JT Film Review

Upcoming Movies – Inception (2010)

UPCOMING MOVIES – Inception (2010)

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Christopher Nolan has more geek cred now than Nintendo, Tolkein, and Stan Lee put together. Naturally every movie he puts out (until he loses said cred, of course) will be hyped no end, and will be eagerly anticipated. Needless to say, ever since the first poster for Inception (left, which many have criticized for its extreme resemblance to a certain Dark Knight poster), the buzz around the movie has increased exponentially, especially because of the extreme secrecy Nolan is keeping around the film’s details. More information is being released however, with both a new poster and two trailers, the first of which is only a teaser. You will find links to the two trailers below.

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TRAILERS

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First of all “Holy Cast, Batman!” Leonardo DiCaprio, Michael Caine,  Ellen Page, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Cillian Murphy,

Ken Watanabe, Marion Cottilard, Tom Hardy, Tom Berenger and Lukas Haas are all featured here. Many of them have received their own character posters as well (which are just stunning). Those can be seen here. My personal fav’s are the ones of Joseph Gordon-Levitt (“Point Man”), Cillian Murphy (“The Mark”) and Tom Hardy (“The Forger”).

The following plot snopsis is from IMDB.

Acclaimed filmmaker Christopher Nolan directs an international cast in an original sci-fi action movie that travels around the globe and into the intimate and infinite world of dreams. Dom Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) is a skilled thief, the absolute best in the dangerous art of extraction, stealing valuable secrets from deep within the subconscious during the dream state, when the mind is at its most vulnerable. Cobb’s rare ability has made him a coveted player in this treacherous new world of corporate espionage, but it has also made him an international fugitive and cost him everything he has ever loved.

Now Cobb is being offered a chance at redemption. One last job could give him his life back but only if he can accomplish the impossible inception. Instead of the perfect heist, Cobb and his team of specialists have to pull off the reverse: their task is not to steal an idea but to plant one. If they succeed, it could be the perfect crime. But no amount of careful planning or expertise can prepare the team for the dangerous enemy that seems to predict their every move. An enemy that only Cobb could have seen coming. This summer, your mind is the scene of the crime.”

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Eh!? Eh!? Pretty sweet sounding, eh? (He said, sounding more and more “fanboyish” by the moment…)

The music in the trailers have been singled out for praise already. It is not the work of Hans Zimmer (though it certainly has his electro-orchestra vibe), but the work of  an “up-and-comer” named Zach Hemsey (his blog is here). The brassy, electronic, and throaty blast, underscored by crescendos and fervent basses and cellos is tense and full of anticipation. It’s also a bit repetitive  but that can be forgiven for its original sound.

The trailers are full of men in suits, and I can’t help wonder if that is a touch of Nolan, who is known to wear suits all the time. Whatever reason, it produces a great effect. Guys in suits look so much more… capable, than anyone else. And that shot with the suited Joseph Gordon-Levitt (I think its him) spinning the bodies in the zero-gravity sequence is chilling. It’s the suit I’m telling you…

Which brings us to the dream sequences that we see. Spinning corridors, water everywhere, a cityscape turning in on itself… this is some freaky stuff. I can’t wait to see how they will work within the plot of the movie.

All in all I think we can all admit to being a little psyched to see this movie. It has a stellar cast, a director who has done some great things (but still has his best ahead of him I’m sure), a thrilling idea at its core, and a budget large enough to accomplish that vision. July the 16th can not come soon enough!

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Have anything to say? Are you excited for this or not? Either way, feel free to comment!

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May 26, 2010 Posted by | Upcoming Movies | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

91 – The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938)

The Adventures of Robin Hood REVIEW

5/5 stars

Director – Michael Curtiz, William Keighley

Cast – Errol Flynn, Olivia de Havilland, Basil Rathbone, Claude Rains, Patrick Knowles, Allan Hale, Melville Cooper, Eugene Pallette, Ian Hunter, Herbert Mundin, Una O’Connor

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There have been many interpretations of the traditional Robin Hood legend, from Douglas Fairbanks’ stunt-athon in 1922, to Disney’s anthropomorphic tale, to Kevin Costner’s attempt at a more realistic version with Prince of Thieves. Frankly there hasn’t been a genre not attempted with the Robin Hood tale. Even Mel Brooks had a stab at it with Robin Hood: Men in Tights, and we have a gritty, blockbuster version coming up soon directed by Ridley Scott and featuring Russel Crowe, Robin Hood.

