April 29, 2012

Good Day For It

Good Day For It is an independent film starring Robert Patrick. I've become a fan of Robert Patrick after watching Bridge to Terabithia (http://mrfilmreviewer.blogspot.com/2012/04/bridge-to-terabithia.html) and I decided to see his other works. I've seen his other films but he only had supporting roles, so I decided to pick this one.

The movie had the same vibe as Winter's Bone, the independent film that led to the Oscar nomination of Jennifer Lawrence(which she clearly deserved).  My review of it here: http://mrfilmreviewer.blogspot.com/2012/04/winters-bone.html I saw a lot of similarities between the two films. First of all it had the independent vibe. The shots, the cinematography, a lot of things were indetical. Even the stories had parallelisms. I couldn't help but have flashbacks of Winter's Bone while watching the film. I do think that both were strong films.

The story revolved the reunion of a father and child. It was a slow-paced drama, and I don't usually enjoy films that move slowly. That was why I found it hard a bit to sit through the first few minutes. I felt that it was really going slow and I was starting to lose my interest. I guess I stayed because I believe that it would get better, and because I think Robert Patrick would not disappoint.

The whole movie moved slowly, but it still progressed. It retained its calm atmosphere for the most part. It had a couple of fight scenes as well, and that made the film more exciting. I guess that's the trend in independent films. They go for subtlety. Maybe I've been spoiled by studio films that tend to rush things in movies in order to create this fast-paced action flicks. I would say though that I actually liked the stillness of the film, probably because it was different. In my opinion, it still progressed constantly to make me want to see what would happen next.

It showcased the talent Robert Patrick has. He can do drama and action. It looked weird cause he looked a lot older than he did in Bridge to Terabithia, which was released just a few years before this film. I guess that's part of the conception of the film. However, looking old or not, no one can deny the greatness of Robert Patrick. He's easily one of the best actors out there. (I also read it somewhere that he's one of the most professional actors)

Robert Patrick was not the only star of the film. I honestly think this film had a pretty strong cast. I want to mention however the awesomeness of Hal Holbrook. He was amazing in this. Other standouts for me were Sarah, Emily, Rose and the Deputy. All of them gave strong performances. I think each character represented something, and that's what I liked about the interactions of the characters. My interpretations might be far from what the filmmakers intended to do, but as a viewer, I liked the thought process my mind was going through.

The film was predictable, but I think the ending was not as important as the development of the story. I think the story aimed at discussing the progression of how a kid finally met her dad. The unfortunate fact that on the day of their reunion, the dad was spotted by his enemies. The whole conception of it I think was strong enough to carry the film. The actors made it even better. Nick Stagliano definitely did a good job in this.

I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell

This movie is based on the book, I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell, written by Tucker Max, who also co-wrote the screenplay of the film. The book enjoyed a significant amount of success, making it to the bestsellers list. The movie, however, received negative feedback as reflected by the reviews of the critics, and the box-office figures.

I completely understand now why other people hate Tucker Max. Hell, even he calls himself an ass. He isn't exactly a role model for the youth, or for anyone for that matter. But the thing is, I don't think he's trying to be one. He just shares his experiences, most of which are insulting to certain people. I guess, if ever you're gonna watch this film, or read his book, you should be open to the possibility that he doesn't live a conventional life. That there are things that will offend you. there are things you will find disgusting or inhumane. There are things that will not please you. But for now, I'll focus on the film itself; although it is hard to separate the content from the film.

Sure, it wasn't the best movie out there, but I think it was far from the worst. It was not as bad as its Wikipedia page made it seem. The way I saw it was it attempted to depict different issues or concerns in the lightest manner possible, tying it up with excessive and raunchy humor. I think the main theme of the film is relationship, whether building it or ruining it. It includes selfishness, hatred, infidelity, and lots of other things.

The film was as naughty as a film could get. It was filled with raunchy scenes and foul humor. Sometimes, it went a little extreme. There were nude scenes and there's no way the film could claim it was done for the sake of art.

The interaction of Drew and Lara was definitely one of the best parts of the film. It's dynamic and hilarious, with a little twist of sensitivity. The whole thing, from the scene where they met, to where it lead to was really interesting, considering their personalities and backgrounds. Drew was distant, cold, and overwhelmed by the recent events that had happened. Lara's character was, I guess, a perfect complement for him.

The other highlight was the scene in Tucker's hotel, specifically the one shot in the lobby. I was laughing so hard at that scene. That was the funniest part of the movie for me. Hands down my favorite part of the movie. That had me laughing for minutes. I guess the movie played it out to be the turning point, wherein everything that could go wrong already was going wrong. I think this was supposed to be the part where Tucker Max would finally feel the need for conversion.

I liked the ending. I would have been disappointed if the movie ended in another way. I liked how the characterization of Tucker Max was consistent until the end. That made me feel that the movie was coherent at least. I also want to say that the speech was very well-written, at least I thought it was.

I understand the criticisms of this film, or even the extreme hatred some people feel towards it. I fully understand. But I won't deny the entertainment value this movie has. It wasn't the best film. I wasn't even sure if it was a good film. But it had its entertainment value, and for me that was enough to sit through the movie and enjoy it. (Although, I would admit, that a couple of scenes were really nasty, both figuratively and literally)

Of course, I would have to say that this kind of film will not appeal to half the population of the world. The conservatives because this is a pretty liberated film, the religious because this film does not exactly depict morality, and all the people who are not very open-minded. I think I enjoyed the film to a certain extent because I kept my mind open. I didn't watch the film to be inspired, or to be moved. I don't think it was made for that. I think it was made to entertain, and I just took it that way.

There's a message in this story, and it's a pretty good one. It's a lesson about friendship and lifestyle. But, at the end of the day, this movie will be a comedy film, whose aim is to make people laugh. It made me laugh, and just because of that, I w'll say the movie is worth seeing. Go rent it out, if that is still a cool thing to do nowadays.

