Tag Archives: special effects

Valhalla Rising: Silence Galore

Silence is not the immediate reaction I had to this movie. I was in shock and awe by the brilliant landscapes and brutal style of the film, but not silenced because of some distaste for this movie. You have to be silent in order to soak this movie in. It’s not often that a movie deals entirely with the image presented in order to tell a story. This movie, in a phrase, is old school. This may as well be a badass silent action film. That’s exactly what I took away from it.

And this is all Nicolas Winding Refn’s intent. After having seen (and reviewed) his other

Does this actor never have a left eye?

film, Drive, I don’t think I can get enough of what this Danish director is bringing to the table. With an archaic and visceral feel to this movie, it plays out in a slow manner, but many of the scenes will stand out to you in your mind way after its all been played out. Same thing goes for Drive too.

If I had to guess how many pages the dialogue took up in this film, I’d probably say a total of 5-6 pages. And that’s all it took to portray the characters onscreen. You know One-Eye (Mads Mikkelsen) is a hardass who never found his voice and expresses himself

The brutality of the Danish.

in violent outbursts. You even have a young child actor, named The Boy (Maarten Stevenson) who understands the idea of dramatic timing and delivery in this film. And that’s rare in such a adult themed film. Saying less gives so much more, and that’s what this film knew how to do.

Basic plot, everyone?

So, One-Eye (Mikkelsen) is a slave held in Scotland against his will. He is passed from barbaric tribe to barbaric tribe in order to fight and kill for the honor of the tribe that owns him. He is such a good fighter, that he has to be leashed up in order to set him at the same level as other fighters. Sleeping in a cage all night with little food or contact with others, he befriends The Boy (Stevenson), who shows him the only kindness he’ll ever know.

Upon being switched between tribes, One-Eye uses the almost-prophetic visions in red he receives at the beginning of

Refn and the gang!

the film in order to kill and escape. Kidnapping The Boy, he heads off for freedom. But not before he encounters a roving band of Crusaders looking and itching for a Crusade to wage. With One-Eye and The Boy in tow, the Christians take them on a boat ride to Hell, and eventually the new world.

As I said earlier, the locales are what impressed me most about this movie. Being shot in Scotland, I had little basis for what it actually looked like in a real context, and so this movie works on all levels for Scotland and America. The absence of human life really works well to isolate the feeling of the film, heightening the chances of death and lack of social norms in a clearly barbaric society. No one is safe in this

It doesn’t get more unsettling than this.

film, and it almost makes you feel uncomfortable when people turn on each other for survival.

Mikkelsen, that one-eyed badass from Casino Royale, is just as good in this movie as well. The cast is relatively unknown to me, which really works for this movie. Because who would be recognizable way back in 1000 A.D.? I just wanna give a lot of credit to the special effects and

Picturesque.

make-up people as well in this movie, because I’ve never seen a more realistic head bashing than in this movie. Visually brutal to the point where your eyes bleed. Hardcore shizz.

The overall delivery was right up my alley. Sometimes I’m just in the mood for an artistically brutal and human psyche revealing film. It’ll make people uncomfortable, but it’ll be an unforgettable experience in the end. No real complaints, 8.9 out of 10.

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Natural City: The Sci-Fi Korean Drama

I really didn’t know what to expect when I started watching this movie. What I wasn’t expecting was the formulaic Korean drama. What do I mean by that? Simple.

A Korean drama is one in which a couple in love usually has one of the lovers die in a horrendously heart wrenching way. This leaves the other lover alone to mourn and deal with all their feelings. This is a sci-fi film about cyborgs, androids, and

The picturesque cityscape really stands out in this film.

humans and a plot to bring down the futuristic city from within. I had no idea the Koreans could incorporate such a soap opera-y plot into such a steampunk film. Good on ’em for that one.

So “R” (Yoo Ji-tae) is a policeman in a futuristic society in which people can’t tell humans apart from androids and cyborgs. There’s a distinct difference though. Androids were never human; cyborgs have been outfitted with a cybernetic chip that controls and

Blood and love. All in one.

helps them function. R is one of those rogue cops who never follows the rules and does his own kickass thing. After botching up a destruction mission at a local processing plant, R must reconcile with the consequences.

