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The Twilight Saga: Eclipse (2010)
Twilight Eclipse: An Improvement
When "Twilight" came out back in 2008 I became immensely curious in the franchise (even though I'd never read the books) due to the overwhelming hype from the fans. After the viewing I felt that the film was left very hollow and weighed down by the sub-standard acting, iffy directing, sloppy editing and overall adolescent melodrama. It felt incomplete but as though it wanted its creators to try harder and become a developed rendition of the books. Regardless, I saw the possibility of potential and found myself interested in seeing where the series would go in the future. "New Moon" was released last year and I had actually bubbled up a sense of excitement from watching the trailers. It came off as a new and improved version of the original with a much more interesting story; I couldn't have hit further from the mark if I tried. Completely immersed underneath terrible acting, absolutely sloppy editing, gut-wrenching writing, mediocre directing, god awful story development, empty CGI and a go-nowhere-at-all story only meant to tug at the heart strings of pre-teens, "New Moon" was instantly put on the list of worst films I had ever seen in my life. I had become completely turned off by the idea of seeing this franchise grow any further. Alas, my OCD personality refuses to let me start a film series and walk away from it so it was inevitable that I hesitantly saw "The Twilight Saga: Eclipse".
Almost immediately I realized that this film's atmosphere is a barricaded roundabout of re-hashed dialogue and one-track character directory. Nothing intellectual or invitingly new is dropped into this pot of love triangles, cardboard characters, and afterthought plot development. It's one of the largest problems with the film; nothing is unique. The seemingly "main story" is introduced slowly over the course of almost two hours through five to ten minute segments that feel like nothing more than meaningless bursts to keep people on their toes. These sporadic bursts of story come at you in between the same drivel we've heard in "New Moon". Bella (Kirsten Stewart) to Edward (Robert Pattinson) to Jacob (Taylor Lautner) back to Bella and Edward and Edward to Jacob and Jacob to Bella and Edward and Jacob and Bella to Edward. Continuously talking about fighting for their love and no sex before marriage and preparing for battle but really doing nothing and "She loves me but she's too afraid to admit it" and "She loves me more but I'm not sure about myself." It's this childlike, empty conversation between characters with similarly empty, childlike personalities that makes the entire movie feel like a giant fantasy advertisement; an enormous, over dramatic, pre-teen wet dream.
The characters are the second biggest issue with this film and even though in second place, it's by far the most irritating problem. I cannot recall the last time I cared for characters so little in a series of any sort. This movie has a running time of an hour and fifty-five minutes, minus the credits and not once do any of the characters deviate from the one-tone personalities that are painted for them. The same over the top emotions that cause the same loop-de-loop interactions that actually get so bad that you feel as though you're watching the same scene over and over and over and over again. It's cursed by a formula that should have been dropped after the first film because there was potential to create characters an audience would be interested in but that ship sailed and crashed; no survivors.
Alongside cookie cutter personalities and what tries to pass off as an in-depth story of revenge, love and redemption, is a near beautiful but one dimensional environment. I was really confused by this film's physical appearance and the tone it was attempting to create. The scenery is something to behold but is masked by too much use of blue tones, bloom lights and green washing. The werewolves have got some excellent CGI going for them and at first glance you wouldn't be able to guess that they aren't real. As the film progresses though, you begin to lose the feeling of reality with these creatures. It's almost as if they aren't there and there's no physical depth or strength to them. This weightlessness become very apparent during the overwhelmingly dull, cliché and emotionless fight scenes. Everything about the atmosphere contradicts itself and this became very frustrating to watch. I do have to give credit to the film makers for putting enough effort into making the environment look much more attractive than the previous installments.
Overall most of what made "New Moon" a total catastrophe has been worked on in "Eclipse" and it is indeed a better film than its predecessors. The problem with this analysis is you're comparing one personal experience with a train wreck to another; in the end it's still covered in smoke, fire, dismay and you're hoping to get out alive. The acting has improved but the delivery of almost the entirety of the film's dialogue is rubbish or cringe worthy. The editing has gotten better and the pacing feels more cinematic but the story itself completely veils this upgrade, making it nearly unnoticeable. Changing the directors was possibly the best choice made here because the film feels much more professional and mature; again though, we're talking train wrecks here. If you're a fan of the series thus far, I'm sure you'll enjoy this installment. If you're a fan of the books, maybe you will too. If you're anybody else I would highly suggest, at this point, steering clear of this series entirely and maybe picking up the books.
