Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Potter Phenomenon

The Potter Phenomenon

The year was 2001 when the critically and commercially succesfull film 'Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone' (Philosopher's in the UK) was originally released to the public,an hat it offered was a ticket for an enormous magical ride that would take us through the life of a young boy who discovers he is a wizard and his struggle against the man who murdered his parents, and it has taken us to the moment we are right now. Its been 10 years since then (hard to believe, huh?), and while many of the fans (including me) are sad to see this series leave, we are all very excited to see the final conclusion to this wonderful series. In less than 24 hours I'll be attending the theater to watch the film, though there are even many people who are attending the midnight screening. While it may not mean as much as older or younger generations (I mean several years younger) for the people who grew up watching this films, like myself, this is the decisive moment of one of the most unforgettable film series we've seen in years.

This little blog might just run a little longer than my usual ones so please bare with me ;)

Ranking the Harry Potter movies:
7. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone: As I said, with this one we boarded the Hogwarts express into a magical and jawdropping world. It was a very fun and ineresting ride back when it was released, but after the years one cannot help but compare it to its predecesors, and unforunately it does pale a little while at that. The fact that this film is much less dark than the rest, including the second one, and also that this film doesn't contain the thrills and emotions from future films make it fall low in this list. But that does not mean that this is a bad film. While a little thin and its character lack development, its magical themes and a very good cast of child actors who can belivably play their roles capture the viewer and hold them tight into the wizarding world of Harry Potter.

6. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince: I think that the book flows with more thills and emotion, and the film kind of lacked many of the great stuff in the book. However, the film is still a nice adding to the franchise. With much darker and more mature elements than before, and with the safety of Hogwart's students facing great dangers, this film is still very exciting. The performances from the whole cast aroutstanding, and the screenplay, despite lacking some of the intrigue from the book, does capture the book's heart.

5. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix: Considered by many the weakest of the Potter films. I myself don't think its the best, but it is still a very good one. I applaud the film for its darkness and how they portray Harry's trouble with his connection with Voldemort. I liked how they made him face his fears and his anger, because up until then he had appeared like 100% good. The cast do a terrific job with this one too, especially Helena Boham Carter as the pychopathic Bellatrix Lestrange. The problem with this film is that it sacrificed the last films' heart for making a much darker adaptation, and that's basically what killed it for many people. Also, many chumps of the book were cut out, so yeah, it is evident why the fans of the book would get angry as well.

4. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets: I debate with myself if I should have put this one spot higher, but I guess it is good here. This film, darker than the first but lighter than the second, used to be my favorite up until I rewatched them all before the sixth one came along. The mystery of the chamber and Slytherin's heir, added the Basillisk and the attacks on the muggle borns, makes this film is a very interesting film to watch. True, it still misses the character development like in the previous one, but it is still pretty good.

3. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows, Part 1: This one danced around quite a bit. I wasn't really sure if I should rate it as one film or wait for the next one to do it as a whole. The fact that it ends on a cliffhanger made me lean on the latter option for a while, but frankly I am more tempted to review both films separately. While I was expecting a mre epic, verging on apocalyptic, story (though I am sure we'll get that in Part 2) I was satisfied with this film. The three main charcters have developed quite nicely, and the actors all turn in very good performances. David Yates also delivers a very good direction, and any second thoughts regarding him may jst go away thanks to this.

2. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban: People consider it the very best of the series, and no wonder, but for me it comes in second. It delivers very good dosis of suspense and intrigue, and as its mysteries are revealed it becomes more exciting by minute. Here is where it basically went dark, and I think that it is the right moment too. Just as Harry and his friends turn teenagers. Gary Oldman's performance is definitely the best one, but the rest of the cast also turn in very good acting.

1. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire: I am sure a handful of people will disagree with me here, but please put away your torches and hear me out. First of all, the Triwizard tournament is a delight to see. The effects are very good and added in the tials they work just fine. Voldemort's new body makes his debut on the film, and while he may look like a snake, he is very scary. The intrigue and suspense build up to an exciting climax, where we get to see Harry's first fight with Lord Voldemort. And while I know that these aren't enough for some people, they were for me


Now, I am going to run down a couple of "Harry Potter's Best" in the series:

Best Battle:
Harry Potter vs Lord Voldemort, Graveyard Battle (Goblet of Fire)
Albus Dumbledore vs Lord Voldemort, Ministry (Order of the Phoenix)
Harry Potter vs Tons of Dementors, the Woods (Prisoner of Azkaban)
Harry Potter vs Basilisk, Chamber of Secrets (Chamber of Secrets)
Harry Potter vs Dragon, Triwizard Tournament (Goblet of Fire)

Best Quidditch Match:
Griffindor vs Slytherin (Sorcerer's Stone)
Griffindor vs Slytherin (Chamber of Secrets)
Griffindor vs Hufflepuff, with added Dementor presence (Prisoner of Azkaban)
Irland vs Bulgaria, World Cup Final (Goblet of Fire) -I know this hardly qualiffies as a Quidditch match but the intro was pretty cool :)
Ron vs McLaggen, try outs (Half Blood Prince)

Best Ron and Hermione Moment:
Ron says Hermione's name unconcious (Half Blood Prince)
Hermione holds Ron's hand for a second (Prisoner of Azkaban)
Ron getting jelous over Viktor Krum (Goblet of Fire)
Hermione getting jelous over Lavender Brown (Half Blood Prince)
Ron saying "they wouldn't last two weeks without Hermione" and then adding "don't tell her I said that" (Deathly Hollows Part 1)

Best Polyjuice Potion Use:
Harry and Ron to sneak into Slytherin's dorms (Chamber of Secrets)
Barty Crouch Jr to sneak into Hogwarts as Mad Eye Moody (Goblet of Fire)
The Seven Harrys (Deathly Hollows Part 1)
Harry, Ron and Hermione to sneak into the Ministry (Deathly Hollows Part 1)
-Some sneaky potion isn't it?

