Posts Tagged ‘Aaron Grant

06
Apr
10

Clash of the Titans (2010)

This weekend saw the much anticipate Clash of the Titans release. A re-imaging of the 1981 classic, Clash of the Titans promised intense 3D action and captivating adventure. It was also the first hyped up blockbuster for French director Louis Leterrier. The film was able to provide captivating action sequences, packed with creative mythological creature design and vivid battles, but fell short in 3D adventure. The story holds very little semblance to the original film so it may disappoint those who are cult followers. That thought aside, as a stand alone story it seemed rushed and sloppy. Clash of the Titans was a fun movie for the action, but lacks a congruent plot and the 3D glamour of its peers.

The 1981 original followed Perseus, son of Zeus, as he battled his way through mythical creatures to save his love Princess Andromeda. This is not that movie, not even close. The 2010 “re-imagining”, was more like a redo. We still follow the actions of Perseus (Sam Worthington), but this time around he is seeking revenge in a world where man has rebelled against the gods. Hades (Ralph Fiennes), god of the underworld, escapes to teach man a lesson for their disobedience. In the cross fire Perseus and his family are capsized, Perseus is the only survivor. Because of man’s rebellion Zeus (Liam Neeson) permits Hades to do whatever is necessary to control the resistance and keep man inline. This includes releasing his infamous Kraken to destroy the city of Argos. With revenge in his heart Perseus leads the soldiers of Argos on a journey to find out how the Kraken can be killed, in turn, saving Argos and giving Perseus his shot at Hades.

On the surface this movie looks incredible. It has all the right ingredients for an amazing flick. Amazing actors, decent director, and great action, but it fails to meet expectations. Its major fault lies in its story line. There is always a thin line to walk when doing a remake. You want to keep enough of the original story to please fans, but also create a different experience to give the audience something to look forward to. In doing this, it is easy to lose track of a coherent story line. Clash of the Titans seemed rushed to get to the major action sequences by quickly dropping character names from the original, but never really developing strong bonds between them. The mechanical owl, and Pegasus, only make minor appearances. Pegasus is really only in the movie to poorly bring the movie to its resolution. They decided to throw in a random character by the name of Lo to be the love interest of Perseus. This pushes out the classic love story of Perseus and Andromeda, and just adds another character with no purpose, or use in the story. The character list is cluttered and proves to be detrimental to the plot. Even still, the parts are well acted. You can never go wrong with Liam Neeson. And Sam Worthington continues to prove himself as a big name actor. It is obvious they put most of their time and money into the action because it proved to be the only entertaining part of the film.

Director Louis Leterrier has a few action adventures under his belt including Transporter 2 and The Incredible Hulk; so it is no surprise that his next film would be a kick ass, in your face adventure. Clash of the Titans has amazing action and battle scenes. Perseus fights everything from giant scorpions to some burnt up beast thing. The fight scenes from the original, including Medusa and the Kraken, are newly renovated with cutting edge CGI. This adds a level of entertainment to the remake that the original was just unable to provide. Which in hind sight maybe that was a good thing because they had to focus more on the story (am I complaining too much yet?).  If you are going to see this movie anytime soon do not waste your money on the 3D. Even though the action was exciting and fun, a lot of the cinematography was lost in the poor 3D production. It did not provide a lot of the same amazing visuals as other films recently released in 3D. The movie does not seem very 3D at all. I found myself wondering if my glasses were not working. Nothing really jumps off the screen. It only adds minor depth to the movie if anything.

Clash of the Titans was ok at best. It has amazing actors and some exhilarating action sequences, but it is hollow and may leave a lot of fans of the original disappointed. Do not expect some deep meaningful story about mythology because this movie just does not have that. But if you enjoy action then you may be able to over look the plot holes. Do yourself a favor though and watch it in 2D, the 3D just is not worth the extra money on this one.

Advertisements
19
Aug
09

District 9

district9posterWhat is District 9? It doesn’t seem like a lot of people know exactly what this movie is. One of my friends even thought it was an animated movie, and was soon shocked to find out it was an alien flick (she hates aliens). A combination of Independence Day and Cloverfield, District 9 is entertaining and exciting from start to finish. The movie acknowledges a paralyzing human fault; a fault that causes mankind to try and control, and ultimately destroy, what it does not understand. This theme is the backbone for the entire movie and caries the plot to an extraordinary, yet sobering, finally. Coupled with amazing CGI, incredible action, and a very powerful underlining message; District 9 will prove to be this summer’s sleeper hit.