This Film Is Not Yet Rated (2006)
Educational documentary to an overlooked subject..
Just as 2009's "Food, Inc." exposed the inner workings of America's corporate controlled food industry, "This Film Is Not Yet Rated" exposes the terrifying inner workings of the MPAA and how American medias (of all sorts, not just theatrical) are being controlled by a small group of people and corporations.
Something to be appreciated with this documentary is that, just like "Food, Inc." (I compare the two because they have similar agendas for different mediums) it takes a headstrong approach to a problem that not too many people think about. The rating system for our media has been around for over sixty years now and it's simply become so normal that nobody questions the way it works or how it's possibly very flawed. "This Film Is Not Yet Rated" also doesn't shy away from using frowned upon tactics in order to get the answers it wants the audience to see for themselves. While some may consider this trickery a bit unfair, I believe most should see it as a means to the end. A majority of people don't know what really goes in to the rating systems or how much controversy there is behind the progress; but they should. The amount of sexism and unjust actions were kept in secret before this documentary's release and for good reason. The documentary also briefly touches down on topics beyond the rating system and into territory such as piracy, the contradictions of MPAA policy, and how the rating appeal process filmmakers have to go through is shockingly unjust.
The direction of the film is a little bit choppy every now and then, and if you're not into documentaries you might find it overall a tad boring; especially if you're not familiar with the film industry. There's plenty of shocking interviews and humorous transitions to keep most entertained, I believe. Personally I found it extremely intriguing, very educational and quite disturbing at times. And after some research I discovered that the film doesn't lose it's educational value either, even after being almost six years old. All the information is still up- to-date and spot on. Also, if you're highly conservative I suggest staying clear of the film because there is an abundance of adult-themed, R-NC-17 rated clips from films ranging between 1970 and the 2000s; in order to help the filmmakers get their point across. Though I would also recommend trying to stomach these scenes because they aren't put in the documentary for lewd purposes; simply to make comparisons on unfair judgments made by the MPAA.
Overall this is a documentary I highly suggest seeing simply to update personal knowledge about a system that affects more than some may realize. Rather you're a conspiracy theorist or someone who simply enjoys learning about the inner workings of life, this is an important documentary to the world of film and to Americans in general. There's always a good chance you could walk away from the experience with a refreshed frame of mind or even an updated one. And again, like "Food, Inc.", even if you don't get anything from it, at least you learned something new.
Boy in The Striped Pajamas
"Childhood is measured out by sounds and smells and sights, before the dark hour of reason grows." -John Betjeman.
Based off the bestselling novel by John Boyne, "The Boy in The Striped Pajamas" takes place in Germany during the horrifying times of World War II. We're introduced to the film with a clever quote (seen above) from the English poet John Betjeman; one that roots itself well with the perspective of the movie's lead character, Bruno. The story centers around Bruno (Asa Butterfield), his mother Elsa (Vera Farmiga) and eldest sister Gretel (Amber Beattie) who have recently relocated to the countryside of Berlin due to his father, who stays nameless (David Thewlis), gaining a hefty promotion within the ranks of the SS. Almost from the get-go we learn that Father's promotion is that of leading officer to a nearby, small scale, concentration camp. Bruno manages to sneak off periodically to visit a young boy named Shmuel (Jack Scanlon), eventually befriending him.
Let's get some of the really negative points out of the way first. Something that bothered me from the very beginning is that the film's entirely based in Germany but all the actors are British and do nothing to hide their accents. To some it may be a minute detail but if you're trying to become emotionally involved with the story and characters it's very difficult when you keep hearing English accents, yet your brain is consistently reminded "This is based in Germany. This is based in Germany." Another film that became heavily burdened with this break in consistency is "Valkyrie". Time and time again it's shown that if you're going to have your movie based in a country where there are distinct accents or languages, you need to have your actors imitate those traits.
