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Piranha 3D (2010)
In your face horror filmmaking
Wow! Loved this flick. Saw it Friday night in NYC in a full theater and everybody had a blast.
Like every positive review that I've read, Piranha makes no excuses for itself. It is tongue in cheek and fully aware of it's audience and what they want. This was absolutely old school horror with a contemporary soundtrack. The gore was outrageous and over the top. The scene with the underwater nymphs was stunningly gorgeous. I loved it's fearless delivery of the beauty of the female figure.
The cgi fish were fine, but I really can't stand 3D. It's only a matter of time before the gimmick is retired again ( I guess until Cameron makes a sequel to the dreadful Suckatar).
Go Piranha! Instant classic.
'V' is weak...
The fx are better than the original of course, but that's about it. The characters and situations are not even close to being as engrossing as the mini-series from 1983.
They shoved about four hours of story into one, so there is no sense of reality that the characters are living in, no getting to know the characters, and no build up to the reveal of the arriving ships. My guess is that the producers are getting some of the obvious story bits out of the way so they can plod full steam ahead with their 're-imagining.' Fine, but I was not impressed.
If this is going to be an on going series, then why rush the story? Oh, I know. To beat the attention deficit disorder and the need for the 'quick fix' of today's audience.
And now this is the 2nd new ABC series with an FBI agent as a main character, with Flash Forward (another bore) being the first. Is there going to be a 'cross over' of the 2 shows in the future? Are the visitors the cause of the 'black out?' And 'V' even comes with the typical dramatic 'explosion' moment of the hour, ala LOST, ala FLASH FORWARD, ala whatever. Lame.
I will not be watching 2009's V. I will however watch the original again, sometime in the future.
Paranormal Activity (2007)
I haven't experienced a night at the movies like this in I can't remember when. Paranormal Activity gave me chills, goosebumps, and made the hair on the back of my neck raise frequently and uncomfortably.
We watched it in a crowded Manhattan theater and it was a fun, responsive audience, every one of us laughing nervously after every jolt. Much worthy of the price of admission, more so than anything I've seen at the movies in a long time.
I totally enjoyed the pace of the narrative as it slowly built the tension throughout the entire film and broke it with the next encounter. The filmmakers brought back the 'subtle touch' completely missing from every contemporary horror movie. This approach sustained the creepy atmosphere and created a sense of dread that was almost, for me, unbearable to watch at the very end.
The video visual effects were exceptional and seamless. Again approached with a minimalism that proved to be unbelievably realistic (oxymoron?). The filmmakers should be proud of their accomplishment as PA deserves all of the buzz, hype, and awards it's received since it premiered at a film festival a couple of years ago. Congratulations and thanks for bringing back great and effective horror movie story telling.
I woke up in the middle of last night to the sound of movement in my house and again, even as I type this, the hairs raised all over my body because of how fresh PA was in my head. I listened until I was convinced it was my dog and then spent the next 45 minutes trying to get back to sleep. Things that go bump in the night indeed.
District 9 (2009)
Instant Sci Fi Classic
Wow. This flick kept me on the edge of my seat. What a fantastic movie!
I have not seen anything this original since the first Matrix. By the middle of the film I knew I was watching a classic science fiction movie. I never knew where the story was going. Truly entertaining with absolutely awesome visual effects, great action, humor both subtle and over the top. IMHO, I don't think any movie released this Summer can come even close to the level of quality District 9 has in regards to a fulfilling movie experience. Not a one.
Amidst all the violence, this movie has a huge E.T. heart that puts it in the same realm as that classic movie. LOVED IT! I can't wait for the sequel.
Friday the 13th (2009)
Finally got to see F13 '09 and I really liked it.
Jason hasn't been this scary since pt4.
I thought the movie was creepy, gory, and WOW! those women were HOT! The hottest ever, actually. But yes, the sex was way overdone. Sure there was gratuitous nudity and 'soft' sex scenes in the earlier films. But the sex scenes in the new F13 are without a doubt 'soft porn', and I found it distracting.
