Tuesday, June 26, 2012

List: 10 Favourite Pixar Shorts


The release of Brave [2012] last week signalled, at least in my opinion, a return to form for animation studio Pixar after the relatively disappointing Cars 2 [2011] last year. Just like every other Pixar movie (with the exception of Toy Story [1995] ), viewers were in for a treat as a short animated film was featured before the movie. This year the short was entitled La Luna [2011]. It is a heart-felt story that gives the admission price for Brave [2012] even more value.

Back when Pixar were just a graphics division of Lucas Film, they pretty much pioneered computer animation with the release of the short film, The Adventures Of Andre And Wally B [1994]. After being bought by Steve Jobs and being turned into an independent film studio, they released Luxo Jr. [1986] (photo above) which is now a synonymous image with Pixar. Currently 34 animated shorts have been released, and today I'll be featuring my 10 favourites. Even with shorts, it is apparent that this studio produces nothing but quality. They are master storytellers while the characters and world on display are just magical. Note: I don't know how long these clips will be available before being taken down.

p/s: Apparently there was a after-credits scene for Brave [2012]. I missed it. Thankfully it doesn't involve Nick Fury or Agent Coulson recruiting Merida as the newest member of The Avengers :D . But then again, she could give Hawkeye a run for his money and with Disney now owning both Pixar and Marvel, I am imagining a spin-off. Princess Merida is frozen in ice or drinks a magic potion from the bear witch and is awaken in the modern day by an idolizing Agent Maria Hill. She even has baseball cards on Merida..... somebody write the screenplay quick!!


#10 Dug's Special Mission [2009]


Included with: DVD release of Up [2009]

A spin-off from the movie Up [2009]. It also... SQUIRREL!!!... gives us a fresh new perspective with the events that took place in the film.



#9 Day & Night [2010]


Included with: Theatrical release of Toy Story 3 [2010]

Day & Night stands out from other Pixar shorts because of its uniqueness. One, its animation combines both 2D and 3D elements. Secondly, and I'm not really sure how to express this, but the overall feel of the story feels different too.



#8 For The Birds [2000]


Included with: Theatrical release of Monsters, Inc. [2001]

Cute and amusing. Won Best Animated Short at the 2002 Oscars.



#7 Jack-Jack Attack [2005]


Included with: DVD release of The Incredibles [2004]

Just like #10, this is a spin-off to The Incredibles [2004] and gives us a new perspective towards the events in the film. Of all the Pixar movies, The Incredibles is the one film that fans would like a sequel be made off the most. This short just wets the appetite even more.



#6 Geri's Game [1997]


Included with: Theatrical release of A Bug's Life [1998]

Won an Oscar for Best Animated Short in 1998. Reminds me of how Peter Jackson portrayed Gollum's different personalities in The Lord Of The Rings [2001-2003] trilogy.



#5 Lifted [2006]


Included with: Theatrical release of Ratatouille [2007]

Hilarious. Leave it to Pixar to pull-off something like this.



#4 La Luna [2011]


Included with: Theatrical release of Brave [2012]

For those still making up their mind to see Brave [2012] at the theatres, bear in mind that you will get to see this heart-felt gem for free! Just make sure you come early.

*Clip Not Yet Available*

#3 BURN-E [2008]


Included with: DVD release of WALL-E [2008]

Similiar to #10 and #7, this gives us a fresh perspective to the events that happened in WALL-E. The ending is absolutely perfect!



#2 Presto [2008]


Included with: Theatrical release of WALL-E [2008]

The accidental magic show that Presto ended up giving was waaay better than what he had planned for, don't you say? Bravo! Bravo!