R has fallen in love with a table dancing cyborg. Ria (Seo Lin) has but a few days left to live, and this film follows R’s decisions into how to save her from decimation. He finds salvation in an orphaned prostitute named Cyon (Lee Jae-eun), and finds that her existence is also in the interest of the androids attempting to use human DNA for some nefarious purpose. With the strange Cypher (Jeong Doo-hong) on the loose, R and the police force must find their own means to an end.

The look and feel of the film is very 1980’s Bladerunner feel. Yoo Ji-tae functions as a suave and gritty Harrison Ford,

Damn it, gotta love those views.

patrolling the streets for his own personal gain. There’s not much to speak of with character development on the side of the androids or cyborgs, but the presence of these untraceable electronic beings is a frightening concept. They can knock a man’s leg clean off with one punch for God sakes! Never thought I’d see that kind of special effect in my life.

Tell me that’s not Bladerunner, right?

The guns are clunky, the special effects and digital graphics are dated (even for 2003), but I liked the storyline all the same. It was more of an artsy film than anything else, and it was all about the feels. The emotional range required for understanding this movie from start to finish is not for the weak willed. It has undertones of dystopian elements, and questions just exactly what it means to be human. The ending is long and tragic, and is obviously created to pull at the heartstrings of those who watch it. It got me there towards the end, and I’d love to know what other people thought of it who saw it. Good or not? Let me know!

I’ve always liked Yoo Ji-tae (I hope I’m not spelling that incorrectly…) since I saw him in Oldboy, and I find his acting

A bit of fighting for the action fans.

style to be brutal at the same time that he is a fragile human being, just like the rest of us. This pretty boy can pack a punch with his acting, and I’d advise watching out. He just might lay you out on your back.

All the feels.

There’s no true way to describe what/how to take anything away from this movie. It’s one of those seeing and believing situations where you just have to watch it and attempt to understand what the movie is throwing at you. I’m not entirely sure what I was shown in this movie and if I even got it. So just check it out for yourself, especially if you’re always ready for a melodramatic cry. It’s a good one for that. 7.2 out of 10.


Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time

I know it’s been a while since I’ve posted, but I think it’s important to come back with a bang. More accurately, a Gyllenhaal. In one of the best homages to a video game, this film takes the concept of the Prince of Persia series and takes another element everyone loves. Parkour. Combine a gameplay feel and straight ahead roller-coaster plot and you have yourself the next best thing to The Pirates of the Caribbean. Never mind the

We meet again, Sir Ben.

lackluster acting and portrayal of a country/nationality that doesn’t exist, Jerry Bruckheimer’s name is on this one. And if he did POTC, how could this be bad?

You may sense some sarcasm in the way I wrote that last paragraph. But, in actuality, I didn’t mind Prince of Persia. I had watched my girlfriend play a bit of the games (specifically Sands of Time) and I got a precursor to Assassin’s Creed that was a bit too much of a coincidence. Loving that idea and the inspiration that I’m sure AC drew from Prince of Persia, I was more than happy to sit down and watch the film. And what I got was exactly what I thought I was going to get. An adrenaline ride with pretty graphics and average characters. Think… The Mummy meets Indiana Jones, or something.

Get a load of that chest…

I think that’s what people need to realize when it comes to video game movies or action movies in general. What you expect is what you get. If you think this is gonna be an entertaining movie about a great video game, then you will get that. If you’re thinking Oscar worthy action thriller, you will be sorely disappointed. Please, critics out there, stop classifying all movies in the amazingly stellar films category. It ruins it for all of us with your snarky and harsh reviews, thus making everyone feel they should believe what one person’s opinion says in print. That’s B.S.

So, that straight ahead plot I was talking about. Jake Gyllenhaal plays Dastan, a made up name for the main character of the Prince of Persia series (he is the Prince after all). You wouldn’t be surprised how many times they use the title of the movie in the actual movie. Anyways, Dastan is a street rat (not far off from Aladdin) who is

Jakey’s angry face.

taken into the care of the King (Ronald Pickup) and treated as his son after an act of courage. After years of success and conquest, Dastan and his brothers, Tus (Richard Coyle) and Garsiv (Toby Kebbell) have come again to another city, the city of Alamut, in order to conquer it on what seem legit reasons. Oh, but the plot thickens.