Regardless of who tries or in what genre the movie is set, all versions of the Robin Hood legend since the 40’s have been compared to this version, and rightly so. The Adventures of Robin Hood is fast and fun, without a single scene wasted. Using the fairly new Technicolor system, this movie has a brilliant palette and bright, simple, yet energetic costumes. Errol Flynn brings out every image we could possibly have of a capable, slightly cocky, yet down to earth hero. The rest of the actors are perfectly cast, from Claude Rains as the scheming Prince John, Basil Rathbone (later to gain fame, and eventual type-casting, as Sherlock Holmes) as the villainous Sir Guy, to Patrick Knowles as Will Scarlett, and Alan Hale as Little John.

The greatest virtue of the movie is its lightning quick pace. In a risky move we are given no background on virtually any of the characters, and are just shoved into the plot. No line or scene is wasted, with the speed of the movie gathering as it continues. We all know who Robin Hood is, and what the basic story will be like, so we as an audience want something that will feel fresh even though it uses the stock characters from the legends. Speed and wit are important to achieve that, and this movie has that in spades. This would not have worked, however, without such excellent characterization.

A word on the musical score as well.  It was composed by Erich Wolfgang Korngold, a noted German composer who had worked on a few other Warner Bros. films, most notably A Midsummer’s Night Dream and Errol Flynn’s Captain Blood. He was in Austria when offered the job of composing the score for The Adventures of Robin Hood, and moved to America to compose it. Shortly afterwards Hitler cracked down on Jews in any Nazi-occupied territory, and Korngold then said that this score saved his life. It is a wonderful score, and rightly one of Korngold’s most famous. It is light and sprightly where it needs to be, and dark and imposing when that is called for. Most of all, it is full of energy and life, much like the hero himself.

OVERALL

The Adventures of Robin Hood is one of the benchmarks in action movie history. The cast is all excellent, and Errol Flynn is still the definitive Robin Hood (in the light action mode). Heck, he is one of the definitive action stars of all time, and this is probably his best role (even though he claims to have been bored with it). Well this is one film no audience will be bored with. Recommended to anyone who likes the classics or movies in general.

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TRAILER

“The Adventures of Robin Hood” on other websites:

IMDB —– Rotten Tomatoes —– Wikipedia

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May 21, 2010 Posted by | 5 Stars, Film Review, Genre - Action, Year - 1930-1939 | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

90 – Robin Hood (2010)

Robin Hood REVIEW

3/5 stars

Director – Ridley Scott

Cast – Russel Crowe, Cate Blanchett, Max Von Sydow, William Hurt, Mark Strong, Danny Huston, Oscar Isaac

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Robin Hood is a traditional Hollywood figure, whose story is regularly adapted  into feature films, from Errol Flynn’s classic The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938) to Kevin Costner’s The Prince of Thieves (1991). Most versions tend to keep to the same rough story, but Ridley Scott wanted to, as the buzzword goes, reboot the story, and take it a different route. When the movie was first announced, rumors said that the story would feature Russel Crowe as both Robin Hood and the antagonist, the Sheriff of Nottingham. Apparently this was changed, as the story now is about Robin Hood (or Robin Longstride as he’s known here) before he is outlawed. Essentially this movie is Robin Hood, Batman Begins style.

Now many people had a problem with this revisionist style. I personally did not, and I actually really liked it. In fact the beginning sequence, with Robin and the English army (led by Richard the Lionheart) attacking a French castle, was quite exhilarating in a messy, grimy sort of way. What got me about the movie was its draggy, dreary, and unfocused feeling. As the movie progresses many plot points of the movie are not presented clearly, and motivations for some characters are muddy. In other words, we see people doing things, then doing other things, without a clear explanation for why they changed their mind or even their allegiance.

The movie does start off well, very well in fact. Russel Crowe looks perfectly at home in a medieval time period, and the supporting cast is decent to very good. William Hurt has always been a capable actor, and Oscar Isaacs as an oily but still surprisingly sympathetic Prince John performs very well also. Cate Blanchett is tough and hardened as Marion, and Mark Strong is a perfect villain. The problem is that most of these characters aren’t utilized very well. This could be because of the size of the supporting cast and the attention each character receives. The characters are stretched too thin, as each fights for more screen time. This merely results in everyone receiving less screen time, and thus, less development.