Best Creature:
Buckbeak, the Hippogriff (Prisoner of Azkaban)
The Dragon Harry has to face (Goblet of Fire)
Thestrals (Order of the Phoenix)
Fluffy, the three headed dog (Sorcerer's Stone)
Dementors (Prisoner of Azkaban, Order of the Phoenix, Half Blood Prince, Deathly Hollows Part 1)

Best Battle: Harry vs Voldemort (Goblet of Fire)
Best Quidditch Match: Griffindor vs Hufflepuff (Prisoner of Azkaban) (its in spanish)
Best Ron and Hermione Moment: Hermione Holds Ron's Hand for a Second (Prisoner of Azkaban)
Best Polyjuice Potion Use: The Seven Harrys (Deathly Hollows Part 1)
Best Creature: Buckbeak, the Hippogriff (Prisoner of Azkaban)

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows, Part 2
For those who have read the book, we all know what's going to happen. To see it on screen will be somethig fantastic. For those who haven't read it, I won't spoil it for you ;)
I just can't believe its reaching an end now. Its been 10 years of my life. Basically my childhood ends tomorrow. Film after film, we all had something to look forward to, and that's the next one. But now there isn't any of that. It all ends tomorrow. One can just hope its a good film to one of the biggest phenomenons in recent history. :'(

Finally watch this last video that shows clips from all 7 movies and the upcoming one in preparation for it :)

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

A Little Notice

In the past week or so I send a message saying that I had had some internet problems that had prevented me from blogging and logging into the site. I thought I had that solved. Nevertheless, the ever-so-annoying problem returned and I have been almost the whole week without internet access. I have logged in for a couple of minutes on other computers and such, but I haven't been able to consistently reply, review, blog and comment on everything that's going on. I think I have that covered now. Fingers crossed.

Anyway, I am sure you're all aware that a 10 years series is coming to a close on Friday, and the films that defined a generation are finally ending. I can't believe it, really. Back in 01 who would have thought it would come as far? I've been rewatching the films right from 'Sorcerer's Stone' up to 'Deathly Hollows: Part 1', and I am getting ready for Part 2, the epic conclusion, on Friday. I was first planning on going to midnight screening, but then decided against it. I think I'm not able to go due to a tight schedule. But I am going on Friday afternoon, and damn I hope the film is as good, or even better (hopefully), than every other Potter film we've seen ( :D ). Its like my childhood is finally coming to a close. So I am plannng on blogging a little something about the series tomorrow. And I hope to have for Friday, or maybe Saturday if I can't on that day, a review of the last Harry Potter film. I hope I can get that done, and my problems sorted out in order to do that.

More stuff to come too: I think I'll be doing, if this crappy internet connection lets me, to blog something about the Emmys (though we'll know how flawed that can be), and maybe a couple of more reviews of other films, a 'My Favorite Directors' edition, and probably a book review which I haven't done in a long time.

So there it is, I just wanted you guys to know that I will try to log into this much more often, and definitely expect to hear from ;)
Best wishes, your friend, CACB

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Transformers: Dark of the Moon

Transformers: Dark of the Moon

Director: Michael Bay
Year: 2011
Country: USA

I know I said I probably wouldn't see this, but I ended up watching it anyway. To tell the truth, the film wasn't as bad as I was expecting, but it wasn't good either. What I regret te most is not watching but rather paying the overpriced 3D tickets (thanks to my little brother, but I don't really blame him, this type of stuff and in 3D appeal to younger children) for a film that paying a normal ticket was expensive anyway.

While the plot of the film is very uneven and hard to really explain, I'll try my best to do it. At least it has a more concise and solid plot than Revenge of the Fallen. Anywa
y, after number 2 the Decepticons haven't been seen in quite some time, and the Autobots now help the humans to work their own conflicts. Sam Witwicky, recently graduated from college and in a new relationship with yet another super hot girl, is currently looking for a job, and his girlfriend's boss sends a recommendation to a company for hiring him. But when the Decepticons attack Sam in his new job, he discovers an ultra secret that ha been guarded by the humans since 1969 that would play a major role in the war of the Transformers. That's basically it, but you have to understand that, as in the second one, things start moving and by the end we get something much different than from what we started.

Well, I have to say that I was (at some level) impressed with this film. I was expecting something worse than what was the first two films, but we actually got something much better than the second one at least. Again, I'm not really saying its good, just better than what I was expecting.
Anyway, for the acting part we get some average to lousy acting. Shia LaBeouf plays Sam Witwicky just like he always does, but his character has been tired down and now he isn't the same we've seen throughout the whole series. He might have matured, but he isn't any bettter
than what he already was. As always, the good performance is delivered by John Turturo. Unfortunately, much like with Sam Witwicky, his character has been tired down and, frankly, overused that he ins't funny nor clever to watch anymore, so his good performance is practiclly wasted. Sam's parents are like always the unnecessary and annoying part of the film, especially Sam's mom, and we get incredibly ridiculous scenes when the world was coming to an end. Rosie Huntington-Whitely does a better job than Megan Fox did, but her empty and flat character doesn't really help her. Her performance isn't awful, but she still isn't convincing enough. Patrick Dempsey, who plays the human villain, did an ok job, but his one sided, two dimensional and silly character wasn't good either.

