Change Your Image
Upload An Image
Crop And Save
Plagued by ruining its own antagonists but liberated by its heroes, suspense, and message
This was a great film. Unfortunately, its worth is often completely missed by viewers. The only downfall is the villain. Unfortunately, this aspect was also what was making the movie a significantly terrifying movie for the first two thirds!
While the evil lurks in the shadows, the suspense of "Signs" is unstoppable. Shyamalan successfully emulates Hitchcock's "The Birds" but drops the ball in the final act by entering territory Hitchcock wisely avoided; a slapped on explanation. It is not until the lights come on that the movie falters somewhat but not in terms of character; fortunately! This is almost the scariest film I have seen when it comes to the "fear of the unknown". Not because the aliens are super scary- LOOKING, but rather because until the end they aren't SEEN much at all. It allows the audience to impress their own fears upon the aliens as is so brilliantly written into the film's best sequence which is a simple conversation on a couch.
Shyamalan is best when he doesn't try to reinvent the wheel, but rather when he is putting spinning rims on the wheel. His successful films are all very typical genres but they are given an interesting context that makes them better than the average film within that genre. Ghosts, Superheroes, and Aliens are all done to death. However, the perspectives Shyamalan tells these typical premises helps them transcend the mediocre. It isn't until he tries to coming up with his own original material that things fall apart. Fortunately, there is not too much that goes astray in Signs. He wisely chooses to tell an Alien invasion story from the perspective of a small family rather than the wide-scale epic. This is where Signs really works.
Realistic characters are simply non-existent in alien invasion flicks to begin with. And yet, in this one, they are the centerpieces. They are also acted exceptionally well all around! That alone is why most people disliked this one oddly enough. They wanted aliens frying people and instead got something a lot deeper. This is simply no discredit to the film itself, in my opinion. Plain and simple, this movie, like all of Shyamalan's flicks, should be viewed as a unique film because it has a highly unique perspective.
This film explores the concept of how people react in terrifying circumstances. Do you believe that everything is just coincidences and you are alone, or do you read the events as signs of some higher power? For this reason, the film is entirely a dramatic, supernatural, and psychological thriller, and clearly not some mindless horror gore fest or a typical alien invasion romp. Furthermore, the "signs" aren't the literal crop circles. All the "signs" in the film are shown in the finale and we are left wondering if it was all just luck or part of a plan just as the main characters point out in the previous conversation. It is left to the characters and ultimately the viewer as to what they make of them...
In the end, this movie is very terrifying but at the same time immensely beautiful and character-driven. The final act succeeds in completing the main character's arch but unfortunately threw in a little too much information regarding the villains which spoils some of their impact and shows the "face of the devil". It pulls a "The Mist" and suddenly takes an unnecessary turn into left field when it was doing just fine. Yet, in comparison to "The Mist" which abandons both its mystery and its characters, "Signs" abandons its mystery but preserves and elevates its characters.
Overall, Shyamalan really accomplishes what he set out to do with this one and I believe it deserves more recognition for that.
Two-thirds of a fantastic movie.
This movie is worth watching. However, the entire first act needs to be nothing short of tolerated. It is a very terrible set up. This is mostly due to this movie possessing terrible character designs and a sub-par ensemble of actors.
Yet, this movie takes off. As soon as the actual premise drops, which is not immediately apparent during the first act, the movie became very watchable. It has a lot of fun with its premise and features an excellent 2nd act that is great.
Towards the end, the movie kind of loses its direction and leaves on a sort of whimper. It does not do much with its great concept but it is still a great concept.
In the end, the movie was an excellent idea for a movie and where it really counts it did pretty well with what it was setting out to accomplish. The problem is the misguided opening which is slow, useless, and has literally no connection with the rest of the movie. The ending didn't do much to tie everything together. The movie feels confused. It also features rather poor performances from all but the lead lady who is only average.
Stronger performances, a tighter 1st act, a more cohesive finale, and perhaps more solid visuals would have cemented the impact for this movie. I believe that if it had given us more information about the protagonist earlier than the movie would have earned more points. Instead we are given a rather forced twist and this is all revealed far too late for us to care. Instead, the opening is misleading and very poorly acted and long-winded. As it is, this movie is interesting and somewhat original but lacks the real punch. Well-conceived but poorly implemented.
Worth the watch but definitely lower your expectations.