The second half of the movie features Robin Hood presenting to King John a charter which would guarantee every Englishman rights and freedoms (an obvious nod to the Magna Carta, which the actual King John was forced to sign by his knights years later.) Personally I found this a bit ridiculous, especially as right after this Robin apparently coins the phrase “An Englishmen’s home is his castle.” Why didn’t they have him inventing tea and crumpets and whistling ‘Rule Britannia” while looking over the plans for London Bridge while they’re at it? It felt like Scott was pandering to his audience here, as he was with the final battle also. Rarely have I seen a more clichéd collection of stereotypical battle sequences.

What I truly don’t understand is how Ridley Scott, the director of such good (even great) and unique films as Alien, Blade Runner, Matchstick Men, even Gladiator, can turn out a purely mediocre, and in some ways formulaic, film like this. Has he lost his touch? Does he rely on Russel Crowe too much? This is their 5th movie together, after all…

OVERALL

Robin Hood is a capable enough medieval movie, and starts of well, but soon loses points with its lack of clarity and its dreariness. The cast performs admirably, but cannot fight the directors seeming tiredness. This could have been quite good, but unfortunately barely rises above an average action flick. Then again, it’s better than Prince of Thieves.

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TRAILER

“Robin Hood” on other websites:

IMDB —– Rotten Tomatoes —– Wikipedia

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May 17, 2010 Posted by | 3 Stars, Film Review, Genre - Action, Year - 2010-2019 | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

89 – Iron Man 2 (2010)

Iron Man 2 REVIEW

3.5/5 stars

Director – Jon Favreau

Cast – Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Scarlett Johansen, Don Cheadle, Mickey Rourke, Sam Rockwell, Samuel L. Jackson

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– follows Iron Man

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Iron Man 2, directed by Jon Favreau, has hit theatres with quite a bit of expectation. The first movie in the franchise, Iron Man, was a surprise hit both with audiences and critics alike. Robert Downey Jr. returns to the role that got his career and respect back, and is joined by Mickey Rourke (another star who recently experienced a comeback), Sam Rockwell, and Scarlett Johansen.

The plot concerns a Russian, Ivan Vanko, a mechanical genius who tries to get back at Tony Stark (Iron Man) for perceived injustices perpetrated against his father by Tony’s father, Howard Stark. Meanwhile, Tony discovers that his high-tech “artificial heart” is contaminating his blood stream, and must find a new element to stop the contamination. (I’m not sure what he needs a new element for; something to do with “soaking up” the toxins, something like that.)

While Iron Man 2 is a fairly decent movie, as is too often the case it cannot live up to its predecessor (which was over-hyped in the first place, in my opinion). Superhero sequels are often hurt by adding more villains, but this is not the case here. Mickey Rourke is quite good as Ivan Vanko. One look at him and you know he’s a bad SOB. Sam Rockwell is also good as the smarmy, in-over-his head weapons developer Justin Hammer. What almost ruins this movie though is predictable plotting, and resulting from that, an almost total lack of urgency.

To invent the new element needed to save his artificial heart, Tony Stark must decipher his fathers words and figure out why he was left a large-scale model of an exposition park. Unfortunately this portion of the movie takes about two seconds, and any potential suspense-wise that such an idea may have had is totally lost.

Throughout the movie we never feel that Tony may die due to his problems, so the movie is left with nothing to take you through than its action and witty quips. Now there are quite a few funny bits throughout, and the movie has a nice breezy tone, but the action sequences are fairly toned down for a super hero movie. This was a surprise, certainly, but I have yet to decide whether or not it was a pleasant one. On the one hand we aren’t bludgeoned over the head with pointless action, yet on the other hand the movie felt slow and a bit draggy. Either way, it left me a bit… unsatisfied. All in all, I think that’s a good way to describe the movie. Passable, but lacking what wit or spark the original may have had.