#1 Partly Cloudy [2009]


Included with: Theatrical release of Up [2009]

Just like the movie Up [2009] that followed it, this manage to tug at the hearts of the audience. Absolutely beautiful!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Review: Brave [2012]


Background:
Release Date: 21 June 2012 (Malaysia), 22 June 2012 (USA)
Directed By: Mark Andrews, Brenda Chapman, Steve Purcell
Written By: Brenda Chapman, Mark Andrews, Steve Purcell, Irene Mecchi
Voiced By: Kelly Macdonald, Emma Thompson, Billy Connoly, Kevin McKidd, Craig Ferguson, Robbie Coltrane
Duration: 100 minutes
In A Nutshell:
Princess Merida (voiced by Kelly Macdonald) is the eldest child of Queen Elinor (voiced by Emma Thompson) and King Fergus (voiced by Billy Connoly). Frustrated by her controlling mother and the rules that comes along with being a princess, Merida defies an age-old custom that in-turn infuriates the other three Lords of the Kingdom. A quarrel with her mother leads her running off to the woods where she meets a witch that can help her change her fate. Unfortunately the spell she gets from the witch is more than she bargained for. It is up to Merida to set things right.



Thumbs Up:
+ Visually stunning, even when considering that most animations nowadays are beautiful to look at
+ Princess Merida is an engaging character, well worth her place alongside other Disney princesses
+ Plenty of humour especially provided by Merida's triplet brothers
+ Although not as strong, the mother-daughter relationship manages to evoke authentic emotional responses from the audience
+ Nice soundtrack
Thumbs Down:
- Not as much adventure or mystical elements in the film as I had hoped
- The story involving Mor'du The Bear should have been explored more
- The ending lacks a strong impact
- Film's duration feels too short



The Verdict Is In:
So Pixar is back for its first original story in three years. Even after my disappointment with Cars 2 [2011] last year, there are mainly four things I expect from a Pixar feature: (1) Great and groundbreaking story (2) Impeccable visuals (3) Emotional tug of the heart (4) Overall excitement and humour. For the first criteria, there's nothing extraordinary about the story but it still manages to entertain. In terms of visuals, this film really is a delight. The scenery is mesmerising while the details to Merida's hair especially is really a standout. What about the emotional tug of heart? There's no abundance of its presence, but its still there. Fourth and final criteria? I would like to have seen more adventure, but the action scenes keep it exciting and overall it is humorous. So considering everything, it might not belong with the Pixar's heavyweights (WALL-E [2008], Up [2009], The Toy Story Trilogy [1995-2010], and The Incredibles[2004] ), but it is still a success.

Brave was initially titled The Bear And The Bow and directed by Pixar's first female director, Brenda Chapman. However half way through production, Pixar's Brain Trust didn't like the direction the movie was headed and decided to replace Chapman with Mark Andrews. I wonder if in the original version of the story the emphasis was on Mor'du The Bear because it does seem that this current version would have been a lot more interesting if they explored this story a little bit more. In fact I wouldn't have felt that the story was too short if they did, although 100 minutes is pretty normal for a film nowadays.



So then, a welcoming return to form to my favourite film studio. But I have to say its a bit disheartening when I read some early reviews that absolutely massacre this film. I can see where people might not like it and I definitely can accept different views but it really is hard for me when I see critics award the movie grades like "D" and say things like "I'm surprised the film was ever green-lilt". Even more so when films like Conan The Barbarian [2011], Green Lantern [2011], Journey 2: The Mysterious Island [2012], and Immortals [2011] receive much higher ratings. Like I said, I can understand people not liking this, but acting like this is one of the worst movies of the year and should never be made is taking it way too far. Oh well, as long as I enjoyed it.
Rating:
7 out of 10

Thursday, June 14, 2012

100 Film Facts About Me

Now this is inspired by a post from the future director of exploitation flicks, the one and only Stevee Taylor down at Cinematic Paradox. Other people like Lesya from Eternity Of Dream has also made one. I reckoned this would be an interesting topic to cover but somewhere around fact #16 I realised how freaking hard this was turning out to be. I was already out of ideas. So kudos to you guys who've managed to conjure up 100. Respect!

 Now reading a lot of facts can sometime be tedious so I'm trying my best not to be too serious and I hope people don't take my writing literally. I'm not that weird. If some sounds familiar, that's because I recycled facts from my previous posts or taken comments which I left on other blogs. Like I said, I prematurely... ehem... ran out of ideas.

#1 Movies in my Top 5, Top 10, Top 50, Top 100 or Top whatever will constantly change but two spots are reserved for (1) Back To The Future [1985] (2) at least one Pixar movie.



#2 I firmly believe that the headquarters of Pixar is actually a portal to a mystical and magical world/wonderland. That's their secret to producing great movies each and everytime (with the exception of Cars 2 [2011] ).