April 26, 2012

Keeping the Faith

I have mentioned the movie Keeping the Faith in my review of The Incredible Hulk (http://mrfilmreviewer.blogspot.com/2012/04/incredible-hulk.html) since Edward Norton also starred in this film. In fact, he also directed Keeping the Faith, which makes the whole thing a lot more interesting.

I first saw the movie back in High School, as I have mentioned, when it was shown in one of our religion classes (I went to a Catholic school). Re-watching the whole thing and looking back at it, I can understand why it was shown to us. It tackles a lot of things about religion. One, the difficulties of being a priest, the obstacles they go through, the feeling they may or may not suppress. It also presented the Jewish religion which I am not too familiar with. Inter-religion interaction, celibacy, friendships; this movie had so many themes in it but it all blended in perfectly. Nothing was out of placed, or forced. It flowed naturally and that's a clear sign the film had a clear direction.

The movie was hilarious. It reminded me why I, along with my classmates, liked this film. It was funny. Since it was released 12 years ago, the humor was a little different, and I guess it was a little refreshing to be reminded of how movies were like before. Today it's all about the effects, 3D big budget films. However, sometimes, all you need is the perfect combination of a well-thought out screenplay, a few equipment, and talented actors to produce a great film. I'm actually disappointed this movie did not do that well in the box office. It earned, but I think it should have gotten a lot more. This is quality movie!

The story revolves around friendship, the clash of religion and romance for the two religious leaders, the social norms and the restriction it imposes, and the interactions of different characters. This movie depicted a lot of scenarios that are very relevant and present today, I personally think.

I think it shows how we are being caged by the norms we have. Norms do have sense in them, and they serve as guides to how people should be. But I guess the film wanted to show that there times that the norms should guide us, and not direct us. We get caught up with a lot we-should-do-this-and-not-that that we sometimes lose the essence or the value it has. I'm not saying that religion should change. I'm just saying that religion should keep up with how fast society is changing. There things that don't and won't apply to our current society anymore, and a little change won't hurt. Maybe the film is showing us that there is nothing wrong with being a little open-minded. Again, I want to clear that I am not, in any way, attacking the Church. I'm just saying that we can all use a little thinking.

What I liked about this movie is how it chose to intertwine these two religions to create a romantic comedy film. As I have said, I don't see a lot of "rom-coms" but this one is probably one of the better ones out there. It had substance. It wasn't all about the romance, not all about the comedy, and not all about the romantic comedy. It is a romantic comedy discussing the romance side of a specific situation in a funny way.

This movie made me a fan of Edward Norton, and I continue to still be a fan of his. He's an amazing person, actor, director, and writer. He is one of the people I want to meet before I die because I really look up to him and his talent. I've also always been a fan of Ben stiller, and I personally think he's one of the best people in the comedy scene. He's funny, but he can also turn on the dramatic side and be a versatile actor. He never fails to deliver and that's an amazing characteristic. He always makes sure that he will make people laugh, or sad, or whatever he needs to do. I have to confess that this is the only Jenna Elfman movie I've seen. But this movie showcased her enough that I feel like I can make a correct judgment of her, and I have nothing but positive things to say. She was beyond phenomenal in this movie.

The title says "Keeping the Faith". I'm keeping my faith in this movie. I'm keeping my faith on the people who created this movie. I'm keeping the faith that whoever reads this will be persuaded that the movie is worth checking out. I assure you that you'll at least find it entertaining. Then again, I'm very easy to please. But go watch it.

April 25, 2012

Two After Noon

Two After Noon is a short written and directed by Wesley Chan, and produced by Wong Fu Productions. I've had the privilege to watch it several weeks ago, when they screened it for their Asia tour back in March. I've also wanted to do a short review of it, but decided not to since it wouldn't be uploaded yet. I just waited for WFP to upload it and now here it is.

To watch the video, you can click the link here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fh4Jict1Xko&list=UUutXfzLC5wrV3SInT_tdY0w&feature=plcp direct from WFP's channel.

To start off, I'd like to say that while watching this short, I kept thinking "This would be a really good full-length film." It had an interesting concept, had the right materials, a very well-written script. The short itself was nothing short of excellence. It was great in all levels.

The starting scene worked for me since it employed visuals and audio in such a calm manner. Within seconds, the premise of the whole short was given and the audience were invited to see how the idea would develop. That starting scene grabbed my attention and never let go.

The script was phenomenal. There was a subtle wordplay in every conversation, alluding to the events that were happening. It was funny, but it also had that kick that made my heart ache a bit (just a bit). The cinematography was also exceptional. Sure they only needed a wall, a car, a couple of chairs by the window for their set; but the way they utilized it was what impressed me the most. It just showed the level of craftsmanship that went to directing. It also helped that the actors were phenomenal. They delivered the lines, their chemistry was undeniable, and they both were believable.  I like how this was constructed to feel light (I think), and yet still have that power and emotion. I guess that's what Wong Fu Production's all about: making quality videos and delivering all the goods any viewer can ever want.

People will have different interpretations of any video or film or music or whatever. After all, we all come from different contexts, and we perceive things based on these contexts. For my own interpretation, I guess I saw different social elements being tackled in the 7 minute film. Chance meet-ups, that moment you meet someone and you're completely drawn to that person. I guess in 7 minutes it showcased the cycle of a relationship. The meet-up, the high of being together, developing feelings for each other, and in an unexpected moment, the realization that the possibility of heading towards different directions is very present.  We always meet people, we like most of them. We try to hang out with the people we enjoy being with. However, there are times when different paths will be laid in front of you, and each of you will take the path they want.

