Tag Archives: Leigh Whannell

The Matrix: Reloaded

Okay, let’s think about this logically. I was just reading up (and I’ve been told) that The Matrix: Reloaded is considered a flop of a sequel. The first one set up such a good plot that the second detracted from that and focused solely on action. In essence, a stupid man’s film about boobs, guns, and fighting. Let’s rethink this, shall we? People always say that the

An all-star, stunner cast.

second film in a series flops in comparison to the first. But let’s think about a few trilogies followed the same principle.

The Lord of the Rings. There is an apparent escalation in the amount of action and violence in comparison to the first film. That Battle for Helm’s Deep? That’s a pretty damn good action scene. Star Wars. Both parts. Episode 4 has the Battle of Hoth and Episode 2 has the Clone Wars. Hell, even Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets has more action and violence than the first. You wanna know why this is so common? Because the story is set up in the first, and the meaty middle of the story contains most of the action before the crescendo in the third. It’s just the way trilogies are set up. Beginning, middle, end. Simple.

Get at me.

So, now that I’m done explaining that, plot.

Neo (Keanu Reeves) is back again with a vengeance. He has been releasing minds from the Matrix and kicking ass. He and Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss) are a loving couple (I stress loving in the sexual sense of the word for some of the content rating) and are returning to Zion after a meeting with the other captain’s in the Matrix. With the sentinels digging into Zion and threatening the last bastions of humanity, Neo, Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne), Trinity, and Link (Harold Perrineau) must find some way to beat the machines. It’s gonna be an all out brawl.

And this movie delivers on so many levels. Amazingly choreographed fight scenes, mind blowing CG graphics that broke ground, and great stunts throughout. This movie has it all for Martix and action fans

Straight out of anime. Word.

alike. Some revelation-level secrets are released and we all get to see why Neo is the one. What could be better?

The cool and suave acting is just as good in this one as the last. Everything about the movie just screams sleek and badass, but in a cool way. Keanu Reeves improves his performance from the last one in Reloaded as does Laurence Fishburne and Carrie-Anne Moss. Some newcomers to the film add some spice as well. Jada Pinkett-Smith, one of my Hollywood crushes, performs beautifully as the cold and intense Niobe, captain of the Logos. I loved playing as her in the Enter the Matrix game for Xbox, a game I would recommend re-releasing for the 360 or something. Please?

Wielding, like a boss.

Lambert Wilson was comedically enthralling as The Merovingian, an older program that has survived for years in exile. And Monica Bellucci, the drop-dead gorgeous Mary Magdalene from Passion of the Christ. She’s even sexier in this one, and I’m actually glad she’s in Revolutions as well. Collin Chou throws up a great fight scene (one of my favorites) with Neo as Seraph, the protector of The Oracle (reprised by Gloria Foster, sadly, for the last time). Throw in a cameo from Leigh Whannell, creator of Saw, and you have a great cast of Matrix familiars. A whole world is created with these interesting characters, and I can’t get enough.

Another great soundtrack from Don Davis and various Nu Metal/Metal bands I enjoy listening to, and you got yourself another amazing installment of the Matrix. I may just be a sucker for films like this, but I just can’t find very many flaws with these films at all. It’s a classic tale/archetype of the hero and his transformation/journey, and it just speaks to me on an epic scale of what a good movie and story is. So get at me about The Matrix: Reloaded. It blew my mind, and still does. 9.3 out of 10.

Bang on me!

 

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Insidious: The Downward Slope

I cannot speak highly enough of Saw creators Leigh Whannell and James Wan, but this movie in the horror genre is in a whole other ballpark. I had been wanting to see this movie since the day it came out but I could never rouse any of my friends to locate that spine and see it with me. So I sat down with my girlfriend and watched it instead. I was rather surprised with my final impressions.

The movie starts out like any other haunted house film. Renai (Rose Byrne) and Josh Lambert (Patrick Wilson) are loving parents of three children: one baby girl and two

Old decrepit ladies scare people, right?

young boys. Foster (Andrew Astor) is their other son, but they don’t care about him. He gets one scene. The son they do care about is Dalton (Ty Simpkins). Some strange things are going on in the house, and one day Dalton decides he’s got some explorin’ to do. He climbs up into the attic and tries to turn on the light. He fails, falls off the ladder, and screams the most unconvincing scream you could ever think of. Long story short, he ends up in a coma that is just actually an extended slumber.

