Friday, January 28, 2011

The King's Speech

The King’s Speech - 118 min - R

This story is about King George vI (Collin Firth) and his struggle with a stammer, as an heir to the throne of Great Britton he had duties that required him to speak in public. The movie follows the history of how he came to be king after his father King George V (Michael Gambon) dies and his brother, King Edward VIII (Guy Peirce) proves to be unworthy, he is faced with the fact that he has to overcome his speech impediments to be a king. He is supported by his Wife Queen Elisabeth (Helena Bonham Carter) and his speech therapist Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush) to overcome the problems surrounding his speech and take the mantle of King.

I loved this movie; very few movies have even gotten me emotionally bought into the characters in the first few moments of the movie. The cast was wonderful, there was not a single miss on casting, and all players did an outstanding job of representing the people they were playing. The movie transported me to that time in history; I loved the period and the setting. The relationship played by Collin and Geoffrey in forging a friendship is a very captivating element to the story. I enjoyed the dynamic of the two people from different worlds finding a connection. I have liked the roles that Helena has done in the past but never have I ever fallen in love with her characters until now. Her portrayal of Queen Elisabeth is one of love and support for her husband and still an air of royalty. Guy did a wonderful job as King Edward again stellar performance. I don’t know if this movie was historically accurate, but it does make me want to go and read more about that time in Britton’s history.

Usually when I see a movie I try and balance the reviews by findings some good elements to a movie that is bad and I find that hard sometimes. I think as I start this reviewer process I see that the reverse is equally if not harder. I am trying to find some point in the film that I did not care for or for missed opportunities the film maker made, anything to help the overall movie making process for future movie makers. This is my main goal with my blog. A Movie like this comes along and performs flawlessly. I have no notes on how to make this a better movie. The only think I would say to movie makers in the future is; use this as a model, look at these elements to incorporate in to your movies.

To the technical aspects of this film, I think the Art director and the costume team did superb in taking us back to that time in history. The Camera crew did an excellent job of maximizing the shots to increase tension and add anxiety. I find it interesting that I was more engaged with this movie that had no explosions or super big effects, but a simple human story shot in such a way to make us feel the pressure and anxiety of the characters. Tom Hooper’s resume has many Television productions but only a few other films. One of his other movie is The Damned United another period piece about interesting characters and lives and relationships. He also made Red Dust. With the success of this film I am going to be looking for his name in the future. Some movies are ones that are designed for the big screen, lot of effects, explosions, big action and fantastic effects which lend themselves to the big screen. This movie has none of those but it bloody well deserves to be seen on one based on the story alone. LONG LIVE THE KING!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Green Hornet

The Green Hornet - 119min – PG-13

Seth Rogen plays Britt Reid, a rich kid slacker who inherits his father’s(Tom Wilkinson) estate and is now in charge of his father’s newspaper. While taking revenge on his father’s image he and Kato (Jay Chou) stop a crime in progress. Britt is changed by this experience and now wants to use his resources to become a superhero. Not just any superhero, a superhero that is pretending to be a bad guy to cover up his heroic activities. With the help of Kato and Lenore Case (Cameron Diaz), Britt works through his team to take over the territory of the current crime lord Chudnofsky (Christoph Waltz).

I have never watched or knew anything about the original stories, I have heard a few old radio programs but I think they did a good job of representing the characters and the story. I was not lost because of my lack of historical knowlage. This is a great action hero film. I enjoyed 95% of it. I would say the only parts that were hard to watch were Seth’s tomfoolery with the main character. In many scenes Seth’s attempt to overpower a joke with uncomfortable humor took the jokes over the top. A prime example of this is a scene that was in the trailer. Brit wakes up from being knocked out by his own hand with the gas gun, and then takes out his frustrations with the situation on Kato by gassing him in the face. This interaction could have been better served if the two had not had a poorly constructed moment between them where Brit realizes he has been out for several days not a few hours. The interactions between the two would have been fine without dragging out the joke. There is an uncomfortable moment where Britt implies he is surprised that Lenore a woman of declining age would be applying herself to her pursuits, um… She is still hot and does not look like a woman in her twilight. Despite Seth’s playing his character over the top the overall movie experience was still ok. One actor I really liked is Edward James Olmos. Edward played Axford, the second in command at the newspaper. Olmos never disappoints as an actor. I felt the main bad guy was a bit weak, we know Christoph can play a menacing villain from his work in Inglorious Bastards. I don’t know why this character was not as good as his previous one. There is a funny bit where his character has an identity crisis that perhaps his is not as menacing as the Hornet so he decides to reinvent himself, but the change seems to fall flat. Cameron Diaz is good as a supporting character that is the brains of the partnership. Lenore is the organization, Seth is the face man and Kato does all the heavy lifting with the crime fighting.