I also liked the positivity of this short, or the faith it has for humanity. I liked how the guy persuaded the girl that maybe something unexpected just happened which led to her date not arriving on time. I guess it's a hit on the way a lot of people think now, judgung people and assuming the worst in them. But this short shows that sometimes, we just have to have a little faith.

This short, although presented in a romantic manner, inspects different kinds of relationship. This can even portray one of friendship, and not of romance. We can all have our interpretations. However, no one can deny the level of artistry this short film possesses. This is a powerful, well-made film. It will be a shame to miss it (It's being shared for free! Grab the chance and watch it!)

The Avengers

There have been a lot of buzz about the Avengers, and for good reason. It proposes an extraordinary movie experience by combining different superheroes in one film. The individual films all managed to rake in considerable amounts of profit, and with The Avengers being released, one can assume that it will be even more successful.

Just a warning, this post may contain giveaways. I tried not to spoil anything, but if you find something on this entry, I'm sorry!

I was never a big comics fan, but even I anticipated the release of the movie, which is the reason why I saw it on the first day of its release. Here are my reasons: 1) Jeremy Renner is in this movie, and if you have been reading my blog entries, you'll know that I'm a big fan of his. 2) Cobie Smulders is also in this and I can tell you now that seeing Robin Scherbatsky transform to Maria Hill is probably one of the best parts of the film for me. I'm not used to seeing Cobie Smulders act this way, and it was interesting to see her versatility as an actress. And she holds a gun rather well. 3) I did a Marvel movies marathon in celebration of the coming success f The Avengers, and I was very pleased with each and one of them. 4) I get to see all these fantastic characters in one movie, and that is a cinema goldmine in my honest opinion. Witnessing Chris Evans, Robert Downy Jr, Samuel L. Jackson, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansonn, and more is probably one of my favorite film moments.

This movie had me the moment it started. First of all, I want to express my appreciation to how the film started as it focused more on the characters that weren't present in the previous Marvel films - Hawkeye (although he had a cameo in Thor) and Maria Hill. I guess, in a way, it allowed them to have their own shining moment before they were placed besides the big shot superheroes. It also allowed the audience to know who they were, and what their roles were in the movie. That was a slick move by Marvel, and that made me like this movie way before the action started.

I also liked how organized the movie presented each star. Starting with Agent Romanoff, played by Scarlett Johansonn. I think she was the next character to be featured because she only had a supporting role in the second Iron Man movie (My review of Iron Man 2 here: http://mrfilmreviewer.blogspot.com/2012/04/iron-man-2.html) Then the Hulk was presented, probably because the Incredible Hulk (http://mrfilmreviewer.blogspot.com/2012/04/incredible-hulk.html) was released in 2008, long before this movie. Then they showed Captain America, Iron Man and Thor. The sequence and coherence of how each character was presented was very well-thought out.

Allow me to do a quick run through of the cast since they were all exceptional. Jeremy Renner did not disappoint at all. He played both sides of his character with ease. Every time I see him, I am left in awe of  his talent. Cobie Smulders had the stern face almost throughout the film, but all she needed were her eyes. I never noticed it until now that she has very expressive eyes. She didn't have much lines that express her emotions but I always knew how she felt, whether it was anger, doubt, or sadness through the expression on her eyes.

Scarlett Johansonn was still hot as Agent Romanoff. I personally think that the character evolved and was much more dynamic. I also liked how Scarlett Johansson made me believe in the character more. I think she did an even better job portraying Romanoff in this film, probably because she had more screen time, more lines, and more interactions with the other characters (as she should).

Chris Evans still embodied Captain America. The way he portrayed the characted was very similar to how he did it in the first Captain America film (http://mrfilmreviewer.blogspot.com/2012/04/captain-america-first-avenger.html). I thought it was really cool to have that level of consistency.

Robert Downey Jr. was still hilarious. He had the best lines, much thanks to the way he delivered it. He also seemed a lot more intelligent in this film, if that is even possible. If I could trade lives with one of the characters, I'd pick Tony Stark for sure. Robert Downey Jr. just made the character a likeable one.

As you might have read in my previous blog entry on the Hulk, The Incredible Hulk was my favorite out of all the Marvel movies. Edward Norton was a beast, literally and figuratively, in his portrayal of the Hulk. I was a little worried I might not enjoy the sudden changes for the Hulk. However, Mark Ruffalo was plain awesome! Ruffalo as the Hulk just impressed me as much as I was impressed by Norton.

Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston were the perfect parallelism to the Cain and Abel story, except former's relationship is a lot more exciting. They are gods anyway (or at least one of them). Tom Hiddleston plays the villain with the perfect amount of conviction. He is the perfect villian for the whole gang of Avengers.

Samuel L. Jackson never ceases to amaze me with he films he does. He also plays Nick Fury in a very believable manner: bossy but vulnerable, caring but also cunning.

Having said all of these, the person that stood out the most for me was Clark Gregg as Phil Coulson. I've always liked the character but in this movie he quickly rose to one of my favorite characters. It was also good to see a couple of scenes centered around him. He's a supporting character, and he did just that.  I was also hoping Gwyneth Paltrow and Natalie Portman would return and I was so glad both of them were featured in the film.

I think what makes this film incredible is the fact that somehow it managed to grab the best parts of each marvel film and mix it into this heavenly creation. It had the quality of the script of Iron Man which I thoroughly enjoyed. It was funny, and it was also dramatic at the same time. It had wit, but it also had emotions. It had the cinematography and visuals of Captain America. It had the heart pounding moments similar to the Hulk. It gathered the best materials and the film became a one of a kind product. I also enjoyed the balance of showcasing all characters. I got enough of each character even though Iron Man and Captain America were there. The film managed to allow each character their own individual moments.

