January 27, 2013


The main reason I decided to check out this film was the fact that Jason Statham was the star of it. I've said it  several times that Jason Statham is my favorite actor when it comes to action movies. He's just excellent at it.   Whenever he's fighting, I recognize the power and tension. It always looks legit and authentic. His performance in Parker was no different. He brought his game, added stunts and blood to it as well. He definitely showed that he still had what it takes to beat the hell out of those he could not consider his friends. That's the way it should be done.

Parker was an action-heist movie. At first I thought it would be an action-romance movie mainly because of the presence of Jennifer Lopez, but it wasn't. While it had some bits of romance and kissing, it was mainly a shoot and kill kind of movie. That's actually a surprise I gladly welcomed. Jennifer Lopez's character didn't serve as a love interest for Statham, she became an accomplice. I know what you're thinking, JLo with guns?  Yup, it happened. It's not a bad thing either. Actually her role here is quite different from her other roles I think. She wasn't just a pretty face here. She was a serious actress portraying a woman scared of her financial status. It was more drama for her character than charm. That was refreshing to see and she made sure she delivered.

In terms of story, I'd say it was a little bit general. The main story revolved around getting back at those who wronged Statham. (Why would you do that though? The guy can kick anyone's bottom) It started with a heist gone wrong and now he's back with nothing but his desire for revenge, and a little plan to take what the others took from him. Thus started a series of spying, and careful planning leading to his meeting with a real estate agent, Lopez. With the latter being in need of money, she volunteers to help Statham in whatever he was doing in exchange for a tiny portion of what he could earn.

The movie also enjoyed the brilliant performances of actors like Michael Chiklis and Clifton Collins Jr. Both of them were part of the gang that double crossed Statham's character. Chiklis was stern and firm in his portrayal as the leader. He definitely showcased himself in this movie, I thought.  Also proving to be an asset to the movie was Emma Booth who not only looked beautiful but also served as a mild gentle air to an otherwise passion filled movie. Nick Nolte also deserves a mention. The old guy still managed to reinforce his presence in the movie without doing much. The guy was great. 

I guess Statham's performance was what carried the movie for me. Although Lopez was just as impressive. I personally think that the story line of the movie was too general to gain buzz, or to have the advantage of word of mouth. It also wouldn't help, I think that it's not getting the box-office attention it wants. It was quite enjoyable though. A nice break, if you will. I personally found myself amused by different things and it solidified Statham's status as one of the best action stars. The action scenes were delightful, and the story line quite entertaining, especially with a few punch lines here and there. Statham and Lopez made a good tandem, and made the movie as charming as it could possibly be. 

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January 21, 2013

The Last Stand

Nope, this isn't about the third X-Men movie. This one was more graphic, gory, and much bloodier. This Last Stand featured the return of Arnold Schwarzenegger in a leading role. He's done a few films recently but only as a supporting character. Get ready though, looks like he's back in the movie-making game, with several new movies lined up, according to IMDB. Also part of the cast Johnny Knoxville,  Rodrigo Santoro, Zach Gilford, Forest Whitaker, Genesis Rodriguez, Jaimie Alexander, Daniel Henney, Luis Guzman, Peter Stormare, and Edward Noriega. And let me tell you, the supporting cast for this film was plain amazing. Special mention to Zach Gilford, Jaimie Alexander and Edward Noriega. These three were really standouts in the film. Superb performances.

At first, I thought, it's not quite as good if I'll be completely honest; at least during the times no one was shooting, driving, killing another human being. The down times of the films were a little bit boring, not much happening and it was difficult to stay focused on the film. Especially the first part. Just to illustrate how dragging it was, when I felt I needed to use the restroom, I didn't feel the need to hurry back to the cinema. I took my time to casually walk to the restroom and back. Normally I wouldn't do this as I think it's a waste of money to miss even a minute of the film. However, not much was going on during that time that I knew I wouldn't be missing a lot. When I got back, I asked what I missed, and from the sounds of it, I was right on the money: nothing.