 OVERALL

Iron Man 2 is a fair enough movie, with some of the same ingredients of the (slightly over-rated) original. The villains are good, and some of the action is decent. But unfortunately the pace is off and the sense of fun isn’t quite up to par. It is better than many superhero movies however, and Robert Downey Jr. has created a quite likable character, so I do recommend it. Mainly to superhero lovers though…

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“Iron Man 2” on other websites:

IMDB —– Rotten Tomatoes —– Wikipedia

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May 15, 2010 Posted by | 3.5 Stars, Film Review, Genre - Superhero, Year - 2010-2019 | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Upcoming Movies – Coriolanus (2011)

Upcoming Movies – Coriolanus (2011)

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Shakespeare adaptations are pretty few and far between, but recently when one gets the chance to be made the time frame is usually changed. Richard III (1995) was bumped into the 1930’s, Hamlet (2000) was bumped into modern-day, and Julie Taymor’s Titus Andronicus was everywhere (everywhen?). Personally I like modernizations of Shakespeare (Richard III is one of my favorite movies), so I perked up when I heard of the upcoming movie Coriolanus, to be released sometime in 2011. It is based on Shakespeare’s play of the same name, and is apparently about ( according to IMDB) “A banished hero of Rome who allies with a sworn enemy to take his revenge on the city.” Ralph Fiennes is directing and starring in it, and has updated the story to modern times.

The second reason I got excited was when I saw the killer cast, which includes Ralph Fiennes as Coriolanus, Gerard Butler as his nemesis, Vanessa Redgrave as his mother, and Brian Cox as a scheming senator. This is also Ralph Fiennes directorial debut I believe.

The movie is being shot in Belgrade, and Fiennes has got the Serbian army helping, and apparently he will be using their tanks as well. This is a good thing, as Shakespearian tradegies generally need scope.

Today I ran across the following pics and found myself getting even more excited for the release of this movie. UPDATE: The trailer has arrived! Find it here.

(All pictures are from the Daily Mail website.)

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Here we see Ralph Fiennes as General Coriolanus, surrounded by what appear to be his bodyguards/soldiers/goons.  We can see that this movie will have a gritty aspect to it, and Fiennes looks suitably creepy with that slouch and shaven head.

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This looks to me like Fiennes is giving Gerard Butler direction here. I love this look, the grimy rooms and military uniforms. Butlers beard deserves a movie of its own I think…

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Kaboom! The bard plus explosions! You’d be forgiven for thinking this is a shot from The Hurt Locker, as the cinematographer of that film, Barry Ackroyd, has also been pulled in for Coriolanus. Although it’s hard to tell for sure, I think the two soldiers here aren’t main characters.

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Here we see two of the other leads, Vanessa Redgrave as Fienne’s mother (in front of a kneeling Fiennes), and Brian Cox as Menenius, a Senator (far left). Despite the gritty look of the first pics, we can see that pagentry and finery will have its place. Rumour has it that Redgrave is brilliant in her role. Here’s hoping!

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Comments? Questions?Are you looking forward to this film? Either way, feel free to leave a comment!

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May 14, 2010 Posted by | Upcoming Movies | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

88 – The Losers (2010)

The Losers REVIEW

4/5 stars

Director – Sylvian White

Cast – Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Zoe Seldana, Chris Evans, Idris Elba, Columbus Short, Oscar Jeanada, Jason Patric, Holt McCallany

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The Losers is an action/comedy film featuring  Jeffrey Dean Morgan as the leader of a group of soldiers who are framed for a crime they did not commit. After learning they identity of the man responsible for setting them up, they vow revenge and seek him out. Zoe Seldana features as a femme fatale who may not be what she seems (is there any other kind of femme fatale?), and Jason Patric is the villainous Max. 

I must admit that I was almost in two minds about The Losers. It is a loud movie, to be sure, and it is a fairly “dumb” movie as well. The plot is an action nerd’s wet dream, with ridiculous set pieces that exist just to exist. There is implausibility left right and center, and the film ends with not much being resolved. I can see all that, I really can. But, knowing all this, I had more fun watching this movie than possibly any other movie I have watched in the last few years.

