Monday, July 26, 2010

Inception [2010]
Starring: Leonardo Dicaprio, Marion Cotillard, Ellen Page.
Directed by: Christopher Nolan

In a world where technology exists to enter the human mind through dream invasion, a highly skilled thief is given a final chance at redemption which involves executing his toughest job till date, Inception.

If you're expecting an easy watch with this film, you'll end up with a big punch in the head, because this isn't your basic summer blockbuster style of movie, and if you go in wanting to "switch off your brain", you may end up leaving with a sever headache.

The basic storyline of the film is fairly easy to follow, some people are saying they had NO idea what the hell happened even though they liked it, but if you pay attention it's not that hard to understand. The movie does throw everything at you in one big maze like mish mosh though, and you can lose track of what's going on a few times if you aren't focusing on where the story is going, but that's what's so fun about watching this, it makes you pay attention and try and keep up. Plus, it has huge replay value, because there's so much to pick up on. The movie will definitely need a few watches from me.

Christopher Nolan is an incredible director, his style of film making is very hard and fast. There's real MEAT in the way he captures action and suspense. I remember seeing The Dark Knight for the first time and being completely immersed in how he shot everything. The same goes for Inception, it looks really cool. The action scenes are fun and the editing and cinematography are perfect.
Another thing Nolan is good at is making MUSIC a big part of his films. The score by Hans Zimmer is really powerful at times, and similar to The Dark Knight, it kind of becomes a character in itself because it's so prominent during the movie.

The cast were all good. Leonardo Dicaprio seems to be invincible when it comes to picking movie roles, has this guy ever made a truly shit movie????. Ellen Page was an odd choice for this, but she ended up fitting in nicely with the rest of the cast and i liked her relationship with Leo's character. Joseph Gordon Levitt is always a favourite of mine, he's a great actor, and Marion Cotillard was well cast as Leo's tragic, but kinda creepy wife.

There has been some comparisons to The Matrix with this, and there are some similarities with the themes of alternate realities, going into peoples minds, and being hunted by "Agent" like enemies, but that's about as far as it goes with how much alike they are. Inception is a lot more layered, mostly because the way it's told is like a puzzle that you need to piece together, whereas The Matrix presented an intelligent storyline, in a more accessible way.

As far as originality goes, the movie definitely wins over any other film this year. It's probably the most interesting thing you'll see in a long time. Is it my personal favourite film of the year though?, it's not. It didn't BLOW MY MIND like it has for everyone else, but i thought it was well made and entertaining. It's the type of movie i'll need to sit with for a while actually, similar to something like Blade Runner, i'll need to revisit it a few more times over the next few years to really appreciate it on a more "deeper" level i think. I don't mean that in a negative way though, like i said, it has major replay value. The Dark Knight left me breathless at times, it was SO engaging, Inception didn't have exactly the same sort of heavy impact on me.
The only small gripe i had with the film was that i felt it was a little overlong, mostly around the snow scenes near the end.

It's a cool movie, if you liked The Matrix or Dark City, you'll enjoy this. It has bits and pieces of those scattered through it, but offered in a more complex package. I think Christopher Nolan is one of the best directors we've got at the moment, i look forward to seeing this again at some point.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

MAYA [Deluxe Edition] [2010]

I wasn't sure what to expect from this album, not because i was worried about it being weak, but the few songs that leaked prior to the albums release didn't give me a strong indication of what this album would sound like. I figured we'd be offered the same sort of heavy electronica we always get from her, and we do for the most part, but when 'Born Free' hit the internet with it's epic 9 minute music video, it was obvious MIA was dabbling in a few new sounds.

The electric guitar that bashes it's way through 'Born Free' was a nice indicator of how loud and angry this album was going to be. We hear more of the rockier sound in songs like 'Steppin Up' and 'Meds and Feds', the latter also having the heaviest bass she's ever used in a song. It makes your ear drums explode.