A dad in peril.

Here’s where things get good. Renai is being constantly bombarded by evil spirits and apparitions that appear to her and freak her right the hell out. Josh, the high school teacher husband, avoids his comatose son and the evilness in the house at all costs. He wants his son to be okay, but the months drag on (meanwhile their other son is nonexistent. The baby girl gets more face time than he does…) He can’t handle it and the wife is becoming fed up.

With some evil man presence being the last straw, the family moves out into another house, only to experience the haunting all over again. So what could it be? It must be something…

I like the direction that Leigh Whannell was taking this movie, despite the deliverance onscreen. James Wan did a good job of some scary pacing and using shadows to his advantage. The scene everybody talks about? If I had been in the

Save us, Lin Shaye!

theater, I may have jumped. The scaryness aspect that sold me though was the use of shadows and tricks on the eyes. Many times in the film, and everyone has experienced this, you see things in the shadows that are tricking your mind. A coat on a chair in the right light looks like a menacing sitting figure. A space behind a door hides demons. All that sorta thing. James Wan played that up so well that the main focus of the camera wasn’t even on these things. It left images for your mind to wander over and think, “Wait a second, didn’t the camera just miss that evil demon there in the corner?” That’s a first for a film I’ve seen.

Classic Leigh Whannell hipster move.

After this haunted house first half, comes the strange second half. In a strange way to explain away these occurrences, the family employs the help of a psychic who talks with the other side (Elise Ranier played by Lin Shaye). With her gas mask in hand and Specs (Leigh Whannell) by her side, it’s only a matter of time before the movie gets into exorcism and spectral beings. People with fears of 50’s ghosts in proper attire, beware.

I really felt the movie was carried a lot by the music it employed. There were plenty of scenes that were enhanced by the shrill violins and pulse pounding beat. Hell, I was scared of the movie’s use of Tiptoe Through the Tulips. That song and the voice it is sung in are freaky. But, at other times, the music came across as overdramatic and ruined the seconds after the scary moment happened with this over the top dramatic piece. You have to know when to play your hand.

The demon as it should have been.

What really ruined the movie wasn’t the reveal of the main monster, but the constant use of him. What is not seen as much is more frightening than what is. To describe the demon and then see him cheesily chasing the young boy through the house is just the kind of B-rated to C-rated antics that caught this movie so much flack. And the ending as well. Just when you didn’t want another twist, they throw you back in.

The acting was 50/50. I am a huge fan of Patrick Wilson, have been since I saw him in Watchmen. He has an understated way of acting that comes off as truthful. In this movie I considered him one of the best, and it showed in his dad-like ways and regretful attitude towards the end. Rose Byrne could have been better. I’ve been hesitant about her acting since Troy, and maybe that was right to doubt… Ty Simpkins, the main plot point of the movie does not know how to sell

GTFO, Barbara Hershey…

acting. Especially not a horror movie. He made it more comical. Pretty unremarkable. Also, get Barbara Hershey out of these dark thrillers. She may have had a heyday in films, but it has past. And these movies (I’m including Black Swan) are not meant for her. It needs to stop.

So with all these mixes of good scares and ample acting with a strange ending leads to an overall disappointing reaction from me about this movie. My girlfriend especially was disappointed. Sad. I’ll give this movie an A for effort, but when it comes to an actual rating, it’s pretty average. 6.1 out of 10.


Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole

If you want to enjoy one of the best visual experiences of your life, look no further than Ga’Hoole. A movie all about owls and the legends that bind them, this film is an amazing visual journey combined with some of the best digital animation I’ve ever witnessed. This is the only children’s movie I’ve ever wanted to see in 3-D. This movie destroyed my life and my preconceived notions on how to experience a movie, and reconstructed it entirely. I have to say, most of the plot was lost on me at parts because I was just enjoying what I was witnessing. I’m sure with Zack Snyder on board as the director of the film that the plot was adequate, but where he shines is his shot design.

So let me try to piece together what I gathered from this movie. Soren (Jim Sturgess) is a barn owl (they gave them a different name…) with a happy

This is what it's all about.

family. His older brother Kludd (Ryan Kwanten) and younger sister Eglantine (Adrienne DeFaria) and parents, Noctus (Hugo Weaving) and Marella (Essie Davis). I gotta hand it to Hugo Weaving for taking such a small part with the dramatic chops his voice holds, i.e. V for Vendetta. The younger owls all being fledgelings, they are still learning how to fly. They sit around all happily and whatnot in their hole in the tree and listen to stories told about the Legends of the Guardians. Fun.