I felt like I was “betraying the art of film criticism” (if I may be so pompous) when I walked out of the theatre, wallowing in the feeling of fun and fast elation the movie brings. To put it simply, you’re not supposed to like dumb and loud action movies. That, in fact, seems to be the main criticism of the movie (as demonstrated on Rotten Tomatoes, where as of now the film holds a 44% rating.) But I sat down and thought about it for a minute. Things like dumb plots, etc. are seen as bad because they detract from the possibility of a films enjoyment. If you don’t buy the plot, you can’t become involved in the movie. Frankly, this movie could care less about the plot, and I do not mean that in a bad way. The story exists to support some good fight scenes and set pieces, to allow the good guys (who are all tremendously enjoyable characters, especially the one played by Chris Evans) something to do, and to give a wonderful cackling villain to root against, played by Jason Patric. We as the audience are just expected to go along for the ride. Whether you will like the movie depends on a) if you like the main characters, b) if you like the off beat character humour used throughout, and c) if you don’t mind, or even better, enjoy, a good bit of over the top violence. I found myself able to tick off each of those little boxes, and thus found the movie very enjoyable. Personally I hope you find the same.

OVERALL

The Losers is one big, sugary, brawny, fun popcorn movie, and will guarantee a good time. It is fast, has enough witty lines to fill 3 other movies, and features characters that you will enjoy watching. I was reminded of The Adventures of Robin Hood (1939), as both movies share the same good-hearted and honest sense of fun. I went in not expecting too much, but came out brimming with energy. For my money The Losers is also funnier than most comedies released recently, Hot Tub Time MachineKick-Ass, etc. If only more action movies were like this, the genre would not have the bad reputation that it does.

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“The Losers” on other websites:

IMDB —– Rotten Tomatoes —– Wikipedia

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May 6, 2010 Posted by | 4 Stars, Film Review, Genre - Action, Year - 2010-2019 | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

87 – Wall Street (1986)

Wall Street REVIEW

4.5/5 stars

Director – Oliver Stone

Cast – Michael Douglas, Charlie Sheen, Michael Sheen, Daryll Hannah, Terence Stamp, Hal Holbrook

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 Wall Street, Oliver Stone’s follow-up to his enormously succesful Platoon, plots the rise and fall of a young man who tries to get ahead in the financial world of the mid 1980’s. Charlie Sheen stars as the young man, his father Michael Douglas appears as his on-screen dad, and Michael Douglas co-stars as the infamous character Gordan Gekko.

Plot-wise, Gordon Gecko is an unscrupulous business man who will cut throats and stab backs to get what he wants. Due to this he has, of course, become a major player in American business, with influence and power that young Sheen can only dream of. Sheen apprentices himself to Gekko, who trains him in the ways of Wall Street. After finding himself involved in a highly unethical business trade involving an airline his father works for, Sheen is forced to make a decision regarding his lifestyle and the consequences it brings about to himself and others.

Charlie Sheen is very good as the likable but naive young man who, while trying to please his father and make a name for himself, is caught up in circumstances that go increasingly over his head. He projects the perfect mix of earnestness and natural pluck that the role needs. Michael Douglas as the sly, double-dealing Gordon Gekko, is wonderful, and in fact received an Academy Award for the role.

Wall Street thankfully avoids the preachiness that such a film could easily fall into, and instead mainly positions itself as a coming-of-age film. It still works as a moral and financial  lesson, but as I said, does not bludgeon us with it. Its financial dealings, which provide the plot of the film, are complicated and beyond the knowledge of the average viewer, but Stone presents them slowly, easing us into the world of Wall Street. Even when there are a few deals that are a bit too complicated for  us, we can always watch the characters. How they react to the goings-on gives us all the information we need.

Wall Street is a drama, but almost qualifies as a thriller. A slow, potboiler of a thriller, to be sure, but a thriller all the same. Gordon Gekko is a wonderful villain, and the various supporting cast is excellent. Daryll Hannah, as a young married woman Sheen wants to seduce, is perhaps a bit… dull  I guess would be the right word. She sounds high through the whole movie, and its very distracting. She is really the only downside to an excellent cast that includes Martin Sheen, Terrence Stamp, John C. McGinley, Hal Holbrook.

OVERALL

Wall Street is an excellent movie that would draw in any audience and sweep them towards its gripping and thoughtful conclusion. It is a smart movie, but it does not pander. For my money it is better than Stone’s more famous movie, shot directly before this, Platoon. For a moving and brainy coming-of-age story, look no further.

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“Wall Street” on other websites:

IMDB —– Rotten Tomatoes —– Wikipedia

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May 4, 2010 Posted by | 4.5 Stars, Film Review, Genre - Drama, Year - 1980-1989 | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment