Tag Archive for 'Review'

Toy Story 3

Pixar, for the second year in a row, has made it into the Best Picture Nominees with an animated film, Toy Story 3. This is now only the third animated film to ever be nominated for Best Picture. First it was Beauty and The Beast in 1993, and the second time was with Pixar’s Up.

The deep and complex story of Toy Story 3 appeals to the academy awards but at the same time, it is still has a simple family friendly story that children love. The duality of the story really shows the level of care and quality Pixar puts into everyone of their films. When announcing a third in the series, it brought fear to many people including myself, but clearly Pixar pulled it off.

The story starts with Andy growing up and no longer needing his toys. Very sad moments. Something bought melting to death. I cried. A new little girl. I cried more. Credits.

It goes without saying that the advancements of technology are really noticeable with Toy Story 3. It is very interesting to compare the latest film to Toy Story 1 (1995) and to Toy Story 2 (1999). Each a great distance from each other, that they show good benchmarks of how Computer Generated Images have advanced over time.

In the end, Toy Story 3 is a really had film to judge. There are just so many factors to think about. For starters, its the third in a trilogy, with the first two considered two of the greatest films in movie history. I will really need to watch all three again to truly compare. Then you have to compare Toy Story 3 to the award winning collection of Pixar films, not to mention the entire film history of animated films. And now, since its nominated Best Picture, it is compared to nine other live action films. Not matter what way you look at it, Toy Story 3 is a very unique film that is hard to compare too.

5 out of 5

The Social Network

The Social Network is a little indie film that not many people have heard of. It is biographical drama of the creation of a small website which has very few people, who only write and post images of their boring uninteresting lives, known as The FaceBook.

The film stars Jesse Eisenberg as Mark Zuckerberg, also known as CEO Bitch. They look so much alike but actually act much different. The real life Zuckerberg is more awkward and avoids the spot light. Eisenberg portrays Zuckerberg in a more interesting way, which I feel fits better for the film. More like a smart, fast talking, out going and power hungry mastermind super villain. Zuckerberg’s best friend Eduardo Saverin is played by Andrew Garfield, also known as Spider-Man. The meat head villains of the film, Cameron Winklevoss and Tyler Winklevoss, are both played by the multiple take friendly Armie Hammer. And by their side is the real life Divya Narendra played by Max Minghella, who are both ironically known as “Never heard of this guy before”. And finally, Justin Timberlake plays Sean Parker, the once co-founder of Napster. I find the casting choice for this interesting (Besides the fact that its Justin Timberlake) because Timberlake must have lost money due to file sharing of his music on Park’s Napster.

The film starts with Mark Zuckerberg in 2003 before he created FaceBook. Yata Yata Yata. The film ends with Mark Zuckerberg as the youngest Billinare ever, thanks to his 500 Million Friends.

Its obvious that the film shows Mark Zuckerberg as an asshole and the bad guy. But I feel as if most people don’t see how everyone acted like an asshole and were the bad guys. The Winklevoss twins did not create FaceBook and dragged their feet about the entire situation until much later. Sean Parker was a crazy person who did get in trouble with a drug bust. And as for Eduardo, he did not want to take all of his focus to FaceBook and he was the one who failed to read his own contract. The book that this movie was based, The Accidental Billionaires, was consulted by the real life Eduardo Saverin. So I was surprised that since it was from his perspective, it did not overtly show him as the victim. But every single one of the character’s acted like assholes and it is their own fault for failing to stand by Mark Zuckerbergs side and become rich themselves.

David Fincher directed The Social Network and again partnered up with Jeff Cronenweth to do the cinematography. The film was shot with a REDONE camera which made the film have a distinct visual style. Very low natural light and muted realistic colors. This completely digital 4K camera creates simple clean images that match the conceptual idea of technology world. One amazing scene where The Winklevii lose the rowing race was even shot with a tilt shift effect, to give it even more of a more dramatic original style. Trent Reznor did the score for The Social Network and it was top notch. It also had a interesting feel to it that match the realistic version of the technology world and no the unrealistic version featuring flat boring techno.

