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Silly entertainment with only a few laughs
11 March 2013
Some comedies are made with the purpose of being fun and provide the audience some relaxation moments with nice jokes. 'A Hounted House', however, fails on being an interesting comedy.

Here we have a couple who decides to live together in a nice house, but suddenly strange things start to happen. Well, it's easy: just imagine Paranormal Activity as a satirical comedy with elements of other horror films like The Devil Inside, The Blair Witch Project and even The Exorcist. Knowing this, we obviously can't expect it to be the greatest comedy of the year, but it could have been at least a nice film to enjoy with friends and have good laughs. Fact: it doesn't happen.

The real problem with this film is the lack of interesting and original jokes - they are too predictable and old fashioned (we have seen the same jokes on films like 'Scary Movie'). It seems like Marlon Wayneans - who is also the creator of the Scary Movie franchise just changed the name of the film. There is the gay stereotype, the perverted couple, the husband who always want to have sex... There isn't anything new about this film.

A Hounted House is watchable, but do not expect too much. There are better comedies in which you can spend your money with.
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An Upgraded version of your grandmother's old story
27 January 2013
Warning: Spoilers
The old story that our grandmothers used to tell us before sleep is now presented as an upgraded version called Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters following the same formula used in similar movies like Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter: lots of action, blood and some funny moments.

After killing the witch that trapped them inside the famous "house made of candies", Hansel and Gretel grow up and develop an interesting occupation: witch hunters. Then, they are called to a village where children are being kidnapped by witched. Later, it is discovered that a powerful witch has diabolical plans - she wants to use the children and a white witch's heart in a ritual that will make her and other witches powerful forever. The adventure is set and joining Hansel and Gretel there is a young aspiring witch hunter and a Troll who has a good heart.

The story seems a bit silly, but the action sequences made the difference here - it is in a particular way "thrilling". There is however a lot of blood - obvious it's not like the "Saw Series" or a Tarantino movie, but a decapitation scene for a little children may be a bit strong. The film was probably made aimed to more grown up kids - 12 and over - teenagers and adults.

Overall, Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters is worth watching if you want to have a relaxing time at the movies. Don't expect it to be the biggest Hollywood production of the year, but prepare yourself to have at least a moment of fun.
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Amour (2012)
Amour: a story of love and terrible fate
23 January 2013
Warning: Spoilers
Since the beginning of the film we know how the end of the story. However, it doesn't meaning that the film is predictable – but the contrary idea: it shows that we must be prepared because it won't be an easy and comfortable experience for the audience.

What we have here is a one year story about a couple – Anne and Georges (both of them retired musicians living in an apartment) – who suddenly get caught in a terrible and unfortunate fate: Anne suffers an attack and soon develops a degenerative disease which paralyzes half of her body. Then, Georges who could have taken his wife to a hospital and left her there in the care of doctors, decides to take care of her himself. He already knows how everything will end, but his love for Anne is strong and is fighting against all the obstacles and boundaries.

The story seems quite simple, but Michael Haneke mastered it. We don't have melodramatic clichés and useless sentimentalism, but a realistic story that really changes our mood or at least will make us think about life and even get worried with it. First, because what Anne and Georges are suffering could happen with anyone who is watching the film. Second, does becoming old means being sick and lonely? Well, not necessarily, but "Amour" shows this side of life to us – the disease is terrible, but having to face it in a cold environment makes things even worse. The only thing that still exists in the couple's life is their love for each other.

The couple has a daughter (Eva) who is also a musician. When she visits her parents, we feel a distant relationship between them. She is a cold person and even crying sometimes by seeing her mother dying, an empty space between her presence and what is happening with her parents is always there. As Michael Haneke said: the fact that a person is a sentimentalist doesn't mean that she or he have emotions. This is what happens with Eva.

Even knowing what will happen to Anne and having no hope for her – Haneke makes it clear throughout the movie – we keep watching it as if we were expecting at least a comfortable ending for both of them probably because we are used to this kind of plot in which people dye, but always in a melodramatic way.

"Amour" is a terrific film not only for showing us a reality, but also for the environment created by Haneke and the strong interpretations for both Emmanuelle Riva (who is on the verge of perfection playing Anne) and Jean-Louis Trintignant (who unfortunately was forgotten by the Academy, but had a fantastic time plating Georges).