The first half of District 9 is shot in a documentary style with some hilarious comedic elements. The “documentary” is set in a world where an alien space craft has entered earth’s atmosphere, and has practically broken down over South Africa. Because of the damages to the ship, the alien life forms inside, known as “Prawns”, have to evacuate their ship and relocate to earth. But because their extreme population, and human discrimination, the Prawns are forced to live in segregated slums. Soon District 9 is riddled with crime and violence. In order to alleviate the problem the government has decided to move the Proudes to a government controlled camp. Given the task of evacuating the aliens is our protagonist, Wilkus Van De Merwe. From this point on the movie strays away from its documentary stylings and turns into a full fledged sci-fi action flick. Wilkus is exposed to alien biotechnology and becomes a government experiment. He must ally himself with the same aliens he tired to evict in order to fight the government who once embraced him as human.

3820518471

District 9 is written and directed by Neill Blomkamp. Who? Yeah exactly. Up until this point Neil has not been involved in many mainstream projects. He only has four directing credits under his belt with District 9 being the first to hit the big screen. Most notably, Neill’s expertise lye in the art of visual effects. He has done the effects for “Smallville”, “Dark Angel”, and “Stargate SG-1”.  Learning this little factoid, it is much clearer why the special effects in this movie are out of this world (sorry for the pun, I couldn’t help myself). When creating the special effects for an alien movie there is always a thin line of cheesiness. If it is done wrong, the aliens just look dumb, and it kills the movie. This was not the case for District 9. Neill had the very difficult task of creating an effective alien species that is shown for the majority of the movie. The CGI had to be perfect to pull this off, and he nailed it. The Proudes were surprisingly realistic which definitely made the movie. Not only was the CGI dead on, but District 9 actually had a plot. I know right, an alien movie with a plot, which actually makes sense, unheard of! Neill sucks in the audience with a playful documentary style beginning that submerges the viewer into this world of alien poverty. Right when you are comfortable and laughing at these “silly” aliens you are tossed into a full fledged action movie with a front row seat to exploding humans.

district_9_new_image-5

Not only was the movie well directed but it had very good characterization. Sharlto Copley plays Wilkus Van De Merwe, the goofy MNU agent who heads up the alien eviction mission. Copley does an amazing job of taking Wilkus through an extreme character change. Wilkus starts off as this nerdy, social awkward guy who takes his job way too seriously. He reminds me a lot of Murray from Flight of the Conchords. Wilkus is that guy who absolutely loves his job, and will make it known to everyone around him that he is in charge. Once Wilkus is exposed to alien technology he experiences a rapid transition of character. He goes from having all the power, to being virtually powerless. Copley does an incredible job of giving this character a transformation.  There is an intense internal struggle with Wilkus as he is slowly changing into what he originally tried to control. It is a very interesting dynamic to see how Wilkus loses all his power but gains a lifetime of internal strength. His circumstances force him to become a stronger individual. It is also beautiful to see how Wilkus’ outlook on life changes once everything he knew is turned upside down. It is a perfect case of walking in another man’s shoes so to speak.

district9

I love a movie that actually makes you think, while blowing up everything on the screen. It appeases my intellectual side along with my brute-man side. District 9 has been causing a lot of talk about its racial undertones. I don’t know why there is debate because it is pretty obvious what the movie is trying to say. It definitely attacks the natural ability of all human beings to judge that which is different from them. There is a direct correlation between the treatment of the aliens and the treatment of different racial groups throughout history. The aliens are segregated and even given their own racial slur. The word “Prawn” is obviously meant to be derogatory slang for their species. Sound like race issues in America? The aliens were not fully understood so they were also placed in concentration camps for study and observation. Sound similar to the Japanese or Jewish concentration camps in WWII? If aliens were to someday discover earth then we would most definitely, as a human race, act in the same fashion. It is a sad reality which seems to be the nature of all human beings. We must control those of weaker social status and exploit them for person gain. If we can not then we tend to destroy them. I loved that they took a human character and exposed them to the strife of alien existence. It completely changed the feel of the movie and had you routing for the aliens. Not many movies do this. Because of the same control issues, most alien movies make the alien the bad guy. District 9 starts off by making the aliens look savage, but then gives you a closer look at their world; a look that puts you in their shoes, and shows that in the end they were just victims of circumstance.

Well made alien CGI, captivating plot, and controversial undertones, make District 9 a must see this summer. Let’s be honest who doesn’t like seeing alien weapons blow some people to pieces? It’s like Rambo with lasers. I knew that would get you off your butt. It is definitely a fun movie and perfect for fans of the Sci-fi genre. There are even cute alien babies and a love story, perfect date movie!

