Posts Tagged ‘FireFlyFilms

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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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..

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

 

 

 

05
May
09

Quantum of Solace

james_bond_quantum_of_solace_posterQuantum of Solace sees the second installment of the “newly renovated” 007 series. Following Casino Royale, Daniel Craig is back as the legendary British special agent James Bond. After the death of Vesper, Bond’s main squeeze from Casino Royale, Bond is out for vengeance. In an attempt to uncover the identity of a secret organization, Bond stumbles across an “evil hippie”. Well actually he is just an environmental developer by the name of Dominic Greene. But Greene is not exactly enviro-friendly as he seeks to deplete natural resources from third world countries in exchange for money and power. Cue Bond music and slow motion bullet opening! Accompanied by, a sexy ex-bolivian secret agent hell bent on revenge, Bond most stop Greene before he takes majority control of the world’s resources.

I know what your thinking, “Can’t go wrong with a Bond movie”. You would be right for the most part. Quantum of Solace is an entertaining movie, but it falls short of greatness in many way. The plot line in general is very weak and confusing. The film jumps all over the world in what seems like a desperate attempt to tie loose strings from Casino Royale. Because of this, the character development suffers. We all know the story of Bond and “M” because they have been in countless movies, but what makes a veteran movie series survive are its fresh faces. Camille, played by the very attractive Olga Kurylenko, is highly overlooked in this movie. The presents of her character really had the chance to add an amazing dynamic to this film. The loss that Camille feels over the death of her family should have been used more effectively to connect her to Bond. Instead it was used for an action scene set-up later in the movie. Do not get my wrong I love a good action scene as much as the next guy, but so much more could have been done with her character. Of course Daniel Craig nails James Bond again. In my opinion I would have to put Craig over Pierce Brosnan. Craig adds a layer of bad ass-ness which I think was over shadowed in past Bond characters by an attempt to be overly suave. I prefer the gritty, kick-your-mom-in-the-teeth, Bond.

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Quantum of Solace was directed by Marc Forster, who has been behind some pretty remarkable films such as Monster’s Ball and The Kite Runner. His imagining of the film I thought was pretty good, but he honestly should never work with the same Director of Photography again! They might as well have put the camera on a fault line and waited for the rector scale to have a rave. The action sequences were choppy and hard to follow. It did not leave enough time for the eye to catch up to what was actually happening. I understand that action movies these days are shot like this, aka the Bourne series, but its cuts were so fast that you do not get a chance to enjoy the sequences. People enjoy seeing the action not following behind it hoping to catch a glimpse.

All and all I think Quantum of Solace will be very disappointing to fans of the Bond series. It does not have the same secret agent feel and tends to focus more on its hyper active action sequences. It is still a pretty entertaining movie, but drops the ball in a lot of areas that could have made it a great flick.

22
Apr
09

The Wrestler

thewrestlerposter2The Wrestler is an exciting little romantic comedy about high school sweethearts who have to endure the challenges of love! Oh wait, no, let’s try this again. The Wrestler is about, ummmmm, a Wrestler? That’s right ladies and gentlemen the title says it all. The Wrestler sees the “comeback” of once popular Hollywood, boxing actor, Mickey Rourke. Rourke plays a beat down old wrestling legend named Randy “The Ram” Robinson, who continues to wrestle for close to nothing just to get by. With one foot in the grave and the other perched on a sweaty man’s chest, “Ram” must look deep inside to discover what is truly important in his broken life. Close to death, “Ram” realizes that the only thing in life that he has ever loved, and that has ever loved him in return, was professional wrestling. Providing support and obstacles along the way is his daughter Stephanie, played by the lovely Evan Rachel Wood, and stripper love interest Cassidy, played by the stunning Marissa Tomei.

Now before you write this one off as some cheesy wrestling flick that would only rival Over the Top in pure gut wrenching genius, let me tell you that this film was extremely intriguing. This film generated a lot of noise when it was first released. Maybe it was because you could only see the movie if you lived in one of the limited release areas. It’s like hearing about a super cool toy that everyone is getting, but has not been put on the shelves in your toy store, you gotta have it. I had heard so many great things about this movie that I definitely had to check it out. I was also slightly worried because movies that have a lot of Oscar hype can tend to be a little boring at times, but I decided to go ahead and grab this flick anyway. I am glad I did because from start to finish The Wrestler is anything but boring. It has an amazing cast of characters who make it easy to submerge yourself deep into the story line. Mickey Rourke does an amazing job portraying “The Ram”. Through out the movie the audience can not help but feel sorry for this guy. He is rusted and torn, but continues to push and fight for his dreams. It definitely strikes a chord with the viewer. Everyone has a passion for something that drives them in life, and if that is suddenly taken away it would turn anyone’s world upside down. I also love the interaction Rourke has with the other characters in the movie. He tries so hard to make things right with his estranged daughter, but no matter how hard he fights he just can not redeem himself for past mistakes as a father. It is definitely heartbreaking but a reality in a lot of veteran wrestler’s lives. But the dynamic between “Ram” and the stripper Cassidy I think is by far the most important to the film. As a wrestler “Ram” can relate to this stripper in a strange way. They are both constantly fighting the shadowing cloud of age that is threatening their careers; as well as, juggling their “stage characters” and “real” personalities. It is a fascinating dynamic that adds a different dimension to this film.

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The way this movie was shot I also found very intriguing. The Wrestler was directed by Darren Aronofsky, whose famous works include Pi (1998), Requiem for a Dream (2006), and The Fountain (2006). If you have seen any of these movies you know that they are all complete mind trips; which makes it interesting to see him do a film that is so real and tangible. This movie has a very cool documentary feel to it. In other words, you feel as if you are right there beside Rourke as he battles life. The majority of the action is filmed from behind Rourke, with a following shot of his back. It is like the audience it literally tagging along with him in this adventure. I am not sure if Aronofsky did this on purpose, but it is like a spectator view at a wrestling event. I constantly felt like “Ram” was entering a ring when starting a new scene. This was very effective because it really shows the audience that no matter where he goes, “Ram” is a wrestler first and foremost. The actual wrestling matches were very realistic. They were actually shot at real events. The audience was not extras or paid actors, they were real fans who came out to see an amateur wrestling bout. They were able to steal some time from these events to shoot the scenes where “Ram” wrestles. Because of this the energy of those scenes makes the movie explosive and exciting. This coupled with the emotional plot line makes The Wrestler an entertaining, yet heartbreaking, flick.

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Definitely go see this movie. Most times I would say skip an Oscar nominated movie, unless you wanted a good nap, but this is one you should experience. Aronofsky does an amazing job of throwing the audience waist deep into a world of underground wrestling, and is not afraid to show the brutal honestly behind the profession.

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.