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Piranhas: Great effort from Joe Dante
I'm a huge fan of Joe Dantes work, even going so far as to buy every movie has directed. There's something about his style, especially the mixture of humor and lighthearted horror elements that always seemed to resonate well with me. Piranhas is a movie I had on my watch-list for quite some time but I was never able to find a copy of it with a good quality. By total accident I found the special edition Blu-Ray Edition of Piranhas. I was exhilarated and bought it immediately.
So, how well does Dantes second feature film hold up after all these years? Surprisingly well! This has all the good stuff in it that you'd expect from a Roger Corman production. Blood, boobs, humor, fake looking special effects, its all there, but its all done with a lot of passion! I watched some bonus material of how the piranhas were made and discovered that Phil Tippet (now an Oscar winner for his work on movies like Star Wars) actually made the pesky little fish rats. I gotta say, after watching the bonus stuff, I had even more respect for the movie, for the sheer fact alone of how much work went into it. No wonder they all involved to Hollywood legends, these people are creative forces!
Now, with all that said, its still amateur film-making. So don't expect next level Kubrick. The acting is at parts really good, especially from Bradford Dillman, and at parts really cringe worthy, just like it should be.
The story is rather simple and I wont bother going into details, its just entertaining schlock with some great moments. I was surprised how serious it actually took itself. There were quiet some funny scenes but for the most part, its actually pretty dark.
All in all, this movie really impressed me. I was entertained for the entirety of the film and there never seemed to be a dull moment. The underwater scenes still look great and the gore effect don't disappoint.
Give it a try!
I've got a good feeling about this
Everybody knows it. Everybody loves it. The cast, the music, the sounds, the effects, its pure love. STAR WARS. Arguably the most iconic franchise of all time is back and wow, its back with a bang.
Now, going in this film you have to understand that Star Wars is something so iconic and well-known, everybody has his own vision how a movie from this caliber should look like. So, the expectations from the fans are high. Almost too high. But, unlike a lot of other people, I always had confidence in J.J Abrams directorial ability. I consider his Star Trek movies to be one of the best reboots ever, maybe because I was never a big Star Trek fan, but the guy knows how to revive a dead franchise. I love, love, love Super 8, a classic throwback to the Spielberg era of film-making. Mission Impossible 3 was also a great entry in the Mission Impossible franchise. What I love about his direction is that it's always moving, there never seems to be a moment of wasted time. The flow is always "correct", he engages you in what is happening on screen but at the same time gives you those quiet moments where we get to relax for a few minutes before it goes back to mayhem. And when mayhem happens, its always directed well and with a lot of nice choices of shots. There is no quick cutting, no shaky cam but instead a nice blend of wide shots that show you the action and not cut away from it. His direction is very close to the one of Steven Spielberg and Abrams even admitted that he's a huge inspiration.
I was relieved to see all those aspects in The Force Awakens. It has the pacing of the original trilogy, which is exactly how it should be. There is no time wasted on overlong and irritating exposition like in the prequels as it is presented to us more visually (there is a nice moment of Reys back story for example).
The film looks incredible. And with incredible I mean that it looks like a real film. Not like a video game. The practical effects really stand out here, giving the audience something we haven't seen in a while, creature effects that really involve the actors to interact with it and when they do, it works, not surprisingly, very well. Of course you can't go without CGI nowadays, which is used in great effect here. However, if there is one thing that bothered me about it, its the two CG characters, Supreme Leader Snoke and Maz Kanata. They really stand out from the rest, just because almost every other character is done practically. Now, that doesn't mean the CG on them is bad, quite the contrary but they seemed to not really fit into the world presented on screen which relied more on practical effects. Especially Snoke felt like something out of the Hobbit films. He could have easily been created with make-up. Maz on the other hand didn't bother me that much, simply because the acting from Lupita Nyong'o was very believable. Still, the CG was noticeable and as a fan, I have to point that out.
Now, what about the new characters? Well, I can't wait to spend more time with them. My god, the grin I had on my face just seeing Rey and Finn interact. These two just have that charisma needed in a Star Wars film, especially when we are going to see two more movies with them as our title heroes. There was not one scene where I thought they over acted or didn't hit the right note. One movie was enough and I cared more about them than with any of the characters of the prequels. Yes, I just went that route. Simply said, the acting in this is good. In fact, I would say its perfect. Well, Carrie Fisher is a bit choppy at times in her line deliverance probably because she hasn't done a lot in the past few years that demanded her to act but that's really only a minor flaw.