Many people have pointed out that not everything presented in The Socal Network is true. From what I have read, the majority of events are true, and everything that is “fake” are more like half-truths. One important event, Mark Zuckerberg fighting with his girlfriend at the beginning of the film and it becoming the catalyst for FaceBook itself. Some has said she is not real, while other say that those LiveJournal entries are real and so the girl could be possibly be a real person. I believe that all those half-truths that have been hollywoodized or changed to fit the film better actually work. It is not a documentary, it is a dramatic film that is just based on a true story. All other films that are based on a true story do not accurately portray the very important dialog between the characters. If they can change the dialog, they should be able to change people and events if it works.

Then there is the debate that FaceBook is just a fad and that it weakens The Social Network. As history has shown us, no tech company or one single website can stay in the spot light for long. The rivalry of Apple and Microsoft has been going strong since the 80s. Yahoo was popular in the mid 90s and was surpassed by Google in the 2000s. And then there was the once social media giant MySpace and even for then there was Friendster. Does anyone remember AOL and Instant Messenger? As we have learned in this fast pace technology driven world, everyone has Attention Deficit Disorder and always want the latest, coolers, and most popular new thing. So one day in the future FaceBook might be forgotten along with so many others, but currently this growing expectantly website giant has every ones focus. It is unimportant if FaceBook is a fad or not because The Social Network captures the very intriguing rise of the giant company. So in the future, I will be very excited to see the film that is about the fall of FaceBook.

The film shows the seemingly boring technology world, as an emotionally drive world with deep characters, all willing to back stab each other at any moment. It feels as if it was the sequel to Pirates of Silicone Vally. My pick for the Best Picture of 2010 is defiantly The Social Network. It captures this current moment time of the Internet world perfectly. As having watch the film a number of times, I can contest that the film is very rewatchable and has good longevity.

5 out of 5

The King’s Speech

It seems as if the majority of people are backing The King’s Speech as the front runner of the 10 nominated Best Picture nominees. I disagree with the majority. Even though I believe The King’s Speech was a very strong film and is one of the best of the years, I believe that the highest of honers should go to another film.

The King’s Speech tells the true story of King George VI. The father of the current Queen Elizabeth II, who is shown in the film as a little girl. Colin Firth stars as the stuttering King George VI. By his side, his wife played by Helena Bonham Carter, tries to help find a solution to his disability. She finds a speech therapist played by Geoffrey Rush.

Colin Firth starts the film as just a prince, so his stuttering issues are a problem but not his greatest of concerns. He quickly and unwillingly moves up the ranks and becomes King. As World War II is approaching and as the newly appointed king, his speeches hold greater power among his people. So his disability grows into one of his major problems.

It was a great performance between Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush and they are both nominated for Best Actor. Once again, the majority of people are backing Colin Firth as front runner, but this time I believe this award should go to him. The film actually shows a very interesting relationship between two males. The dynamic between Firth and Rush shows power struggles, trust issues and confidentiality. As royalty, Firth demands power and dominance over Rush, but Rush is unwilling to do so and forces Firth to play by his own rules. At the beginning of their relationship, Firth has no faith in Rush’s ability to fix him of his disability. Rush tricks him and proves that there is a possible way to fix him. Then there is a the funny scene of confeditiality of Rush never telling his wife that he frequently meets with royalty until she walks in on them on day. Almost like an afair. Along with the two Best actor nominees, Helena Bonham Carter is nominated for best supporting actress.

The film was good, but not overwhelmingly good. If it wins best picture, I completely understand why, even though I think another is more deserving. It is a great part of history that is of commonly discussed and definitely a must watch, but I do not believe I will visit it more than once.

4 out of 5 stars

The Kids Are All Right

I am going to get right to the point. I did not like The Kids Are All Right. This movie is the best example of why an ending is so important. I actually liked the majority of film. I basically enjoyed every aspect of the film besides the final act. I liked the characters, the situation, the comedy and the drama. But the final act left me with such a bad after test, I retroactively disliked the rest of the film.

