Recently in the movies Category

X-Men III - The Last Stand...

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wolverine.jpg (Spoiler Warning - Read at your own risk)
We went to see X-Men III on Friday night and I came out of the movie with mixed feelings. Not quite sure if I liked it as much as I or II. On one hand to the good, my least favorite character got offed. I always felt Cyclops was far too whiny to be an effective X-Man. On the other, not so good, so did Professor X and Jean Grey/Phoenix. Mystique and Magneto pretty much neutered and normalized - not good. And the legion of mutants led by a motley crue of wanna-be's *sigh*. The mutant sniffer chick reminded me too much of the Anna-Lucia character from Lost (very irritating) while the sonic clapper chick was just plain weird. The trailers played up Arcangel yet he had very little screen time, and damnit - no Nightcrawler this time, however, introducing The Beast was good. Yet finally, the storyline was kind of weak - what if we could make everyone "normal". Now define "normal". Which theme, of course, lends itself well to a polarizing of camps (good mutants, X-Men vs bad mutants, Magneto's crew). Maybe I'm missing a greater theme, that of humanity seeking to control biology/nature/evolution... (ok I'm reaching here) and the Pandora's box that can unleash.
Hmmm, looks like the cons are outweiging the pros right now. I think the movies are getting a little tired - maybe it's time to put them to rest. On a positive note, I'll be eagerly awaiting Wolverine which is scheduled to be released in 2007.
For X-Men III: 3 out of 5 stars.

V for Vendetta...

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Just got back from seeing V for Vendetta. It's a movie you'll find that stays with you long after you've left the theatre. Rife with parallels to the world of today while set in the near future it's a film that fills you with conflicted and uneasy feelings. Did I like the movie? I thought it was brilliant!

The message was clear - a commentary on totalitarian regimes, and the people who don't venture beyond the comfort of complacency and allow those in power to commandeer their lives. Maybe it's a clarion call for people to wake up and be interested in our governments; to question and hold accountable those whom we elect to govern our nations. Also a comment on definitions - terrorist vs freedom fighter. Words we've been made painfully aware of for the past 5 years since the strife of a far away land made its presence felt on a continent a world away. Is V a terrorist? Yes, but only to the corrupt government which is the focus of destruction. To the people he is a freedom fighter, the leader of their revolution.

Another uneasy theme is that of the end justifying the means. For V this is plain and clear but for the audience it's far more complex. Violence as a means to an end is difficult to justify, even as revenge (perhaps even more so as revenge). Then there was what V did to Evey - did he torture and brainwash her into believing in his cause - or did he simply strip away her complacency, her comfort, until she had nothing left to lose but her dignity, her pride, her sense of self and found it was a line she would not cross.

It's also a comment on media - the mechanism of spin that is the mouthpiece of the state. How people are fed what the state wishes, decrees, allows them to hear. How news reports are slanted to achieve the desired effect. Hmm - is it any wonder the movie was panned so viciously by major newspapers? The Washington Post "V for Vendetta is a piece of pulp claptrap; it has no insights whatsoever into totalitarian psychology and always settles for the cheesiest kinds of demagoguery and harangue as its emblems of evil." (full review here); New York Times ""This future-shock story about a masked avenger at war with a totalitarian British regime sags when it should zip." (full review here) for example. Maybe I'm just jaded. I take all my news with more than a grain of salt. The Toronto Star review even goes so far to say that "this is not the movie, and these are not the times, for sophisticated arguments." the sophisticated argument being that everyone is a terrorist until they become the government. Maybe this is not the movie, but why are these not the times? Who determines the "times" when we can question and debate these sophisticated arguments.

There has also been some panning of the main character being masked. Is not the use of the mask in theatre a practice that first began in ancient Greece? To me, the performance was masterful. To be able to convey emotion and evoke empathy from the audience all without facial cues takes considerable skill and artistry. I also felt Natalie Portman delivered her character well both as everywoman Evey, then Evey the victim, and finally Evey the politically aware revolutionary. It's interesting how both Evey and the Inspector (played by Stephen Rae) go on a journey by such different paths and end up in the same place. As the chancellor, John Hurt, played him a little over the top. But perhaps the actions and behaviour of any dictator seem over the top to the rational masses.

V for Vendetta - violent? yes. verbose? yes. thought-provoking? yes. must see? yes! yes! yes!

Harry Potter & the Goblet of Fire ...

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hp-gof.jpgJust got back from this movie and was pretty impressed. I really enjoyed it. Even though they cut tons of stuff out of the book the story still came through well enough. I think the opening -scenes of the Quidditch World Cup - was right on awesome. Quite the stadium! It's unfortunate in a way that the characters are growing up as they now have teen moodiness and hormonal angst to deal with. The actors did a well enough job of it but it does tend to get a bit tiresome. Especially when you have a teen at home... ;) The Tri-Wizard Tournament was well done too - particularly the first and third tests. And the tragic end, in my opinion, was bang on. The only disappointment was not enough Snape! There's so much story that the teachers played very minor roles in this show. But overall I'd give it 5 stars!


A History of Violence ...

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violence.jpg We just got back from the movie A History of Violence. It was (no surprise) ... pretty violent.
We first get a peek at the picture of an idyllic family. Maybe too idyllic. It doesn't seem real that any family is that perfectly harmonious, at least not these days (or maybe I'm too jaded). But this serves perfectly as the sugar coating to the strange and distasteful layer beneath that slowly comes to light as the story unfolds. It's the story of a man trying to keep his family safe as violence circles around them spiralling inwards, demanding attention.
Thematically the movie speaks to a person's history as what defines them (you can't run from your past), and how violence begets violence. Well acted and well written, the visuals are at once both gripping and disturbing.
Here's a funny thing though, as the credits are rolling the end music comes in and it's very reminiscint of music from the Lord of the Rings -- Howard Shore giving the nod to Viggo perhaps?
4 stars out of 5

sin city ...