Yeah, Arterton, you should be off camera for this shot…

After capturing the priestess Tahmina (Gemma Arterton) and promising her to Tus, the King and his subjects celebrate a misinformed victory. The King is poisoned by the framed Dastan while the King’s brother Nizam (Ben Kingsley) stares on in horror. He flees with Tahmina and a dagger he won, only to find it has the powers to control time. With such a great power, well, you know the rest. It is up to the banished Prince of Persia to save the ones he loves and stop the destruction of the world. The typical main points in any action film.

Of course, there were the obvious faults in the film. Jake Gyllenhaal is putting on a strange English accent and portraying a tanner race that no longer exists. Everyone speaks in either an English accent or some strange Middle Eastern tinged accent. The one actress in this film is annoying and godawful. What is there to say for action movies like this when one

Parkour to the extreme!

that is a decent video game remake has the worst female presence? Either get a better actress, or realize that most action movie females are there for sex appeal. At least there’s Lara Croft (but those shorts/tight fitting tanktop aren’t really helping…).

But I would say I was surprised that this film didn’t go for the cheesy lines as often or the special effects taking over the action. If I didn’t know better, I’d say it looked like Jake Gyllenhaal did all his own stunts. The parkour was entertaining and the sword fights are what you would expect from a Disney film. If you kick or punch someone, they’re down for the rest of the film. I had just as much fun watching the film as I did joking about it. Bruckheimer must be doing something right to keep my attention for more than 2 hours like he did…

Homage to a dastardly hero.

It was nice to see Tony Kebbell again, although his character was just a gruff and always yelling side character to the main plot. And I don’t know how/why Ben Kingsley does it, but he gets roped into these average films when he’s been Ghandi for crying out loud. Bloodrayne, The Love Guru, and The Last Legion? How does he do it? But seriously, get rid of that female actress. She added nothing to the film, and I didn’t mind the ending they had before the last 20 minutes. Get some of that, Arterton.

Overall, I’m sure, this film isn’t the greatest. It is entertaining though. For those of us out there who find Jake Gyllenhaal to be a hunk, traversing over Agrabah’s rooftops and allowing his flowing mane to pierce the skies, this film was no probelm-o. There’s nothing wrong

Give him a lick, he tastes just like sexy.

with mindlessly being entertained, as long as you are aware that it’s all in good fun. That’s what this movie was. Good fun. For Alfred Molina to show up again after the supposed “disgrace” of The Sorcerer’s Apprentice (same year), it takes guts. And I’m sure they all had fun doing it regardless. Gotta say, a lot of those costumes looked ballin’. 6.3 out of 10.


Snow White and the Hunstman

I’m pretty sure I saw this movie in its last leg of showings in theaters. I had wanted to see it for a while (bar people hating on it for having Kristen Stewart) and was happy to finally see it. My overall impression was good of the film, but for different reasons other than the typical for liking a movie. But I’ll get to that in a second. On an average Friday, in an average theater, among other couples who seemed they wanted to do nothing

Ah yes, a Twilight reference.

more than make out for $10.50 at a poor film, I watched Snow White and the Huntsman.

The story is a bit different than your average Disney movie. Based more on the darker version of events from the Grimm Bros., this movie attempts to scare more than romanticize. I think that’s why people had a problem with the plot because they were expecting this all too romantic kissing scene, and they didn’t get it because that’s not what this movie was about. A strong female character is created to battle an even stronger female character, not really making it about the Huntsman at all (a character

Lookin’ pretty fierce there, Thor.

I developed a liking for from Rutger Hauer’s surprisingly good performance of it in The Tenth Kingdom). And for those of you out there who labeled this a Twilight-like movie from the start, you were wrong. Just because Kristen Stewart is in a film does not mean it has anything to do with Twilight. Shame on you.