23
Jun
09

The Hangover

20090611-the-hangoverWhen thinking of the comedy hits of the “20 something” generation, many incredible titles come to mind. There are the killer comedies from the “Frat Pack” (Old School, Wedding Crashers, Anchorman, etc). There is the off kilter humor of Broken Lizard (Super Troopers, Beer Fest, Club Dread). And of course let’s not forget the Seth Rogan era (40 Year Old Virgin, Knocked up, Super Bad). The Hangover will easily find its place among these great comedies. It follows the recipe perfectly for gut busting entertainment. Soon everyone you know will be reciting the witty one liners, and updating their Facebook statuses with paragraphs of dialogue. The Hangover is an extremely fun movie, and will make every guy in the world want their bachelor party in Vegas. But lets be honest, “some guys just can’t handle Vegas”.

The Hangover runs with the idea of having a balls to the wall bachelor party in Vegas. Doug Billings is getting married, and as one last hooray hits the Vegas strip with his buddies Stu, Phil, and soon to be brother-n-law, Alan. Of course a night out in Vegas is never dull, and the boys “misplace” the groom to be. They must back track their steps to remember what happened the night before, and find Doug before he has to step up to the alter.

Todd Phillips could possibly be one of the greatest comedic directors of our generation. First he brought us Road Trip, the ever hilarious Old School, and now the 2009 hit The Hangover. It is one thing to have a hilarious script with dream dialogue, but if you do not portray it to the audience correctly, all that comedy gold is lost. Todd Phillips does an excellent job of keeping the audience rolling. Sometimes comedy is made through reaction shots. Catching the reaction of a character at the right moment can, most times, be a lot funnier than the actual dialogue. Phillips grabs those reaction shots with great close ups of the characters. Zach Galifianakis’s character, Alan, is so incredibly hilarious that to not shoot his facial expressions would be a sin. There are also great landscape shots of Vegas. This helps the audience get the full ambiance of the bachelor party. Seeing the Vegas lights foreshadows the insanity..

the-hangover-01

What truly makes this movie, is the dynamic characterization and their interactions. A great comedy has characters that have distinct personality traits whose energies feed off each other. The Hangover is an excellent example of this. First off you have the suave, asshole, teacher, Phil (Bradley Cooper). Anytime you have a party movie you need this character. A guy who knows how to party and most definitely adds fuel to the fire. Next there is the conservative, whipped lap dog, Stu (Ed Helms). You always need a character like Stu; a guy who is always freaking out, but will follow the party guy to hell and back. His unease with the situation heightens the suspense of the plot, and of course adds some funny one liners. Then there is the socially awkward, odd ball, of the group, Alan (Zach Galifianakis). This is the character that is a little off his rocker, and sticks out like a sore thumb. This inevitably is the star character of the movie. The character people will be quoting for years to come. His awkwardness provides the movie with a constant flow of random, hilarious dialogue, and a catalyst for the movie’s action. If you look at Old School, Alan can be compared to Frank the Tank. Will Farrell’s character is quoted more than Maya Angelo on Valentines Day. And as many of you have already seen or heard, Alan’s lines will easily be recited at drunken college parties, and on Twitter updates for a long time.

hr_the_hangover_2

This movie looked like it was a lot of fun to make, and that energy is easily portrayed to the audience. The Hangover is getting a lot of hype, and for once it is actually deserved. Get off your butt and stop watching Old School reruns on TBC. Go see this movie, and leave the kids at home. P.S if you are offended by male frontal nudity you will LOVE this movie!

03
Jun
09

Drag Me To Hell

drag_me_to_hell_posterLet me just start off by saying, THANK YOU SAM RAIMI! The motion picture community has waited too long for a film that exhibits complete originality and guts. Drag Me To Hell is being called the “perfect” horror film, and I could not agree more. It produces on the simple figments of the horror genre that have worked for years, keeping the audience gripping their theater chairs and covering their eyes.

Drag Me To Hell is about a loan officer, Christine Brown (Alison Lohman), fighting to be promoted to assistant manager. In order to get herself noticed, Christine must decline an extension to an elderly, gypsy woman. Cursed by her decision, Christine has three days to appease the evil spirits that are coming to take her to soul to hell.

