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I Am Legend (2007)
Some film should just be taken for what it is...
... and this is one of those times. I should think "I Am Legend" holds itself up pretty well given the genre that it was working in. This judgment is made in comparison to various other zombie flicks of its kind, and I found it to be more engaging and almost unique. I reckon one could never get away from the stereotypical scenario of "genetic mutation breeds zombies who later decide to take over the world". But the focus on the human emotions/psychology in this one is refreshing and that is a pulling factor in my opinion.
For that alone, the movie deserves extra points. This is by no means Oscar winning material, but like I mentioned, it does well in the genre that it represents.
Will Smith should be proud of himself. If not for him, the movie wouldn't have been believable nor would I enjoy myself as much as I did with this one. For that alone, I shall give it 8 stars.
Highly unpleasant experience
I like musicals. I really do. Lots of the films out there can be easily classified under that genre and I've had my fair share of being obsessed with Evita, The Nightmare before Christmas and The Phantom of the Opera for instance. But Sweeney Todd didn't cut it for me for several reasons:
1) The Cast cannot sing. They can't and you cannot have a musical with a cast that cannot sing. Opening your mouth to the music does not a singer make. And Johnny Depp is no singer. Period. Which is why this film sucked so hard compared to other successful musicals by Burton such as The Nightmare Before Christmas or even Corpse Bride.
2) None of the characters are likable. None whatsoever. Yes, there's the theme of revenge going on, but Todd / Benjamin Baker did not kill out of necessity. He killed because he could. This is no ordinary fall. At least Macbeth killed, after the initial murder of Duncan, because he wanted to ensure that there would be no one who could incriminate him. Todd killed for economic profits (turning the Rich into meat pies and what not). As such, the element of tragedy is lost. And a protagonist who cannot hold the element of tragedy about him cannot possibly be one that is memorable to the audience.
3) Musical =/= bursting into a song at every possible opportunity. God, it reminded me of Whose Line is it Anyway whereby at the utterance of a decent one-liner, the buzzer is sounded and they'd have to burst out into an impromptu song. Which is comical because it's absurd and out of place - the exact effect that this film brings about.
4) Characters had the depth of a teaspoon. And I don't think I should elaborate.
Argh... and I was really looking forward to watching this too. What a disappointment. Still, for all that it's worth, I think a 4 should be a fair assessment of this disaster - it won't have been a very good movie, but, to me, it fails as a musical.
Silent Hill (2006)
Horror? No. Psychological triller? Yes. Oh yes.
Horror? Try psychological triller and you might be closer to understanding why is it that I found Silent Hill such an amazing piece of work.
With that in mind, the reason why Silent Hill worked for me was because it had a story to tell. Granted some of us are already familiar with the storyline and are frustrated with the pace of the film. Others may gripe at how much of a disappointment the movie was because of the lack of certain monsters, the lack of development in the characters they liked best, the lack of answers to puzzling questions, the fact that the storyline was too convoluted and confusing et cetera et cetera.
Yet, the heart of the film lies mainly on one simple idea - Silent Hill is first and foremost, a physical manifestation of a child's mind that is shattered, tainted and shackled by an abuse so terrible that one is unable to articulate it into words. (Ever wondered why Silent Hill is called "Silent" Hill in the first place? If you think along the lines of language being an ineffective medium in the expression of "truth", *cha-ching*! You're right!)
In this light, I cannot understand why so many people had a problem with the pacing of the movie because in the first place, such apparent "meandering" is necessary to the entire film. And why not? The inability for any one character to get to the heart of the problem is prevalent during the entire narrative framework of the film *No one* character dared to talk about it and those who sought the truth are met with an air of secrecy. The "truth" therefore, is oppressed by a *complete breakdown of words* and all that is left is to "show" and let the people "experience" what had happened themselves. (Such is the path that Rose must take because she "chose" to seek out the truth surrounding her daughter's psychological problem and since language fails in Silent Hill can the "truth" cannot be communicated through "words" it must be "shown".)
The same rule applies to Christopher. He tried to uncover the "truth" but was thwarted by people who are reluctant to talk about the town. Everyone who had prior knowledge of the town was unable or unwilling to describe what happened because they 1) are suppressing their guilt 2) are afraid of opening up a can of worms that is best left forgotten. Even Rose and Cybil are faced with a group of people who were so adamant into seeing things in their point of view that they have "blinded" themselves to the atrocity of what has taken place in Silent Hill. (Notice how most of the monsters i.e. Nurses, Pyramid Head, Janitor, are in a state of blindness? Coincidence? I think not.)
And still at the heart of all THAT, a child's horrifying story is desperately waiting to be told. The meanderings are not meant to be a flaw in the plot, in my opinion, but an attempt to show how the outside world tried to suppress and confine the deepest desire of a little girl - the desire for "truth" to be known. Therefore the "truth" cannot be "told" because words will ultimately fail in Silent Hill. It must be "shown". That was why Rose had to go through all the various stages of her journey to seek out the "truth". That was why it was crucial the narrative had to be mapped out thus and it reached its summit in the dramatic finale where the fanatics were reluctant to accept the "spoken truth" but was forced to accept it nevertheless through a physical manifestation of "truth" - the manifestation of their past deeds.