#3 I don't care what people think, but I still get teary-eyed every time I get even a glimpse of that early scene of Carl and Ellie's life in Pixar's Up [2009].

#4 The same applies when hearing the music score that accompanied that magical scene: "Married Life".

#5 I hate it when come awards season, and a Pixar film is nominated for Best Picture, some people will go "Its a cartoon, no way is it Best Picture material"

#6 I eagerly mark the days off the calender in anticipation for October 21st, 2015. Don't you know? That will be the landmark day when Marty McFly, Doc. Brown, and Jennifer Parker arrive in the future from the year 1985.

#7 I reckon I've already saved the adequate amount of money needed to buy one of those flying hoverboards once they come out. If it still costs too much, I'll sell my car (who needs cars when you have a hoverboard). If the price goes any higher than that, then they'll better make sure the hoverboard has its own App Store to justify the price.

#8 If there is such a thing as a God Of Film, then his name is Christopher Nolan.

#9 I love good big-budgeted blockbusters as much as I do good small Indie Films. A good film is a good film.

#10 I grew up in the 80s, so movies from that period will forever be my favourites. That's when I realised I was in love with film.

#11 I happen to be among the very few people on this planet who didn't enjoy Blade Runner [1982]. I estimate there are only 304 of us people. From that number, I reckon 63.72% is covered by conspiracy theorist, Scrooge McDuck, and Kanye West because these guys seem to hate everything so why not they hate this movie too.

#12 The most bizarre cinema experience I've ever had was while watching LOTR: Return Of The King [2003]. A guy kept talking on his cellphone and when people told him too keep quiet, he shouted and argued back. The audience in turn threw things at him (I might had propelled a popcorn or two his way. Nothing much I know. I value my food). Luckily the cinema staff came to escort him away as the entire theatre applauded and cheered. Now that was a waaay better experience than any 3D glasses could ever dream to provide.

#13 You know all those exagerrated Chuck Norris jokes on the internet? I believe they are much suited to Indian actor, Rajinikanth. Go Google some of movie clips on Youtube, they are so ridiculous. No, I haven't fully seen any of his movies either.

#14 13.08% of George Lucas' wealth is contributed by me. Throughout the years I've owned multiple VHSs, DVDs, variety of action figures, posters, replica light sabers (anyone has a real one, please contact me ASAP), Darth Vader helmet with voice changer, replica model of the Millenium Falcon, lego toys, etc. AND TO THINK THAT I HATED THE PREQUEL MOVIES!!!

#15 I can't say I hate George Lucas but I have a profound dislike for Jake Lloyd and Hayden Christensen.



#16 I still have no idea how old Harold was in the film Harold And Maude [1971]. Anyone?

#17 Unlike the majority of people, I don't prefer the back row seats of a cinema. Fourth or fifth row from the screen/front is usually my choice.

#18 I'm usually the one designated to book tickets, so friends and family are left annoyed with my choice of seats. Apparently the excuse "These were the only seats available" doesn't work when its a half-empty theatre. Must work on my Jedi mind tricks a little more it seems.

#19 If memory serves me correctly, the first horror movie I ever saw was the original Fright Night [1985]. Since then, the dialogue "You must have faith for that to work on me" seemed to be uttered by every horrible creature that I fought in my childhood nightmares. I don't remember ever waking up to a happy ending as kid. Rescuing the girl truly was just for the movies.

#20 As a young boy seeing the early scenes of Stephen King's It [1990] for the first time, I muttered the words "A clown scaring off kids? What kind of a stupid movie is this?". I ended the night terrified of going to the bathroom alone. (Young boy? I was 11 I think).

#21 With the exception of a very few, I'm largely not fond of slasher and gore films.

#22 I enjoy a wide variety of genres but Superheroes, Sc-Fi, Fantasy, Action, and Adventure are my favourites.

#23 Seeing that English isn't actually my mother tongue, its kinda ironic when I refer to non-English films as "foreign-language films".

#24 I prefer subtitled movies rather than dubbed ones. MUCH PREFER.

#25 No matter how terrible, I have never stormed out of the cinema before the film ended (toilet breaks don't count of course... even that I rarely do).