So, plot. (As if there were those of you out there who didn’t have a semblance of Snow White.) So one day Snow White’s mom has a little inkling to go out in the garden when it’s snowing. Pricks her finger, 3 drops of blood, bam! You have a baby and a dead mother during

Maybe if I scream they’ll appreciate my performance…

childbirth. King Magnus (Noah Huntley, I thought I recognized him from 28 Days Later…) raises her and loves Snow White to no end. Then, after a cinematically striking 2 minute fight, Magnus finds his new Queen, Ravenna (Charlize Theron). Snow White (Stewart) grows up to be sooooo beautiful that the Evil Queen can’t stand it. Wanting to eat her heart for immortality (remember this is a fairy tale, you adults out there), Snow White escapes and the Queen sends the Huntsman (Chris Hemsworth) after her. Let the pursuit begin.

Oh, the wonderful textures…

The casting in this movie was really hit or miss. Kristen Stewart did what little job she could to hold the lead role together, putting on a weak English accent. I can’t blame her when other lesser known actresses were up for the part and they weren’t given it. Sadly, that’s what happens when you’re popular, you steal all the roles. Charlize Theron thought screaming for no reason at certain points would get her acting across more powerfully. That childlike antic won’t get you far, I’m afraid. She was constantly trying to create this Shakespearean demon witch that just came across as weak and sad. Chris Hemsworth was as macho and boring as usual (sorry Thor, but if you are in every movie with a cleaving/hammering device of some sort, you’re typecast. Just like Orlando Bloom as Legolas. Has anyone seen the archery scene in the Musketeers remake?) as the Hunstman. Sorry, that was a long side note. Okay, let’s go through the list of people they chose before they decided on Hemsworth.

A Viggo Mortensen stand in? Perfect!

Tom Hardy. I can see him in the role after the trailers from the new Batman movie. Not a huge fan (he has the Christopher Nolan brand all over his ass. Of course he’s gonna get work…) but he would’ve done the job. Johnny Depp. Never appropriate for an action role. He did well in the POTC movies, but what the Hell kind of offer is that? As Daniel Tosh said, “Cool should have a cutoff, and my vote is 48.” Sorry John Depp, you’re out. Then there was Viggo Mortensen. Now there’s a fantasy actor. The quintessential Aragorn. He has been looking for a reason to come back to fantasy/action films, I’m sure. But he turned it down as well. Maybe the age difference when it comes to Stewart? Who knows… Hugh Jackman. The last one asked before Thor. Wolverine? Sure, he’s pretty ballin. But he declined as well. So, after all these turn downs, the studio turned to a man who’s good with hammer like objects. Great goin’ there, Chris Hemsworth.

But there is a silver lining to this movie. The dwarven cast. The second I saw who they cast as the Seven Dwarves, I was in Heaven. You couldn’t pick a more perfect English cast to play all 7! You got Bob Hoskins leading the group. Elderly and

Mayhem while you work.

blind, he’s good no matter if he’s Smee or Roger Rabbit’s partner. Ian McShane, the Deadwood master. I was surprised he was pretty damn good. Johnny Harris from Black Death. Word. Toby Jones, the infamous voice of Dobby the House Elf. I’d rather remember him from other roles, but he was great as well. Eddie Marsan, another great English actor. I like his smaller roles in V for Vendetta and The Illusionist. People will know him from Sherlock Holmes. Ray Winstone, the gruff talking Mr. French from The Departed. Now he’s a good actor. And Nick Frost of the Pegg/Frost duo. Need I say more? And I’d also like to give a little nod to Brian (pronounced Breen) Gleeson. He’s an up and coming English actor who actually made me shed a tear in this one. Wow, that paragraph was a mouthful of excited English actors.

I like touching silky things.

And now I come to my main point of why I liked this movie. It was pretty to look at. Every scene had some special effect or interesting texture that I wish I could’ve reached out and touched in the film. As it is Rupert Sanders first film, it is understandable that it looks this way. He started off as a English commercial director. He has to sell a product based on look. That’s why this movie is so visually appealing. The fur, the white paint you see in the film, the forest scenes, everything looks so good you could eat it in Willy Wonka’s candy room. And that’s something you don’t always see in every movie. So a bit of a bravo for that.