Once the first official single hit, 'XXXO', there were even more signs of experimentation. The track is heavy on the electronica, but it was also very commercial sounding, which isn't very usual for MIA's music. With a bit more tweaking, the track could be given to a number of pop stars to sing. Some fans started complaining about MIA "selling out", frankly, i couldn't give a shit. The song was fantastic, and the more mainstream sound was a welcome change in my opinion. She isn't completely foreign to more commerical songs anyway, 'Paper Planes' is her biggest hit to date, and that follows a more accessible sound.

The album isn't too much of a departure though. There's still plenty of tradmark MIA in the songs, with some nice newer sounds and instruments introduced to freshen things up. The hypnotic 'Lovealot', and anthem sounding 'Tell Me Why' could have come off one of her previous albums, and you can't get anymore token MIA than the epic, 'Teqkilla', which runs for 6 minutes, and sounds like MIA amped up to 100, with every sound effect and beat thrown into a trippy none stop dance masterpiece. It really fucks with your head.

The only weak point in the album for me is the Carrabien sounding, 'It Takes A Muscle'. It's just boring. Reviewers seem to be name dropping it as a highlight though, so i'm in the minority on that one.
The deluxe edition comes with 4 extra songs, the stand outs for me being 'Illygirl' and 'Believer'.

Overtime, this may end up becoming my favourite MIA album. It's certainly her easiest one to listen to, and i like that she's given us a few new sounds to enjoy. I really like it.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Predators [2010]
Starring: Adrian Brody, Laurence Fishburne, Topher Grace.
Directed by: Nimrod Antal

A group of elite warriors are hunted by a relentless alien race known as Predators.

I thought it was as enjoyable as the first Predator film, except this time they are given a bit more to play around with thanks to expanding on the Universe of the Predator, so everyone has a bit more to do.
The story itself was exciting. The earlier section of the film is very reminiscent of the original Predator with all the tension build up they give us as the characters try to find out where they are while hearing strange noises and seeing weird figures through the trees. Once it all kicks into gear though, it's none stop action with each member of the group being picked off one by one.

I actually preferred this cast to the first film. Adrien Brody is no Arnie of course, but he was an interesting choice for the lead role, and he did surprisingly well with the character. He was believable and likeable. The rest of the cast were your typical "bad boy" bunch, with one chic thrown in. She wasn't anything exciting, but her chemistry with Adrian was a nice addition to a mainly male dominated cast. Topher Grace was given a few nice comedic moments and Laurence Fishburn had a cool cameo. Danny Trejo however, was sadly wasted in this. Why did they get rid of him so fast???

The Predators themselves were badder than before, mainly due to the fact that we are introduced to a more "dangerous" species of Predator, as well as the same sort we saw in the first movie. The rivalry introduced between both species was a nice addition also, but wasn't explored all that much outside of a quick fight scene. The rabid alien "dogs" were a cool addition to the film as well.

I agree with Digi that the twist at the end probably wasn't needed, but kudos to them for trying to keep things happening within the story and not just fading into a long winded end battle with no "oooh" moment. The planet itself wasn't all that exciting either, outside of a few "weird" plant moments, it didn't look too much like another world. Maybe that was the look they went for though, something close to Earth?............either way, it wasn't a major issue or anything.

If another film is made, i'd like to see a bit more about the Predators history. I know that was touched upon with the Alien vs Predator films, but lets GET SERIOUS, we all ignore those fun, yet disposable movies when it comes to referencing the original franchises both monsters came from. We all enjoy a bit of Alien/Predator dumbery, but really, who actually bothers with those when we get the chance for NEW additions to the already existing series? especially when they're done as fun as this.

Offered everything i expected, with a few nice surprises thrown in.
DVD Roundup, June 2010

Precious [Blu-ray]
Poor brave Precious. Always getting told to take her fat ass to the Welfare, always having to steal fried chicken because she can't afford to pay for food, always being hated on by everyone, especially her pig foot eating Momma. Poor poor Precious.

The Doors [Blu-ray]
Wow, man, i'm like....tripping out. Oliver Stone's trippy arty interpretation about Jim Morrison's life. Love it.

