would require greater extrapolation into all of those minor characters and side stories (the majority of which are in true essence erased from the film's script), thus creating a longer movie. Secondly, the literal ending I believe would have been an imbalance in the narrative - in the greater context of the film it would be asking too much for the suspension of the audience's disbelief.

I have to address the common observation of "You have to read the book to appreciate the film." What they're really saying is you have to know the details to appreciate the details left in and left out. I say appreciation must take two paths here: If you watch the movie first, you're likely to choose to appreciate the film simply for the cinematic art it is, and rank it next to others of the genre; if you read the book first you're more likely to appreciate it as an adaptation of a rich layered story, and draw the lines of comparison between the page and the screen. Taking these two perspectives I present my opinion. As a film, it is visually stunning, fairly well acted, and long in the same fashion that Dark Knight was long - you weren't watching the clock, you were watching the movie. As an adaptation, I feel it succeeded. I feel the filmmakers did everything in their power to respect the material at its core and it is successful for their doing so. Ultimately the biggest question is one nobody can answer due to the uncertainty paradox - does reading the book first in any way diminish the impact of the movie more-so than the inverse of this query? I can't answer this. No one can. What I can tell you is you need to make your own decision on the matter. Do not listen to the critics, just go see it and make up your own mind.

3 out of 8 people found the following review useful:
A Dark Riveting Epic that will stand the test of time, 11 November 2008
9/10

For those of us who are the die-hard Batman fans, we all watched the first and thought, "Well, here's hoping they move forward with an even better sequel." I bet most of us were expecting a Spider-Man 2, and instead we got an Empire Strikes Back.

Pure cinematic excellence. If anyone ever doubted Nolan's talent before, they better be believers now. I'm aware credit doesn't fall solely to him, but a strong director can mean a strong movie. The decision to shoot a lot of the film in Imax cameras gives it such a vast, impressive feel, particularly the first scene. You knew after those first six minutes that the movie was only going to get better.

The acting was nothing short of superb. Christian Bale is Batman. He owns the role. He's brought together everything about both sides of the personality that the previous franchise couldn't entirely grasp. Bale has Kilmer and Clooney's clean-cut good looks and honest smile that make him flawless as Bruce Wayne, and at the same time he can cast an unnerving cold darkness that Michael Keaton brought so well to Batman.

Michael Caine is one of those guys who wasn't really in the scope of us younger fans before, but he has been a top-notch actor for decades and now it is my generation that has a chance to see the subtle beauty of his talent, ever the vigilant butler with a wise word to aid Bruce in the darkest hours.

In my mind Maggie Gyllenhaal creates a conundrum. What she poignantly brings to the film is acting talent, able to instantly make us forget about Holmes' performance in the first. And yet Holmes is much more attractive than Gyllenhaal, purely for the youthfulness of her looks. In the end I'm thankful they found someone new for the role, someone who actually made you care about Rachel Dawes as a person and not just as a pretty face.

And Heath Ledger - what can I say about him that hasn't already been said? A dark, twisted, disquieting, edgy performance and flawless from start to finish. the character was so well fleshed-out, I never even saw Ledger in that face. There was only the Joker.

The musical score always plays a big part for me, and this franchise has two of the best at the wheel of the orchestra. James Newton Howard combining forces with Hans Zimmer is one of best decisions Hollywood will ever make. The soundtrack is dark and moody where it needs to be, and grandiose and swelling when the action kicks up. Just listening to the music by itself feels like watching the movie.

Even if you know nothing about Batman and his universe you will enjoy this movie. The story is an addictive journey, one that will keep you in your seat the entire way through. It's very much like Casino Royale - a long movie but you won't know where the time went, because virtually every minute has kept your attention squarely fixed on the screen. There is one word to describe a film of this caliber - epic. It deserves nothing less than a permanent seat in the Top 10 of all time. Now only one problem exists for the filmmakers - how do they go uphill from this?

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Energetic, rough lesbianism guaranteed to deliver, 11 November 2008
9/10

For those adult film enthusiasts who prefer the lesbian niche, this film is guaranteed to deliver. Belladonna is a woman who has made a very distinct mark in this industry. She takes her performance to a new level entirely, bringing to life a lot of the rougher, almost violent fetishes that can make adult film both taboo and exciting. The true excellence in this film can be found in two key scenes. The first is her performance with Katsumi. Together they are gonzo come to life. Their unbridled energy for actions most women might find alarming is nothing short of amazing. The second is her scene with Sasha Grey. In a unique fashion the scene is presented in a different edit. By doing so we get to see the relationship between the two women 'off-stage' as it were, before getting into the actual performance. this scene stands to tell the conservative blinded critics that woman who star in adult film do not think they are being degraded or just used as sex toys. These women enjoy their performances, Belladonna especially. They bring a talent for the sexually bizarre and combine it with their own passion for sexual activity that translates into effective and successful pornography. In terms of the production, the camera work is steady and when there is music, it's used sparingly. These are the signs of a studio that knows what irritates the audience - overused music, rapid angle-changing shots - and has learned how to eliminate that from their product. Ultimately, the final word is that Belladonna is the woman to watch.