After watching this film, if you leave the theater in silence, don't worry: it means that the film has worked for you.
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The Avengers (2012)
Fantastic superhero movie - best from Marvel in years!
2 May 2012
Initially when I first saw the trailer I was a bit reluctant about this flick – I thought it would be another good, but average superhero movie. After watching it, however, I just had to admit: this was one of the best action movies I've seen in years.

The story is a simple as that: Locki returns with his obsession of being a 'beloved' king and along with his army decides to dominate Earth. Then, Nick Fury makes a union with Iron Man, Hulk, Thor and Captain America (The Avengers) to save our planet.

Reading this synopsis may make you think this is a silly movie, but it is because of this simplicity that 'The Avengers' is so good. The story just gets direct to the point without hesitation and involves the audience since the beginning. There is also some laughing moment between the action scenes – which I felt was great. Just to break the ice – Iron Man with his sardonic jokes.

Another aspect I felt while watching it was how it was made to be unpretentious, but fun and entertaining. I have noticed that some recent Hollywood movies have been failing on these points – I mean, sometimes they try to make action films so 'complex' and serious – but why complicate it? We are just looking forward a nice film to relax and enjoy the time… and 'The Avengers' provides it easily – at least for me it did.

Then, mix all these aspects with a lot of explosions – yes, they destroyed Manhattan again! – astounding visual effects and a great cast (this time we have the best Hulk ever with Mark Ruffalo). The result: fantastic superhero movie.
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Charade (1963)
A Superb classic thriller!!
1 May 2012
'Charade' is probably one of the finest classic thrillers I've ever seen – and surprise! No Hitchcock! It is interesting how we always tend to remember the Master of Suspense when talking about those thrillers and sometimes forgot other great and important thrillers made in Hollywood's classic era.

This time we have fantastic Audrey Hepburn who plays a widow who sees herself into a plot involving money, the CIA, bad guys and Cary Grant who was the best choice to play the leading man. There is such a chemical between Hepburn and Grant that any other actor or actress would have broken the film's essence completely.

But, I warn you: if you are not used to this kind of film, you may find it a little boring. Different from the thrillers made today in Hollywood in which the studios make use of sex and violence to get a huge audience, 'Charade' works in another side. It is not a film developed though scenes, but from smart dialogs, characters and an involving story – and that is why this film is a classic one and proves once more that we don't need a lot of explosions and sex to have a good movie.

I took almost a year to see this movie because I was always reluctant with it – I was underrating it before even watching. Now, after seeing it, I don't regret a single second for having bought such a superb and unique flick.
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Well-behaved American Pie movie
28 April 2012
I don't know – maybe it was just me – but I felt after watching 'American Reunion' that this was the most 'well-behaved' film of the series. We still have a lot of sexual humor and even a scene with male frontal nudity – something that has been becoming quite common nowadays – but everything restricted to certain limits. However, apart from this aspect, it is probably the best film of the series.

The studio achieved to reunite all the guys from the first films (Jason Biggs, Sean William Scott…) and make a story where they are grown-ups in their thirties and decide to make a high school reunion. As expected, they changed - they aren't willing anymore to lose their virginity or hook-up with the sexy girl from school. Jason Biggs is the family guy who has a weak sexual life with his wife; Sean William Scott is not happy with his life and his career; Eddie Kaye Thomas still doesn't know what he wants from life and Chris Klein is unhappy with his girlfriend.

Then, comes the best part of the film – what happen to us after high school? Obviously, the proposal here is not make the audience have a philosophical journey into their past, but treat the issue in a funny way.

What we have is an unpretentious flick aimed for the teenage audience – and adults as well. The jokes are not brilliant, but it works – at least for me it did. I had an enjoyable time with 'American Reunion' and if you like this kind of comedies to go to the cinema with your girlfriend/boyfriend then it is the right movie for you.
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Better than the first one, but don't expect anything extraordinary
31 March 2012
Usually, the first film of a series is the best one. However, we have the opposite here. 'Wrath of the Titans'(the sequel) was much better than 'Clash of the Titans'(the first film) for several reasons.