The film's biggest flaw is its script, as always. The script has dozens of plot holes, just like Revenge of the Fallen. We also get some very stupid things happening all along, and some very very unbelivable stuff too. For example, Carly (Rosie Huntington) goes through an almost apocalypse, and in the final scene she doesn't have a single scratch, her white dress is as clean as it was before
it all started, and her high heels permitted her run and escape all those robots and near death situations. Ridiculous. Her character had no purpose in the movie whatsoever, other than just being eye candy for the male audience. And while many people can argue she was the motivation for Shia LaBeouf's character, the climax would have gone down exactly the same way without her. Other characters had no purpose either, just like Sam's parents who weren't needed in the film at all, or the two little Autobots who were just adding the "comic-relief", but they ended just being annoying, though one can argue that at the end they served their purpose. Also, how many times can the bad guys die and come back? I mean, Megatron before this film had been already killed once and badly injured as well. Come on, seriously? Wouldn't he just give up after two times his plan didn't work? And I have something to say too about the climax: how can they create a climax that lasts around 45 minutes of non stop action? Come on seriously, for the last 45 mins of the film it was just pure explosions and shooting and crashing etc. I had a headache after watching the film.

The film has its good parts despite its bad ones. The most obvious can be the special effects. The effects are some pretty good one, with the explosions, shooting and Transformers looking quite impressive. The action is entertaining for a while, just until it gets too long and then we get tired. And we get some new cool Autobots and Decepticons as well, and while they might have no shred of character development in them, its fun to watch them in action.

When you get an unnecessary (and awful sequel) for a little over average film then by no means we should get a third film. While it may not be as bad as the second one, I still think that probably it was left undone. Some flashy special effects and some cool action aren't enough to save the film from its lazy and depth-less script, its flat and useless characters and some crappy acting. I know it is no surprise that this film is this way, but seriously, they could have done it much much better with another script and a better director.
My recommendation: Don't watch it, but if you have to then I would trongly advice you to wait for the DVD. Much cheaper and you won't feel guilty for wasting your money on the cinema.
My score: 38% (probably high from what you'd gather from the review, but yeah, I think it pretty sums it up).

Saturday, June 25, 2011

My Favorite Directors
Sir Alfred Hitchcock, Master of Suspense

After overviewing my favorite director of all times, Stanley Kubrick, I think its appropiate to move on to my second favorite director of all times, and that's none other than horror and suspense master Alfred Hitchcock, director of such classics as Psycho, Vertigo and North by Northwest. With a career spanning almost six decades, he hardly ever made a misfire (not one that I have seen at least, but I have heard that he's done like two or three that don't compare to his other better films), and that is a great achievement. I have seen many directors having a roller coster of a career, but not Hitchcock. A few "bumps" on the road to becoming one of the most memorable directors of all times can be forgivable... and if that's not a good enough reason, then watch his greatest films and you'll see that those alleged minor wrongs are no big thing.

Top 5 films:
5. The Lady Vanishes: An intriguing tale of conspiracies and espionage in pre-World War II Britain. This early Hitchcock thriller has the ingridients that would make his films from the coming decades such a hit, and those are a tight suspenseful plot, colorful characters, a few twists on the way and his trademark cameo. The theme of espionage, recurring in his early films, is very well carried out in the film, nd it certainly assures a very intriguing train ride.
4. Rear Window: His first collaboration (or at least I believe it is his first) with praised actor James Stewart. The film is about suspicion and murder, and the fact that it developes through the telescope of a man in a wheelchair, which makes it harder for him to escape when he have to, makes it all more thrilling. This excellent thriller is definitely one to remember.
3. Shadow of a Doubt: One of his earliest American films, Hitchcock definitely masters the serial killer trama in one of his first attempts. Another great story about suspicion, Hitchcock keeps the audience glued to the film as he keeps adding suspense to both sides of the party, the girl who suspects her uncle is a killer and to the uncle who is very possibly a killer.
2. Psycho: Probably everybody's Hitchcock favorite, but for me it comes in as second. But that doesn't mean it isn't a masterpiece in its own right. The film, the mother of horror and slasher films, its a wonderful and macabre ride that every movie fan is bound to take. Anyone who has seen it knows that that almost every slasher film released after it pales in comparison, but also knows that it was because of this that those movies were made. And I have to of course mention the unforgettable shower scene, which is one of the better known and most memorable scenes in history.
1. Vertigo: The film which I do believe to be his masterpiece. The psychological thriller about a retired police detective suffering from acrophobia is nothing but excellent. The film's great direction and style make for what isone of his most celebrated films. James Stewart's performance is definitely one of his best. I know it is hard to choose which one is the best, especially with so many great films, but I do believe that this is his very best film. If you haven't seen it see it now. Trust me, any Hitchcock fan must see this.

I know there are at least a dozen films that should be mentioned, but I could only say five as it is a top five. I guess that honorable mentions go to: North by Northwest, Dial M for Murder, The Wrong Man, The Man Who Knew Too Much, The 39 Steps, The Birds, Rebecca, Notorious, Blackmail... damn, I'll leave it there.