#26 The closest I came to storming out though was during Street Fighter: The Legend Of Chun Li [2009] (sorry Kristin Kreuk, but almost everything especially Chris Klein's acting was unbearably abysmal).

#27  I actually learned the meaning of the word "abysmal" from Disney's Aladdin [1992]

#28 Forget the origin story of Captain America, here's a true story. At sometime during the 1920s, scientists performed a top secret genetic engineering experiment to create the perfect female specimen: An exceptional woman with a face radiating with explicit beauty, mannerisms that illuminates with elegance, and an accent and speaking voice of unequivocal delicacy. The result was Audrey Hepburn. Even with those high standards, I think they actually over-achieved by creating her!



#29 If I was a woman, I would go head over heels with Robert Downey Jr. The man just exudes charisma from every single pore available to his body.


#30 On the other hand, someone who is somehow popular but is completely devoid of charisma is Ashton Kutcher. Sorry if you're a fan but I find him completely boring, and to think he'll be playing Steve Jobs in an upcoming movie!


#31 The same applies to Adam Sandler. Some of his movies and jokes might be funny, but as an actor I find him to be extremely dull.


#32 It has been cited that Edward Norton's performance in American History X [1998] as a perfect representation for the body language of an alpha male. I couldn't agree more.


#33 Not trying to be a snob here. But there's not many of my local Malaysian films that I enjoy. An exception is the legendary P.Ramlee but his 50s and 60s movies are more heavily related to local culture, so foreigners might not be able to relate. Kinda of like an inside-joke that other people won't get. That being said he did win several Asia Film Festival Awards.


#34 Although the number of modern Malaysian movies that I fancy is limited, I do recognise the fact that actress Intan Ladyana (photo below) is the cutest darn thing ever (behind Audrey Hepburn of course.... and Rooney Mara, whom strikes an uncanny resemblence to Audrey).



#35 I've never seen any of the Twilight movies in full. Just a few scenes here and there while hovering over the shoulders of my teenage cousins and their laptops.


#36 Going to either the San Diego or New York Comic Con is still an unfulfilled wish of mine (hey, all my savings are meant for that hoverboard I mentioned in #7).


#37 I would love to be able to attend the Sundance Film Festival someday too.


#38 I'm probably in the minority here again but I enjoyed Zack Snyder's version of Dawn Of The Dead [2004] more than the original 1978 version by George A. Romero.


#39 Proof of time travel can be seen by looking at Johnny Depp and Jennifer Beals. They look exactly the same now as they did during the 1980s.


#40 Proudest film recommendation from movie-buff-to-casual-film-viewer: Playing Warrior [2011] for a bunch of gym buddies and watching these bulky and muscular men shed man-tears at the climax. Who cares if the story is cliche? Then again this might not be a huge achievement considering one of them admits to being a huge fan of The Notebook [2004]. Again, I haven't seen it so trying to keep an open mind.


#41 My all-time favourite gym music is "Gonna Fly Now" from Rocky 2 [1979]. No matter how tired or out of breath I am, when the music reaches the part when Sylvester Stallone bursts out a sudden sprint and separates himself from the following pack of kids (photo below), there's always an extra rush of adrenaline to keep pushing me to go further.



#42 After all these years of trying, I still can't do those one-handed push-ups Rocky does. This despite Yoda's voice in my head pestering me with his "Do or do not. There is no try". You're a Jedi Master, Yoda. Its easy for you to say.


#43 Most inspiring movie speech: Troy [2004]. The amount of gusto that Brad Pitt delivered "Let no man forget how menacing we are. We are lions! Do you know what's waiting beyond that beach? Immortality! Take it! Its yours!" is just sublimely spine chilling. Kristen Stewart, take note. That's how you deliver a war speech.


#44 I must have once re-winded Liam Neeson's telephone monolgue in Taken [2008] around 756 times in a row. It was that awesome! I'm now considering making it my phone's answering machine message.


#45 Until this very day, The Wicked Witch Of The West still gives me the creeps.


#46 I still think Judd Nelson looked too old to play a high school student in The Breakfast Club [1985].


#47 Still undecided on which Aaron Sorkin screenplay has the best dialogues: A Few Good Men [1992] or The Social Network [2010].