The Kids Are All Right is a Comedy-Drama, Dramedy, Black Comedy, or what ever you want to call it. Annette Bening and Julianne Moore star, as a lesbian couple, who have two children with the help of a anonymous sperm donor. The two children, Josh Hutcherson and Mia Wasikowska, want to finally meet their donor. They get in contact with him, Mark Ruffalo, and they meet with him. Soon after her meets the mothers, and then an affair stars bettween Mark Ruffalo and Julianne Moore’s characters. It’s all great, funny, and creative. Seeing this unique situation unfold was all done very well and appropriately. Where it falls apart was the final resolution for all the characters.

As anyone could have guessed, in any film with an affair, the third person who is having no fun will eventually find out. Annette Bening eventually does, and everything breaks bad. Even the actual finding out and the anger was interesting and well done. The actually problem is the redemption of each of the characters.

Julianne Moore’s character was the one who actually initiated the affair. After a short time of fighting, Annette Bening forgives her. Where as Mark Ruffalo’s character, everyone hates and does not want to speak to him. The final shot of him is through a small house window after he is being yelled at and we never see of him again. Throughout the film, his character was growing, he was becoming slightly more mature (besides the affair itself) and he wanted finally settle down and have a real family after he saw what he could of had. He was thrown into this entire situation unwillingly, wanted a family, and then everyone hates him in the end. Even though it was Julianne Moore fault, she was was given all the forgiveness, and none for Mark Ruffalo

Then there was the entire boring scene of the daughter going to college. I think that the film would have been better if it would have been given one more act. Julianne Moore was forgiven too soon. They could have dragged it out slightly longer. Along with giving Mark Ruffalo’s character a chance to redeemed himself, or show him moving on with his life, and not just being blind sided and left alone in the cold dark night.

The acting across the board was great. Julianne Moore was nominate for Best Actress. Her alcoholic lesbian performance was nomination worthy. Mark Ruffalo was nominated for Best Actor but Julianne Moore was completely shut out. Maybe I just need to watch it again in a different mood. But until then, because of the ending, I think the film was just average.

2 out of 5 stars

Inception

Let’s make Inception simple. It is a mind bending, city folding, car chasing, hotel floating, gun welding, mind altering, dream within a dream, action packed movie. Along with that, the all star cast features the broken hearted Leonardo DiCaprio, the exit wounded Ken Watanabe, the zero gravity Joseph Gordon-Levitt, the psychotic Marion Cotillard, the hot Ellen Page, the hilarious Tom Hardy, the manipulated Cillian Murphy, that same guy from Avatar last year Dileep Rao, that one old guy Tom Berenger, and the very British Michael Caine. On top of all of that , the film was written and directed by Christopher Nolan, the writer and director of Batman Begins and The Dark Knight. You mind has just been Incepted.

The story of Inception is a complex multi-layered confection of delicious goodness. It is no easy task to simply explain what is actually going on, when it is going on, who’s dream it is going on in, and again, who’s dream that dream is inside of. So I created a slightly simplified math equation to help lay out the plot.

(The Beginning Is The End) + ((A Dream)Within A Dream) + Less Fun Real World + (Ellen Page) + Slightly More Fun Real World Chase Scene + (Optical Illusions) + Airplane(Rainy City(Hotel(Snow Fortress(Limbo)))) + WTF Ending = Inception

The film is nominated for eight Academy Awards. Including Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay, Best Original Score, Best Sound Editing, Best Sound Mixing, Best Art Direction, Best Cinematography, and Best Visual Effects. It will easily win Best Visual Effects because of the amazing scenes like when Ellen Page made the city fold on itself or the awesome scene where Joseph Gordon-Levitt was fighting that agent in the spinning hallway.

The film has so many cool scenes and positive things about it, that is impossible to list them all and much easier to just say what I did not like about Inception. Sadly, this amazing film is not perfect. You might think that it is perfect because the films score and music was so epic. The problem with the film was Leonardo DiCaprio’s character’s relationships. He lost his wife and wanted to be reunited with his children. I did think that a strong part of his character was the longing for his character. The problem was more with his wife because I thought the relationship was a little weak. I was not turned off by her character herself, even though she was just a cold psychotic shell of her former self. It was more the relationship between her and Leo, especially for how critical it was towards Leo’s character and the entire concept of the film.