Alfred Hitchcock is often cited as "the master". While I think that this term should be applied to the greatest director of all times (a term applief to Stanley Kubrick), I think that it does suit Sir Alfred Hitchcock, as he is indeed a master. He is the master of horror and suspense, the greatest mind in the genre of thriller and terror. His body of work amasses over 50 films and reaches almost six decades of work. He is one of the
most, if not the most, unforgettable directors of all times, and when you check a list of the greatest directors you'll most definitely will find his name near the top of the list.
Hitchcock's films were, for the most part, concise and short, many that didn't go over hour and a half, and I think that his loongest film ran just about ten minutes over two hours. But that doesn't mean he was lazy or that his stories were lacking something. The reason is that he, instead of many other directors who cared for delivering a message throughout the whole film, the message he wants to deliver is shortly given to the audience. And I think that his purpose of filmmaking wasn't to deliver his views on humanity or to reflect on a situation (like Stanley Kubrick or Federico Fellini), but to simply just give a good time to the viewer. I'm not saying any of the two ways is wrong. I enjoy both this ways of filmmaking. It is hard to pick one out of the two, but yo
u there are certain times that you'd rather watch a Hitchcock film than a Kubrick film. When you're feeling down I don't think you'd watch a film about a man trying to murder his family or a solider abused and finally kills himself and his commanding officer, but rather something short and fun maybe? And again, I'm not saying that because Hitchcock's films are more cheerful or rather gurantee a good time are better, I'm saying that they are two different ways of expressing into the big screen.
While Fellini and Kubrick will go deep into the human psyche and explore the reasons of why humans act the way we do, Hitchcock would rather simply explore a situation in which unlikely heroes may arise. As I said, I think Hitchcock made his films for fun and for giving the audience a good time, unlike other filmmakers like the ones mentioned. And as I said, there are times for every director.

Hitchcock is undoubtly one of the most iconic and well remembered directors in cinema history. In every top 100 list you'll find at least three of his films, and in most you'll find more than that. He is the master of suspense and horror. He practically gave birth to the slasher genre (sad that it turned out to be so shameful after its first couple of hits), as well as he probably gave birth to the thriller and suspense genre. It is sad that he never won an Academy award (just like Kubrick), even when his film Rebecca did win Best Picture. He got snubbed several times, and thats a crime, as he is one of the better remembered directors in history.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Comic Book Movie Ideas

Comic Book Movies Ideas

With many comic book/superhero films coming out recently, and my inner nerd that occasionally rises to the surface doing exactly that, I have come out with a couple of ideas for what could be future comic book movies, or movies that were never actually made but how they could be done, or movies that have the potential to be made in the future but nothing is certain. Anyway, I know I don't do to much stuff like this but I thought it would be fun, so why not give it a try? By the way, I can't believe I have such knowledge for comic books. I feel like a nerd just by thinking on it (no offense to anyone). So yeah, as I said, I have an inner nerd that has once again risen to the surface.

The Dark Knight Rises/Other Potential Batman Movies

I have a couple of ideas for a batman movie, and since he is my favorite superhero of all times I'll start with him. So about The Dark Knight Rises (Chris Nolan's third Batman film), I heard the villains in the film will be Bane and Catwoman. They're great characters and villains but if I was to write the movie, I would write in Two Face. I know, he died in the previous movie and a memorial was held, but Two Face is one of Batman's greatest villains, and I think he does deserve a whole movie for himself. So here's how I think they can cover his story: the day of Harvey Dent's funeral when they open the casket it is empty. They at first think it was stolen, but a couple of days later sightings of Harvey Dent are reported. Anyway, as it turns out he survives the fall (remember Batman did too, though I know, it is possible the suit helped him) and know he ants to get back at Gotham who stole Rachel from him. Anyway, I'm sure Nolan may have something even better, but this is something I would like to see anyway. As for any other Batman movie (weather is the start of a new series or a new inclusion to the on-going one, though it is supposed to end after The Dark Knight Rises) I would like to see The Riddler on screen, but please, this time make it something serious. A creepy, dark look into the Riddler could be something great to see on screen. A good actor to play him could be Johnny Depp (though he is the obvious choice).

The Man of Steel/Other Potential Superman Movie

As I understand it, in The Man of Steel the villain will be Zod. While I am not unhappy with this decision (Zod's one of my favorite Superman villains), I would have liked to have Brainiac in the movie, and I think that, for a starter, Zod isn't probably the best choice. Anyway, I think that they can have Zod tryig to rebuild Krypton here on Earth (though I think that's what they're gonna do). For other Superman movies, if they were to start from scratch, I think an origin story would suit him. A story about him trying to embrace his Kryptonian origins is probaby the best kick off to a new series of Superman (and I hope we get that in The Man of Steel), and then there's the obligatory villain for a Superhero film blockbuster. Lex Luthor is always the obvious choice, but I think for an origin story Zor-El, Jor-El's brother, could be a good villain. And I have always wanted to see a Doomsday film, but that can be a little tricky, not only because it deals with killing Superman, but also, if it is to follow the comic, then it could be a two and a half hour long film of no-stop action.

Spiderman film

To tell the truth, I'm not really looking forard to the next Spiderman movie. I don't know, but I don't think we'll get a serious movie, nor a movie that lives up to the Sam Raimi films. Anyway, for a Spiderman film a cool villain is always Dr. Octopus, but as he's already been used I guess that's why they chose the Lizzard. Anyway, the Chameleon or Elektro could work too. But to tell the truth I'd like to see a film that covers the symbiote storyline, and I hope it does better than the third film. A trilogy could come in use here, with the first film about Spiderman wearing the black suit as he explores his dark side, the second one about Venom, and the third one about Carnage. But Carnage to appear in film can be something heavy, and they would of course tone it down to get a PG 13 rating, which I find silly.