It did get better though. Much better, actually. Things started to look up. It began to take up speed and maintain a rather impressive pace. I thought the movie started moving along (it took a while, but it did get there). I thought the employment of various sub-plots finally worked. It started to be a little exciting. I guess the moment everything was pieced together was also the time the movie took off for me. The drama surrounding it was effective, the action scenes definitely provided great support for that story arc. The mood changed, for the better, and it took the movie to a new level. The atmosphere was filled with tension, and I couldn't help but feel the increasing interest in the movie. It still had some of those down moments here and there, but for the most part, the latter part of the movie worked well.

What I would say, however, was how this movie got everything right on the action scenes. The shootouts, the car chasing, the fist-fighting. This movie was golden in that aspect. As a person who truly enjoys action films, I was really satisfied with what I saw. The weaponry and the cars they used were nothing less than magnificent. Of you're a car enthusiast or obsessed with guns, you might enjoy that aspect of the film. This was a very well-choreographed action sequence. I enjoyed how daring the movie was when it took out the big toys. I appreciated how realistic, while also gruesome, the shootings were. I totally got into the danger of capturing one psychotic guy. I really have no complaints about the action element of the film. I thought it was fantastic.

I'm a little mixed in this film. At one point I started thinking it was a waste of money, then later found myself smiling, getting giddy about what I was witnessing. The film definitely had faults. Maybe more than what I would have liked. But, the film definitely deserves credit for being (eventually) entertaining, dangerous and action-packed. It had its own merits too, merits that I wouldn't deny. By the end of the movie I was really getting into it, participating in the awesomeness that was the last stretch of the movie. The final battle, the final sequence when everyone was bringing everything they got. That part of the film was true, beyond question, entertainment.The film redeemed itself for sure.

What I'm not mixed about though was how brilliant the supporting characters were, especially the deputies of the small town. Their characters provided hilarity to the film. The interactions, dialogues were comical that it added value. It also surprised me how they were able to transform themselves from funny people to serious characters. How they were able to embody the emotions required. That was some acting they did there. The cast was part of the "redeeming" qualities of the film. They were just, plain and simple, great.

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January 15, 2013

Silver Linings Playbook

I initially intended to put up my Lincoln review first, but I decided to go ahead and write about Silver Linings Playbook. This has been one of my most awaited films for the simple reason that Jennifer Lawrence was in it. Then the excitement grew stronger when I started reading positive things about the film. It even made it me more curious when I found out people are expecting Silver Linings Playbook to make it to the Oscars (and we all know, it did). There's just something about people talk about it, express their opinions on it that made me think "Wow, this must be really good." At the same time, there's the trepidation that it might not be as good as I'd expect, especially since my expectations had started to build up.

I really don't know how to categorize this movie. It's considered to be a comedy, and while it was, it's also very dramatic. It's not the in-you-face comedy. It's subtle and mild. It's quirky which makes it funny. I loved the ticks they created for the characters. Their characterization itself paved the way for humor, but it was the subtlety in the dialogues that made me appreciate the sly humor the movie had. I think what happened was they tried to take something so serious, so far out of the realm of comedy and managed to transform it to something positive. Yeah, sure it's about depression and people having a hard time coping with it. It's about the poor decisions people make when they go through tough times. But somewhere there, we can all find something ridiculous about it laugh about it. And at the end of the day, after shedding some tears and breaking some glasses, we find something good about it, and we can transform it to something beautiful.

At the same time I liked how in touch these characters were with the story, with their lives, with their tragedies. How do you find peace between a violent man with some serious anger management issues and a woman who turned herself to a slutty girl one her husband died? But the story explored that journey and took me with them. The highs and lows, the good and the bad. Chasing for something you really want then questioning whether you still want that. It was that conflict that created this dynamic interaction and made the movie work. That's simply it. The chemistry the two had, the perfect amount of dramatization they had for these two, every was so right on the money. David O. Russell just knew how to make the perfect mix.

For something so simple, everyone involved in the movie made it extra appealing. It was quirky and quite a bit of fun. Having Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence dance didn't hurt either. I thought their dance scene was one of the highlights of the movie. Good job to them by the way for doing that. I guess it helped that the person who adapted the screenplay also directed the movie because I'm sure he already had the vision for the movie. He knew where to take it and what to do with it. Judging from the final product, I'd say Russell executed every single one of his plans perfectly. It was a very well-crafted film designed to touch people's hearts and make them laugh all at the same time.