Alongside the lack of consistency with the character's accents there's also a lack of consistency with the character development. The writing isn't terrible by a long shot but it doesn't get you as involved emotionally as you should, considering the topic of the movie. I understood what the director was going for; trying to get the audience to see the film in the way that Bruno saw every day life, through the eyes of a child and without reason being a form of bias. The issue here is the movie almost seems to take this a step too far and decides to completely tear away any sort of in-depth character development. It's like they want you to view it in the way that Bruno would but at the same time there's all these other adult themed, unfinished side stories that start popping up and things just get a bit bouncy.
It's quite obvious throughout the film that the creators wanted you to care heavily for these characters and what happened to them but the flow of attention between each character became so wishy-washy that you didn't really feel connected to anyone. I have to say that while watching the entire film I really did feel like they were banking on the audience taking their already instilled emotions of the Holocaust and connecting them with the film as to avoid any emotional development. It's a tactic that doesn't sit right with me. You cannot take a well known, tragic event and simply use past knowledge of the tragedy to bubble up emotions. The story needs to be told as though nobody knew such a tragedy was a part of history.
Overall I struggled a lot with this movie because one of the aspects that I really enjoyed also heavily weighed down the storytelling. I'm referring to the unique way of the movie trying to emotionally capture a film through the eyes of a child. The film itself can also be beautiful to watch at times. It's well scored and there's some really attractive cinematography that highlights the beauty of Berlin, regardless of the sad note the movie plays on. At the same time nothing really jumps out and grabs a hold of you at any point. The acting isn't anything to get ecstatic over, though I did really enjoy the performance from Vera Farmiga's character. Something just felt like it was missing from beginning to finish. Even the extremely devastating ending didn't warrant a single tear from me because the ride up until this point was emotionally bland. It's one of those films that I watch and become convinced that the only reason there's any serious hype over it is due to fans of the book or because it's a Holocaust movie and that gains a lot of sympathy points. I don't hate it but I don't love it either. It's worth a Netflix rental but nothing more.
Honest review from a longtime fan.
It was extremely fast paced so much so that it became boring because you could tell that it was rushed. So it was like a meat stew....with no meat. No build up in any of the scary sequences so there's an illusion of half-assed suspense but it's not there at all. Which makes the entire movie 100% predictable. Straight-forward gore, which is not what Halloween is supposed to be about. I mean yeah it's a re-make and he was supposed to make it "his own" but in the reality of it Rob Zombie's "own" is not part of this series' formula so it doesn't work and it's certainly not effective. Immense amounts of cussing so much that it got irritating. Usually I don't mind, I mean, I'm a Quentin Tarentino fan so swearing isn't even on my list of pet peeves. But in a movie like this? It doesn't belong because it doesn't contribute anything worthwhile.
He added in scenes from the original and butchered them horribly. The execution of almost every death and "suspenseful" moment was rushed and half-assed. Directing was pretty bad along with the editing. I guess that comes with trying to fit so much into a hour and fifty minute movie but still, he should have thought over the final cut a little more before releasing it. He also decided to add in scenes from the original, something I was looking forward to seeing re-imagined. Probably is he rushed these scenes as well and didn't give them even a bit of justification. The acting throughout the entire movie was either not believable or extremely over the top. Dialogue was bad, you couldn't believe it. Like, you just thought to yourself; "People don't talk like that, wtf?". Scenes were all over the place and there were many 5 second tidbit scenes that had nothing to do with anything. Like he'd just randomly switch to something else that a character(s) was doing. It usually had nothing to do with the story and didn't further any story development so you just went "Huh? Okay...." Finally, the ending was a bit of a disappointment. It ended so abruptly and prematurely.
Not sure what else I can add except that I've always loved the Halloween films, even when Busta Rhymes painstakingly graced our presence with Resurrection. It's sad because I've spent the last several months defending this film and trying to get people to just shut up with their ignorant opinions until they saw it. Now that I've seen it, I feel like kicking myself in the ass for all the comments I've made haha.