Ahhhh, the Guardians...

And then things go from fine to horrifically wrong. Soren and Kludd do some showboating and find themselves in a cage match with a Tazmanian Devil (to tell you the truth, couldn’t tell what it was at the time). These two get picked off by some mean mugging owls and are taken away to some canyon base way out in the middle of wherever on Earth this movie is supposed to take place. (I guessed Austrailia due to the accents…) Upon discovering themselves in a bad situations. Kludd and Soren are put in a bad situation. They must fight for Metal Beak (Joel Edgerton) and his mate Nyra (Helen Mirren). Soren says hell no and Kludd allows himself to be roped in.

Soren, on his way down to the slave camp, encounters an elf owl named Gylfie. The two stick together and fake out their captors by pretending to be

This is the scene that blows minds.

moonshined (or moon lighted, whatever it is). Finding the help of one of their captors to be quite helpful, the two escape the canyon and head to find the tree that houses all the Guardians. On the way they meet Twilight (Anthony La Paglia) and Digger (David Wenham). This kooky pair is a minstrel and a whacked out digger (hence the name) that find solace in each other somehow. It turns out later that Twilight is a big badass fighter that can destroy about 500 bats.

A picturesque world in some faroff place... (Austrailia?)

Upon reaching the sea, in one of the most amazing visual scenes I’ve ever witnessed, they come upon the tree and recruit the owls in order to bring down some evil Mother’effers. With talons bared and metal steel forged for claws, these owls really tear into one another. Some betrayal and some harrowing experiences turn Soren and his friends into the Guardians of Ga’Hoole, and a bunch of other words and phrases they used I didn’t understand.

I have to comment on the cast of this movie. There are a lot of voices that I really couldn’t match with faces when I watched this. Looking back now, Zack Snyder and the casting director must have put some deep thought into a bunch of Austrailians and people who can do the accent for this movie. Hugo

Who knew Hedwig ruled the Guardians?

Weaving and his small part as the loving father. Word. He was born in Nigeria. That’s way out there but not a stretch with all the English accents he’s done. He has quite an interesting voice. Jim Sturgess? He was key as Soren. English, but he made me forget how much I hated Across the Universe. Here’s one out of left field. Ryan Kwanten, star of Dead Silence, was Kludd. His voice was so under the radar for me that I had no idea he was from Austrailia. Bravo right there.

Can this get any more spectacular?

Helen Mirren, the always popular and go to English actress for all things Mirren. DAVID WENHAM AS DIGGER. I could not pick that up at all. Who knew Faramir of Lord of the Rings could pull off such a silly and dorky voice like that. Should’ve remembered his character from Van Helsing… Abbie Cornish as the barn owl love interest towards the end of the film? Word. Another Zack Snyder influenced girl right there from my favorite, Suckerpunch. Even Leigh Whannell, director of the Saw series and star of Saw 1 was in this movie to lend his Austrailian accent. And let’s talk about the powerhouses! Geoffrey Rush as the crazy old Ezylryb, and he was eccentric and wonderful as Barbossa himself. Sam Neill, that dinosaur hunting bastard. What an expansive cast!

So, combine that amazing talent with the LITERALLY MOST RIDICULOUS COMPUTER GRAPHICS AND VISUAL EXPERIENCE OF MY LIFE. Let’s roll back time for a bit and return to 2011 in which I could see this movie in theaters, front row, 3-D. This is just one of those missed experiences that most kick themselves for. Soren rolling through the rain, the beautifully coreographed airborne fighting scenes. It’s as if King Leonidas and his Spartans could fly and were doing so in amazing HD slow motion. Get at me about that idea Snyder. It’s an idea worth pondering.

Who will win in the end?

I’m not sure about the plot. Zoned that out a bit. But who knows, I’m sure the book(s) were wonderful. And that probably attributed for a great, formulaic children’s movie. Simple and easy to follow. Journey, battle, heroes. It kept me interested and I’m sure, no matter the age, it would speak to all of our inner children. So check it out, even if you don’t feel like being childish. Watch it because it will blow your eyes out with its amazing look. That’s all you need to know. A definite 10 out of 10 for visual, 6.2 out of 10 for plot, all around 8.5 out of dat 10.  

And here’s that dope trailer.