To be honest, I never thought the star of Hangover would be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor. It just never crossed my mind. I must admit I was a little shocked when he got nominated but after seeing his performance I threw all my doubts out of the window. He was excellent as a disturbed young man.  Jennifer Lawrence was nothing less than superb as the troubled young widow. She was effective and showed a real performance. It's even a greater pleasure to know that her efforts to portray a character so out of her league, and so different from her was rewarded. Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper were insanely good in the movie. Both of them stepped out of their usuals to deliver some of their best performances to date. It was also great to see an amazing supporting cast including the awesome Robert De Niro. He was magnificent! Enough said. Jackie Weaver, Chris Tucker, John Ortiz and Julia Stiles were also great additions to an already exceptional film.

I didn't realize at first how much I liked it. Then I found myself constantly looking back to the movie, the events that happened, the stand-out scenes, the story in general. The more time that passed, the more I realized how much I really liked the movie. I couldn't stop thinking about it even hours after seeing it. There's this sensation that seemed to live in me, that kind that made me want to rush back and watch it again. It was absolutely enjoyable to see two stars feed off of each other's talent to make each scene as powerful and as memorable as it can be.

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January 13, 2013

Zero Dark Thirty

I really like Jennifer Lawrence, and has always rooted for her to win the Best Actress award in the Academy Awards this year. I'm just a huge supporter and I wanted her to get this one since she was only nominated last time. However, watching Zero Dark Thirty made me think I wouldn't be disappointed to see Jessica Chastain win the award either. I was fond of her in The Help, but her performance in the movie really just placed her in another level. She's the one who people are thinking will take home the prize, and if she does, I'd be satisfied as well. Although I'm still not counting out Lawrence cause she definitely has a huge chance to win it too. I just wanted to say that before I started writing about the movie.

The movie had a very controversial background, theme, and plot. It's about the capture and death of one of the world's leading enemies. I guess that in itself would really stir some attention and curiosity. It had a dramatic scenery as a background, a horrific event to start the ball rolling: the 9/11 attacks. People all over the world became aware of the tragic incident and it's one of the most shocking events in history. This was the starting point of the movie, the pursuit of the United States of America to capture take revenge, I guess, to the people who attacked their country. Also, to prevent future attacks not only theirs, but in other countries as well. It was a movie about trying to keep the world a safer place in a way. Of course we can't count out personal vengeance in the process.

What I liked about the film was the honesty. I can't say for certain that its been completely, 100 percent accurate. Nobody can except for the select few who actually got involved in the mission. However, I did enjoy the idea that the film acknowledged some flaws of the US military, including the depiction of how much torturing happened during the time of their hunt. I guess I interpreted it as the movie reflecting that they too were involved in inhumane acts, which they can argue was forced by circumstances. Whatever their rationalization might have been, they laid it out there for people to see that they took up some measures not very morally upright. That acknowledgement, I thought, was genuine. Aside from that, I thought, and still hope, that the movie stayed true to the actual events as much as possible.

I also liked the sequencing of events. How one thing leads to another, and how another thing triggers another. I liked how Bigelow directed the entire thing; well almost. Aside from a couple of scenes I didn't think were as important as the others, I thought the directing of the entire movie was absolutely impeccable. It was clean, it was clear and it was easy to follow the story and feel the emotions. There's a vibe that signaled the viewers where we were exactly. It's dramatic, a bit humorous, and very, very passionate.

I really liked the passion it had. The passion oozing out of all the characters, the anger and determination to even just locate the whereabouts of the enemy. It was real. Special mention to Jessica Chastain for that scene with his boss. I won't give too much details, but that scene was very powerful, I thought. It made sure the audience members would feel every, joy, pride, frustration, and loss. It had a great mix of distinct performances that I really enjoyed. Not only that, I also liked how mildly intense the final search was. The canaries on the target's land, literally just several feet from the leader of the group. The scenes of how they searched house were just contrasting. On one side you got soldiers shooting the people inside the house, but at the same time, trying to calm the children down. That contrasting images show the conflict of what it must have been like for the soldiers to be placed in that situation.