The Avengers (2012)
Exactly as intended: an imperfect but entertaining film
Avengers is a flawed but still highly entertaining film. I went in with pretty low expectations but was pleasantly surprised by its entertainment value. However, I think the real problem is not the entertainment value, but the value of the story.
Avengers is inherently an origins story. This is sort of confusing because it tells the story of numerous characters teaming up and forming an alliance. The primary goal should seem to be establishing the characters, their differences, and why each would decide to form such a group. As someone who saw only several of the previous "set up" films (Incredible Hulk, Iron Man,Thor) I felt like I didn't learn much about the characters. The inconsistency of both being an origin film, but also heavily reliant on previous films to know who those characters are, weighed the movie down.
The movie kicks off with action. Yet, it then slows down considerably with some less-than-interesting introductions. It might be silly to be asking for back story, considering the popular nature of these iconic characters, but it seems like this was the very basic requirement of the film. Who are the Avengers?
Back story is glossed over for a few minutes for each character in expository dialog. Thor describes that he is the brother of Loki, Captain America mumbles about some war, and Scar Jo talks about some assassination attempt. This would seem worthwhile if it was not so bland. It is very dull hearing one ultra- warrior after the next explaining themselves. This would perhaps be less of an issue if the dialog was better written. The only dialog that had some genuine wit and charm, that every character seemed to be trying too hard to accomplish, was with Iron Man. The movie suffers from "that guy needs a witty line too" which makes the characters just a bunch of smarties. This is a classic example of "show don't tell" being blatantly ignored.
Loki, while performed well, was a villain who left much to be desired. Making snide and childish squawks about being better than everyone else is not enough. We need to see it in action. Instead we have one character after the next smashing him and sending him through a wall while he insists on superiority. While having the main characters more powerful than the villain is not always bad (joker-batman) the villain needs an equalizer usually in the form of intelligence or ruthlessness. While Loki is certainly mean, he is anything but intelligent.
Loki suffers from "why didn't he do that in the first place" the entire movie. One wonders why he sought to "divide" the Avengers when they were already divided. One wonders why he would stake his entire plan on allowing himself to be captured; or hoping that the Hulk would get angry. One also wonders exactly what Iron Man points out; why would you anger numerous gods, super-soldiers, and mutated beasts who are your only adversaries right before launching an invasion? Divide and conquer makes sense only if your enemies are united. The movie was confused between trying to having a villain break up a united group when they were never united, and a divided group becoming united because they were being attacked.
Whedon has done great work with an ensemble of interesting characters with his previous work on Firefly. It is unfortunate that, despite many believing it to be the case, Whedon has not managed to pull off the same magic. While Firefly relied on character motivations to dictate their actions in a more or less simplistic and wandering plot line, the Avengers relies on a contrived, high-stakes, and stereotypical plot to dictate the actions of the characters while relying on previously earned knowledge of what made these characters tick, rather than demonstrating their cares.
The Avenger's arc of learning to work together only came about as a result of the villain taking a far too obsessive interest with angering his opponents. Instead of the characters looking within themselves for the strength to rise above their differences and work together, our heroes are only united by action taken from without by others. They are often seen squabbling over childish differences of personality rather than differences of opinions or conflicting motives. Instead of The Avengers uniting because of inner strength, they unite due to the dubious actions of an unintelligent villain.
Furthermore, a lie from an otherwise useless Samuel Jackson, only offers a weak emotional appeal from a character nobody seemed to like much in the first place. It all detracted from the fulfillment when the Avengers finally decide to work together in the final act. Instead of excitement over each character finding their way through their own nuances and histories, we feel excitement because the movie is finally going to have some fight scenes again.
This is, of course, the real triumph of The Avengers; the action. The Avengers is certainly a triumph of spectacle. It raises the bar as to what is possible with super hero movies. However, instead of raising that bar with themes in the way that Nolan's batman trilogy attempted, or creating a rather human non-super hero in Shyamalan's Unbreakable, we are simply treated to better-executed and bigger-budgeted explosions. Also, while the film may not have had the most introspective protagonists, they had some entertaining tiffs. Robert Downey Jr. elevates the other cast members' fruitless attempts at comedic relief with comedic genius. This only further solidifies him as the only actor in the bunch that doesn't need a good script to make anything sound awesome.
