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Theatrical Review: “The World’s End”

August 28, 2013 5 comments
The World's EndDirected by: Edgar Wright
Produced by: Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Nira Park
Written by: Simon Pegg, Edgar Wright
Edited by: Paul Machliss
Cinematography by: Bill Pope
Music by: Steven Price
Starring: Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Paddy Considine, Martin Freeman, Eddie Marsan, Rosamund Pike, David Bradley, Michael Smiley, Pierce Brosnan, Bill Nighy
Year: 2013

 

Well, it’s finally here – the conclusion to the loosely connected, genre-homaging Three Flavours Cornetto Trilogy, the long rumored, long in development film known as The World’s End – not to be confused with This Is the End, the American film released earlier this summer. The conclusion to what accidentally became a trilogy was long in coming, and while I don’t remember exactly when I first heard about it, it was a long time ago, I know that for sure. Director Edgar Wright’s original script, titled Crawl, was written 21 years ago, but the concept of turning Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz into the first 2/3 of a quasi-trilogy never really came into fruition until the filming of Hot Fuzz. People, such as myself, who were eager to see the final entry were tided over with the likes of the unrelated-yet-still-somewhat-similar Paul from Simon Pegg and Nick Frost and Edgar Wright’s brilliant but sadly overlooked adaptation of the comic Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, but when you consider the fact that it’s been six long years since the release of Hot Fuzz, it’s easy to understand why fans were getting a bit restless. But, finally, it’s here, and I’m happy to say that it is every bit as good as its predecessors. Read more…

Review: “The Animatrix”

August 23, 2013 1 comment

The AnimatrixThe Matrix has remained one of the most influential action films ever created. Naturally, its financial success and popularity with critics and audiences meant that Warner Bros. would most certainly capitalize on their new property. The lead up to the sequels saw a big marketing push, leading to plenty of tie-in products, such as Nokia’s cellphones that resembled the ones in the films and PowerAde’s infamous product placement. This also meant that the Wachowskis gained a lot of clout with studio execs, who seem to still think that the sequels’ poor critical reception should be ignored in the name of hoping that, one day, the duo would once again deliver a Matrix­-level franchise for them.

Not all of the marketing for the films consisted solely of cynical product placements, however. Though it was a complete disaster, the video game Enter the Matrix was still one of the first efforts on behalf of filmmakers to synergize the film and video game mediums and tell an even bigger story than you would get from having just seen the films, a tradition that would continue with The Matrix Online, which functioned as a direct, totally canonical follow up to the final film, The Matrix Revolutions.

Similarly, the Wachowskis, who were influenced heavily by anime, also commissioned various animation studios to produce a series of shorts that would tie into their universe – some of them directly into the movies, others giving us an even greater perspective outside the narrative of how Neo would fulfill the prophesy of The One. The resulting collection of nine shorts (eight, if you wish to see the single two-parter as a whole work) was The Animatrix, a collection that was deemed so essential to the overall Matrix narrative that it’s included in every iteration of the films’ box sets, including the cheap-o barebones 4-film collections you see on Walmart shelves every now and then.

Below you will find eight mini-reviews of the shorts, each of them being rated and reviewed on their own merits, followed, in the end, by an overall rating of the complete Animatrix anthology.

Please note that clicking on the titles before each reviews will lead you to a free and legal (but admittedly low quality) streaming version of the shorts straight from TheWB.com (the embedding doesn’t work on WordPress), so feel free to watch the shorts on your own and see if you agree with my assessments, too! Read more…

Review: “Billy Elliot”

August 19, 2013 2 comments
Billy ElliotDirected by: Stephen Daldry
Produced by: Greg Brenman, Jonathan Finn
Written by: Lee Hall
Edited by: John Wilson
Cinematography by: Brian Tufano
Music by: Stephen Warbeck (original score)
Starring: Jamie Bell, Julie Walters, Gary Lewis, Jamie Draven, Jean Heywood, Stuart Wells, Nicola Blackwell, Adam Cooper
Year: 2000

 

I’ve never been the manliest guy around. Just the other night, I watched E.T. and, yes, I totally cried at the end. I’ve never been super aggressive, and I’ve never been interested in being an aggressive person apart from feigning it for my own amusement – because I think it’s a little bit ridiculous, you see. Growing up in a super-conservative household and around super-conservative people, however, my not playing sports was somewhat of a point of contention for a lot of people. Contention was actually pretty frequent. Most of the time, people just drooled over my size and asked me why I wasn’t playing football, then acting like I was crazy when I said I wasn’t interested. (I was always fairly big for my age, and, at nearly 27, I am probably only 1 ½ inches taller now than I was in 7th grade.) Other times, it could get a bit nastier, with various names being lobbed my way. (Some kids and even some adults are just jerks.) Read more…

Theatrical Review: “Elysium”

August 15, 2013 5 comments
ElysiumDirected by: Neill Blomkamp
Produced by: Neill Blomkamp, Bill Block, Simon Kinberg
Written by: Neill Blomkamp
Edited by: Julian Clarke, Lee Smith
Cinematography by: Trent Opaloch
Music by: Ryan Amon
Starring: Matt Damon, Jodie Foster, Sharlto Copley, Alice Braga, Diego Luna, Wagner Moura, William Fichtner, Faran Tahir
Year: 2013

 

Already not nearly as universally praised as District 9, Neill Blomkamp’s second theatrically released film isn’t poised to achieve the same surprise Best Picture Oscar nomination the way that his previous film did. That’s okay though because, flawed though it may be, Elysium is an incredibly entertaining movie with plenty of spectacle, gory action, and an intriguing but surprisingly disagreeable lead character. Read more…

Theatrical Review: “Fruitvale Station”