2 out of 8 people found the following review useful:
Respects the material better, but still a flimsy flick..., 27 December 2007
7/10

Being a fan of the original mutual franchises, I had been anticipating this film as a worthy successor to the first, believing from the r-rated trailer online that it would do the canon the deserved honesty. And while it doesn't make as many blatant mistakes as the first, this film has its share of problems. The human characters are almost entirely superficial. The male lead seems to juggle back and forth between a pair of brothers, basically inconsistent enough between scenes of one lonely predator faring a thousand times better against the aliens than those inexperienced student predators from the first film. The entirety of the human cast serves as an anchor for some emotional attachment, failing because none are fleshed out thoroughly enough for you to really care about before they're killed in some gratuitous fashion. Where canon honesty is concerned, there were certainly less, if any, of the seemingly deliberate mistakes presented in the first. Amongst a handful of plot holes, I found myself responding better to this film than the first thanks to the score. The music borrows themes from both Horner's Alien scores and Silvestri's Predator scores, utilizing them to satisfactory effect. I did find the alien themes few and far between, while the telltale jungle drums of the Predator seemed a tad over-used. The special effects were fine, basically the same as the first film, with some minor differences. The volume of CG aliens, when not seen through the perspective of the predator, is drastically reduced, helping preserve the sense of realism. And now to the gore. My impression is that the filmmakers decided that since the first film had been wimped down to a PG-13, they would respect the fans who grew up with the originals, and inject some blood splatter. The big problem is that it plays too much like Starship Troopers - gore for the sake of gore. In the original Alien films, people are grabbed and vanish, with no dramatic splash of blood. Here, there's always focus on the blood, clearly an effort to redeem the franchise after the first AVP. There is certainly no lack of homages either. It's pretty clear that the army tank-top clad Reiko Aylesworth drenched in rain is intended to resemble a sweaty, grimy Ripley; one of the male supporting cast is named Dallas, and towards the end one of the two male lead switchers says "get to the chopper!" All I can say to this end is that they were far more subtle than the slap-you-with-it homages of the first - Bishops pen trick and so on. Overall, I'd rate this one a little better than the first, which was no hard task. It's still basically a popcorn movie, a typical shut-off-your-brain flick that will keep the fans of this crossover sated until a really effective one comes along.

Sex Spell (2000) (V)
0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Pretty standard adult entertainment..., 28 March 2007
7/10

I was introduced to this title when I ended up recording the wrong channel on satellite TV. Needless to say, I didn't immediately tape over it. We're talking about pornography here, and the biased response the moment you hear this is, "Well I know why you watched it." But speaking from a strictly cinematographic analysis, it's really no different from any other run-of-the-mill adult film. This one has the obligatory 'attempted plot', an overarching story about all these different people seduced by some mysterious sexually charging curse on a sculpture. There are a lot of repetitive sweeping camera shots, which doesn't really work for this type of film. And in most of the 'hot and heavy' scenes, the frame-rate is slowed down to give everything a softer, more sexy feel. Frankly, this didn't really work. It just served to reinforce my opinion that these movies are far longer then they truly need to be. Star power even seems to be a helper in adult films. I'm not about to pretend to be a porn connoisseur; I however am becoming fairly familiar with a number of faces in this industry, and I can say that if you, as an adult film fan, are more piqued in interest by actresses who are well endowed, Briana Banks is one of the better. They're not natural, of course, but they're not exorbitant. Anyhow, to me this was just another patchwork porn, pretty tame considering what's out there.

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Cage's Weakest to date..., 3 March 2007
7/10

I'm a Nicolas Cage fan. I've liked every film of his that I've seen, and suffice to say this one is possibly his weakest. He has a certain charisma that saves his movies from being total train-wrecks, but even here it's an iffy save. His portrayal of the character is decent, although I did find a lot of the dialogue, particularly whenever they would start the whole "is this my destiny' style monologues, very tedious and cliché. And this was certainly not Eva Mendes' best movie, although you think the director wanted it to be considering the ridiculous number of nice-and-close shots of her. Her character existed entirely to be a reactionary person to Cage's lead, which gives her almost no depth and masks what skill Mendes has behind the 'ooh, save the pretty girl' device. Cinematographically, it wasn't bad. I didn't see as many painful homages to other Marvel movies as we saw in Daredevil, although I might need a second look to confirm that. The effects seemed fine to me, although personally the skull CG didn't seem quite to par with the fire effects. All in all, it's a good 'turn off your brain' popcorn movie, but it's certainly not going in my top 10.