Bigelow sure had an amazing cast to work with. I've praised Jessica Chastain's performance throughout this post, but it is also worth mentioning a few more people. Jennifer Ehle, Jason Clarke, Chris Pratt, Kyle Chandler, and Mark Strong. All these people had great performances. Jennifer Ehle's story line was even a driving force for Jessica Chastain's character to locate and kill the target. Jason Clarke as Chastian's partner really provided support and substance to the initial progress of the hunt. Chris Pratt and Taylor Kinney, although only shown in the last part of the movie, still stood out as Navy SEALSs. It was rewarding to see passioante, powerful performances from all these actors who made sure that the audience would enjoy a quality film.

People are starting to bet that Zero Dark Thirty would win Best Picture and Best Director. Personally, I don't want to get involved in that mix too much since all the movies nominated that I've seen have been all impressive. Ayone could take it home. Although I would say that I'm still rooting for Affleck for his work in Argo. Coincidentally people have been comparing Argo and Zero Dark Thirty. Both were incredible and we should all celebrate the fact that we are all lucky to enjoy such films.

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January 12, 2013

Life of Pi

Of all the movies I've seen, I think this is the time my expectations were almost all wrong. For starters, I really had no idea of the movie. I've heard of it before but never knew the story, never knew the characters, not even the tiger. Then when I heard about the movie, I still wasn't able to familiarize myself about the story, except that there was a tiger involved. Then I thought the whole movie would be on sea with just the boy and the tiger (I didn't figure out that Pi was the name of the boy). I thought the setting will be this just small frame, a small part of the sea, but I couldn't have been more wrong. And although I'm a fan of restricted settings, sort of like Buried, I didn't think I would like the movie. Not that I didn't like the idea of it, it was more of being indifferent towards it.

I was really surprised by how much I enjoyed the movie. Like I said, I didn't expect to like the movie, but after seeing it, it was just unexpected. I appreciated it and found myself incredibly surprised by how much I really got into it. I appreciated several elements in the film. I appreciated the actors. I appreciated the story even more. It was a bunch of spectacular ingredients that made the movie just exquisite.

For starters, I really enjoyed the fact that the movie was somehow humorous. Right from the beginning, it shattered at least some expectations about how heavy the movie was going to be. At least for me who had absolutely no idea what the movie was about. But I really liked the fact that I was laughing and already enjoying myself from the beginning. How he got the name, how he got the nickname, how he struggled at school, how he grew up with different religions, and much more. It was that freshness and lightness in the beginning that drew me into the movie. The conversation of the writer and Pi made escalated it even just with their exchange of words. The dialogues were clear and it drove the story very well.

Then the shipwreck happened and it became more serious. They didn't stop with the humor but it definitely got serious, dramatic, and well, still surprising. The cinematography of the shipwreck was tragic and breathtaking at the same time. It was like Titanic meets Cast Away really. Except this time there were animals involved. And this time, instead of a volleyball, the kid got a tiger to keep him company. But the interaction between those two have been a roller coaster ride. It added danger to the trip, as if being stuck in a small boat in the middle of the Pacific wasn't scary enough. It elevated the hardships, the fear, the loneliness experienced by the kid. It's even hard to know that the kid just lost his family, everything he knew, and right after he had to fight for his own survival. How do you find time to grieve while fighting for your life.

The start of his life on the boat was already dangerous when a mad hyena was running around the boat. Then the tiger appeared and it all changed. How do you live with a vicious creature, one that is on a confined space with you with nothing to eat. The concept of it, however absurd it may seem, was actually very effective I thought. How you use your resources while keeping not only  your self but also a tiger alive. But the way he managed to do so is not only impressive but also commendable. It was a real portrayal of courage and hope, which I think the movie was all about. As it said more than once, never give up hope.

I was absolutely stunned by how great the actors were in this movie. I didn't know anyone of them (but I'm sure I will be seeing more of them pretty soon), and I know that this was the first acting experience of Suraj Sharma. But man was he good. He wasn't without flaw, but for a newcomer he was really good. Ang Lee definitely made a good choice to take the kid. In fact I like the fact that Lee didn't want superstars for a film of this caliber. Lee chose to showcase the potential and talents of newcomers, and I like the idea of the hope that this movie will create new superstars, just like Sharma. Rafe Spall, although a supporting character in the movie, was also note-worthy as he depicted his scenes as a writer, and more importantly, as a listener to Pi's story. I knew Tobey Maguire was supposed to be the one for the role, but Lee re-shot the whole thing with Spall. Not a bad choise either. Irrfan Khan was definitely a star of the movie. As the adult Pi, he managed to hold on to the emotions Pi had as a teen. The sense of hope was present in character, without a doubt.