The first of them is the technical aspects. 'Wrath of the Titans' presents us thrilling action sequences that really involve the audience. Director Jonathan Liebesman used his camera in a similar way that he did in his last film Battle Los Angeles to make us feel part of the action – actually, pretty close of it. Sometimes his camera shakes and shows a wide view of what is happening in a particular scene – like the final battle when 'Cronos' is coming out of the underworld and everything explodes (just fantastic!) Unfortunately, I didn't see it in IMAX, but it must be a visually stunning experience.

The other aspect is the plot. In the first film, the writers seemed to want us to take the story too serious – in fact with such a silly plot, it was almost impossible. Wrath of the Titans has a much more pleasant story with some humorous parts – just one or two, but it really breaks the ice. Also, we feel that it was written for pure entertainment.

However, just the fact that it is better than the first one doesn't make it spectacular. We still have the same silly plot – which can be told in a couple of lines – and an unconvincing performance by Sam Worthington who just doesn't look like a semi god. The role need much stronger not only in physical appearance but in personality too (Henry Cavill, who has recently done Theseus in 'Immortals' would be much better for this kind of role).

Between these pros and cons, we have a film aimed purely for those who want an enjoyable time with friends or boyfriend/girlfriend. Not the biggest hit of the moment – but not as bad as expected.
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The Iron Lady (2011)
A film that owes much to Meryl Streep's brilliant performance
23 February 2012
Meryl Streep is one of those actresses who literally incorporate the character she is playing - in The Iron Lady there is no exception. Sometimes in the film we even forget that what we are seeing is Meryl – she acts for real with strong feelings while portraying Margareth Thatcher on her late days when suffering Alzheimer and remembering her days as British prime minister. Actually, the proposal of this flick is to show that those important leaders are not machines because they have a human side like we have.

However, that is where the filmmakers committed a mistake as the story fails to tell more accurate details about Thatcher's days as prime minister. The whole film goes forwards and backwards all the time, so we feel that there is too much information trying to be told in a short time. Consequently, the story becomes lost and details missed. Also, the film always focus on Thatcher's point of view – an error that could have being avoided if the plot focused also on other points of view to make it more critical.

If you see it as a film about the human side of an important and influential leader, you may enjoy it - I heard about some people who felt touched by it. But, if you try to see it as a political or biopic film, you will probably leave the movie theater disappointed.

Only one thing is a hundred percent perfect: Meryl Streep's memorable performance in a film that could have been much better.
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A Marvel film far under the average
18 February 2012
The first Ghost Rider was already a disappointment – compared to other Marvel adaptations to the cinema, it was far under the average. Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, however, is even worse. It didn't even look like a big Hollywood production – the special effects and the action sequences were sometimes absurd going to the ridiculous. It looked like a low budget film – a poor visual with only one or two exciting scenes - if I can call them exciting.

Then, there is the plot issue. Those 'blockbusters' are not supposed to have a story with philosophical meanings as they are made aiming pure entertainment, but this one actually didn't even have a story. It was totally redundant, silly and cliché – actually kind of ambiguous because the characters were not well explained or explored - things seemed too much up in the air leading the audience to nowhere.

Nicolas Cage also didn't help at all as he was not convincing on what he was doing. But, we can't put all the blame on him – the character was already badly written by the screenwriters who didn't know how to make him interesting. The Ghost Rider is not the conventional superhero – he has an obscure personality. So, where is this aspect on the story? Where is the true nature of the Marvel superheroes? In this film, there isn't any.

What surprises me most is the fact that this film coasted $75 million and no one knew how to make a good use of this big budget. It was a total waste of money and time – not only for the audience, but for the actors too. A superhero movie that promises more than it really has to offer. If you didn't like the first film, you'll probably hate this one.
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Entertaining film for the family – and nothing more
8 February 2012
Journey 2: The Mysterious Island is the 'sequel' of Journey to the Centre of Earth (starring Brendan Fraser). Actually, I really don't know why they consider it a sequel because the story is completely different – the only similarities are the author of the books in which the films were based on (Jules Verne) and the character of Sean Anderson that appears in both movies. I also found interesting that many people didn't know it was related to the other movie.

What we have here is a film that follows the same scheme of its predecessor – a lot of CGI and 3D effects, amazing and colorful scenarios, silly humor and nothing more. Journey 2 is a movie for all ages - specially the kids - so don't expect violent sequences or sex scenes with your favorite stars.