I thought the 'kills' were very effective. I didn't see where they were coming in the water skiing scene. Got me completely by surprise. The 'under the dock' kill was brutal. And 'throwing the axe' is classic Jason Voorhees. And I think Derek Mears captured Jason's intensity very well. I'd be lying if I said I didn't feel nervous in a number of scenes from this movie.
I really liked the characters Clay and Jenna. They worked well with each other and I was rooting for them. Felt sorry when Jenna got the arrow through the heart. And I was a little disappointed when I thought Clay bit the bullet. I think that's a credit to the filmmakers when you feel somewhat invested in the characters. Helps lift the movie above the basic 'kill, sex, F**k you' dialogue' inherent in slasher films. I also couldn't wait for some characters to be dispatched, which is where F13 movies have always been the most fun.
However, the music was unmemorable and flat out bad. I have no idea why the filmmakers chintzed on this. F13 has a distinct score. If they're gonna go all out on rebooting the franchise, why not include the music? Do the filmmakers perceive the audience as strictly unsophisticated teens with no appreciation for movie soundtracks? Ha, probably. Yet if so, then they should enlighten their audience to the relevance of a solid musical soundtrack, which again lifts the film above typical slasher genre.
And where the hell was the "Ki Ki Ki, Pa Pa Pa...?" I remember hearing it in 3 places only. When the title came on, when Jason discovers the mask (cool scene! even checked himself out in the mirror) and at the very end. Not cool!
Yep, a little too much shaky cam, a little 'over' dark or just incomprehensible in some scenes, to many freaking 'whooshes'... I could nitpick some more, but what I found glaringly missing was the back story which fell prey to the time constraint. This film crammed parts 1-4 into one movie. There were many visual cues from the previous films that I thought was nicely done. But a lot of the back story (mythos) was missing and that bugged me. I would've chopped out the first group of kids (just have the girl turn up missing) and spend twenty minutes doing the last twenty minutes of F13 pt1. That is just my first impression however being that I've only viewed the film once.
All in all, F13 '09 was a worthy entry into the franchise in my opinion. And can't wait to see where they go from here.
The Dark Knight (2008)
The long DARK boring KNIGHT
...describes the night I went to see this movie. The 9 year old sitting next to me was literally crying to his dad to leave. He eventually fell asleep.
Once again another Batman movie comes out after all the hoopla and cool looking imagery and all I get is a very overlong, humorless movie filled with monologues on what makes men go bat crap crazy.
Once again Batman gets lost in the shuffle of too many characters, too many villains, convoluted storyline, and too little screen time. Of course movies should come with a plot but they should be entertaining as well. And the plot just wasn't very interesting in itself.
The movie exclaims Gotham, Gotham, Gotham, but you never get a sense of life in the city. You're supposed to believe that Gotham is overrun by criminals because they pack all of the 'crimelords' into one room where they basically say "we're running this city". Then they pack all the cops and Batman into a room where they basically say "we can't let them run the city" and that's basically it.
Where was the action? There were so many scenes of talk, talk, talk that when the action began to happen I remembered I was watching a 'supposedly' superhero action movie. And before you knew it, the scene was over and we were back to watching Bruce Wayne watch the news on TV. There was really no definitive, memorable action sequence. Although I will say that the editing during the Bat bike scenes was 'cut' much better than the Batmobile scene in Batman Begins. You actually get to view extended shots of the bike and appreciate how cool it looks before it cuts away.
I did not like the technique of playing multiple scenes with various characters simultaneously building up to some sort of mini climax. It works well when you use it once maybe. Not throughout most of the movie. It felt like watching a trailer.
Heath Ledger (r.i.p.) was very good. Ackhart was just as good. Maggie Gyllenhal does a very good impersonation of Katie Holmes playing Rachel. In fact, the whole cast was excellent. But where was Christian Bale? There were just too many shots of Bale sitting and staring at something. The sea, the TV, the city, the TV, his Bat suit.