Ultimately, the intention and the effect is that the Avengers is nothing exceptional or timeless, but certainly fun and exciting.
My subjective breakdown of the movie's major elements: Cinematography 9/10 Editing 8/10 Art Direction 8/10 Sound 10/10 Special Effects 9/10 Acting 6/10 Pacing 5/10 Characters 4/10 Theme 4/10 Music 6/10 Overall 6/10
Paranormal Activity (2007)
Entertaining but far from anything special
First of all, there is no concept or premise for a film that can't be done well. The trick is what you do with that concept. The problem with Paranormal Activity is that it simply does not do anything with its concept. Furthermore, it does not have strong enough presentation to transcend its lack of originality. For these reasons the movie is fundamentally unoriginal and approaches gimmick.
"Found footage" is usually used sparingly in most movies for good reason: it is hard to film an entire movie in this fashion without growing repetitive or sluggish in its pacing. Some of the movies that used this successfully were Cloverfield and obviously Blair Witch. Cloverfield brought the concept of "found footage" to "godzilla" and it managed to work as something that had not been tried before. Blair Witch had the advantage of being the pioneer that brought this concept to the mainstream so it felt "fresh". Paranormal Activity draws attention to the found footage, and beg questions like "WHY DO THEY NEVER TURN THE CAMERA OFF?" or "WHO TOOK THE TIME TO EDIT THIS?"
The actors are not particularly good or bad. Since you are watching these characters for the duration of the movie, this does not bode well. In order to keep an audience entertained by watching two people talk the entire movie, the performances need to be exemplary. These actors, simply are not exemplary.
Watching this movie for what it does without any preconceptions I thought it began well and ultimately did nothing special. In fact, it did a few things very poorly.
There are no themes to glean from this movie. There is no point. There are no memorable performances. The camera-work is intentionally poorly done. The only element that was well implemented was the sound. It is a safe bet that the only reason this movie is so successful is that the human instinct to jump at loud noises still works. At least the creators understood this concept and used it to their advantage.
The characters have no depth. I don't know what either of them do except get tormented by demonic forces. I remember the guy was a day-trader. There is no past revealed to either character except that the lead has been possessed her entire life anyways. The only personality trait is foolish aggression on the part of the boyfriend, who actually does nothing with this aggression except yell on occasion. This is the greatest flaw of the movie. When you have characters with no personality, no depth, no arc, and they are played by amateur actors, it is virtually impossible to make the viewer care about their plight. It actually magnifies their stupidity because it is the only thing we are presented with.
This movie is sort of like a glorified haunted house ride. You sit down and wait for loud things to happen. Once they happen they don't exactly make sense and there is no rhyme or reason as to how everything fits together. You jump, and then wait for the next scare. You hop off the ride with your heart pounding for a few seconds, and then you go buy some cotton candy. Yet, there is nothing truly disturbing about the experience, and the only thing that scared you was the anticipation of hopping on a "scary" ride that is actually not scary on its own without the reputation it carries.
There are innumerable problems with this movie's internal logic. It would be one thing if the movie did not delve into what made the "villain" work. However, the entire movie seems to be about two people trying to figure out what this supposed demon is trying to do. They scour the internet and hire ghost whisperers making the audience pay a little too much attention to the details rather than the atmosphere.
For a movie that is attempting to rely on the fear of the unknown, way to much emphasis is placed on the "lore" or "mythology" about demons which only exposes how little the filmmakers actually know about such beings. If the demon's desire was simply to possess the lead character, no tangible reason is presented for why it insists on blowing doors closed, rustling covers, or walking around the house for no understandable reason. If the demon is trying to take over a soul it does not stand to gain anything by dragging its subject's body around the house. The only questions this raises is why none of the characters think to even arm themselves.
Unlike superior movies in this genre like the Exorcist where the demon's goal is to cause humans to despair, this demon doesn't seem to know what it wants. In fact, neither do the main characters. It would seem obvious that these characters would not want to be possessed, yet, they both seem very content to coax the enemy into attacking them further without becoming anymore creative than placing some dust around the house.
Ultimately, this movie has some good moments. Yet, these moments take a long time to arrive and when they do it leaves the audience with no reason as to why they did not happen sooner.
This movie can certainly be entertaining for its jump scares. Yet, this movie can't offer anything else than cheap thrills. It is perhaps a classic example of style over substance. It is simply madness with no method. The only impressive thing is that, after numerous sequels, the creators still have not done anything new with the material.