If that was not enough, they also managed to choreograph an hour's worth of intense battle with the evil forces. I think the best part of this long and fun-filled scene was the blocking. Each character got to interact with the other characters, fight side by side with different heroes. The use of space, horizontally and vertically, in this scene was very effective. I think it added more danger, and a lot more excitement.

Sorry for this rather lengthy post. There are a lot of things I could talk about and I could probably write triple this length, and it still would not depict the level of satisfaction I had after watching the movie. Worth the time, worth the money! It deserves all the hype it is getting. If there is a superhero film that will make it to the list of the greatest films of all time, I won't be surprised to see The Avengers on that list. I may even put money on it.

Personally, I want a Nick Fury movie showing how he trained Hawkeye, Romanoff, Coulson and Hill, and his other allies. That would be very interesting! That would bring the characters in the background in the foreground. This will also enable viewers to be more familiar with these characters. Maybe in the next Avengers movie, these characters will have a lot more screen time.

(If you liked this, you can follow me on twitter @sirfilmreviewer for updates about other film reviews. I also hope you can support me and spread this blog/entry.)

April 23, 2012

Iron Man 2

For some reason while watching Iron Man 2, I kept thinking I've seen a few of its scenes already, even though this was my first time watching it. I was so sure I had already seen the scene where Hammer brings Ivan in his office/lab. It bothered me a little but not too much that I didn't enjoy what I was seeing. Iron Man 2 is great in so many levels.

Out of all the Marvel movies created, I think Iron Man (both films) had the most entertaining script. I think it's because of the whole characterization of Tony Stark that allows script writers to play with different kinds of humor. In effect, they produce witty and hilarious dialogues. Other superhero films dazzle the audience with effects, visuals, romance and even social commentaries. Iron Man had all of those things and more; it had a well-written script to go with it, which was one of the reasons I thoroughly enjoyed both films. I, however, still stand by my opinion that The Incredible Hulk is still the best out of all the Marvel movies. (In case you want to know why, here is a link of my review for Hulk http://mrfilmreviewer.blogspot.com/2012/04/incredible-hulk.html) In saying this, I am not taking away anything from the Iron Man as it was impressive in its own.

Iron Man 2 follows the typical plot of a superhero movie. However, like I said in the previous paragraph, it had the script, and also the cinematography, to create something refreshing for the audience to see. It also helped that the action scenes weren't focused on one character since it also featured Natalie Rushman/Natasha Romanoff. Let me take this opportunity to say that Scarlett Johannson was badass in this film. She looked extremely hot doing those scenes. Some were a little bit placed and too rehearsed, but damn did she kick ass. I've always thought she looked too sophisticated to be in an action movie so seeing her beat the hell out of those men was a huge bonus for me.

Tony Stark's best pal was played by Don Cheadle. I don;t know why they changed actors between the two films (I haven't done my research yet), but I was absolutely fine with it because I have admired Don Cheadle's work, especially Hotel Rwanda. To see him in an Iron Man costume was definitely a highlight. I;m glad they kept Robert Downey Jr and Gwyneth Paltrow though. Let me say it now, I don't think anyone can play Iron Man better than Robert Downey Jr. I just can't think of a better actor to put on that Iron Man suit. He is the perfect one to play the character because he embodies the characterization of Iron Man. It also doesn't hurt that he has a natural ability to be sarcastic.

Both Iron Man films did well in the box office, which is not really surprising. It stars an appealing set of actors for its cast, has a brilliant team working on the screenplay, and also a talented group in-charged of its effects and animation. The dynamics of the people involved in this film must be great in order for them to produce two high quality films. Of course it also helps that Jon Favreau, who was also part of the film as Tony's bodyguard, is directing it. It still amazes me how this actor from FRIENDS turned into an incredible director as proven by the films he has made.

It goes without saying that Iron Man is a bankable character and I wouldn't be surprised if they come up with one or two more movies, excluding the Avengers. It has more than a billion dollars in revenue to excite the producers of this film to continue the franchise. As long as they maintain the quality of the first two films, I will gladly line up for those films.

April 22, 2012

The Incredible Hulk

In just a few days, The Avengers would be showing in thousands of theaters worldwide. To celebrate it, I have been watching films of the Avengers, and this particular entry would focus on The Incredible Hulk, released in 2008, starring Edward Norton, Liv Tyler and Tim Roth.

To start off, I realized that there were some parallelisms between Hulk and Captain America (my review of it here:  http://mrfilmreviewer.blogspot.com/2012/04/captain-america-first-avenger.html). For starters, they were created because of a desire to create a serum that would transform regular soldiers into super soldiers. The difference is that in the former, Hulk became a superhero because of a failure, while in the latter, Captain America became Captain America because he was formed to be him. Another parallelism is how they chose to end the films. I like how they decided to end the films, and emphasize the dramatic farewells of the characters. What made it touching, I guess, was the authenticity of the pain present in both endings; and for me it's always great to feel the genuine emotion that the scene calls for.

The start of the movie was very confusing for me, mostly because I wasn't all that familiar with the back story of the Incredible Hulk. Although it set the premise, the manner they did it was a little bit confusing in my opinion. It was disorganized, I felt, and was not coherent. However, as the film progressed it made a lot more sense to me. I completely understood it midway, which I though was very clever on the part of the filmmakers.

Once the actual movie started (the actually story how Bruce Banner was in South America), it just went uphill. It had just the right mixture of drama and action, with a little pinch of comedy. One reason why I liked this movie was because it featured two exciting chase scenes, and I love good chase scenes. I measure the quality of the chase scenes by how nervous I get for the one being chased (I know they're gonna escape, but there's still this sense of worry). The first chase scene was gold and the second was just as good.