Curses, demons, old woman without teeth; this horror movie has it all. Sam Raimi makes his stunning return to the horror genre, and speaking for all the fans out there, we are grateful. For those of you who don’t know, Sam Raimi was the writer and director of the Evil Dead saga, as well as the director of all three Spider-Man movies. Once you see Drag Me To Hell you will know for sure what genre Raimi belongs in. It is refreshing to see that a horror movie does not need to have an overkill of blood and guts to shock its audience. Raimi reverts back to the simplicity of horror that made the genre so great in the 60’s and 70’s. The simple use of build up in a scene will suck an audience in and then send them jolting back in their seat at the peak. Raimi does this effectively with the use of amazing visuals and sound.

dragmetohell1

The look and feel of this movie is like a colorful comic book. It sounds like a weird combo for a horror film but it works. The colors make the audience more intimate with the surroundings, making them a lot easier to scare. Raimi did not use blood and gore as a fall back to a weak plot. He used the cheap, age old trick of the ghoul jumping out of the bushes, and it worked every time. But lets be honest, a horror movie just is not as fun without a little bit of the disgusting. Don’t worry fans, Raimi might not use a lot of blood and guts, but he sure does keep the audience at max gross out. The old, gypsy lady is constantly gnawing at Christine’s face, and for some reason always spewing some sort of gross liquid. We all know old ladies make us sick sometimes; well this definitely exploits that uneasy feeling around the elderly.

Also the sound and music in this movie are amazing. Christopher Young, who also worked on such classic horror films as Hellraiser II, and the Fly II, was responsible for the chilling background music. The sound fits perfectly into the idea of the build up. The film has an eerie way of getting very quiet right before the peak. You could tell the entire audience knew what was coming by their frightened squeals, but they still jumped out of their seats every time. On the opposite end, the movie knew when to blast your ear drums. The film is full of sound bits that sound like metal fingernails on a chalkboard, creeping you out at every turn. There is one instance during a sayounce where the audience is attacked with a loud, ear piercing roar. It is paralyzing to the characters, but it is also right at the edge of unbearable for the audience. This peak of the sound gives the audience a sense of panic just long enough to put them at edge and expect more jolts.

drag-me-to-hell

It has been a long time since a horror movie has kept me on edge through out its entirety, but Drag Me To Hell did it with ease. It has a completely original plot line, with an ending that will easily satisfy movie goers. This movie is guaranteed to make you think twice before crossing a gypsy woman, and check your back seat a few times before you leave the parking lot.

 

 

 

 

12
May
09

X-men Origins: Wolverine

x_men_origins_wolverineJust when I thought that I would never see Huge “Jacked” Jackman with feathered hair and a mustache-less beard again, X-men Origins: Wolverine came to the rescue. This origin story brings Wolverine to the screen for the fourth time; revealing the past of our favorite three-clawed hero. Wolverine, aka Logan, witnesses the death of his father at a young age. In rage, he shoots bones claws from his knuckles and avenges his father. But wait I thought Wolverine had metal claws? Patience my friends, lets go to chapter two and see what happens next! Wolverine and his childhood friend Victor Creed, later to be known as Sabertooth, escape only to fight in pretty much every American war. They are mutants, of course they live forever. Wolverine and Sabertooth eventually join the “Weapon X” program which is dedicated to creating the perfect mutant killer. This group is not what you would consider morally sound, so Wolverine leaves to take on the life of a lumberjack. His old buddy Sabertooth is not very exciting about this, and decides to kill Wolverine’s girlfriend. Cue cheesy shot of Wolverine holding his dead girlfriend as he screams into the air. Blood thirsty for revenge, Wolverine allows the Weapon X program to pump his body full of space metal. Ahhh now I see, THAT’S how he gets the metal claws. The Wolverine we grew to love as kids is now born, and really pissed off at the world.

It’s tough to write a synopsis on an origin story! So many details with so little wordpress space. As you can imagine a character like Wolverine has a long complicated history. This fact alone makes this movie a difficult creation. On one end you want to make a good movie that everyone will want to go see. On the other you have to please all the comic book fans by recreating the story as accurately as possible. I could sit here all day and argue over the movies authenticity in relation to the actual origin story, but let’s leave that to the fan boys’ wordpress pages. Just analyzing the movie for what it was, X-men Origins: Wolverine fell short in many ways.

hj-wolverine-big

My main complaint was that the movie cut corners and forced the story. The Wolverine origin story already has enough meat, there is no need to add potatoes. There were a lot of aspects that made the movie feel rushed. For instance I felt like characters were added to create a forced ending. I realize that the studio was probably just trying to please fans by adding characters like Gambit and Cyclops, but they were not needed. Gambit was in the movie for what seemed like two seconds, and had a very minor role. He was obviously only placed in the movie to make fan boys happy.