All in all I was disappointed with this over long, self important, humorless summer blockbuster. My kid summed it up on the way home saying how he felt the movie was made for 'fortysomething' fans of the graphic novels. And he's right. The movie won't disappoint that crowd. But if you're not in that crowd, you might feel a little out of place.
Excellent...Yes It Is!
What I enjoy the most about Indy 4 is how unique it is next to the other films in the series and yet still familiar. Especially after all these years.
Indy 4 is an adventure yarn chock full of thick exposition, packed with action, silly with humor, and finishes with a spectacular ending.
I especially enjoyed the mention of Indy's life during WWII..."you know how many medals this son of a bitch has won?" Sounds like he was pretty busy after the "Last Crusade."
The moment when Indy is looking up at the nuclear cloud is no less an iconic image than anything else in the earlier films. It is a breathtaking composite of real world, CGI, and sound design. Well done ILM!
In the context of the story, I admire how Indy picks up and is ready to teach elsewhere despite his lonely circumstances. And as quick as he's ready to depart on his own, he's even faster to get on the plane for another adventure.
The best things about Indy Jones are all here. From the mystery of the historical legends, to the creepy crypts and the actual artifact. It was a real moment of character, well played by Harrison Ford, when Indy discovers the crystal skull and is baffled by it. He even asks Mutt what it is (as if...). But it shows that despite the skills that lead him to the discovery of the skull, he doesn't know everything there is to know and is even more compelled to find out.
I absolutely love when Indy tackles his enemies. Ford has got that stunt down pat. He fearlessly throws himself across a short distance and barrels into a pack of men, bowling them over the side of the jeep. Just awesome.
I thought Shia's performance was very good. The chemistry between he and Ford is undeniable. Indy meeting a younger and more rough version of himself was a very nice touch. And the benevolent way Indy 'fathers' Mutt as the movie progresses really helps to establish a bond between the two characters. There should definitely be another film with those two raising havoc across the globe in search of, I don't know, maybe Mutt's bike that he lost in the jungle.
It was warm and fuzzy to see Marion back in the story as much as it was to see Sallah in the "Last Crusade." The fact that the filmmakers didn't give her more to do is a shame.
I had the good fortune of being in a theater that had a lot of kids. When the goofy stuff happened their laughter was pretty infectious, as all kid's laughter pretty much is. I couldn't help but laugh myself. The gophers reminded me of my beagle so I thought they were cute. I particularly love when Spielberg directs with kids in mind because he is very effective, and he's always been that way.
The ending was nothing short of spectacular. I personally have no gripe about aliens in this movie whatsoever. Indiana Jones movies have always played as modern fantasies for me. On a side note I believe there are many people in the world who 'actually believe' that human technology stems from encounters with advanced races of sentient beings. So for the filmmakers to explore that concept was very novel, entertaining, and not so much of a stretch for a character of Indy's 'out of this world' experience.
The reveal at the end of the film was far more rewarding than the one in "Last Crusade" in my opinion. I always felt a little 'ho hum' about the climax for the 3rd film. After discovering one of King Arthur's knights still watching over the grail (and speaking pretty good English) Indy's just like, "Ok which one's the cup of Christ?", "Choose wisely," the knight says. "That looks like the cup of a carpenter. OK, thanks, bye!"
Crystal Skull's climax is far more interesting with a flurry of excitement and visuals that are highly imaginative in their design and execution. Great job everyone!
I am really happy with Indy IV. I enjoyed it more than I've already written about. Part of the reason is that I feel the filmmakers approached the project with as much reverence that I have for the character of Indiana Jones as a fan. All the money they spent on this film is all there on the screen. And Harrison Ford gives his most relaxed and charming performance in a long time. Early in the movie, Indy's friend says that they have reached a point where life has stopped giving and begun taking things away. How poetic it is that by the end of the film Indy gains a whole new family. Just really awesome for this great fictional character.