So you may not be able to see this movie in theaters now, but check it out when it gets its DVD/Blu-Ray release in September of 2012. It was an enjoyable watch for the sights and sounds, but always remember that can only take you so far in a film. 6.4 out of 10.

Get some of that troll…


Prometheus: Astounding

Astounding is the only word I can think of and use to describe this movie. It has stunning visual effects (didn’t see it in 3-D, didn’t need to), gut wrenching gore and horror, and this air of mystery that hangs over the whole film. It is a part of the Alien series (5th installment) but at the same time it is set apart completely as its own film. A great cast was selected and an amazing backstory/ prequel was born and thus named Prometheus.

In this epic tale of just what happened before the Alien films, Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) and Charlie Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green) are two archaeologists who have stumbled upon something fantastic. In different locations all around the world,

It all begins here.

spanning centuries, the same symbol of a gigantic man pointing to a specific star region, as if to say “Come find us.” Interested in this speculation, Peter Weyland (Guy Pearce) finances the whole thing with his massive amounts of dough and creates a ship, named Prometheus.

Janek and Vickers. Opposites attract?

Piloted by Janek (Idris Elba) and watched over by the android David (Michael Fassbender), after two years of flying, the crew lands on the distant planet the star map told them to come to. Under Meredith Vickers’ (Charlize Theron) watchful eye, the crew must find what they’re looking for, even if what they’re looking for is no longer around. What they find is more than they bargained for, and the must stop the deadly trap from making its ways to Earth.

Where should I begin in my shining review of Prometheus? Well, I think that finally technology in special effects has made its way up to Ridley Scott’s vision of what he has wanted the Alien films to look like. It’s space agey, cold and

An unknown marvel awaits.

clinical, and full of wonder and horror all at the same time. The planet storm was breathtaking, the creatures and surreal caverns were creepy and mammoth sized, this movie incorporated everything you wanted to see in our race discovering a planet in… 70 years.

Noomi Rapace, giving her heart and soul to Prometheus, as only she can.

This strong cast of actors all did their jobs in developing their roles in what you would expect of a spaceship crew. Idris Elba did a great job as the ship’s commander. Slightly minor, but he didn’t take shit from anybody as you would expect. Charlize Theron (in one of the only roles I applaud her in) plays the oddly robotic and bitchy overseer of the entire operation. She tows the line between sci-fi amazonian and unemotional human in a very convincing performance. Michael Fassbender stole the show again as the android, fully immersing himself in what Theron had to hint at. His intrigued and distanced character embodies what sci-fi novelists and movie makers have seen as a human robot for years (think Ian Holm in the original, but add the quirkiness of Jude Law in A.I.) And then there’s Noomi Rapace. This Swedish actress from The Dragon Tatoo series put her heart and soul into the part. She tired herself out, did some terrible yet necessary things to her body, and did it all with a British accent she had a coach for. Seeing her dive into a character that has to deal with all these terrible revelations was both disparaging and inspiring. She didn’t let what was happening put her down or stop her from her end goal.

The only true scene I wanted to see in 3-D.

One person I was particularly impressed with was Guy Pearce. I’ve loved him since The Time Machine remake (and Memento, of course) and think he was born to play in sci-fi films. His air of bravado and poise resonates in entitled sci-fi characters. And not to mention he’s playing an old man for 15 minutes of the film that you would barely recognize. And a great little cameo from another one of my favorite actors (since Watchmen), Patrick Wilson.

The music was orchestratedly stunning. At all the moments you feel fear or exhilaration in this newly discovered planet, it fills in with the proper soundtrack. Much as Gabe would describe it as a soundscape

No words can describe it.

that fills in all the spots of your imagination, this soundtrack did that for me. (Was it similar to the other Alien films? Let me know.)

Another thing that was so great about this film (haven’t I said enough?) is that you don’t have to be a die hard Alien fan to watch this movie. This movie itself can get you hooked in (being a prequel and all). I’ve only seen the first Alien and the AVP series (always been more of a Predator fan, sorry), and this movie makes me want to watch all of them. This movie tackles the mythology and world of a film that is also a film! Something made up and fantasized analyzing something else in the same manner? That’s wild! And I thought it was so well done and handled from such a organic and basic place that it made itself into this mythological God that could spark films and analysis for years to come. Until it becomes a reality.