My subjective breakdown of the movie's major elements: Cinematography 5/10 Editing 2/10 Art Direction 5/10 Sound 8/10 Special Effects 6/10 Acting 6/10 Pacing 2/10 Characters 2/10 Theme 1/10 Overall 4/10
An entertaining and original film
Don't watch this movie expecting it to be what the trailers made it out to be. This is more of a "road trip" movie than a Godzilla movie. In fact, it is actually a love story. That being said, it is a well-made and occasionally intense road trip movie with a very believable romance.
This movie has a very cool and honest feel to it. The actors are natural, the environments feel natural, and the look and feel of the camera-work is natural. this is because the movie was filmed in exactly this way. This movie had almost no budget, but it was made by a very smart director who had a couple great characters actors backing him up.
This movie is perhaps a classic example of "less is more". The monsters barely make an appearance in the movie, but the director managed to create a strong sense of dread nonetheless. Shadows lurking in the dark, distant rumblings of a huge menace, and colorful tentacles around corners is the name of the game here. While the monsters are great, the movie plays to its strong points, which is the atmosphere of two people simply trying to find their way through an interesting environment.
It is primarily a story about love. It manages to capture the essence of how hard it can be at times to let go of your worries and embrace someone else out of fear of being hurt. this is the central conflict, and unlike most monster movies which possess amazing action and visuals with a few characters thrown in as color, this is primarily an entertaining and down-to-earth drama with some monsters thrown in for good measure. And, it works very well!
What this small group of filmmakers is bound to be at least inspirational to aspiring low-budget producers/directors. They managed to pull off a convincing-looking monster flick but not at the expense of story, character, and theme. The ending of this movie is both unexpected and near perfect in its execution. At the peak of the tension, we also get the peak of the drama between the two leads, and then the unexpected happens and it adds yet another level of depth to the story.
I'd recommend this one! I think most people could enjoy it if they don't have an preconceptions in mind. Don't come in wanting Godzilla or Cloverfield, but don't come in expecting just a basic romance story either.
This movie is not without flaws. The visual effects, while impressive for its budget, are still inconsistent. Some tanks and helicopter were poorly rendered and do not match the lighting of the scenes in which they are spliced. While the cinematography is good in its style and composition, certain scenes are clearly under-exposed or poorly executed.
In the end, while there is a lot this movie does well, there is no particular scene that truly stands out as memorable. The climax is decent, but ultimately remains only decent. Its seems like the director may have played it too safe. It felt as if the director could have done a little more with such a great set up. The finale was solid but not enough to raise the movie above anything but just a solid movie overall.
Overall, this movie reminded me of The Birds; which is perhaps the best compliment it can be given. Its focus is actually just real drama between people characters who feel like real people. It is very existential, and its focus is on the intricacy of the relationships between the two leads. Yet, it has the added flavor of a mysterious driving force that spurs the drama in the form of massive and very unique monsters. I just wish it had done a little bit more with its premise.
My subjective breakdown of the movie's major elements: Cinematography 7/10 Editing 7/10 Art Direction 9/10 Sound 9/10 Special Effects 6/10 Acting 8/10 Pacing 7/10 Characters 9/10 Theme 9/10 Music 7/10 Overall 7/10
Eden Log (2007)
A very original but strange film experiment
I was very impressed by this movie after a first viewing. That being said, my background in films is a lot of movies like this. I love things that take place in strange worlds with mysterious and dangerous enemies lurking in the shadows. I love post-apocalyptic and dystopian stories. I also am a huge fan of video games in this genre which I think also paints this movie in a certain light if you watch it with certain survival horror RPGs in mind. The director even admits some of that influencing his work.
I'd have to say, this is not really a movie for the average moviegoer. It is not exactly "entertaining" in a typical sense. It is sort of like experiencing a very odd and perplexing dream. I feel like film enthusiasts or gamers might enjoy this one.
I found this movie to be very original. It has a very non-typical theme it is trying to get across but an even more extreme style. It is crushing in its atmosphere and the ambiance. It is certainly a movie that is heavier on style than substance at times but the substance is still there.
If I had any complaints, it would have to be that we don't learn much about our protagonist. He is presented with an interesting choice at the end, there is an interesting twist about his character, but I feel like we don't get to know him very well throughout the whole movie. Not much of a personality is revealed despite a strong performance from the lead actor.