There might be a few problems with how the dream rules actually work, but I can easily overlook that. Also, that snow fortress scene was not as fun as the rest of the dreams, but Tom Hardy was hilarious through out the film and made up for it. Of course all the great things about Inception overshadows the minor flaws, turning it into one of the most memorable films ever.

Inception is easily one of my top favorite films of the year. Is it because now every time I enter an elevator, I pretend I am in zero gravity? Yes.

5 out of 5 stars

The Fighter

The Fighter is a biographical film based on the real life Micky Ward. It shows his return to the sport of boxing as he has to deal with his large eccentric Boston Irish Family. The less impressive Mark Walberg plays the lead Micky Ward, but you quickly realize the The Fighter is more about his family than himself. Either Mark Walberg is getting punched in the face in the ring, or he is sharing a scene with a much better actor that steals the spotlight from him. Christian Bale plays Micky’s brother Dicky, who is also a former boxer, but now a drug addict that gets into legal troubles. Early on in the film, Micky meets Amy Adams character, who becomes his girlfriend. Melissa Leo plays Alice, the mother of the very large family.

Even though Christian Bale is only consider a supporting actor, he easily eclipses Mark Walbergs weak performance. Seeing footage of the real Dicky, it is scary how accurate Christian Bale played him. The real life Dickys mannerisms are very unique with erratic movements and speech pattern, but Christian Bale mimics it to perfection. Christian Bale is nominated for Best Supporting Actor and will easily win it with a fight.

Melissa Leo was great as the mother and was nominated best supporting Actress. She acts as the head of the large  family. Micky and Dicky have too many sisters to count. One sister is even played by Conan O Brian’s real life sister. Along with Melissa Leo, Amy Adams was also nominated for best supporting actress. The film was also nominated for Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, Best Film Editing. I find it very humorous that every part of The Fighter was nominated besides Mark Walberg himself. It is also funny to think that both Brad Pitt and Matt Damon were suppose to star in this film, but dropped out due to scheduling conflicts. In its current form, the large cast of crazy characters truly makes the movie.

The style of the film almost has a documentary feel all on its own. But inside the film itself, the first half has HBO doing a documentary on Dicky. Which they actually did air in the mid 80s called High On Crack Street. Just like how the film is not really about Mark Walberg, it is also not really about boxing. Like last years The Blind Side that rarely showed any actual football games, The Fighter shows only a few short boxing matches that are spread far apart throughout the film. So it would be wrong to dislike the film for thinking its a sports movie because it is more of a character piece about an interesting family. But the few boxing matches that are shown, they look amazing and real because they actually did hit each other and the end, the result was worth it.

This was one of the 10 Best Picture nominated films that I thought I was going to dislike. I am not a fan of sports and so a sports film sounds very unappealing. On top of that I am not a fan of Mark Walberg. After finally watching the film, I enjoyed it a lot because it was nothing that I expected. It was all about the interesting lives of a messed up family. A more aptly named title of the film would be Marky Mark and the funky bunch.

4 out of 5 stars

Black Swan

Black Swan is a twisted tale of a ballerina struggling to become a star as she is also struggling to keep her sanity. It stars Natalie Portman as a fragile ballerina who wants to be perfect, Vincent Cassel as the manipulative play director who wants the best from his performers, and Mila Kunis as the understudy that is feared by Natalie Portman, because she might replace her.

Black Swan is directed by Darren Aronofsky and he took a very interesting approach into the normally colorful and beautiful world of ballet. Aronofsky guides you through a dark and twisted labyrinth, with many twists and turns and then leaves you at the dark deep center all alone and you have to find your own way out. The film keeps you on you feet guessing what will happen next. It is easy to say that Black Swan makes David Lynch look perfectly sane.

You are viewing the world of Black Swan through the eye’s of Natalie Portman’s character. So as the stress gets to her and she starts breaking down, the world around her starts breaking down. She starts suffering from many schizophrenic delusions that end up blurring boundaries of reality and her own chaotic mind. So both her and the audience have to keep questioning what is real and fake.

The film uses a monochromatic tone of black and white. The light and the dark obviously means good vs evil, but everything in Black Swan has a deeper complex symbolism. Down to the very placement of each character and object within the frame. It would take many viewings to catch most of the hidden symbolism and figure out their true meaning.