I also enjoyed how they utilized the technology to produce effects, most notable in the last fight scene between the Hulk and Abomination. That was really good. I think most of the action scenes in this movie were great. I was literally on the edge of my seat, but I didn't care because I was really engaged to what was happening on my screen. If that's not a good sign of how I liked this movie I don't know what is.

I read that Edward Norton edited the script of the movie, which is actually impressive. I knew he directed because I remembered he directed Keeping the Faith. However, I didn't know that he also wrote/edited screenplays. Well, that worked well, I thought. The screenplay was nothing short of excellence as it was coherent and had a clear sense of direction to where the characters would be, what the characters would say, how the story would develop. Also, I also want to point out that even though the film had a romantic side to it, the dialogues didn't sound cheesy or forced. It was natural, huge thanks to the actors playing it.

I've seen a couple of Edward Norton's films, and when I found out he was going to play the Hulk, I wasn't too sure. I always saw him as a gentle, kind-hearted person in the characters he portrayed. I remember watching Keeping the Faith in our religion class when I was much younger, and I couldn't believe that the same person would be playing the Hulk. but to be honest, while watching the movie, I can;t think of a better actor to play Hulk. He was perfect for it and he did nothing less than capture the true persona of the Hulk. He was effective, believable and just plain awesome! It's a shame he wont be returning as the Hulk, because what he did in this movie is beyond commendable. It was also refreshing to see him in a character full of angst because, as far as I know based on interviews, for example, he's a calm down to earth person.

There's no use in talking about the cast because it was evident how all the actors delivered and made this film what it was - one hell of a great film! Liv Tyler (from Armageddon http://mrfilmreviewer.blogspot.com/2011/11/armageddon.html) Tim Roth, William Hurt as the general, Tim Blake Nelson and Ty Burrel were all amazing in this movie. I hope someday they will all work together again in one movie, although I know the chances of that happening is very slim.

Out of all the superheroes, Hulk is probably one of my least favorites. I have always thought he was one of the most destructive characters which made him less appealing to me as a kid. However, considering all factors, The Incredible Hulk has become one of my favorite superhero films, if not my all time favorite. After a confusing start, it developed and progressed in a very well-thought of manner. I could go on and on about how great the movie was because it really was. However, I don't think any length of this entry would do the fil justice, so you should just probably check this out.

It's a bummer that Edward Norton won't be returning as the Hulk for The Avengers movie, and any of the possible Hulk sequels. But Mark Ruffalo would do well in it as well so we can't complain.

April 20, 2012

Captain America: The First Avenger

Because The Avengers will soon be hitting theaters worldwide, I decided to familiarize myself with the characters and their stories. I've seen some of the movies, but haven't seen the rest. I'm going to start it off with Captain America: The First Avenger, because as the title says, he's the first avenger (although I'm not a big comics fan so I don't know if he really was the first avenger). By the time The Avengers hit theaters, I hope I'll be done with the others as well.

This film was filled with all the cliches required of a superhero film, and the cheesiness needed for a romantic film. It showed Captain America riding on top of a moving car and jumping into an aircraft like any other action movies. It also featured a romantic story between the protagonist and Peggy Carter, which reached its climax when she kissed him before he goes on and leap to the aircraft just as it was taking off. Captain America served a bowl filled with cliches we have all seen in a lot of the other movies. Yet, somehow, it worked.

I think the appeal of the movie, at least in my perspective, was the setting. 1940s, a critical time in our history as the second World War was happening. I have always enjoyed war films, not because of the bloodshed and violence, but because it is always interesting and refreshing to see how filmmakers, most of whom didn't experience the war itself, choose to interpret the events that transpired during the period. Its the historical background that grabs my attention. The difference in this movie is the presence of a superhero. Captain America mashed up history and reality with fantasy, mostly the latter, though.

The story was consistent and coherent. I don't think there were too much going on in one scene or too little. It always had the perfect balance. What I thoroughly enjoyed in the film is the humor. For a film set during the second world war about an unlikely soldier turned hero, the script writers managed to punch the viewers with witty remarks, and it made the film all the more enjoyable. It was serious and touching, but it also had those ha-ha moments, with the possible aim of lightening up the otherwise tense mood of the film.

The best thing about the film, in my own honest opinion, were the visuals it created and presented. How the soldiers were killed, the blood of the soldier who went straight through the propeller, The lighting of the cube, the effects of the gun. I could go on and on of how brilliant the visuals and cinematography were. The scenes were alive and the effects(mostly the execution of it) elevated the film. The whole time I kept thinking how amazing the special effects were.

I've been a supporter of Chris Evans long before he did this movie. I've seen some of his other movies, and I've always though he's a talented actor. His performance in this movie was no exception. Stanley Tucci, Sebastian Stan, and Hugo Weaving were absolutely brilliant. I'm looking forward to Stan's return. I read that he signed for 5-6 films so I'm sure this wouldn't be the last time we'd see him. Somehow, I didn't connect with Hayley Atwell in this movie. I can't pinpoint why but I just didn't. Maybe if I watch it again, I'd be able to do so.

This movie deserved the success it had in the box office. In the current state of the economy, films must be able to make the audience feel that the money they are spending are money well spent. I also read that critics gave the film positive feedback, which, again, is not surprising at all.

April 10, 2012

X-Men First Class

There have been talks about the next installment of the X-Men franchise, a sequel to the X-Men First Class, which made me decide to finally see the first one. I did see the first X-Men films but decided to just skip this one. That's probably one of the dumbest decisions. But hey, as the famous saying goes, "Better late than never."

I remember watching the cartoons when I was a little kid. In fact, I started re-watching it a few years ago to refresh my memory because I was starting to forget a lot of the details and characters. I didn't make it past episode 4 because I got busy with school and stuff. However, watching this film inspired me to continue re-watching it. I've always been a fan of the X-Men, both the concept and execution. I watched the first three X-Men movies, although only a tiny fragment remains in my memory. I remember it boasting an all-star cast including Hugh Jackman, Halle Berry and James Marsden. I don't remember a lot of it, but I do remember enjoying those films.