All of this of course is in my opinion. I can understand people have different tastes and are better for it. But if I may suggest to the 'true' fans who feel disappointed, go see it again and keep in mind that it took a little time for "The Last Crusade" to grow on us because of how 'new and different' it was at the time. "Crystal Skull" has got it all where it counts, and even more.
I liked it a lot because I was very entertained. Cool visuals and gory killings (sheesh, were they gory!).
But I have to admit that a lot of what people are saying here is true. Weak story, very derivative of all the Alien and Predator movies, and the lighting was flat out terrible. You never, ever get a good look at the alien or the predator. And that for me is a huge disappointment.
It is very similar to a slasher flick set-up, what with the teens and the predictable victim count. Funny things is though, I was kinda entertained by that.
Some of the cgi was truly great. The alien swimming under the water looked better than the the one in Alien Resurrection, but too dark.
This is a gory film! Very outrageous in places. Fits right in with the "slasher film" tone.
I totally appreciated some of the humor. Corny but fun. And I think the filmmakers intentionally paid homage to all the films in their respective series. From music, to story concepts, to shot blocking, I think there's a subtle nod to all the previous films in many scenes, and I really enjoyed noticing those touches.
I went in not expecting Alien 5 or Predator 3, and I got AVP that was 100 times better than the original AVP. Back in the 80's when we first got a glimpse of an Alien skull in the Predator ship, I remember thinking how awesome it would be to see these 2 screen icons battle it out. Way cool that they've started a whole franchise from that one incidental scene.
If they do another one I hope it takes place in broad daylight so the audience can really appreciate the excellent designs and visual effects.
Live Free or Die Hard (2007)
This movie is not only "Die Hard" x 4...
...but literally a quadruple serving of awesome "Die Hard" action.
My girlfriend and I saw "Live Free Or Die Hard" at a premiere screening last night at Radio City Music Hall. The place holds about 5,000 seats and it was packed.
With an 8:30 start, we got to our seats by 7:30. The movie didn't begin until 9:30!!! Guess who was late?
Julie and I are not particularly big 'Die Hard' fans. And having to catch a train home from Grand Central station at a certain time, we both agreed that if the movie was sub-par, we would split early to get home earlier.
So finally the lights go down around 9:20 and out comes Bruce Willis. He respectfully apologized and then started jazzing up the audience for the film. The excitement was palpable as the crowded theater whooped it up with Bruce shouting "Are you ready!!!"
Well, Julie and I were, as we got swept up in the excitement and cheered aloud as if we were at the ball game. Even the couple next to us, I'd say they were about in their late sixties, dressed very 'proper', were just as energized.
The movie starts and a mere few minutes in, the action explodes. By twenty minutes into the film, Julie and I were sold. Who cares what time we're gonna get home!?
I have not had this much fun at the movies since I can't remember when. I have always loved summer movies, but only the ones that deliver the goods. The action sequences are top shelf, 21st century movie making brilliance. These explosive scenes are a seamless composite of fantastic, real world stunt work, and exceptional CGI. Hands down, they make the film. And for an action movie with 'die hard' in the title, I'd say that was the point.
It was awesome watching this film with so many people because it was like riding a gigantic roller coaster, with everybody having a shared, hair raising experience. People were cheering like when Luke blew up the Death Star. The humor throughout was just right. By the end of the film, our senses were stunned as we dizzily made our way out of the theater, thoroughly entertained.
Excellent summer movie! Well done Bruno and crew!
Nacho Libre (2006)
Great Jack Black flick!
There is a lot to like about this film.
The comedy is consistent from start to end. And clean no less. My ten year old loves this flick. And what a pleasure to watch a movie with the kid that we can both greatly enjoy.
I personally enjoyed the music very much.
And the cinematography was excellent. Exploding with color. One of those movies where it's great just to look at.
I get the feeling that people have to like Jack Black in order to enjoy this movie more. The way I break it down is I can probably hang out with people who like this movie way before I can hang out with people who don't.