Hence in my opinion, this film isn't about monsters, busty characters, bloodshed, storyline or whatever it is that one normally looks out for in a film of this genre. This film is about a little girl's story that is struggling to surface in a world dominated by a viciousness she could not comprehend but fall victim to nevertheless. Think about it. To be thoroughly abused in a world that you never fit in and cannot comprehend. And later to want to seek vengeance for the wrongs that had been done to you but are unable to articulate it into words because there is no one out there who understands or listens to you. The intense hatred due to the complete lack of control that one is forced into, the desire to achieve "satisfaction" at any cost and the obsession with "vengence" - now that's a scary thought for a little girl of 10 to have, wouldn't you say?
So was it good? Heck yeah. And I'm going for another round of this when my next paycheque comes in.
North Country (2005)
I'm a huge fan of movies depicting strong women. Not just any kind of strong women, mind you, but the kind who is unafraid to stand up for themselves and for others who would not or could not do the same.
This movie is inspirational for that alone. The strength of character Charlize incorporated into every scene was completely astounding. The storyline itself is moving. While I have certain issues with the way it ends, I think it does little to tarnish this spectacular piece of work.
Also, Sean Bean has an American accent in this one. It's odd to hear him speaking the way he does, but our Sheffield boy pulled it off rather well - as usual.
My favourite quote by Kyle/Bean? "It's a big one" Oh yeah, baby. :)
Anna Karenina (1997)
Lovely.... absolutely lovely.
This was surprisingly good. I'm not that much a fan of the Romance genre, if truth be told, but I'll make an exception for this one. The film is carefully crafted. Every emotion, every dialogue enhanced the overall tone of the film, slowly but surely escalating in its momentum up to its tragic climax.
Sophie Marceau was brilliant. As was Sean Bean. I wasn't quite sure if they would be able to possess the kind of chemistry needed to pull this off, if truth be told, considering how they (in my opinion) seem to be of different temperament artistically (Sophie being more sensitive as seen in Braveheart and Marquis, while Bean is more explosive). Nevertheless, it worked out fine although, ironically, their relationship seem to be more believable whenever they fell out of odds with each other. :)
The Dark (2005)
Had the potential to be much, much better.
Okay, I know from the get-go that this was going to be a horror movie and they are going to apply the conventions that is so typical of the genre i.e.: scary music, mystery plot line, dodgy camera angles, scary make-up and screaming girls. I love horror movies and I was mentally prepared for this to just be another typical film.
My problem with it was it was TOO typical. You know that when the daughter sat too close to the edge of the water that she was going to fall in. You know that when the camera focuses on someone's back, something is going to creep up on them, making them squeal. You know that when the man follows the girl into the barn, he's going to get killed.
In short, it is just too predictable. The worst thing however, was the fact that the climaxes are too many and the twists and turns of the plot are too tedious to really leave an impact on me. The ending was disappointing and I felt that it would have left a bigger impact if without the entire "bad girl wins scenario". Pathos is a powerful theme in a horror movie, which was why I felt that movies such as The Exorcist, The Ring and Ju-On (Japanese version of The Grudge) excels in the genre that they represent. The Dark doesn't even manage to do that.
I think it would be better just to have Ebrill and her father in the realm of the dead, Adele stranded in the house while Sarah and her father reunited. The pathos would work very well here on various levels because 1) Ebrill's wish to have a loving father is unfulfilled, especially sad because she was cruelly tortured 2) Adele finally managed to do something right for her child at the price of her own life 3) Sarah, the victim throughout the show, is finally allowed that one bit of happiness and can think fondly of her mother at last.
Instead, they made Ebrill the "bad girl" like her father and that upsets me because I can't feel sorry for any of the characters now. Understanding her plight was the key I think, but since they made her "bad", it just ruined it for me. Plus, the whole issue with Sarah isn't resolved which leaves me thoroughly dissatisfied also.
In short, this had the potential to be a rather good film but falls short due to its too ambitious attempts at wanting to be different from the other movies of the same genre. Which is a shame, considering the excellent cast that they had working for them.
Nothing fantastic. But Marton was great though.
I didn't have high expectations when I watched the movie on the DVD recently. Cars. Women. Sex. Drugs. Biological Warfare. We've heard them all and they have manifested in one way or another in all those typical (and mediocre) James Bond films.
Vin Diesel was a disappointment. True, he may have done all of the stunts himself, but it takes more than a nerve of steel to impress me. You would, of course, need real acting talent which Mr. Diesel sadly lacks in. It is a shame. With that body and shiny head, it should have taken my attention away from his severe lack in acting capability. It should have. But it didn't.
Marton Csokas on the other hand, is the saving grace of this otherwise terrible film. A buff body and a handsome face does not an actor make (Mr. Diesel, are you listening?) but in Csokas's case he's got it all, making a convincing and three dimensional portrayal of Yorgi, the villain we all love to hate... and he certainly adds to the "yum" factor to the movie as well.
In conclusion, watch the movie. But don't expect too much from it. If like me, you wonder what the heck you were doing watching something like this, just look out for Yorgi/Marton and all will be well I promise.
PS: Speaking of which, why wasn't he featured in the DVD???