X-Men 4/Wolverine Sequel/First Class Sequel

Despite The Last Stand being just average, I think that a fourth movie isn't really off the table. Proffesor X is dead, so that could have the storyline in which they return in time to save him so the world doesn't become an apocalypse could be used, and frankly it would be very interesting to see. I think that we nevergot the Centinels going, and I think that many people woul have wanted to see them. For Wolverine, despite an awful origin film, I would really like to see another movie. The reason is that Wolverine is one of my favorite characters and if he's gonna have a movie then don't let it be that awful piece of garbage they call origin story. I think they could go with Wolverine travelling the world, or whatever that he did, and he has several encounters with no other than Sabretooth. I know, its a crappy plot description but I'm sure that the writers can come up with something exciting to fill in the blanks. For a First Class sequel I think that it is obvious: have the X-Men and the Brotherhood to face off for the first time. To add excitement, I think they can all have a common objective, something around the lines of preventing mutant exposure or anihilation, but Professor X and Magneto's differing ideas start a battle between them.

A New Watchmen film or reboot

Unlike many people, I enjoyed Zack Snyder's film, but I have to agree that it was a little disappointing. It follow the comic quite faithfully, but a couple of interesting parts (like the gangs and all, which is little but interseting still) were left out. Anyway, with a new Watchmen film there could be space for sequels, prequels and spin offs. I have always wanted a Rorschach spin off, and a Comedian spin off would also be amazing. A sequel can work if it follows Nite Owl and Silk Spectre into retirement but something forces them to come back and try to save the world once again, but to tell the truth I don't think that would really be good. Something more interesting can be a prequel which follows the Watchmen in the years before the Keene Act, which made illegal their activities. And going even further a prequel about the first generation of Watchmen, the Minutemen, would also be great too.

Daredevil Reeboot

I don't think a sequel would work for the best. Much like they did with The Incredible Hulk, have a new Daredevil film with new actors and a different storyline (though something similar wouldn't be that bad). I think Matt Damon could be a good Matt Murdock, but what are the real chances. Anyway, the story could be about Daredevil trying to take down the Kingpin, which in the movie was actually a little lame.

Green Arrow/Super Max movie

Around 2008, a script about a Green Arrow movie was circling the web. The plot was that Green Arrow is framed and locked in a maximum security prison for superheroes and villains for a crime he didn't commit. Inside there are dozens of villains (most of them relative unknowns, but we have a couple of big names like Lex Luthor, The Joker and The Riddler) were put in by Green Arrow himself. Green Arrow will have to team up with these villains to escape. Now, I don't know about you guys but this sounds awesome to me. However, chances for this movie being made are slim. And the script is nowhere to be found (which if any of you guys know something about it I would appreciate it, I really want to read it :) ). But I would really want this to be made. So my idea is simple: have a couple of better known villains (aside from the ones I just said) like Catwoman or Deathstroke. Maybe that would make the movie more possbile to being made (though I doubt that). Anyway, Green Arrow is actually a great superhero, and he is one of the most underrated ones, so a movie probaby would make him some good.

A dark Green Lantern story

As things seem to be right now, the Green Lantern movie sucks. I was planning on going to watch it this weekend, but according to the reviews I better not. I guess I'll watch Super 8 instead. Anyway, as I understand the movie deals with Hal Jordan stopping Parallax. Now, this part may contain spoilers to future Green Lanter movies, the comics or the very movie itself if they do it as the comics (but I doubt that). In the comics, Hal Jordan becomes Parallax, so I really can't see how they plan to do that movie. I think that a movie about the transformation he suffers would be awesome. But i know that probably would be too dark for a superhero film so what we need is a hero story. So instead of focusing in Hal Jordan they should focus on Kyle Rayner, who replaces Jordan as the new Green Lantern. So basically, while becoming Green Lantern, Kyle Rayner has to stop the previous Green Lantern as he turns darkside. That would great to see on screen, don't you think?

I told you, I have an inner nerd. I have a couple of more ideas but I think I've gone too long already so I guess I'll stop here. Unless you guys want to hear (or read) them. If that's the case I can do another blog, but this are the cool and exciting ones (if you believe they are all that). So anyway, thanks for reading and hope you enjoyed this.

Friday, June 10, 2011

My Favorite Directors: Stanley Kubrick

My Favorite Directors

Stanley Kubrick, the Controversial and Visionary Genius

Stanley Kubrick, the director of such films as 2001: A Space Odyssey, A Clockwork Orange and Dr Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, is most deinitely my favorite director of all times. His films, including the ones previously mentioned, are all masterpieces and excellent works of art that should be remembered through time as the excellent work they were. His visionary take on many subjects, as well as the controversy that arised when his films were released, make up for what could easily be the greatest director of all times.

Top 5 films:

5. Lolita: His first film to rise controversy. The story of a middle aged man who marries a woman because he fell in love with her 16 year old daughter. I know this is something that can upset or even disturb some viewers, but Kubrick's take on the subject makes it an unforgettable experience. His way of showing what people can do to achieve what they want is something revealing as it is unsettling.

4. The Shining: The horror tale about a family isolated in the Overlook Hotel as the father of the family goes mad. While the film doesn't follow too closely the book, and frankly it almost tells a different story, the close study on Jack Torrance's descent into madness as well as how his family try to deal with it before their own lives are in danger is something hard to forget.

3. Dr Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb: A long title, I know, but I think the title reflects the comedic and humoristic nature of the film. It is a comedy but set during a nuclear crisis. It is a dark political satire and it might be something hard to be taken lightly, but Kubrick's genius achieves this and not only that but also creates one of the best and most memorable comedies of all times.