The film was good in 2D I did not see it in 3D but I can’t see a specific reason it needed to be in 3D. The credits were done to play to the 3D effects but overall in the film it did not seem to play to the fact it had a 3D version out there, no one was pointing to the screen or things were not flying at the camera. I would say it was fine as a 2D picture. There were some creative editing on a long shot that was sped up to let us see time pass, this shot seemed out of place for this kind of film, as a style it should have made a reoccurrence but it was only used once at the beginning. The movie kept me involved to where I did not notice any other gaps in the filming of this movie. Overall a well made film and they need to pull in the reins on Seth’s asshattery and you might really have something here. A go see movie even if it is at a matinee.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Season of the Witch

Season of the Witch – 95 min rated PG – 13.

Nicolas Cage portrays Behman, a knight who fights for the church, a skilled warrior who sees the error of his devotion and breaks from the church. His companion on this moral journey is Felson who is played by Ron Perlman. They make their way home and are swept up in a quest to end a plague that is being caused by a witch whom they have to take to an abbey to have a ceremony performed on her to end the plague. Christopher Lee plays the cardinal who puts these two runaway knights on this quest. He is completely covered in plague makeup in this role I had to look up who played that character because I could not place his voice. The Witch is played by Claire Foy. Her performance was good she had to bring to life several sides of a complex character, she has done a few other films but mostly she has done more television projects. I will be looking for her in the future.

When I went to see this movie I have to admit I have always loved fantasy movies. Even when I was a kid I was drawn to movies that had swords and magic. I have a fond memory of watching movies and enjoying them, this movie took me back to those early films. Season Of The Witch is a higher quality of film compared to the ones from the 80’s. Usually I never like to compare the past and the present based on technical aspect of films but this one is exactly as I remember movies being the only difference is that the technical advancements have made this film easier on the eye. I am in no way shape or form knocking fantasy films of the past, but it was a walk down memory lane to watch this movie I truly enjoyed the setting of the film. I really enjoyed the knights’ back story of questioning their place in the world after they realized that they were serving more of a organization than a divine purpose. As much nostalgia as this movie brought back to me, I was sad to realize that this movie was not very different in story or content than the films in the 80’s. The cast and crew deliver us a visually accurate telling of a fantasy film. We have all of the potential to make a great film. What fails is the overall story, it is average at best. After watching the movie my brother and I agree that it was like watching a D&D module being played out, without having the fun of actually being in the game. There was nothing particularly bad about the film but nothing really stood out either. If you like to watch this kind of movie: swords, witchcraft and a great setting, please enjoy the film. If you are looking for something that stand out of the crowd in film and TV shows that have this same type of story, you are going to have to look someplace else.

Dominic Sena directed this film and I would say he has stayed dedicated to the formula of the genre. His resume has some notable movies on it such as Gone in Sixty Seconds, Swordfish and Kalifornia. Out of those I would say this movie is below the mark. He needs to bring his A Game next time.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Little Fockers

Little Fockers rated PG 13 98 min

I have never been a fan of this franchise; I am going to temper my review with a focus on the filming aspects then go into my own views of the film. The movie had no technical gafs, and feeling of the film was good, it had good tempo and it moved from scene to scene smoothly. The cast had good chemistry together and everyone was believable in their roles. I enjoyed the music and the lighting of the film. I am trying to look at the good things for this film and I am really coming up short. All of these aspects I have listed are really weak. Aside from doing a good job in making a film, I am now faced with the fact that this is not a movie worth making. Really it was hard for me to watch the talented cast and crew sell this movie with all of their hearts and souls and it falling soooo flat. It was like watching someone tell a joke that you already know and suffer through as they tell it badly. The Jokes were a rehash of the poor dynamic between Greg (Ben Stiller) and his father in law Jack (Robert De Niro). They mix in some of the awkwardness of Kevin (Owen Wilson) interest in Greg’s wife in the second film and hoped that it would be a good. The new members of the cast are the twins who are adorable in their perspective roles (Daisy Tahan and Colin Baiocchi) but are not enough of a draw to pull this story back from the brink. Putting in the new dynamic of twins and the quirkiness of parenthood and the stress people go through in this change of life is usually comedy gold but for some reason it did not pay off for them. I think the writer should have focused on the aspects of that underlying story instead of beating the dead horse of the previous films. Dustin Hoffman and Barbra Streisand characters were very enjoyable but again not enough to make this movie a win for me.

Paul Weitz takes the reins in this film taking over for Jay Roach. I have to say that both of these Directors are hit and miss with my viewership. For Paul Weitz I think his best work was on About A Boy. And Jay Roach best work was on the Austin Powers and did well on the first installment but should have stopped there. At the time of this post ther are rumors of a 4th in that series.

I would not recommend this film even if you are a fan of the other films. They are milking this for all its worth. The Cast may have a great time in doing these films but I would suggest they follow the Model of A Fish Called Wanda and Fierce Creatures. I have to admit they all work well together let’s just get them some better material to work with.