#48 My choice for best on-screen chemistry is the one shared between Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy in the movies Before Sunrise [1995] and Before Sunset [2004].


#49 The cutest couple however aren't even humans: WALL-E and EVE.


#50 I hope more people get to see Miranda July's Me And You And Everyone We Know [2005].



#51  Her second movie, The Future [2011] however is a little too quirky for my liking. Verging on the "weird" territory.


#52 Speaking of weird, that's often the case with Studio Ghibli and most other Japanese films. Yet somehow they manage to make it work (most of the time).


#53 I have a terrible case of motion sickness so I really hate the shaky-cam technique.


#54 That being said Jason Bourne is my favourite movie secret agent and I love all his films.


#55 I always played Mexican Stand-off with James Bond at the start of his films (you guys know perfectly which scene!). 


#56 After years of him being underrated, I was elated when Joss Whedon was named director for The Avengers [2012] and just knew it would be his big breakthrough.

#57 It seems like a sense of deja vu to #56, with Shane Black being named as director for Iron Man 3 [2013].

#58 The ghost sound from Ju-on [2002]/The Grudge [2004]  (clip below) was briefly my phone ring tone. Looking at people's reaction late at night in a near empty parking lot is always, to put it mildly.... amusing!



#59 My favourite non-Pixar animation is Brad Bird's The Iron Giant [1999].

#60 ..... and also Tangled [2010]. I don't care if its a girly movie.

#61 I extremely love the short animated films they show before every Pixar movie.

#62 I've also stayed back for every after-credits bonus scene from those Marvel movies. Nowadays almost every film that has a cliff-hanger ending to it, I'll imagine Nick Fury appearing after the credits.

#63 A Separation (Jodaeiye Nader az Simin) [2011] is the first Iranian film that I saw. It was a real eye-opener.

#64 Like many other people, before the year 2011 I had no idea who Jessica Chastain was. All of a sudden she's everywhere and being awesome in everything too. Shame that she had to pull out of Iron Man 3 [2013].

#65 In terms of movie websites, I refer to IMDB for facts and details but prefer Rotten Tomatoes for reviews and ratings.

#66 I used to love The Rotten Tomatoes Show and was devastated when it was cancelled. I didn't even read a lot of movie blogs back then. The show was already perfect. 


#67 Michael J. Fox was one of my earliest heroes.

#68 Yes, the inspiration for this blog's name came from a quote from Michael's film Back To The Future [1985]. My first choice for the blog's name however was 1point21gigawatts (also a quote from the movie), but it was already taken.

#69 Another one of his films that I used to remember every scene and dialogue verbatim was The Secret Of My Success [1987].


#70 One more Michael J. Fox film I used to remember verbatim when I was younger was the very cheesy Teen Wolf [1985].

#71 Talking of cheesy and campy films that I enjoyed, the same applied to Masters Of The Universe [1987] which starred Dolph Lundgren and at that time an unknown Courtney Cox. I never enjoyed it to the point that I could remember every scene though.


#72 Whenever I think of perseverance or creating a long term plan, I'm reminded of that majestic film know as The Shawshank Redemption [1994]. I even have Morgan Freeman's voice narrating in my head while I conjure the plan up.

#73 Since the trend in Hollywood nowadays is making a films out of retro TV shows, I would like to see a movie made about MacGyver [1985-1992]. I don't know how they'll make it relevant to this current era though. I mean who needs a Swiss Arrmy Knife when smart phones nowadays can do almost anything.


#74 A movie about Thundercats [1985-1987] could also be interesting. No, scrap that idea. Hollywood would probably get someone like Michael Bay to screw it up.

#75 Since now that I'm working in Network Security, those hacking scenes in films such as Hackers [1995] or Weird Science [1985] seem really ridiculous instead of cool.

#76 There's probably thousands of times that I wished the day would just loop endlessly like in Groundhog Day [1993].

#77 I think Bill Murray is one of the most underrated actors ever. Please, oh please be in Ghostbusters 3 [201?].

#78 I always wonder what it would be like if Will Smith had accepted the role of Neo in The Matrix [1999] instead of Wild Wild West [1999].