2. A Clockwork Orange: The view of a disturbed soul in a world where things seem to have gone down the drain. It is the story of Alex DeLarge and how he and his friends engaged in sadistic activities, before he is incarcerated and reformed by a new procedure. This one is probably his most violent film (but Full Metal Jacket could give it a good competition) and I think that its violence is something as essential as the plot itself, as it help us to understand the metality of this individual who gets a kick out of making other people suffer.

1. 2001: A Space Odyssey: One of the most controversial films of all times, and a pioneer on special effects, this, arguably the mother of science fiction cinema, is a story a little harder to put in words, yet, its form of storytelling is an unforgettable one, and if you've seen this film you know exactly what I am talking about. The film presented the world with the not-too-much-acceoted Darwin theory of evolution, creating alot of controversy upon its release. Without much effort this could be the greatest science fiction film of all times.

What separates Kubrick from other directors is his portrayal of the human psychology on his films, especially on how he focused on the dark part of humanity. Unlike other directors like Hitchcock, who focused more on the story than the characters and made shorter and fast-paced films (and I'm not saying this in a bad way), Kubrick dedicated time of his films mostly on building up his characters and making them change throughout the story, not neccesarily into a more possitive self.

I think that when analysing Kubrick's films it is important to divide his films in pre-2001 and post-2011. His pre-2001 films were shorter and faster than his post-2001 films. These films also were much lighter in nature, and, while they still did, they focused lesser on the human mind and their motivations (with Lolita probably being an exception) than his post-2001 films. The latter films were much darker, longer and slower than his previous films. Also in this films he would focus alot more in the human mind and human psychology. His films often featured psychological themes, including dementia and how people can descend into it (like in The Shining or Full Metal Jacket). What can be said about these latter films is that they became much darker harder to take. If you see, in films such as A Clockwork Orange, The Shining, Full Metal Jacket and maybe even Eyes Wide Shut, Kubrick explores what motivated people to do those things they(we) do. As I said, he focused alot on the dark side of mankind.

Many people may view Kubrick as a cynical, as his way of seeing manking can be refelected on his films, but I think that this isn't an accerted observation. I think the reason of why he focused on the dark and negative actions or motivations of humans is because most people wouldn't really want to face that part of humanity, but he makes us face it, maybe because it will make us uncomfortable or maybe because nobody else will make us do it, but I think that this is an important thing that we need to face. And I think that this is why he is different from other directors, and I think that this is why he can be the greatest director who had ever lived.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The Hangover, Part II

The Hangover, Part II

Director: Todd Philips
Year: 2011
Country: USA

You would think that after a hangover THAT big nothing like that would ever happen again, but guess what: it did... just exactly the same. I don't mind repetitivity every once in a while, maybe it can work, maybe it can be as funny or funnier than the first time, but if you're gonna do it in a sequel then do it just once or twice throughout the whole movie, and try to fill the rest of it with fresh new and original ideas, making very different situations and still having a kick out of it. But the deal with The Hangover, Part II is that it is almost exactly what The Hangover was. And that's not a good thing.

After the disaster of the bachelor party that happened in Las Vegas two years prior, Stu, who is about to get married, decides that he just wants to have a bachelor brunch. The "wolf pack" travel to Thailand for Stu's wedding (with Alan barely invited). The night prior the ceremony the foru of them, along with Stu's brother in law Teddy, go to the beach to have a couple of beers. The next day, Stu, Alan and Phil wake up in a dirty hotel room in Bangkok (along with Chow). They know that Doug is in the hotel, but Teddy is nowhere to be found. With Stu getting married that day they have to find Teddy before the ceremony, but in a city where everything can happen (and by everything I mean everything weve already seen) finding him can be harder than it seems.

The main problem with The Hangover Part II, as I've already said, is that it echoes alot the first movie. It follows the same strucutre, it has almost the same situations but with a few details changed, and we even have a similar resolution. The opening scene was almost a copy from the one in the first, but it was funny. As I said, repetition can be funny every once in a while, but then it started to become annoying and silly. *SPOILERS* Instead of having a baby/tiger we have a drug dealing nicotine addicted monkey, instead of having a fake Doug we have a fake Teddy (a monk with an eternal vow of silence), instead of having a stripper/whore who Stu marries we have a transvestite whore who Stu drunkenly falls in love with. *SPOILERS OVER*, and there's much more.

The performances are solid and funny, but nothing special, except for Ken Jeong and Zach Galifianakis who were pretty good, but the problem was that their characters weren't likeable anymore. For Ken Jeong, his character was driven to the extreme and lost most of his charm from the first film. And Zach Galifianakis' character Alan was much more malign in this film, when in the first film he was innocent and that was made him funny, this time around he is darker, *SPOILERS ONCE AGAIN* this time roofying them on purpose, even if it was directed to Teddy *SPOILERS OVER*, and that basically ruined him for me.

The film is funny, yes, but it isn't hilarous, even if it uses many of the same jokes as in the first, only that much darker and nastier. That didn't help the film either. Making the film much nastier or crueler wasn't a big help, as it became or rude, or annoying or a simple turn off.

The Hangover, Part II is funny and has good performances, but the fact that it is an almost remake of the first film and that it is much crueler and nastier kind of ruins the film. It isn't a complete failure, but it isn't a success either. I've heard they are making a third one. What I say is that if they aren't going to change the situation and make something entirely different then don't really bother.

My recommendation: Is not really worth it going to the theater, better wait for the DVD/Blu ray if you want to watch it, but don't have high hopes.

