Tuesday, August 30, 2011


Colombiana - 107min – PG-13

As I watch more movies I have noticed that film makers have signature movies they work really well with. Luc Besson uses the same elements in this movie that worked well in others. If you take a Dash of District B13, mix in some elements of Leon: the Professional and finish off with La Femme Nikita, you have Colombiana. Yes, you might look at this opening line and think “so nothing new or original”. Some of the action is the same but this movie does stand out as it’s a different story with these elements not a rehash. I know… I know, you are thinking “how can you have the same elements and not be a rehash”? Well let’s look at it this way. Action scenes can only be done so many ways, and there are no new ideas. The only newness to them is how you string them together. Besson uses these elements like a master chef blends together ingredients that everyone loves. This movie gets a green light from me. I truly enjoyed the ride this film took me on.

This story surrounds the main character Cataleya (Zoe Saldana) who at a young age witnessed her family being killed by a crime lord in Columbia. She escapes to Chicago to her uncle Emilio (Cliff Curtis). He raises her as his own, and helps her work toward what she wants most. She wants to exact revenge on the man who killed her family. Her uncle is involved with the criminal elements in Chicago and provides her with training and guidance. The movie takes us on a rollercoaster ride through her revenge. During the film she struggles with maintaining a relationship with her “boyfriend” Danny(Michael Vartan) and keeping her real life secret from him. She seems like a person who has had her childhood stolen from her and I wonder who she is, or would be, if she had not been subjected to this hardship.

Saladana does an excellent job of bringing the complexity of the character to the screen. Her cold calculating mind works over time but she still shows her vulnerability as a human. You see her struggle with her own identity in a few scenes and she knows that she can’t have a “normal” life. The relationship she has with Danny is a great role reversal, typically the man is the mysterious one and the woman wants more from them. Their dynamic is a switch and it works.

The actions scenes are well timed and they fit together wonderfully. I loved the shots of the locations; the establishing shots brought the settings into clear focus. Besson does action well; I am never disappointed by his films. Well I can’t say that, there are a few that are not as good as others but not everyone can be a hit. One thing that always stands true is his attention to the action. He does do action well. Before I started looking at movies more closely I had no Idea that many of the movies that I really liked in this genera were made by him. Memo to me: write about the merits of his films on future IMHO post.

Warring Spoilers follow: Top Secret eyes only beyond this point. !!

The opening scene where Cataleya (Amandla Stenberg) makes a break for it was well done; it did not have the typical free running punch that some of his films have had. It was good but I think it could have been done with more punch. Perhaps I expect more than I should from a 13 year old. She did a great job of taking on this fast paced run from the bad guys her performance does not disappoint.

I thought that her being outed to the police was a hard scene to watch, I knew that it was a bad idea for him to take a picture but I was not expecting his friend to have an “in” at the police department. - The dominoes then fall from there. I think it was hard to watch because I knew what problems that meant for her. That led to another good change of perspective moment was when Ross (Lennie James) the FBI Agent was cretin it was not a woman until he got a match from the two photos.

Jordi Mollà was good as Marco the heavy enforcer for the big bad guy, he has a supremely creepy calm I am going to kill you voice.

Anyone who keeps sharks in a pool deserves whatever they get. Just sayin'.

This week I ask you what was your favorite Luc Besson film?

Monday, August 1, 2011

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 – 130 min – PG-13

The Harry Potter franchise comes to an end and it is a spectacular send off. This movie does a stupendous job of tying up the story of Mr. Potter and his friends. The good wizards stand against Voldermort and his Death Eaters in this battle royale of good versus evil. The second half of the final book was my favorite part so I was looking forward to this movie. I loved the climatic landscapes of this movie and the way the story comes alive and makes the magic seem real. It was with bittersweet sadness that I enjoyed watching this movie knowing that there are no more stories coming. Oddly, I did not feel this way when reading the books. I think as I am more of a movie person than a book person I have a stronger connection with the movies. I give this movie a green light. I truly enjoyed myself while watching the film. Take the last trip into Hogwarts and get set to watch a movie franchise close its doors with a bang.

Harry (Daniel Radcliffe), Ron (Rupert Grint) and Hermione (Emma Watson) are on the lamb when we pick up this film, we see them on their pursuit of horcruxes and speeding toward a final confrontation with Lord Voldermort (Ralph Fiennes). The final battle brings the entire cast back together again in the climax of this film. They spared no expenses in bringing us the visualizations and effects of the magic in a full on wizard war. The one character that I find myself thinking on the most is Professor Severus Snape (Alan Rickman) . Out of all of the characters I think that his development throughout the story and the final film has been one of the best. He comes off as a truly despicable character and we see a contrasting side of him in this film. I feel the most sorrow for him mostly in the way that he is so misunderstood; still unlikable, but at least we understand why. Alan Rickman is a master performer and has been a favorite of mine from the time I watched him in The January Man. Another unsung character that I really liked is the heroic Neville Longbottom (Matthew Lewis). I would be remiss in not mentioning Maggie Smith in her role as Professor McGonagall. She showed her strength as an actress and I was moved by her performance. There were several parts where I knew what was going to happen but seeing them come alive on screen was still a rush.

David Yates has does a great job in making this film the crown jewel of the series. He is familiar with the characters and it shows in the quality of this film. The cast has worked together for several years and they are comfortable with the characters they play. I was completely taken in by the majesty of the final battles and the story elements. I think he did a great job of intertwining the special effects and the drama of the final film. It was well balanced and entertaining. It’s a challenge to balance the elements of a film so that not one overrides the other. He does a wonderful job of making sure that each complements each other.

Warning Spoilers!! No Muggles allowed!!Wizards click here to see them.

Some of the most moving parts for me were the heroic speeches. The first one was McGonagall bringing up the defenses and calls the statues alive and starts to shield the school. I also enjoyed Neville’s speech about Harry being alive in all of us, and his decapitation of the snake. Man, really great stuff.

The entire Room of Requirement scene and its ramifications were exquisite. In the middle of the flight for their lives from the flames Harry makes a heroic choice and risks his life to saves Malfoy (Tom Felton). That good deed in turn saves his life in the forest when Malofy’s mother (Helen McCorory) reports Harry Potter is dead but knows that he is alive and her boy is safe. This is a great story element.

I loved the part where they break into Gringotts and Hermione saves the day. I tell you without her they would not have gotten as far as they did. I loved her trying to be vile and evil as Bellatrix (Helena Bonham Carter) this is a testament of Helena Bonham Carter’s skill she was playing someone else playing her. And if you think about it, she had to think of how Emma Watson was going to play Herminie playing Bellatrix. It’s kind of mind bending when you think about it.

The last question I have for you today is what is the next book series that is going to make a mega millions franchise? I know that I Am Number 4 was trying to get a start but ended up not doing as well as they wanted. What book series should they do next?