Special Effects the only redeeming quality..., 26 March 2006
5/10

Everyone was telling me I shouldn't bother seeing this movie. They said it was so incredibly bad that I shouldn't even waste the time, let alone money. Well I saw it, and I think they were exaggerating. But only slightly. Yes, it is incredibly weak. The cinematography was the first clue. Everything had that feeling of being a home-video style digital video. The second big annoyance was the acting. When it was dialogue between people, it was so wooden, and the only people who you can tell have actual talent didn't get nearly enough screen time. When it was action between the people and the bugs, it got really annoying how you'd barely see both in frame at the same time. Half the time it was just showing them shooting past the camera, and assuming they were accomplishing something. The plot twist was interesting, if a little unoriginal. And the ending...well, the ending felt like they decided to throw that on at the last minute. It was really tacky. The only thing I had any respect for here was the special effects. There is a particular reason they were the best aspect of this film - Phil Tippett, a special effects guy, was the director. The Digital effects felt comparably as good as those in the first, and the real effects - the gore and slime stuff - was better than what I've seen in recent gore movies.

But overall, yeah, this is pretty dumb. I do agree with many of my friends - if you're going to see it at all, wait until it's on TV for free.

Face/Off (1997)
1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Action and Character Depth make it great..., 26 March 2006
7/10

I hadn't watched this movie in almost 7 years, so I figured it was about time I see it again. I considerably enjoyed it. Travolta and Cage are two of the more charismatic actors out there, and having them play off each other in this fashion makes for a darn good movie. The opportunity for the actors to play both personalities helps you really get into each character's life and discover what drives him and where his flaws lie. As far as the cinematography is concerned, I felt it was up-to-par, nothing spectacular, but certainly not a below-average effort for the kind of films John Woo has given us in the past. This is also the kind of movie where you have all these other great supporting actors. At the time, they weren't A-List celebs, but now that you've seen them in other projects (Thomas Jane, Dominique Swain, Colm Feore) you suddenly have that moment of recognition - "Hey, its that guy, from that other movie! I totally forgot he was in this!" As for Nic Cage, it was totally his movie. Travolta is cool, no doubt, but this was way more a Nic Cage movie. I don't know what it is, but I can honestly say I've liked every one of his movies I've seen. Overall, I'd say great movie, excellent acting, and awesome action. Its the perfect Friday night popcorn movie.

Bean (1997)
3 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
Cute, but doesn't have the magic..., 19 November 2004
6/10

If you've watched the Mr Bean show, you know Rowan Atkinson has talent. He's got the comedic styling and character details to make him a lovable goofball. The movie version is cute, but it doesn't have the impact of the show. Atkinson puts his heart into it, and it definitely shows. It just sometimes seemed too silly, even for Mr Bean. This movie is definitely more directed at the children to enjoy the show, and it will entertain them. Adults who enjoy the show will probably find a chuckle or two. Its mostly juvenile humor, and they're the ones who'd really appreciate it. From a technical standpoint, it's perfectly fine in cinematography, acting, and composition. I'd recommend this movie for a family with preteen kids. It's just the thing for a lazy Saturday night.

Satisfactory at best..., 19 November 2004
7/10

I find this movie interesting mostly because I was the right age to appreciate it when I first saw it. Now, being eight years older, I can look back and analyze it for what it is.

Batman Forever has a few strong points. First of all, Jim Carrey was born to play the Riddler. His style and sense of humor is a perfect fit for the Riddler's antics. And Tommy Lee Jones, while being a touch too old, does a decent Job with the bipolar Two-Face.

Val Kilmer steps into the batshoes this time, and while his performance wasn't horrible, he just doesn't have that presence that Michael Keaton possessed when in costume. Val Kilmer is a good actor - it just wasn't a great role for him. He's too much of a Bruce Wayne, and not enough of a Batman.

Nicole Kidman is attractive and compelling, and her character makes use of both these qualities. But her involvement in the story is shallow at best.

Chris O'Donnell, while not a bad actor, is certainly not a good actor. Aside from the fact that Robin is supposed to be under eighteen, which O'Donnell is obviously not, he's really useless overall to the story, and he doesn't have the charisma that some of the youthful actors today have - mainly because he's lacking in youth. I'm particularly glad he wasn't chosen to be Spider-Man, to be honest.

Overall, I'd say the movie could have been better, but at the same time, it wasn't that bad. There are certainly worse movies out there.


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