The plot is traditional and there is obviously those parallel stories - like the boy Sean(Josh Hutcherson) who falls in love with the charming Khailani (Vanessa Hudgens) and his relationship with his mother's boyfriend, Hank – played by Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson who shows us that the 'tough guys' can also be funny, charismatic and do movies that they don't have to kill a hundred people.

So, are you thinking about taking your kids to the movies? Well, take them to watch Journey 2: The Mysterious Island - they will be thrilled by it.

But, even if you don't have any kids, watch it. Who said that adults have only to watch serious and artistic movies? Sometimes a little bit of unpretentious fun is necessary in life - and this movie provides it (at least for me it did).
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Hard film to watch
8 February 2012
This is one of those films that leave the audience without any words to describe it. Although the story of a teenage boy who has psychotic tendencies – and end up committing murders – isn't new, it portraits the other side of the story that most films of the genre doesn't do: the mother's side.

Eva is the mother who is trying to analyze what happened to her son Kevin. The whole film is told in flashbacks – we see Kevin since he was born until the night when he is arrested. Kevin always had a transgressive behavior and never had any emotions for anyone. So, is the mother in some part guilty for her son's acts or was he born like that? This is an interesting question which is discussed in real life when dealing with a teenage boy like Kevin.

I don't even need to tell how Tilda Swinton was brilliant on the role of Eva which was very difficult to do – most actresses wouldn't be able to do it. It was a pity that she didn't receive a nomination for best actress in the Academy Awards.

What may probably bother the ones who are not used to see this kind of film is the atmosphere – it is a slow film. Some may find it boring. But those who appreciate a more serious film, will sure love this one – and don't be ashamed if you get disturbed by it.
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Mary and Max (2009)
A must-see animation
31 January 2012
It is interesting how animated features are mostly marked as 'children movies' – something that started a long time ago with the first animations in the early 20's. Due to this fact, we see that the mainstream animations are made only by big Hollywood studios aiming in particular the young audience. Sometimes we see a film like Up(2009) or Wall-e(2008) that are not exclusively for kids, but for adults as well. However, we rarely see a true adult animation like Persepolis(2007) or Silvain Chomet's The Triplets of Belleville (2003).

Mary and Max is one of those 'rare' animations. It tells the story about Mary, a girl neglected by her parents who is very lonely and doesn't have any friends. She then decides to choose randomly someone from New York to write a letter – she end up picking up Max's address. Max is a forty-something old obese man who is also lonely, sad, depressed and doesn't have any perspective on life. When he receives Mary's letter, he is enchanted by it and both start a friendship that lasts more than twenty years.

The story seems a bit silly, but the film story deals with a lot of deep issues such as anxiety, depression, suicide and even Asperger Syndrome - black-humor is also present. The main theme is, however, friendship and the film does a great work on it, being sometimes very sad or very touching and optimistic. In any moment the story or the characters fall into clichés.

The director also made an interesting use of colors - in the whole film, there are almost only two colors: brown and gray. They are used with the intention of being a metaphor of Mary and Max's vision of their own lives. Mary's life is brown because it is uninteresting and boring; Max's life is gray because it is depressing, sad and without any hope or perspective of getting better.

So, with no colored images and no happy characters, this is not the kind of movie to show to children – most of them wouldn't understand it. However, it isn't for all adults as well – this film require a more sensitive audience that is able to capture and understand the elements presented in the story and the meanings of it.

This is a must-see film for those who want to appreciate other styles of animation rather than just see the conventional ones.
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A Fantastic Tintin Adventury underrated by the Oscars
29 January 2012
'The Adventures of Tintin' is just the most stylish and visually stunning animation of 2011 – a beautiful effort and unique creation from director Steven Spielberg. It is a pity, however, that it didn't receive a nomination for Best Animated Feature because this film is far away better than the other animations that were nominated.

The scenarios were so creatively made – the backgrounds - that sometimes I thought that they were real scenes, not animated and like 'The Polar Express', this film captured real human movements to built the characters on the movie making them appear much more natural and their faces much more expressive.