Life of Pi was an magnificent movie. As of now, you probably have heard of the Oscar nominations and the movie earned 11 nominations, and Lee is up for Best Director, and the movie is up for Best Picture. I have yet to see the other contenders but Life of Pi deserves the recognition it got from the Academy. It has grossed almost 300 million dollars worldwide, and I think it will get even more, with the Oscar buzz, and also through its opening in other markets. I wish the movie the best of luck, for only the surprises it had for me. I absolutely enjoyed it.

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January 06, 2013

Man On A Ledge

First of all, happy new year to everyone of you! Here's to a movie filled 2013! Hopefully that means more time to write as well!

Not a lot of people paid attention when Man on a Ledge movie came out. To be honest all I knew about the movie was that Sam Worthington, Elizabeth Banks and Jamie Bell were in it. I never saw the trailer, never saw anything about it on the internet, didn't read the plot. I basically had almost no idea about the movie. I did however know that it didn't do that well in the box office and critics weren' too impressed by it. I'm not usually affected by these but a successful film definitely raises my curiosity. However, a few days ago, I came across the trailer of the movie on the net and was drawn to it by the storyline. I thought the movie would be all about the man on the ledge and that it would be the only setting of the movie. I was surprised to find out that this wasn't the case at all.

Let's do the introduction to the film, shall we? Man on a Ledge was a 2012 action, thriller movie starring Sam Worthington as the man on ledge, Elizabeth Banks, Jamie Bell, Edward Burns, Anthony Mackie, Genesis Rodriguez, Titus Welliver and Ed Harris. It was directed by Asger Leth (I don't think I've seen any of Leth's other movies if there are, but I'd gladly check them out). It was written by Pablo Fenjves. It earned more than 46.2 million dollars on a 42 million dollar budget, enough to recover the costs. After watching the film however, it became a little puzzling why it didn't take off as much.

The main plot of the story revolved around a man who was desperate to prove his innocence from the allegations that he stole a 40 million dollar diamond. After escaping from prison, he checked in a hotel, apparently ready to commit suicide. Unknown to the public, this was a distraction to enable his brother and his girlfriend to prove his innocence by, surprisingly, stealing the diamond. I liked this twist in the story, I liked the idea behind it and I thought it was really clever. It was a little unexpected on my part who had a very different idea of the film. It was a very good surprise though because it enabled the film to incorporate action, thrill and heist elements to the story. It added spice and it added danger.

All these elements made the film exciting. It all started with the question of whether or not the man will jump. Then it became about will he prove his innocence. Will the people around him help him achieve his goal. It shifted and that's what I liked about it. I think the idea behind it was the best part of it, distracting the crowd by coming off as a man ready to die, while other people were getting ready for the dirty job of stealing a diamond that would eventually prove his innocence. It was amazing and very intriguing. The plot just kept getting better for me, and the ending literally made me hold my breath. The actual ending was a bit anti-climactic in a way that they managed to build up the hype and the ending was just too simple. But it was satisfying nonetheless.

Sam Worthington, who has become a huge start after hit movies like Avatar and Clash of the Titans, didn't fail to impress in this movie. He held his own ground, figuratively and literally. He portrayed innocence all throughout which was the perfect expression for a man in that situation. It was also really amazing to see Elizabeth Banks in a role like this. It was very different from what we normally see from her which really escalated her abilities as an actress. It was a great chance to diversify herself, and she definitely took the chance. Jamie Bell and Genesis Rodriguez had an undeniable chemistry. They were the fun couple who brought the laughs on an otherwise tension-filled scene. They were as charming as they can be, with a hint of toughness. A very good combination. Edward Burns also managed to stand out even though he only had a supporting role. He was firm, but also funny. He was tough, but also kind. He was really able to capture the necessary expressions and emotions required for each scene.

It really was a decent, even good movie. It's a shame it didn't have as much as a following as it should. Although from the looks of it, people are starting to watch it now, at least in my circle of friends. I hope more people will take notice of the movie, and spread the word. It's an amazing story to tell, made even better by quality performances by the actors and actresses involved in it. The crew of this movie showed how hard they worked for the movie by the extremely detailed portrayal of the plot.

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