My score: 43%

Saturday, June 4, 2011

X-Men: First Class

X-Men: First Class

Director: Matthew Vaughn

Year: 2011

Country: USA

I remember when the first X-Men movie came out. I was just a boy and my father took me to the cinema to watch the film. As I was a big fan of the cartoon and the comics I was very excited for the film. And even if I couldn't understand it on the level I do now, I remember how I enjoyed myself watching the film. Then, three years later X2 came out. Once again, my father took me to the theater. I enjoyed the film even more than the first. When The Last Stand came out I was older and had better understanding of these films. I watched the film with a couple of friends, and, despite it wasn't what number 1 and 2 were, I enjoyed it as well. Then it was Wolverine's turn. I was really looking forward to this one, as Wolverine was my favorite X-Men character, but the movie was a HUGE disapointment. And then, a new X-Men film was announced, X-Men: First Class. I thought it was a good idea, but after Wolverine I was a little doubtful about it. However, I still was looking forward to it. And I must say that my expectations were fulfilled.

The movie takes place in 1962, aproximately 40 years before the first film and 15 years before X-Men: Origins. Erik Lensherr(Michael Fassbender) has been plotting a revenge against Klaus Schmidt, a.k.a Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon), for years because he murdered his mother in a Nazi concentration camp years before. Charles Xavier (James McAvoy), a cocky and smart Oxford graduate, is publishing his thesis on human mutation. They are both mutants, Erik being able to control metals and Charles being a Telepath. Xavier and his friend Raven (Jennifer Lawrence), a shapeshifter who he found when they were just kids, are hired by the CIA to find Sebastian Shaw, who turns out to be a mutant himself and is the leaderof the Hellfire Club. At this they meet Lersherr, who tried to get revenge at Shaw but almost killed himself in the process. They then decide to track down mutants and form a special CIA division which will try and stop Shaw from starting a nuclear war between America and the Soviet Union. The film focuses on the relationship between Xavier and Lensherr, and how they finally became enemies and leaders of their movement of mutants.

As I said, it is nice to see the X-Men franchise back to form. The first two films were great, with a right mix of action and character and story developement. However, the third one sacrificed alot of its character developement for action, and while I still thought it was ok, it was a huge step down from its predecesors. Then, X-Men Origins: Wolverine was released, and while its story and main character could be some of the most interesting of the X-Men universe, the film was a very big disapointment.

The film has a great script. The characters (or at least the majority) are thoroughly developed and their qualities as well as their defcts are explored. I tink the most fun to watch was Raven/Mystique. In previous films, this character was a mysterious and dangerous mutant, but in this one we can see that she was just an insecure girl who just wanted to fit in. Usually, when a mysterious character is given a background I'd rather they didn't do it, but with Mystique it is different. It was very interesting to see this. Another interesting character to see develop was Hank McCoy, alias Beast. He presents the same problems as Mystique, only that he goes further than she does to be accepted. Lets just say he learned the lesson.

The performances all around were very good. Michael Fassbender certainly steals the show as a younger and less evil Magneto. He said he would try to be a Magneto different than Ian McKellen's, and I think it is safe to say he was, but this is a good thing. We get to see different characters from the ones we are used to, and probably this is the most interesting to see. James McAvoy's performance as Charles Xavier is also very good. Just like Fassbender, he plays a different Xavier than Patrick Stewart's. While Stewart's Proffesor X was a (quoting McAvoy) "a monk... a selfless, egoless almost sexless force for the betterment of humanity and mortality", McAvoy's Xavier is (again quoting him) "an ego-fueled, sexed up self serving dude". Kevin Bacon's performance as Sebastian Shaw was also excellent, and I really think that he does a very credible and fun to watch villain. Jennifer Lawrence was also very good as Raven/Mystique, and as I said, her character is one of the most fun to watch. The rest of the cast all do very good jobs in their characters.

The direction this film takes is also very good. Matthew Vaughn does a fantastic job at holding the reins of the film. His direction is stylish and very cool, but he also gets what he wants and needs from his actors, as well as putting the importance of the screenplay on the screen. I really hope that he sticks when the sequel (if its done, which I believe it will) is made, his job in this one was very good. If he had directed The Last Stand, and he had been attached before filming started, I'm sure we would have had a much better film. His mix of action, humor, human drama and character development all make up for a fantastic film.

For the visual part the film is amazing as well. The effects are first class, all flashy and fun to watch. The action scenes are eough to please any average summer moviegoer. You getthe exhilerating pulse that you get when you watch a fun action film, and it never sacrifices the plot or character developement.

I know I already have written alot so I'll end my review here. I have to say that this is a fantastic film, one of the best movies of the year, and the best installment in the franchise since X2. The performances are very good, the character and story developement are very well mixed with the action, and Matthew Vaughn certainly proves that he knows what he is doing. I really hope that we get a sequel for this, as long as they keep it good and don't screw up like many sequels do.

My recommendation: For X-Men fans is a must see, and for regular movie fans I think it is worth a watch.

My score: 91%

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Inglorious Basterds

Inglorious Basterds

Director: Quentin Tarantino
Year: 2009
Country: USA

If you've seen other Tarantino films (such as Pulp Fiction, Reservoir Dogs or Kill Bill) you know what you're in for if you're planning to see Inglorious Basterds... in a way. I say "in a way" because you'll know you are in for violence, long crude dialogues and some dark humor. But also you won't know exactly what you're in for. You can try and guess, but the picture you'll get is probably very different from what the movie really is about. The film is different from any other war film you've seen before, and who else but Tarantino to deliver such film?

Inglorious Basterds is the story of a group of American Jewish soldiers known as the Inglorious Basterds, lead by Lieutenant Aldo Raine, played by Brad Pitt. These soldiers go around murdering and scalping Nazi soldiers. As the story developes, two plans to end with the German Nazi German reign, one nexecuted by the Basterds, and another executed by a cinema owner, played by Melanie Laurent, who plans on avenging her family who was murdered by the Nazis a few years before.