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19m.jpgHaving missed it at the theatre, we finally watched Sin City last night - what an amazing movie! This is definitely one we'll have to buy. It opens with an assault on your senses, both sight and sound, and continues to command your attention all the way through. Eagerly awaiting the sequels!

The film plays like the graphic novel it's drawn from - in fact it's like a graphic novel brought to life. I love the way the digital elements are placed in the movie, almost like the live action reverts to animated and then back again.

The film itself is comprised of a number of stories and characters who weave their way through each others' storylines. Kind of like Heavy Metal meets Pulp Fiction. Be aware that there's loads of violence and gore and really dark overall. (Frank Miller writing/directing and Quentin Tarantino guest directing - 'nuff said) It's done in black and white with colorizing/highlighting of certain things for effect. Such as the crimson slash of lipstick for example. Visually stunning.

Of the characters, I think my favorite character of them all is Marv, and probably the 2nd favorite is Miho; the creepiest is Kevin (played by Elijah Wood).

5 stars out of 5

Fantastic Four ...

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Fantastic FourWe went to see the Fantastic Four last night. The reviews have been pretty brutal about this film but being a fan of comics I insisted on seeing it anyway. Well, I liked it. It was quite enjoyable. I'm not sure what the reviewers are hoping for...folks this is an adaptation of a comic book not a literary epic. It's not meant to be an Oscar winner - it's just meant to be entertaining. I was entertained. I liked the characters - they did justice to the comic. Effects were good. Dr. Doom was particularly impressive when he finally got into his mask and cloak although I did wonder why the people of Latveria would gift an industrialst with a metal mask. Yes, there were plot holes but perhaps they'll have a better writer for the sequel.
Anyway, for light summer entertainment it works just fine.
3 stars out of 5

2 movies: Hostage and Cursed ...

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Tuesday night at the movies...well being sick and all, D rented a couple of movies to watch this evening and here is the rundown on them.

hostage.jpgFirst was Hostage, starring Bruce Willis. He plays a small town cop who was previously a hostage negotiator with the LAPD who ends up leaving that position after a failed negotiation which ends badly - crazy and hostages dead, including a young boy who had placed his trust in him. He finds himself embroiled in another hostage situation that he gladly hands off to a larger police dept. until he is forced to reassert command of the situation by another party who holds his own family hostage. Lots of action ensues. Creepy thug was played to perfection by Ben Foster; and Kevin Pollack was the epitome of "dad".
3 stars out of five

cursed.jpgNext we watched Cursed. Now I really liked this werewolf movie (but I've yet to see the Ginger Snaps movie/s - I hear they're awesome). In Cursed, I think what I liked best was the treatment of the movie - kind of Buffy'esque in presentation. I liked the symmetry of cool people who are "monsters" to the uncool people who become real monsters and exact revenge. Great stuff. And I guess it is really a story about revenge and how the need for revenge can make monsters of us all. The effects were fun if gory, but the movie leaves you at the end with no icky aftertaste.
4 stars out of 5

the woodsman ...

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woodsman.jpg D and I rented and watched The Woodsman the other night. It's about a child molester who is released from prison after serving 12 years. He settles in some town USA and tries to rebuild his life while struggling with shame and disgust he feels for his past. He is desperate to be "normal" and not have those "feelings" anymore and is terrified he will never be normal.

This movie was so well done it was excruciatingly painful to watch. The subject matter so abhorrent and yet you can almost feel pity for the main character. And of course you can feel empathy for those who can't accept him back into society. Kevin Bacon's acting was masterful in this film.

(5/5 stars)

Mr. & Mrs. Smith ...

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Just got back from seeing Mr. & Mrs. Smith and I have to say I enjoyed this movie. Directed by Doug Liman (Bourne Supremacy) there was a bit of camera shake and I'm not sure if this "mockumentary" style was really needed, but it was minimal and thus bearable for this movie. Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie just sizzled on screen. Their fight scene was awesome and their dialogue snappy.

So the story is of a married couple, bored in their dull, routine of a marriage who suddenly find things spiced up to the max. So as they hunt each other and the adrenaline starts pumping, they suddenly find themselves turned on to each other. Hmmm... nothing like a little stalking and trying to kill each other to liven things up a bit. Or maybe it's the catharsis of letting all the truths come out. No true relationship can be built on lies and as the truth comes out they get to really know each other.

It was a good 3 stars out of 5. Heck, even if you don't like the action there's always the eye candy.

star wars III ...

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88m.gifJust got back from seeing Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith. One word - awwwsome. I think Ian McDiarmid has got to be the greatest hammy actor since good ole Bill Shatner. As Darth Sideous his sense of pacing is outstanding, his words seem to slowly ooze from his mouth.

But watching the movie is like watching a slow motion train-wreck. We know the ending of course, and watching Anakin unravel is conflicting. It's a little sad but I was never really fond of the Anakin character - from know-it-all kid to petulant teenager and now to one messed up young adult. Emotionally weak, mentally fragile and very strong in power - a dangerous combination that Palpatine can easily use against him. So then Anakin's strongest persona is eventually Darth Vader and it's exciting to see him become the Sith Lord. It settles on him and he wears it much more easily than the Jedi Knight Obi Wan wanted him to be. Go figure.

Star Wars 1 and 2 were a yawn but I really enjoyed 3. Not as much as 4 which I saw maybe a bazillion times but 3 was very good.
4.5 stars out of 5, it's a definite go see.



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