What a lot of people seem to be angry about are the parallels with A New Hope. I'm actually very annoyed at the current state of Hollywood rehashing ideas remaking movies that were perfectly fine anyway, however in the case of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, it really didn't seem to bother me....at all. I would have been extremely angry if the movie was in a whole poorly made but that just wasn't the case. The writers didn't steal the ideas, especially since Lawrence Kasdan was one of the original writers for the original Trilogy, so I don't see it as "stealing" or "rehashing". Its simply a love letter, a tribute to the old movies. Besides, the film gives us too much new stuff to really consider it a remake. And to further argument my standpoint, the film was executed well and with enough care for me to consider it original. The story in Star Wars was never really the main selling point to me anyways. It was rather a backdrop for our characters to evolve, so we, the audience, connect with them, feel for them and want to learn more about them. Yes, story is the none plus ultra for every medium, but, in a visual medium like film, there are other aspects that make it good. So, while you might not think the story is original (which blockbuster is nowadays, anyway?) the rest is.
So, while at first glance it might seem as "copying", really think about it and think if it took away from the enjoyment.
Well, for me it didn't. And I can't wait too see what this galaxy far far away has to offer next.
Hunger Games Mockingjay part 1 is the third part of the Hunger Games series (well of the movie series anyway) and is again directed by Francis Lawrence. This time around, Katniss Everdeen has to lead the revolution against the evil President Snow. Actually, before she can do that, she has to make some propaganda films to evoke the citizens interest in fighting for the greater good.
To be honest, I'm not a big Hunger Games fan. I never read the books, I never went to any fan conventions, if there were any, but I did watch the previous two movies and as most people already said, they are superior to Mockingjay in a lot of different ways. The problem this movie suffers from, is undoubtedly the "part 1" scheme that most studios tend to do nowadays. What this causes is a lack of plot and action. Normally, a good movie doesn't necessarily need a great plot to be great, it needs a great story and Mockingjay just doesn't have a great story because as it stands now, its incomplete. It's not the whole thing. And what pisses me off is when studios think movies are some kind of TV show, where every part of the franchise can be handled as some kind of TV episode. So basically, I don't have a lot to say but there are some good aspects in this entry.
First of all, the acting all around is strong. Nobody really sticks out, everyone does a good job with what they are given. However, there's one exception and that is, of course, Phillip Seymour Hoffman. I don't think even the die hard fans of this series know what a loss he is and I truly hope he wont be remembered for the work he did in the Hunger Games but anyway, he is very good in the movie as is Woody Harrelson who shines with his character. These guys have a great screen presence and are just a league of their own. The rest, as I said, does a fine job.
Another strong aspect is Lawrences direction. While there are not a lot of exciting and well executed shots, there are some that stick out. The few action scenes are handled very well, as previously highlighted in Catching Fire, I just would like to see more energy with the camera. Its all very stale and cold, some movement would definitely help. I don't know where these 125 million dollars went because the movie doesn't look any better than the first one and that one had way more going on. So film-making wise, it could have been better. I hope Lawrence goes back to the way he did the 2nd one because that one had way better direction than this one. It felt a lot like a "film that then that"vibe was going on. If you have this kind of budget, you better use it to your full expense.
All in all, it's a passable movie, it's definitely not bad, just very mediocre. It feels more like a product than a real film which is sad, because I had a totally different feeling from Catching Fire. That being said, I'm sure the final chapter of this franchise will deliver what was missing here. Just stop with the cash grabs Hollywood. Movies can be more than just a way to make money. Respect film as an art form.
The Interview (2014)
The Interview- A true comedy
If you have read the news last year, you probably heard about the infamous "Sony hacking" scandal. It was pretty much inevitable, especially in the US. The story was everywhere and the cause of this fiasco was this movie. A comedy movie directed by Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogan who previously directed "This is the End" a movie which is now one of my personal favorite comedies.
That being said, I was quite disappointed to not experience this movie in a cinema with a full crowd because, as many of you know, it was pulled out of every cinema in the world and only released later in a few selected theaters and on demand, when everybody pretty much streamed it illegally.
But, I now had the pleasure to finally watch this infamous movie at home and even though I didn't watch it with a crowd, I was still thoroughly entertained by this piece of comedy extravaganza. Goldberg and Rogan knock it out of the park once again. I hope this streak lasts because they make the kinds of comedies that are daring and original as well as gut busting hilarious. Every scene has something funny going on, not one minute was I thinking "When do the jokes come again?" because the film- makers try their best to keep their audience rolling on the floor from laughter.
Rogan and Franco show once again what real comedic chemistry means. Every scene they're in is hilarious. This has no doubt something to do with the fact that it's their 6th collaboration, so every scene they're in feels real because it comes across like two dudes that know each other and that are really good friends. Franco especially steals the show. He does play almost the same character as in "Pineapple Express", the naive and dumb good looking guy, but it fits the circumstances. Besides, there are various ways to play a character with the same characteristics, and Franco undoubtedly knows what he's doing, since every scene he's in made me laugh.
On a side note, for 44 million dollars, there are a lot of well filmed scenes that could easily come from a higher budgeted movie. If I look at movies like "Jack and Jill", with a budget of 80 million dollars, which doesn't have any of the spectacle going on as "The Interview" does,I truly wonder what kind of scheme Hollywood is playing, because it does seem fishy to me.
Anyways, don't get distracted by all the hype surrounding this movie, just see it as a normal piece of entertainment and you might really end up liking it. If you aren't a fan of crass humor, stay away from it, because it is offensive, vulgar and violent. But sometimes, that's exactly what you need.
Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)
The action movie we deserved.
Mad Max Fury Road is directed by none other than George Miller. It's the first Mad Max movie in 30 years, which replaces cult icon, Mel Gibson with uprising star Tom Hardy. It also stars Charlize Theron and Nicholas Hoult.
You know these days, where you just want to go to a movie, have fun and at the same time be impressed by the movies quality?
Mad Max Fury Road is exactly that, just 10 times better.
I can't find words how to describe this movie, it's everything an action fan dreams of and wants. It's the kind of movie that only comes along every 10 years or so. It's something else, something unique. It's pure adrenaline, balls to wall, fuel kicked craziness and it's everything I want from an action movie.
While the movie is crazy, it is also grounded with characters that feel real and tormented by this gruesome world where survival is the number one priority. Furiousa and Max have great chemistry together and you want to learn more from their characters. Everyone in this movie does a fantastic job. Nicholas Hoult especially was very surprising as one of the War Boys, he really had fun with the role and you can see it in the movie.
The plot is fairly simple, this is not a problem because it has been established as a movie where the main goal is to capture the audience with the mesmerizing action scenes. Mad Max Fury Road is a prime example that a great movie doesn't need a complex story to be good. Gravity is also a prime example to showcase this. While the story here is simple, it fits the movie perfectly.
Now, the number one reason you want to watch this movie, is the visual extravaganza Miller has brought on screen. Trust me when I say this, you have never seen action scenes on the big screen like the ones in this movie. The things you see on screen are 80% practical and every time you think about that, your mouth drops even more. There is some really mind boggling stuff in the action scenes and it is all executed perfectly. Miller has created an action movie where the action is not only well made, it is also beautiful to look at. Something that other action movies almost never archive, like the previously released action blockbusters Avengers AOU and Furious 7. This movie puts both of them to shame and I wouldn't really understand why anyone would say otherwise. George Miller has done a movie so beautiful in shot composition and cinematography, one could say this movie was directed by Van Gogh. There is some abstract scenery and imagery which is wonderful to look at. Every shot in this movie feels new, vivid, exciting and is just jaw dropping at times. Miller takes full advantage of the medium and of his tools to create a movie that will be remembered in the years to come.
The reviews for this movie have all been amazing and they are all well deserved. Mad Max Fury Road is the kind of movie, movie fanatics love to watch. This movie shows that even big budget studio movies can be artistically powerful. Mad Max Fury Road is simply put one of the best action movies ever made. Don't miss this movie on the big screen.
Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)
Avengers: Age of Bloated
Avengers: Age of Ultron is the official start to the summer blockbuster season. And what a start it is. Undoubtedly one of the most hyped movies of the year, it had a lot to deliver, especially after the amazing trailer we saw and all the awesome footage, we were in for a treat.
Or at least we hoped so. Or at least I hoped so.
Well, from the rating I gave it, you would probably think that I certainly enjoyed it. And I really did, actually, I had a lot of fun with it. But fun is not the only thing I look for in a movie. A movie can be fun in a lot of different ways. This movie did it with its great and vivid action scenes, the dynamic CGI, the snarky and smart dialog, and a compelling although rushed villain.
But other than that, I felt something was missing. The first Avengers benefited from a more organized story, the characters had more interaction, and there was more of a conflict, which fleshed the characters out even more (that and that every hero had his own movie) and of course our favorite villain, Loki. Although I gave the first Avengers the same rating, I do think Age of Ultron is a bit of a letdown.
There is not really a story with a lot of surprises, just a string of events that lead to another. This is not really something new in a Marvel movie. We always have the same pattern of a story. A villain that has an evil plan and needs to be stopped. This is not a problem as long as the movie keeps the viewer invested with other points. Here, the only thing it has going for other than seeing our heroes interact, is one action scene after another that all feel kind of the same. In fact, the action is so bloated and loud, that it was exhausting and boring after a while. Ultrons robot army was just not exciting as a menace at all, they felt weak and useless and not like a threat to the Avengers. The love story between Black Widow and Bruce Banner was something that felt way too forced and out of place. At some point people chuckled because the dialog felt like it was something out of a soap opera. I really hope they improve their character arcs in the following movies.
By now you probably have already seen the movie and made up your mind. As for me, I expected more of a darker and grounded movie that didn't need to feel like every other superhero movie we've seen before. The hype for these movies to me, is very questionable. I'm still looking forward what this series has to offer in the following years, just please, change the formula.