… What started it all.

With all this ranting and raving about the film, why haven’t you X-ed out of my blog and already started up your car to go see this in theaters? You need to see this in order to boost the ratings and maybe someday prove that a genre other than drama can win the Oscar for best movie of the year. Because I would argue that this film is in the running for 2012. Just saying. I have no complaints and was mesmerized from the start of the film. Go see it. Now. 10 out of 10.


Child’s Play: The Movie that has Haunted My Dreams

Frightening as always.

Chucky and the Child’s Play series has haunted my dreams ever since I was 8 years old. And, watching this movie again, it still sent chills down my spine. Leave it to movies of years past to make me want to piss myself when newer films today with all their special effects can’t do crap. What a cruel world. For those of you who don’t know, Child’s play is the story of a young boy who just wants a doll for a friend. Lo and behold, his mother comes through and finds him just the doll he wants. And he’ll regret that decision for the next two movies.

So the movie starts out like this. Old Wormtongue AKA Charles Lee Ray (Brad Dourif) is running from his ultimate

Say hello, Andy.

nemesis cop, Prince Humperdink AKA Detective Mike Norris (Chris Sarandon). The final face-off takes place in a toy store in some bad part of town and Chucky takes his voodoo training and places his soul in the body of a doll until he can later reclaim his life. And, a few weeks after, we find little Andy (Alex Vincent) watching his favorite cartoon, the Good Guy dolls. Pleading with his mother who busts tooth and nail to scrape through life for her son, Mrs. Barclay (Catherine Hicks) finds one from a sketchy drifter and his cart of goodies.

The events of the movie are amazingly supplemented by a big buildup to the point where you finally see Chucky’s true face. What I found more frightening was Chucky imitating the Good Guy doll he is inhabiting. “Hi I’m Chucky, wanna play?” in that sing-song voice of a demonic child haunts my dreams frequently. His eyes opening and closing reminds me of why I fear the technology known as animatronics. (Forget ever going on the

I can feel the poop in the pants already…

It’s a Small World After All ride ever again.) His blinks and innocent movements feign away from the evil animatronic face that hides beneath the facade. But when Catherine Hicks, mother of 7th Heaven swears her head off, you can bet Brad Dourif won’t let that bitch talk to him that way.

The movie turns into a wild goose chase of little Andy accompanying Chucky around the beaten streets of Chicago in search of a way to return to a human form. When it’s revealed that the worst must be done, it all comes crashing down for Andy. It’s a race against the clock for Mrs Barclay and Detective Norris

Your fate is sealed, in 7th Heaven, Catherine Hicks.

when they learn that Andy wasn’t lying, ever. As the tagline says, “You’ll Wish it was Only Make-Believe”, I’ve wished that for so long.

And not to mention the doll that Chucky is based on. Don Mancini must have drawn on some evil inspiration that graced his mind when he found Robert the Doll. Considered one of the evilest dolls on the face of the North American continent, Robert the Doll haunted Key West painter Robert Eugene Otto for his entire life. Talking to it and finding himself scared to death, Otto never left Robert’s side. Attempting to kill and curse anyone around him and even moving on his own, Robert the Doll to this day, being his old 104 year old self, will change his face to a mortifying, contortion of a grin. I was impressed with Tom Holland, slasher director extraordinaire, use of P.O.V. and a creepy sense of crawling around on the floor. The use of doll doubles mixed with actual animatronics has frightened me and will continue to do so as long as dolls exist in this world.

With this success this cult horror classic has created, there’s no wonder there are another 4 films after this one, and talk of a remake. Brad Dourif does a wonderful job of giving off a gruff thuggish voice and continues to do so. This movie went above and beyond the PG-13 rating and decided some F-bombs would be appropriate to show the extent of Chucky’s evil. This movie may be one of those B-rated horror films, but it broke ground for a kind of horror that freaks a lot of people out, dummies and dolls. If it frightens you, it’s done its job. And Child’s Play sure does that for me. Just for the poop in the pants, 7.4 out of 10.

And here’s the original trailer to set your bones on ice.