Another thing that seemed to make the movie feel rushed and cheaply made was the bad CG. There was a point in the movie where Wolverine is looking at his new metal claws in the mirror. For some reason the claws looked like a bad cartoon from Who Framed Rodger Rabbit. I understand that you can not really show claws shooting out of Huge Jackman’s hands, but the original X-Men movies the claws looked a lot more realistic. That is what makes Wolverine, Wolveriney! We couldn’t throw a little more money toward the design?

Aside from the bad CG and the unnecessary character placement X-men Origins was a decent movie. It had good acting, thank you Huge Jackman, was well filmed, and provided enough action to hide its weak plot behind. The title also suggests that there might be more origin stories to come, which I welcome with open arms. If you go see it in theaters make sure you wait until after the credits. X-men movies always like to give you a little treat for sticking around and reading who the “Best Boy Grip” was.

14
Apr
09

Seven Pounds

Before Seven Pounds hit theaters in December of 2008 I honestly had no idea what it was about. seven_poundsIts trailer was a bit mysterious and slightly confusing. It was one of those rare moments where you see a trailer and have no idea what the movie is really about, but know that you will miss out if you do not see it. Bravo to Colombia Pictures for not giving away too much of an amazing film in its trailer. Not really knowing what I was about to get myself into I decided to Netflix Seven Pounds knowing that Will Smith very rarely disappoints (Yes I enjoyed Hancock and don’t care who knows it!). Seven Pounds circles around an IRS agent, Ben Thomas, who inadvertently causes a car accident killing his wife along with seven strangers. After the brutal accident Ben Thomas sinks deep into depression, as the eight deaths weigh heavy on his soul. The film takes the audience on a journey of redemption as Will Smith’s character seeks forgiveness through seven, selfless acts of kindness; kindness that will inevitably change, and even save, seven, deserving individuals. From the start Ben Thomas has a clear agenda and does not seem to let emotions or obstacles stand in his way. That is until he meets Emily Rosa played by Rosario Dawson (rawrrrrrr). Emily soon shows Ben how to love again, derailing his ultimate goal.

Now I will not say much more than that because this movie is so incredibly shocking that giving away anymore would only ruin the feeling I got the first time I saw it. The sacrifices that Ben Thomas makes for the seven strangers are breath taking. It portrays a part of the human condition that is rarely shown in cinema and not to mention in real life. A section of humanity that is so selfless and so endearing that when you see this movie it seems so unreal. Seldom do you hear stories of individuals risking everything in order to help the guy beside them. There are usually only stories of guy beaten to death as bystanders sit and watch silently. Of course you want to believe in a hero like this but when you stop and look at the world around you, it is hard to see how it is possible. This movie grabs your soul and squeezes every ounce of emotion out of it until the credits roll. By the end you do not know if you should cry or smile, but you definitely have renewed faith in humanity.

The cinematography fits in perfectly with the emotion of the script. Director Gabriele Muccino, who also directed Will Smith in The Pursuit of Happiness (2006), portrays this heart felt story to perfection. His images are strong and unyielding. At no point in this movie does Muccino hold back. He is constantly attacking the audience with emotional imagery. There are endless close-ups of the characters, putting you in their shoes as they deal with their tribulations. There is one scene in particular that struck a chord with me. Ben Thomas goes to a retirement home to see a guy who he thinks might be deserving of one of the seven acts of kindness. He soon realizes that the man has been mistreating the elderly patients. Will smith has a scene where he sits down beside one of the patients and asks her what kind of man the director is. She soon starts sobbing and shacking telling Ben that she is being punished. There is this amazing close up of Will Smith leaning into his hand where all you can see is his eyes. He attempts to stay strong for the elderly lady, but cannot fight the wave of emotion as he starts to tear. This image was incredibly powerful and set the tone for the rest of the movie. Let’s be honest any time Will Smith cries in a movie its instant water works! The movie also has an overall drab feel to it. The colors are very minimal and the lighting very dim. As this might not seem very intriguing or beautiful to watch, it is. It is beautiful in the fact that it fits perfectly into the emotion of the movie. And of course no good sob movie would be complete without constant emotional runs through pouring rain.

Seven Pounds gives you everything you need out of a movie; a good solid plot, great connection to the characters, and an ending that will leave you breathless and thinking for days. My advice is to go out and rent this movie, better yet buy it, because Seven Pounds is definitely one of those movies you want in your collection for years to come.