Black Swans took an interesting approach to the actual film making. They used different types of cameras to capture each scene to give them their own different look and feel. For some scenes they use small 16 mm film, which is not normally used for full length feature films. It is more often used for student films, or documentaries because of the cheaper lower quality. Instead of using a more common and larger film stock, the 16mm when blown up would give a grainier and darker tone to the scene, which works perfectly for this film. They also used a Canon 7D, a Canon 5D, and a Canon 1D to capture some scenes. All three are not actually video cameras but actually DSLR still photo cameras that are mainly used by professional photographers, but they all happen to have the ability to shoot full HD video.

Natalie Portman is nominated for Best Actress and she will easily win. Not only is her performance perfect, but she supports the entire film herself. Since the world around her is effected by her state of mind, it feels as if everyone and every scene is a part of her character and performance. For the Academy Awards, the film is also nominated for are Best Film Editing, Best Cinematography, Best Director and Best Picture. Overall I enjoyed Black Swan.

4 out of 5 stars.

127 Hours

Spoiler Alert, he cuts off his arm.

127 Hours stars Freaks and Geeks’ very own James Franco. He quickly became famous in one of the most successful film franchise in history (even the bad one) and after a small run on a soap opera, this still-rising star shines in 127 Hours.

The film is based on the true biographical events of Aron Ralston’s canyoning accident in 2003. It chronicles the events of Ralston’s journey of getting his hand trapped under a rock and freeing himself by amputating his own arm.

Wait, a guy stuck in a rock alone sounds long and boring. False. That is why the 127 Hours is so good, the film makers take advantage of that and structures the film around them it to make it a very interesting adventure. Aron’s story was widely published, so everyone already knows what happens in the end. But still, you keep questioning, “Is this when he does it?!” because they keep you in suspense for a healthy amount of time.

You are supposed to feel stuck with Aron, but the pacing of the film is perfect. Right before each time the feeling of being stuck is about to turn into boredom, you are presented with something new such being taken away from Aron and the rock completely. Aron has multiple hallucinations, flashbacks, and possible flashfowards of what he should live for. These are used to break up the film into a nicely paced story.

The cinematography of the 127 Hours was beautiful and helps the powerful story. I enjoyed the film’s pallet of strong oranges and stong blues. The blue of the sky and Aron’s hat, along with the orange rocks and Aron’s shirt, help compliment each other into stunning images. The camera is utilized to make you feel stuck along with Aron in a minor claustrophobic way. Often times a God Camera is used for going into places that are impossible to show normally. Like when the omnipotent camera goes inside of Aron’s water tube, or showing the bone inside of arms in a creative way. The editing is very unique by sometimes using a tryptic style of showing three images at once. It’s used well when showing Aron is losing his mind as it drifts to many different thoughts.

Knowing the story works this time around. The film shows the inner and outer struggle of a person, and it is a very emotional ride. Each moment of the film is strong, but the powerful ending is brought to an even higher level with the help of a song by Sigor Rós. I will admit I cried at the very end with James Franco partial of Aron’s rescue, along with seeing the real life Aron Ralston with his family.

Not only is 127 Hours nominated for Best Picture, it was nominated for 6 Academy Awards, including Best Actor. Even though I think that Colin Firth’s performance in the Kings Speech will win Best Actor this year, James Franco should still get some credit for supporting an entire film all by himself. If James Franco were a true method actor, he would have actually cut off his arm and taken home the Oscar. At least he gets his consolation prize is hosting the 83rd Academy Awards with Miss Anne Hathaway.

127 Hours is directed by Danny Boyle. Boyle also directed Slumdog Millionaire, the winner of 8 Academy Awards, including Best Picture of 2008. And it is not just the director, both 127 Hours and Slumdog Millionaire share many of the same collaborators, including the cinematography by Anthony Dod Mantle, screenplay by Simon Beaufoy, the composer A. R. Rahman and the producer Christian Colson.