August 13, 2013 2 comments
Fruitvale StationDirected by: Ryan Coogler
Produced by: Nina Yang Bongiovi, Forest Whitaker
Written by: Ryan Coogler
Edited by: Claudia Castelo, Michael P. Shawver
Cinematography by: Rachel Morrison
Music by: Ludwig Göransson
Starring: Michael B. Jordan, Octavia Spencer, Melonie Diaz, Ahna O’Reilly, Kevin Durand, Chad Michael Murray, Jonez Cain, Caroline Lesley, Ariana Neal
Year: 2013

 

It’s important to take any and all “based on true events” stories with several grains of salt, especially when there’s clearly an agenda on the part of the filmmaker – be it political action or just to earn himself an Academy Award. Ryan Coogler, a first time director, most likely has the best of intentions with his debut film, and I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt that monetary gain and accolades were not his only or even his primary concerns. That being said, in order to create a compelling story and film, he has the incentive to take creative license with his subject matter, and, truth be told, I do not necessarily hold that against him, either. Sometimes, the facts just do not make for good cinema, and it is my opinion that we must always keep that in mind when taking in these kinds of films. Read more…

Special Review: “The Twilight Saga”

August 8, 2013 6 comments
The Twilight Saga
Directed by: Catherine Hardwicke (Twilight), Chris Weitz (New Moon), David Slade (Eclipse), Bill Condon (Breaking Dawn)

Produced by: Wyck Godfrey (The Twilight Saga), Mark Morgan (Twilight), Greg Mooradian (Twilight, Eclipse), Karen Rosenfelt (New MoonBreaking Dawn), Stephenie Meyer (Breaking Dawn)

Written by: Melissa Rosenberg (screenplay)

Edited by: Nancy Richardson (Twilight, Eclipse), Peter Lambert (New Moon), Art Jones (Eclipse), Virginia Katz (Breaking Dawn)

Cinematography by: Elliot Davis (Twilight), Javier Aguirresarobe (New Moon – Eclipse), Guillermo Navarro (Breaking Dawn)

Music by: Carter Burwell (Twilight, Breaking Dawn), Alexandre Desplat (New Moon), Howard Shore (Eclipse)

Starring: Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner, Peter Facinelli, Elizabeth Reaser, Ashley Greene, Kellan Lutz, Nikki Reed, Jackson Rathbone, Mackenzie Foy, Billy Burke, Cam Gigandet, Rachelle Lefèvre, Bryce Dallas Howard, Edi Gathegi, Sarah Clarke, Christian Serratos, Michael Welch, Anna Kendrick, Gregory Tyree Boyce, Justin Chon, Michael Sheen, Dakota Fanning, Cameron Bright, Xavier Samuel, Julia Jones, Maggie Grace, Casey LaBow, Lee Pace, Jamie Campbell Bower, Christopher Heyerdahl, Chaske Spencer, Christian Camargo, Mía Maestro, Joe Anderson, Booboo Stewart… I give up…

Based on the books by Stephenie Meyer

Year: 2008 (Twilight), 2009 (New Moon), 2010 (Eclipse), 2011 (Breaking Dawn Part 1), 2012 (Breaking Dawn Part 2)

 

My stepsister is a Twilight fan. I’m honestly not sure what level of crazy she is to really qualify it, but the fact that she owns the books and the fact that she wanted the movies every time a new one came out is enough to at least qualify her as a pretty big fan of Stephenie Meyer’s thinly veiled saga about a young couple’s struggles to remain forever young, be faithful to one another, and practice abstinence until marriage – a struggle that apparently necessitates literal life or death battles that everyone else is willing to endure on their behalf. Twilight is a series that a lot of people hate on, myself included, yet I can’t exactly call myself blameless in enabling my stepsister’s misguided affections. What else would I get her for her birthdays when they were so perfectly in sync with every new DVD release? With Breaking Dawn Part 2 finally ending the saga, I’m kind of hoping that something new and better takes her interests next year. Read more…

Review: “Macross II: The Movie” (“超時空要塞マクロスII -LOVERS AGAIN-“)

August 3, 2013 6 comments
Macross IIDirected by: Ken’ichi Yatagai
Produced by: Shinichi Iguchi, Hiroaki Inoue, Hiroshi Kakoi, Hirotake Kanda, Keiji Kusano, Minoru Takanashi
Written by: Sukehiro Tomita
Art Direction by: Hidenori Nakahata
Cinematography by: Kazuhiro Konishi
Music by: Shirô Sagisu
Starring: Tsutomu Takayama, Hiroko Kasahara, Yumi Tôma, Yoshisada Sakaguchi, Bin Shimada, Yukio Satō, Ryūzaburō Ōtomo, Takeshi Kusao, Yoshisada Sakaguchi, Tōru Furuya, Ryōtarō Okiayu, Takeshi Watabe, Aya Hara
Year: 1993

 

This is honestly the first non-Studio Ghibli, non-video-game-related anime movie I’ve ever really sat down to watch with the intention of actually watching the thing all the way through to the end. My friend who had suggested K-PAX a while ago had originally suggested the original Macross movie (actually a TV program edited into a movie which is more accurately named The Super Dimension Fortress Macross, but… well, we’ll just stick to Macross for this review), but, upon browsing Netflix, it looked like all they carried was the series version that spanned 8 discs – and there was no way I was going to watch all that. Hence, the coaxing of his left field suggestion of K-PAX. But, lucky for me, my friend had figured out that, yes, there is actually a Macross movie I could review, and he just so happened to own it: Macross II: The Movie (a.k.a.: The Super Dimension Fortress Macross II: Lovers Again, though, again, we’ll just shorten it to Macross II). Read more…

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