#79 .....also what would the character Col. Hans Landa in Inglourious Basterds [2009] be like if Leonardo DiCaprio had accepted the role. Christoph Waltz however is still perfect.

#80 I still wonder what happened to the actress who played the character Newt (Carrie Henn) in Aliens [1986].

#81 I still think that Alien: Resurrection [1997] isn't as bad as people make it out to be. Thankfully director Jen-Pierre Jeunet redeemed himself with the wonderful film Amelie (Le fabuleux destin d'Amelie Poulain) [2001].

#82 Director David Fincher obviously redeemed himself with every movie he has made since, but I still didn't like Alien3 [1992].

#83 I think that Brad Bird is next in line to join the directing greats.

#84 There is a rare medical condition out there known as "Didn't enjoy The Usual Suspects [1995] Syndrome". It affects every 1 in 17 people. I believe I was inflicted because I managed to predict the "twist" of the movie very early on.

#85 Talking of movie twists, the impact of The Sixth Sense [1999] was reduced on me just because some moronic movie reviewer in my local newspaper revealed the twist.... in his first sentence!! Journalist my ass!!



#86 In terms of the bad rep M. Night Shyamalan receives, I actually enjoyed his film The Village [2004].

#87 If I knew nothing about Sean Penn before I saw the movie I Am Sam [2001], I would have believed he was mentally-challenged in real life. Truly awesome performance. Denzel Washington was great but Sean Penn should have won the Oscar that year.

#88 The same applies to Dustin Hoffman in Rain Man [1988]. The only difference is he actually won the Oscar.

#89 I still can't believe that Russell Brand is a member of AMPAS when so many other good actors still aren't.

#90 I wanted to visit New Zealand ever since I saw The Lord Of The Rings: The Fellowship Of The Ring [2001].

#92 I wanted to visit Norway ever since I saw Troll Hunter (Trolljegeren) [2011].

#93 During my student days me and my roommates rented the VHS version of legendary Japanese horror flick, Ringu [1998], just to see what would happen since we didn't own any telephones back then. Everyday we received an e-mail instead telling us how many days we had left to live.

#94 Okay, in all honesty I played that trick years later on my ex-girlfriend. For seven days, I would borrow different people's mobile phone to call her and leave the message "Seven more days until you die.....", "Six more days until you die...". Yeah, is it any wonder that we're no longer together.

#95 On the rare occasions that I make a pathetic attempt at cooking, I visualise the movie Julie & Julia [2009].



#96 Whenever I'm painting the house, washing the car, or any other tedious chore, I use the techniques taught by Mr. Miyagi to Daniel-son in Karate Kid [1984]: "Wax on, wax off".

#97 I found out to my own expense a long time ago that Karate Kid's crane stance didn't work.

#98 The scene in Project Nim [2011] where Nim meets other apes for the first time will forever be imprinted in my mind.

#99 I bet most of you didn't realise I skipped #91. Hey, I told you early on that it was hard coming up with facts to do this.

#100 Doing this list was exhausting. Right now I'm glad its over but I have to admit its been fun!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Goonies + Prometheus Mashup


I was expecting the summer blockbuster season this to be mind-blowing, but so far only The Avengers [2012] and Prometheus [2012] has fulfilled my excitement. Others like Dark Shadows [2012] and Snow White And The Huntsman [2012] was rather disappointing, especially that Burton-Depp flick (the latter movie was OK). But I'm still holding out hope that the rest of the summer will be a hit. Away from the big-budgeted blockbusters I'm really interested in seeing Moonrise Kingdom [2012] and Safety Not Guaranteed [2012] but there is yet to be a cinematic release date here in the country I live in. Hope that'll be settled soon.