I'm not sure if I'm just saying this because I have just seen it, but X-Men First class was probably the best one yet. I didn't even notice the time. The movie's running time was 2 hours, but it didn't feel like two hours because it was packed with all sorts of things. It had action, drama, and more action. The movie grabbed my attention from the beginning and didn't let it go until the very end. I was continuously anticipating the next move of Professor X and Magneto.

It also straightened up a lot of things for me. How Magneto and Charles Xavier went separate ways, how Mystique suddenly went against Professor X's team; it showed the "history" of the X-Men as a whole. As pathetic as this may sound, this is the first time I found out about how Beast became Beast. So I guess the movie taught me some things as well. I don't read a lot of comics so I'm not completely aware of how the story developed in the comics. However, I think the movie was able to stand on its own, exploring the different backgrounds of the mutants. I just wish they showed a bit more of the other mutants.

The whole cast of the film gave strong performances. It was nice to see Jennifer Lawrence in a lighter role, especially compared to Winter's Bone and The Hunger Games. This is no exception to the "if James McAvoy is in it, it's probably good" assumption (but I've only seen a couple o his films to make that statement a certainty). The whole cast did a phenomenal job, especially in the action scenes. I read how they prepared for the scenes and I can only imagine how tough it was to shoot mid-air or to imagine the effects. Hugh Jackman's cameo was surprising but still awesome!

I am now looking forward to the next movie. I am hoping Jennifer Lawrence's stint in The Hunger Games will merit her a bigger role in the upcoming movie. I also hope it will be able to maintain the whole cast because I already like this group of actors. If this movie is any indication of the spectacle that the next movie will bring, movie-goers better prepare for a whole new movie experience.

April 09, 2012

Bridge to Terabithia

I don't usually start entries in this manner, but I'm just going to say it now; people should see Bridge to Terabithia. I know it's a children's movie, but I think even adults will pick up a thing or two from it. To start off, it's a really, really good film. I know I always say how easy it is to impress me, but this one is probably one of my top children's movies of all time, including animated films. That's how good this movie is.

It's a giant metaphor to a lot of things: the combination of the innocence of a child, the obstacles children go through, the vast range of our imagination, and a lot more. The characters of the two main protagonist in the film embody what being young is about. The fascination kids have for things they haven't seen, the longing to belong to a group of people (preferably the cool kids), the ambition to create a better living atmosphere - one that does not involve monetary problems, bullying, pain - their own Terabithia.

I think what made the film relatable was the fact that it portrayed real scenarios and real emotions. It showed how Jess longed for the affection of his father and I think everyone went to that phase where we wanted to get the approval of our parents and did not want to disappoint them. There was also infatuation and how it made us feel. Of course, there were also frustrations of being picked on, and having people not like you. We all wanted to impress, and most of us failed miserably at that. I also kept on re-watching the scene where Jess' told about what happened to Leslie, and the scene where his father talks to him in the forest. Those scenes were genuine, and those scenes, I would assume, were the scenes where emotions were provoked and contemplation started. Those two scenes were the standouts for me.

Of course this film wouldn't have worked if it didn't have the strength the cast had. Five people made this film that special because of the level of brilliance they showcased. AnnaSophia Robb, who also starred in Race to Witch Mountain, really is a great actress. She channeled a strong girl facing the challenges of being a kid. I read it somewhere that she wrote a letter expressing her desire to play the role of Leslie. I'm just happy that whoever got that letter took notice cause she was perfect in this movie. Just the perfect balance of weird and charming.

It's funny how in the two movies I've seen Josh Hutcherson star in, his characters are a little weaker than that of the female lead (Jennifer Lawrence/Katniss in The Hunger Games and AnnaSophia Robb/Leslie in Bridge to Terabithia). Setting that aside, knowing that the film was made when he was much younger made me envious to a certain degree. At a young age, he had the maturity to take on a role like this, a kid dealing with bullying, guilt and death. Not just that, he was actually believable in his portrayal of his character. I wish I was as talented as he is. He displayed a wide variety of acting in this movie, ranging from comedic scenes to intense drama. He managed to channel all these different feelings and translate it to the camera while still keeping it genuine. That's a clear sign of his talent.

Robert Patrick as Jess' dad just came out of nowhere. I personally didn't care for the character in the beginning, and just when the film was reaching its climax, he made the character matter. As I've mentioned before, one of the stand out scenes for me was when he was talking to Jess in the forest about death and hell. Seeing that scene was a little depressing actually, but that's just cause the two actors were doing everything right. The funny thing is, I have seen a few of his movies, but he only had a small role in those movies. It was nice to witness the caliber of his work.

Bailee Madison provided comic relief throughout the entire film. She was just too funny in this movie, and I meant that in the best way possible. She had this charm that is impossible to resist. At such a young age, she has shown that she is a capable actress. It was a delight to see her in the film.

Zooey Deschanel didn't get a very big part of the film but I loved seeing all her scenes. Her scenes were always fun and light, and like a breath of fresh air to an otherwise heavy atmosphere(in the school setting). I wish the film featured her more. I thought the scene when she went to the museum with Jess might be boring, but I was wrong. Then I realized it was impossible for it to be boring because Zooey Deschanel was in it.

It took me a while to digest this movie, probably because it hit me hard. It's a depressing movie, in a sense that I was able to relate to the problems featured in this movie.  It's that kind of movie that keeps you smiling and lets you have a great time before dropping this enormous bomb right in front of you. A big part of it was the fact that I didn't read the book and had no idea what it was about. I just knew that when I found out about it when I was in high school I wanted to watch it. (We were supposed to, but my friends and I weren't able to go through with it.) Seeing the story develop caught me a little off guard.