Probably my plot description isn't the best. Anyway, the film is a very good and interesting, not to mention fun, piece to watch. As you know, Tarantino is known for long but sharp dialogues in his films, and this one is no different. While some of the dialogues may seem way too long at times, they are very well written. The action throughout is very interesting and original, and the story is too. Have you ever seen something like this before? Maybe, but not exactly this way. You've pobably seen a group of people murdering Nazi soldiers, but in those movies you won't see them calping the Nazis. Anyway, the characters are also very well written and developed. Colonel Hans Landa is probably the most memorable villain of the year. "That's a Bingo!"

Performance-wise the film is excellent as well. Christophe Waltz plays the main villain, Landa. His performance is top notch. He embodies his character in every possible way, bringing Hans Landa to life. His performance had him even speaking four different languages (English, German, French and Italian) and he is very good in all of them. Brad Pitt's performance is pretty good too as the man in front of the Basterds. He is funny, he is vulgar, he is outspoken, he is cocky. He is all of this and heis very believable at it. Melanie Laurent and Diane Krueger are the two lead women in the film. Both of them deliver very good and believable performances, especially Laurent. You can see it in her that she truly wants revenge.

Tarantino's direction is great too, but that is no surprise. He does a very good job with his actors, guiding them in what they have to do. His vision of the film is what makes it. Bloody and comic, just like his other films, his vision of Inglorious Basterds completes the film. I think that nobody else would hve been able to bring his script into the screen. If somebody else had done it then we would have a much different end result, and it wouldn't have been as good as it actually is. His style is written all over it, now imagine if somebody else had done it. He is the only one who could have pulled it through.

Tarantino' 2009 film Inglorious Basterds is a very interesting ride to take. It is unique and original, with excellent characters, played very well by its cast, and great dialogues. It has Tarantino's mark all over it, so nobody else could have done it.
My recommendation: You should go and see it, but a little warning it is not for everybody. So if you are weak to the stomach probably you shouldn't see it :)
My score: 87%

Trailer 1:

Trailer 2:

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Game of Thrones: HBO's New Series

Game of Thrones
Based on the Series by George R. R. Martin "A Song of Ice and Fire"

HBO's new series "Game of Thrones" premiered last sunday. The series for those who don't know is based on a series of seven books by American author George R. R. Martin. The first season will be based on the first book of the series "A Game of Thrones". This will be a fantasy series, but nothig like you've seen on TV before. As Martin himself puts it, this is fantasy for adults. While the likes of Lord of the Rings focused on magic and was clear battle of good vs evil, in Game of Thrones its approach is different. It doesn't spend a lot of attention on magic, and the conflicts aren't good vs evil either. It is a mature approach on the fantasy genre.

The pilot episode was nothing short from breathtaking. It was a mere glimpse into what is yet to come.

For the technical parts, Game of Thrones deserves a very special mentioning. The set decoration and art direction is outstanding. The settings of the series are amazingly realistic and very well designed. The costumes are also a very good work, what helps the viewer be transported into the world of Westeros. The music is also a very good accomplishment. The cinematography was also very well made, and it made the show feel like it was an actual movie.

In terms of story, Game of Thrones brings nothing but promise. As it was ony a pilot we don't get the full story of course, but what we've got so far was pretty good and gets our hopes up for the rest of it. From the opening scene with that heavy gate opening to the shocking and unsettling closure, the whole time we get sucked into this world. This simple beginning brings to our mind the possibility of fights over power and even maybe a war. It also make us think that treachery or love and hate or feelings as such may play a part in what is to come.

The acting was another fantastic element to the show. Theparts were perfectly casted and the characters fulfill their jobs. Sean Bean, who plays Eddard Stark, makes a very good first impression as to what could be one of the most memorable TV performances of the last few years. (But remember, I said "possibly", so if something goes wrong, and I'm not saying it will, please don't judge me). Lena Heady's performance was also excellently played, and the feeling she inspires in you is the on you're supposed to feel. Nikolaj Coster Waldau also did a very good job in his cocky and arrogant role. Emilia Clarke's character and performance are probably the most sad and sympathy-inspiring ones, and her brother (played by Harry Lloyd) is just a heartless wimp who anyone would want to drive a stake through his heart. The kid actors, Maisie Williams and Isaac Hempstead-Wright, deserve a mentioning too as they were also very good in their parts.

What I think that people will have the most trouble with is the show's level of sex and violence. Personally, I didn't have a problem with that, safe maybe for the shocking revelation at the end which I thought could be a little too much for TV. But what I hear most people compain about is that this series is too violent and has too much sex. For my part I disagree, in the episode there weren't really many violent or sexual scenes. A couple, yes, but not many. The problem really is that it was a little too graphic with what it showed. But hey, if it is there it is for a reason. I haven't read the books but for what I understand sex is an important aspect as women use it as weapon and its a weakness in men, or something like that, and I guess that its graphic violence is there because they didn't want to restrain its nature.

If you want to watch HBO's new series Game of Thrones then my advice is to go ahead, that is if you're not easily offended by controversial subjects, sex and violence. It is a very well done series, almost cinematic, with an excellent cast and great story and characters, not to mention its settings, costumes, cinematography and music. So, HBO's Game of Thrones is a very worthy television accomplishment. Before, I thought Boardwalk Empire was the best new thing this season, but Game of Thrones can give it a hard battle. Maybe this year we'll finally have an interesting Emmy race....