The movie is based on three Tintin stories and for those who have already read them may notice some strangeness. Some radical changes were made – especially in the villain's character – and the situations presented in the tree stories were all mixed to make only one story that could fit in the film's necessities. That is the only thing I have to complain about – and I am not saying that the plot was bad, but just different from the original.

Overall, a good film that deserves high remarks on its visual production. Although it is an animation, it is a much more an adult film. There are some gun shots and deaths – nothing shocking, obviously – but uncommon in traditional animations aimed for kids. Also, the vast majority of the audience that was watching this film was adults – actually, I didn't see any kid watching it.
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The Ruins (2008)
Old story with the same old mistakes
27 January 2012
This film had some thrilling moments as it was already expected. The plot is not original: the story of a group of friends who decide to visit a place – in this case old ruins – far away from the city and can't get out of there was used many times in cinema. Obviously, there are many scenes that may be a little hard to watch for those who are more sensitive – pure exploitation to get audience. There is, however, a big hole in the story – many things were left in the air without explanation.

Who were those people speaking that strange language? What they wanted and what they were afraid of? Was that pyramid where the group of friends got stuck cursed? What kind of plat was that and why did it sound like a cellphone? Those questions were not explained and when the film ends, we don't know what all those things were about.

'The Ruins' is the kind of movie that we have already seen many times and unfortunately continue to make the same mistakes. When will these guys learn how to write a good screenplay without missing important parts of it?
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A Separation (2011)
A Simple film with its complexity
24 January 2012
A Separation is not only a film with a good story – but it also shows a different image of Iran and the people who live there. We always have a wrong image of them because the occidental media want us to think that they are different from us (the occidentals) – but they are not. They are people who work, who pick up the children at the school, who have personal and familiar issues – just like we have. It really should have a good distribution to change this way of thinking.

The film is beautifully made and the characters are built like real humans – not superficial or predictable as we have been seeing in a lot of mainstream films. They are strong - in their personalities and emotions. But, as real humans, they do something that we usually do: lie. The film - and the audience will only discover this at the end - has its whole conflict based on this issue. Just to show us how one lie can lead to misunderstandings that we don't have any control.

Overall, it is a simple film but complex at the same time – simple because it is not a big production, but complex because it deals with so many human emotions that even us in real live sometimes can't deal with.

I recommend.
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Dreams (1990)
Akira Kurosawa in a poetic moment of his career
13 January 2012
It is hard to explain how "Dreams" really works. It is not a common film that we see every day - its unique nature and composition as well as how it is constructed may seem a little difficult for some to watch and understand. Dreams is the most different film Kurosawa has made in his whole career.

The film is divided in eight episodes - all of them regarding to dreams that Kurosawa had in many moments of his life. The most interesting aspect of it is how the dreams are organized. It starts with two episodes regarding childhood, then regarding the fears of adult life (passing though the war and the nuclear nightmare) until finally we meet the old age - the last episode in which an old man tells his vision of the world to a young man.

Akira Kurosawa showed true creativity and technique to make this superb film. The scenes are beautifully shot and Kurosawa has never made such an astounding photography before. It is a real world inside a man's dream.

Probably his most poetic film after Ikiru(1952). Dreams may not be one of his greatest masterpieces, but it is sure worth watching and an example of Kurosawa's brilliant imagination.
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Uninhabited (2010)
A Not Scary Ghost Movie
12 January 2012
Warning: Spoilers
The film could have been much more interesting if the writers worked more on the screenplay. I mean, there is an interesting plot - a couple who goes to a desert island and then discover that they are not alone after some strange incidents happen - but the film doesn't seem to take the audience anywhere and doesn't' scary at all.

First of all, the male character was so irritating and uninteresting that since the beginning of the film you start hating him - and the actor didn't seem to incorporate well the atmosphere of the story. Then, there is the conclusion which killed the whole film. We wait almost an hour (the film has one hour and a half) for us to finally meet the ghost - which, in my opinion, was to alive to be a ghost - and then get to a silly end that doesn't explain anything. The whole movie was used to built suspense, but a decent conclusion for the climax was missing.

So, there was just a waste of time - especially for the ones who made the movie. They had a fantastic scenario, the director managed well the camera to built the suspense scenes and the actress worked quite reasonable - but, as I said before, it lacks a more consistent story and a better end.
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