I probably am overselling it to some of you, but trust me when I say it is a good film. It may probably get a little confusing at times, especially the scenes in Terabithia, but sit through it and you'll appreciate it just fine. Terabithia encapsulates that utopia we all want and the film did an amazing job in utilizing that.

April 08, 2012

Salvation Boulevard

As part of my goal to see previous films of the cast of The Hunger Games, I decided to watch Salvation Boulevard, wherein Isabelle Fuhrman, who played Clove in The Hunger Games, had a role. I was choosing between Orphan or this, but decided on this cause I had no idea what the film was about.

It's a film revolving around religion which is always a touchy subject. I won't defend or attack religion. We all have different perceptions regarding the matter and I don't think it's relevant in discussing this film. I will just talk about the film which happened to revolve around this seemingly sensitive topic. In this film, Pierce Brosnan's character is a pastor who kills an atheist professor accidentally, and tried to cover it up by making it look like it's a suicide. (That's basically the premise of the film.) There are a lot of things we can examine in this premise. I came up with several, and to be honest, I don't know if I got it right.

I definitely liked it much more than I thought I would. I was not familiar with the movie at all so I had no expectations but it was a really fun movie. It had an all-star cast, which made it a lot more fun because the characters they were playing were very different to the ones we're used to seeing them play. I don't think it would appeal to some people for the simple reason that it's about religion. If you're not overly sensitive about the matter of religion, you might like it.

Let's start with Pierce Brosnan. I don't know about any of you, but I'm used to seeing him kick ass in movies, not spreading the word of God. He's James Bond! Of course he has played a lot of different characters, but for some reason I found it weird to see him praising God. That's probably cause my image of him immediately reads James Bond. He does religious very well though so I could live with that.

Jennifer stars as an overly religious lady to a point that her faith in God, and in the pastor, consumed her. She played it very well, I think. I don't know if its supposed to come off this way, but while watching the movie, I kept thinking her character was a psychopath (if she wasn't, she's pretty damn close to it). Maybe it is her own flavor or spin of how religious women act and think or an exaggeration of how people tend to act and think. I didn't mind it at all because her character made the movie entertaining. This is my first time seeing her in a comedy film, and I think she was hilarious.

Greg Kinnear played the protagonist in the film - the witness being attacked for accusing the pastor of killing the professor. The character seemed confused throughout the film, as he should, but I found that funny as well. He probably represents those who are in between, people who believes but are not exactly highly religious. Maybe he represents those who are confused. Just maybe.

Isabelle Fuhrman's character was probably my favorite, and not just because she's Isabelle Fuhrman. Her character showed skepticism and rationality against the so-called "blind faith." She cites scientific evidences to question the authenticity of the Bible stories, and ask them directly to the religious people. She's this witty and charming girl, and her character was very appealing. She's the anti-Gwen(Jennifer Connelly's character), and that balance read brilliance to me. She was able to question the religious subtly, which I think a lot of people do now. Its realistic but downright amusing.

I don't know what to make of this film. It's funny, dramatic, and seems like an attack on the Church. I'm not sure. When I watched the movie, the things I got were 1) religious leaders are imperfect 2) religious leaders can be involved in a massive deception and 3) religion can break relationships. I wish I knew what it meant. I don't wanna claim that I do. To be honest, even if I did get it right, I'm not sure what to say next as well. If it does attack religion, then I guess I'll have to commend it for tackling a very sensitive issue in today's society. Maybe's its a one big social commentary on religion. (I'm just voicing out possibilities.)

There were so many religious undertones that I could no longer sense whether it's meant to support religion, or if they're just making a huge parody of religion. I'm thinking the latter mainly because of the impressions I got while watching it. It's not an explicit attack on the Church, but maybe more on the people who let go of rationality because of their faith. Maybe what the film is trying to say is that we all have our beliefs and religious views, but there are also truths to be recognized and occurrences that call for a rational thinking.

All I can say is that it was highly entertaining for me. It's not your typical movie for sure but I guess it wouldn't hurt to sit through it. I haven't seen reviews or opinions on the film. I'm sure some would bash the film for several reasons; but I don't even care. I think this film has entertainment value (as I've said before, I am easily amused) and haters should at least recognize that.

April 06, 2012

Winter's Bone

As stated on my previous entry, I am watching films done by the cast of The Hunger Games before any of them landed a role in the smash hit. I wanted to see how these actors were before; and to be honest, I am enjoying it. It's been fun seeing how these people have changed and evolved to who they are now.

Winter's Bone is the film that brought Jennifer Lawrence to prominence after receiving an Academy Award nomination last year. It's no surprise. Jennifer Lawrence is one of the most talented and believable actresses in Hollywood today. She has the potential and talent to surpass the stars we are looking up to now. She portrayed a very different character in Winter's Bone. The only similarities I can spot between the two characters I've seen her play (Ree Dolly and Katniss Everdeen) were the toughness and the drive they possessed. It's probably cause of the two different premises the films revolved in.

Jennifer Lawrence is able to trigger emotions from viewers, at least in my experience. I felt her struggles as I accompanied her through her journey in search for her missing father. I felt the agony and pain when she was beaten by a group of women. I saw the pain when she was brought to her father. I was on the edge of my seat throughout the movie, anticipating what would happen to her, what would happen to their house, will she succeed. Lawrence has a way of making her eyes do the acting, and it's not just about the tears. Her eyes can portray sadness, worry, fear, disgust, and anger. There was one particular scene when she was talking to the bondsman; and this scene was so striking to me. The way she told the man of how searching for her father inside the house would not only be a waste of time but would also piss her off. This is a very minor detail, but it was a highlight for me cause it was when i got shills just looking Lawrence's reaction. The way she stared the man, the way she said her line - it was all perfect. I think what makes it more amazing is the fact that I've seen lots of her interviews, and she has this fun, bubbly personality. The fact that she can shut that off and channel a totally different persona is just amazing, mostly because she does it so well.