Frankly speaking, I was rather surprised by quite a lot of bad reception that went Prometheus' way. Like I said, I think it was one of the more entertaining movies of the year so far. Oh well, you can't satisfy everybody. By the way I found this entertaining clip where footage of one of my favourite films, The Goonies [1985] was paired with audio from the trailer for Prometheus. The result is rather impressive. Never could I have imagined that Chunk's "Truffle Shuffle" (photo above) could be so terrifying!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Review: Prometheus [2012]


Background:
Release Date: 7 June 2012 (Malaysia), 8 June 2012 (USA)
Directed By: Ridley Scott
Written By: Jon Spaihts, Damon Lindelof
Starring: Noomi Rapace, Michael Fassbender, Charlize Theron, Guy Pearce, Idris Elba, Logan-Marshall Green
Duration: 124 minutes
In A Nutshell:
In the year 2089, a group of scientists led by Elizabeth Shaw (played by Noomi Rapace) and Charlie Holloway (played by Logan-Marshall Green) discover a series of cave paintings that they believe are a map to a distant star system. Fast foward a few years and the couple are on board the spaceship named Prometheus on their way to that very star system. The head of the corporation funding this mission, Peter Weyland (played by Guy Pearce) believes they will find the origins of mankind there. They are joined by a crew which includes the corporation representive, Meridith Vickers (played by Charlize Theron), Weyland's android robot, David (played by Michael Fassbender), and spaceship captain, Janek (played by Idris Elba).
Thumbs Up:
+ Ridley Scott delivers genuine suspense and thrills that comes close to rivaling his original Alien [1979] movie
+ The cinematography, production design, and CGI combine to create dazzling visuals
+ Good performances especially from Michael Fassbender and Noomi Rapace
+ Thought provoking themes
Thumbs Down:
- The dialogue is somewhat dull
- Rather dodgy old make-up/special effects on Peter Weyland, although not as bad as the make-up in the movie J.Edgar [2011]



The Verdict Is In:
Work has caught up with me and I've been extremely lacking sleep this week so this is gonna be a very short review (they tend to be relatively short anyway). Prometheus explores some pretty interesting themes such as human origins, Darwinisms, what it means to be human, and asks us questions such as "Where did we come from?" and "Does it even matter?".  Much of the hype surrounding this movie has been about it being a prequel to Ridley Scott's masterpiece Alien [1979]. Fans of that movie (is there anyone out there who isn't?) will be delighted with a few references to the film but what I loved the most is that it succeeded in generating a feeling close to what I experienced when I first saw that timeless classic. The second half of the movie especially delivers some truly suspenseful and thrilling moments. This is Sci-Fi Horror at its best. Because of its lower budget, the original Alien feature had more creative thrills while Prometheus has more action and is louder. Ultimately, Alien is still the better movie, but Prometheus isn't that far behind.
Rating:
8.5 out of 10

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

List: 15 Favourite Female Villains

Last week's release of Snow White And The Huntsman [2012] and this week's opening of Prometheus [2012] has made the South African Goddess and Oscar winner known as Charlize Theron my current flavour of the month. That Snow White film was rather uneven but despite some people claiming otherwise, I still rate Theron's performance of the evil Queen as outstanding. But it made me think, when discussing iconic cinematic villains, the mind usually conjures up images of Hannibal Lecter, Darth Vader, Heath Ledger's Joker and a few others. Female movie villains on the other hand are rather underrated. So here's a look at my favourite female villains of the silver screen.

Since I started this blog almost 10 months ago I loved making lists and would have at least one published every month. But its been over two months since my last list. So I'm making up for that by featuring as much as 15 villains for this post.

Haven't Seen The Movie Yet:
I know, I know. I should have seen these films by now. They have been on my to-watch list for like God knows how long. So here's hoping I get to see them soon.
# Carrie (played by Sissy Spacek) from the movie Carrie [1976]
# Asami Yamakazi (played by Eihi Shiina) from the movie Audition (Odishon) [1999]
# Queen Akasha (played by Aaliyah) from the movie Queen Of The Damned [2002]

Honourable Mentions:
# Madison Lee (played by Demi Moore) from the movie Charlie's Angel: Full Throttle [2003]
# Cruella De Vil (voiced by Betty Lou Gerson) from the movie 101 Dalmations [1961]
# Gozer (played by Slavitza Jovan) from the movie Ghostbusters [1984]
# Elle Driver (played by Daryl Hannah) from the movie Kill Bill: Vol. 2 [2004]
# Ursa (played by Sarah Douglas) from the movie Superman 2 [1980]
# Justin Bieber (as himself) from the movie Justin Bieber: Never Say Never [2011] ..... okay, this last one was just mean. But I couldn't resist. I'm getting into character and going along with the theme... villains!