I believe that 127 Hours was hands down the most emotionally powerful film of the year but overall it is one of my top picks of the year. It’s hard to place it, but it might be my second favorite film of the year. I would have given it a higher rating if it would have kept its original title that was similar to last year’s Precious: “127 Hours based on the Novel Between a Rock and a Hard Place by Aron Ralston based on the real biographical events of Aron Ralston cutting his arm off while stuck between a rock and a hard place for 127 Hours.” Maybe that joke was too long and I should have cut it off at the arm.

5 out of 5 stars.

The Secret Of Kells

The Secret Of Kells is an Irish traditional animated feature film. The story is about a young boy named Brendan who lives with his monk uncle in the walled city of Kells. His uncle is very controlling and wants to protect Brendan and the city from the outside world. One day another monk comes to the city with a book that needs completed. He inspires Brendan to adventure beyond the walls of the city and to help complete the book. The story continues with very adventurous and emotional moving moments.

The first thing many people will notice about the film is the visuals. They stand out compared to all other animated feature films. The story is based around the Irish Book Of Kells. The beautiful ornate illustrations from the real book itself was the main inspiration for the film’s art direction. Every single shot looked likes like a completely different hand drawn Illustration that moves. Everything is very flat and geometric but there is still a very strong organic element to each image. Just because the style might look basic, the animation is still fluid and not choppy.

As a traditional animator myself, I found the film’s visual style extremely enjoyable. I am a fan of the video game series The Legend Of Zelda, which The Secret Of Kells had a very smiler style and story to the series. But many fantasy adventure stories have smiler plots and style. I am such a big fan of Zelda that the similarities actually made me enjoy the film more, instead of a negative factor.

I am happy the film was nominated for the Academy Award For Bet Animated Feature. Even though it did not end up winning, the nomination alone will make more people watch this film that could have easily gone over looked. I still wish The Secret Of Kells had actually won because its story and style were just as good as the rest of the collection. The film is appropriate for all ages, but adults might understand it a little more. So I highly recommend this film to everyone.

The best way to describe the film is to simply show you more images.

Fantastic Mr. Fox

Fantastic Mr. Fox is one of my favorite films of the year. It is based on the book by the same name by Roald Dahl. The story is about Mr. Fox, voice by George Clooney, who is forced to quite his risky job as being a thief at the request of his wife, voiced by Merly Streep. Years later Mr. Fox has a more boring job of writing a news paper column and now have a son, voiced by Jason Schawrtzman. His family moves to a brand new house and with three neighboring farms. This inspires Mr. Fox to start up thieving again. He slowly gets more people involved in his plan and starts putting his family and friends in danger when the three farmers try to take revenge. Including one friend, voiced by Bill Murray.

The film has a unique charm to it. I always found myself smiling while watching it. There is many funny and quirky parts, including a punch line at the end of almost every scene. A constant joke was how human-like the animals acted, but randomly and suddenly they would turn back into the animals they are and act out their animal instinct. It had a lot of adult themes and ideas that would go over children head. Nothing is inappropriate, so I would have to say that this film is made for adults, but can easily be watched by children.

Fantastic Mr. Fox’s visuals and animation where very original. The director Wes Anderson helped make this film stand out from all other animated films. Animator Henry Selick actually worked on part of the film before he moved on to work on his own project, Coraline. Since Wes Anderson is not an animator, but a live action director, he treated the film as if it was just another live action film, resulting in the film’s unique style. Wes Anderson is already a stylized director but this new thought towards animation makes it stand out from other animated films and even his own filmography. He uses lots of close up on the stop motion characters, which means that you can see all the hair on the character’s body swirl around because of people touching it during the animation process. Which is very uncommon in stop motion animated films. Another idea Wes Anderson brought to the production was to not record in a sound stage like nearly every animated film, and even live action films method of rerecording dialog. Instead he would record the voices and performance of the actors outside and actually have the actors digging into the ground if the animated characters were doing just the same. This added a warmness to the voices. All these new perspective of how to make animation did not detracts from the film, but actually added to its charm.

I enjoyed Fantastic Mr. Fox so much that I feel it could have been included in the top 10 Best Picture nominees. Maybe that is just me wishing for more animated films being nominated for Best Picture. Even though, I am very happy that it did get nominated for Best Animated Feature.