There are also some silly effects that I'm not sure should have been included in the movie. The movie is very strongly in its shot composition, sets, costumes, and style. The effects felt very out of place. You have to really bite the bullet to enjoy what they are trying to say with those scenes and not focus on what is actually being shown.
If you are a fan of movies like Pandorum, Silent Hill, or maybe I am Legend you can probably enjoy this movie as a lower budget version of those. It even does a few things better than those movies while falling short in other categories. If you are into very atmospheric, slow- moving, violent, and convoluted movies you should give this one a try. But, be warned that it is not a movie for everyone. It is primarily trying to be something very unique. I believe it accomplishes this well, and is frankly a very awesome piece of challenging cinema.
If it did not have some of the visual issues, a very uneven pace, and some scenes that don't move the plot forward or tell us anything about the characters or world, this would be one of the better movies out there. As it is, it is still very cool for fans of this genre.
My subjective breakdown of the movie's major elements: Cinematography 9/10 Editing 7/10 Art Direction 9/10 Sound 9/10 Special Effects 4/10 Acting 8/10 Pacing 7/10 Characters 5/10 Theme 9/10 Music 7/10 Overall 8/10
The Dark Knight Rises (2012)
Nolan complete's his trilogy with an excellent conclusion
Well, the big question was always if Nolan could pull this off. The answer is definitely a resounding "yes" for me. That being said, this movie was an imperfect but very satisfying conclusion to what can now safely be a candidate for the best Super Hero series. Nolan is a very smart writer, and a very intelligent director as well. I guess there isn't many other ways to put it. He manages to convey themes most directors aren't tackling by wisely returning to the true nature of why Batman was created. He is meant to represent the darker and more grounded version of what we see as a super hero. So, his decisions and struggles always seem more "real" with this approach. In this movie, that aspect is most fleshed out in its characters. Each character displays an arc or change of some kind. Even a single character displaying a satisfying emotional transition in a film is greatly appreciated by myself while watching a movie. Yet, almost every character in this film portrays a very logical progression that just works. Music, cinematography, acting, and the other major categories are all solid as usual. A major improvement on the previous films is the action sequences. Nolan has matured in that category and has pulled the camera back and smoothed out its movements. You can now tell what is actually happening even if a few warts are revealed such as a few awkward attacks from the masked juggernauts. To me this could very well be compared to a typical boxing movie but the stakes are a city being destroyed by a nuke if the good guy loses. An out of shape and past his prime champion thinks he come back to the game and light up the competition, but a stronger faster and more driven force has arrived to dethrone him and turn him into a thing of the past. Then the old boxer needs to dig deep and remember what got him to the championship seat in the first place. He needs the "eye of the tiger" or the "elixir" as the hero's journey might tell us. This is by far the most moving and powerful highlight of the film. Batman's story comes full circle. It gets back to the roots of what he is as a character. A character who uses fear to restore justice against those who would seek to use it for chaos and evil. But Batman has forgotten that you are not strong simply because you do NOT fear. You are strong BECAUSE you fear and still chose to act. I could hear Stallone in my ear "It ain't how hard you hit, it's how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward." Hence the title, "rise". The moment this is revealed is both simple, potent, and ultimately a great achievement. Some problems exist. Don't they always? The turn of events is very convenient, the decisions of some characters raise questions or border on stupidity, the primary villain and driving force of the conflict is completely and very wrongly shafted, and the editing tends to leave the action at the worst possible moments. Still, this movie is loaded with excellent and highly entertaining stuff that the cliché of what Nolan has made himself - a truly incredible filmmaker - is certainly preserved. In fact, he somehow managed to trick everyone and their expectations in a very simple way in the end. Everyone feared the worst for Batman seeing the very somber trailers, but Nolan wisely did the one thing they'd never expect! He also managed to not try and one-up himself. Shyamalan or Lucas should take notes. As usual, I'll be looking forward to the next Nolan project. Superman? Count me in.
My subjective breakdown of the movie's major elements: Cinematography 10/10 Editing 8/10 Art Direction 10/10 Sound 10/10 Special Effects 7/10 (not a major focus but still relevant) Acting 9/10 Pacing 7/10 Characters 10/10 Theme 10/10 Music 9/10 Overall 8/10