The movie showcased a strong, stellar cast. I have absolutely no idea who the actors were with the exception of Jennifer Lawrence, the main reason I watched Winter's Bone and Garret Dillahunt, who I've seen in a couple of movies (I also know he stars in Raising Hope but I don't watch it). So far I've enjoyed everything I've seen from Garret Dillahunt. I first saw him in the movie "Amigo," a film by John Sayles starring Joel Torre, a Filipino actor. I hated Dillahunt's character as first, but was amazed by him halfway through the film. He was really good in that movie, very genuine and very interesting. Then I saw him in Burning Bright starring Briana Evigan, a movie I also enjoyed. Now, Winter's Bone has proven that he really is a great actor. Maybe I should start watching Raising Hope to see a different side of this actor in a comedy show. Lauren Sweetser also gave a strong performance. She embodied the perfect confidant.

The biggest surprise for me, I guess, were the two kids. These kids got skills in acting. The little girl seems a bit stiff in some parts of the movie, but that was just part of her charm. Both kids displayed their potentials as actors and have the ability to go big. Hopefully they will.

Winter's Bone was different that the films I usually watch. If Lawrence wasn't in it, I probably would never even consider watching the film. I've always found heavy drama movies less appealing than comedies, or feel good movies. The movie got nominated for several Academy Awards, and for good reason. The film was exquisite. It was a strong movie with a charming storyline of a struggling heroine. It featured a competent cast who delivered. The cinematography was also well-balanced. I will not be surprised if one day this movie ends up in the American Film Institute's list of top films. I don't know if that will happen. However, if it does, I will understand why. People who have seen the film will.

From the very beginning the atmosphere created by the film was very tensed and melancholic. What I loved in the beginning of the movie was how the first few scenes established the situation of the characters. It provided the problem to be tackled, the characters involved, the storyline the film will follow. It was well thought out, and carefully planned.

I liked the visuals of the film. The shots they used in the film were captivating and captured the essence of the film. The poverty surrounding Ree Dolly's and her struggle to make ends meet were reflected by the scenes found in the movie. The visuals were supported by the audio which I also appreciated. The sound effects and background music the film produced just provided an exciting feeling. The scene where Lawrence was chasing the big boss made my heart beat together with the beats on the background.

Another thing that's so good about the film is how they incorporated social commentaries in the film. Poverty, violence, drugs. and a whole lot more. It tackled issues relevant to today's society, and I think that part of the film was excellent. The film orchestrated in a manner that will relate to the people seeing the film. Ree Dolly epitomizes the persona of those marginalized people; those who suffer in today's chaotic society.

Overall, I completely understand the acclaim the movie received. For a film with a budget of 2 million dollars (according to Box Office Mojo), I had an even better viewing experience than some of the multi-million dollar films. The simplicity of the film was engaging, to say the least. It's one of those movies I'll think about and think "I'm glad I saw that film."

April 05, 2012

Race to Witch Mountain

As part of the awesomeness of The Hunger Games, which became my most viewed entry (thanks to people all over the world), I decided to watch previous films of the stars of Hunger Games. I was supposed to start it off with Winter's Bone, the independent film that showcased the brilliance of Jennifer Lawrence. However, things didn't go as planned (it's a long story) and I decided to start with a movie that stars one of the other tributes, and lead villain, Race to With Mountain starring Dwayne Johnson, AnnaSophia Robb and Alexander Ludwig, who played Cato in The Hunger Games.

I found the title weird, only because I didn't feel like it was a race to Witch Mountain. I got the idea but the title didn't quite match the story, or at least how they got to Witch Mountain. There were also scenes that were anti-climactic. But these were very little and does not affect the entertainment value of the movie as a whole.

I felt mixed reactions on the film. Majority of it was really good, with some parts that didn't sit too well with me (mostly because of preferences). As a whole the movie was entertaining, without a doubt. I had a smile on my face the entire movie. It's funny, witty, engaging, exciting, everything a kid's adventure film should be. It had the perfect mixture of a definite storyline, great cinematography, and a talented group of actors.

Anna Sophia Robb was a delight! Sweet and innocent, yet feisty. She's a really great actress. Part of the list I have is Bridge to Terabithia, a film that starred AnnaSophia and Josh Hutcherson, who played Peeta in The Hunger Games. Now, more than seeing a THG star in his previous work, I'm more excited to see AnnaSophia tackle another character. I think she's one of those actresses who can really embody the character's persona (she played an alien in Race to Witch Mountain!!) She's charming, but she also has the talent to back her up.

Had I not known that Alexander Ludwig was one of the leads, I wouldn't have recognized him. It wasn't just his appearance but also his acting performance, his register to the camera, his delivery of his lines. He has definitely evolved, which is saying a lot since he was already that good in Race to Witch Mountain. It is good to see a great actor improve and be even better as seen in his performance in his latest project.

I wish Carla Gugino had more screen time. She was amazing and pretty badass too. But whatever time she had in the movie, she made sure the audience noticed.

Dwayne Johnson looked awkward in some parts of the film. Other than that, he was good. The action scenes were well suited for a person like him who came from a wrestling background. He is a bankable actor too. I found out that his movies, well, most of them, earned significant sums of money. There were only a couple that didn't quite make a hit. Race to Witch Mountain did well in the box office, as it should since it really was a very entertaining movie.

I remember wanting to watch the movie when it came out back in 2009, but didn't get the chance to because I was a little kid with limited money. I sort of regret not seeing it on the big screen only because I believe I would appreciate the effects and scenes a lot better. Having said that, I had a great experience watching this movie.