The Dark Crystal [Blu-ray]
Cute movie, mainly got it for the features. I own Labyrinth on Blu-ray as well, and you can't own that one without this.....gotta complete the "childhood" series!

Leon: The Professional [Blu-ray]
Badass. If you haven't seen it, do yourself a favour and watch it, BUT, make it the director's cut, because it's so fucking more amazing than the theatrical version.

Mean Girls [Blu-ray]
It was time this was added to my collection in HD. Best teen comedy EVER.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

The Twilight Saga: Eclipse
Directed by: David Slade
Starring: Robert Pattinson, Kristen Stewart, Taylor Lautner

Bella, whose high school graduation is fast approaching, is forced to choose between her love for vampire Edward, or her friendship with werewolf Jacob, all while trying to stay alive from the clutches of hell bent vampire Victoria, who wants her revenge on Bella and The Cullen family.

The Twilight series has finally come full circle with Eclipse. As i've mentioned before, i found the first 'Twilight' film to be enjoyable, but it's very uneven most of the time and i still find it to be the weakest of the series. 'New Moon' improved on the first film A LOT and i was very happy with the final product [minus ONE hideously cheesy forest frolic scene].
Eclipse is hard to fault though, not because it's a perfect film, but because it's ironed out a lot of the issues that have plagued this series so far.

Director David Slade does a great job bringing the book to life. In fact, i would have liked to have seen him direct all the 3 of the first films, he has a more darker take on the story which i think would make the movies more appealing to a wider audience. Not a big deal though, i still like the fact that each film has had a different style.

The cast FINALLY settle into their characters properly. I'm not sure if playing a punk rocker lesbian in 'The Runaways' had anything to do with it, but Kristen Stewart loosens up a lot in this, and she isn't stuttering and moaning her way through the whole thing. Granted Bella is less annoying anyway, but still, Kristen seemed to look like she was comfortable being the character. The same can be said for Robert Pattinson as Edward. Less constipation face, more smiling and relaxing face. Jasper and Rosalie get nicely beefed up roles in this film, and both actors did great with their scenes.
The new cast members were all decent. Riley, Victoria's newly born right hand man was a strong addition to the cast, and even Bree Tanner had a small role in the film. As we all know, Rachel Lafavere was replaced by Bryce Dallas Howard in the role of Victoria for Eclipse, and that would be my only minor gripe about this movie. I didn't NOT like Bryce in the role, in fact, i thought she did well, i just preferred Rachel as that character. There was a maturity and strength about her that Bryce lacked. Bryce was way too girly looking. That blank stare and deep voice Rachel had was perfect for Victoria, it was a shame she couldn't finish up the character properly.

The make up on the cast is still over the top, why hasn't anyone from the town the vampires live in asked why on Earth they all have the most fucked up eye colour ever, lol!? David's credit though, he did pull back a lot on making Edward look like a butter face, and Jasper lost his Spaghetti hairdo. Bella was given a wig throughout the film [Kristen had cut her hair for another role], most of the time i actually liked it, but every so often it would change shades of brown and sit a whole bunch of different ways. Random. Overall though, everyone looked a lot better.

The pacing of the film was a lot faster than the previous movies. There's no need for introductions anymore, so we get right into the action from the first shot of the film. The character arcs have become more interesting, Bella actually has more to think about other than Edward, she's facing a decision that would change her life forever, and that brings in a whole bunch of issues about where she wants her life end up in the future. The flashback scenes a few of the Cullen's get in this film flesh out the Cullen history well, especially with Rosalie, which sets up her character nicely for the next couple of films. Hopefully we get to see the remaining Cullen's history in the next two movies.

I think most fans would agree that the series is going from strength to strength, and it's been interesting seeing a different director have their own take on each film.
If you've hated these movies from day one, you may get some more enjoyment out of this movie, i wouldn't hold my breathe though. For Twilight fans, it's perfect and for the casual viewer who doesn't have any bias opinion of the series, it's enjoyable.

I loved it, and i can't wait to see it again. Now all i have to do is wait for 'Breaking Dawn part 1', it's only a year and a half away [sad face].