#15 "Bio-Engineered Hotness" ~ Pris

Edited image from ComicVine
Played By: Daryl Hannah
Movie: Blade Runner [1982]

I happen to be among the very few humans on this planet who didn't enjoy Blade Runner. I estimate there are only 304 of us people. From that number, I reckon 70% is covered by conspiracy theorists, Scrooge McDuck, and Kanye West because these guys seem to hate everything, so why not hate this movie too? But I did enjoy Daryl Hannah in this movie. She was a hot babe back in the 80s and this movie as well as Splash [1984] made her one of my earliest crushes ever.

Selected Quote: "We need you, Sebastian. You're our best and only friend"

#14 "The Queen Bee" ~ Regina George


Played By: Rachel McAdams
Movie: Mean Girls [2004]

Okay, this isn't the conventional type of villain. But her character is as real life as they come and since people hate these type of people that's villain enough for me. Plus I think the movie is hilarious.

Selected Quote: "I gave him everything! I was half a virgin when I met him"

#13 "I Can Look However I Choose" ~ Mystique


Played By: Rebecca Romijn
Movies: X-Men [2000], X-2: X-Men United [2003], X-Men: The Last Stand [2006]

Anybody who can give Wolverine a tough fight deserves to be credible villain. But when you're blue and have scales, and still manage to look hot, you've just earned multiple bonus points.

Selected Quote: "People like you are the reason I was afraid to go to school as a child"

#12 "Ultra-Psychotic Schoolgirl" ~ Mitsuko Souma


Played By: Kou Shibasaki
Movie: Battle Royale (Batoru rowaiaru) [2000]

After years on my to-watch list I finaly got to see this film (thanks largely to The Hunger Games [2012] ). Because of her role in Kill Bill: Vol. 1 [2003], I thought Chiaki Kuriyama would be the main villain in this cult classic. It was this creepy little lass in the photo above instead.

Selected Quote(translated): "What's wrong with killing? Everyone's got their reasons"

#11 "Just The Pussy I've Been Looking For" ~ Catwoman


Played By: Michelle Pfeiffer
Movie: Batman Returns [1992]

I actually prefer Julie Newmar as the best Catwoman, but she played the role on a TV series and this list is exclusively for the silver screen. But that doesn't mean Michelle Pfeiffer wasn't any good. In fact Anne Hathaway has pretty big shoes to fill.

Selected Quote: "I am Catwoman. Hear me roar!"

#10 "Mass Murderer" ~ Mallory Knox


Played by: Juliette Lewis
Movie: Natural Born Killers [1994]

Juliette Lewis has played some great roles throughout her career. But her role in this Oliver Stone-Quentin Tarantino flick is a real standout.

Selected Quote: "I do. Till you and I die, and die, and die again. Til death do us part"

#9 "That Leg Cross!!" ~ Catherine Tramell


Played By: Sharon Stone
Movie: Basic Instinct [1992]

Its a shame that all people remember about this movie is that famous leg cross because by itself, this is a decent film. But yeah, let's face it, that leg cross was great.

Selected Quote: John Correli: "Have you ever engaged in any sadomasochistic activity?" Catherine Tramell: "Exactly what did you have in mind, Mr. Correli?"

#8 "Cottonmouth" ~ O-Ren Ishii


Played By: Lucy Liu
Movie: Kill Bill: Vol. 1 [2003]

Her bad-assness was distinguished when she killed a Yakuza boss at the age of 11. She went on to become the head of the Tokyo Yakuza, complete with her own bodyguard army, The Crazy 88.

Selected Quote: "Silly Caucasian girl likes to play with Samurai swords"

#7 "The Awesome Bodyguard" ~ Gogo Yubari


Played By: Chiaki Kuriyama
Movie: Kill Bill: Vol. 1 [2003]

She may only be a bodyguard to O-Ren Ishii, but I prefer her much more and that is why she is higher on the list compared to her boss. As mentioned in a previous post, the guys at Super Power Beat Down creates fantasy crossover battles from various movies. Here's an idea for a future showdown: Gogo vs. Hit-Girl from the movie Kick-Ass [2010].

Selected Quote: "You call that begging?"

#6 "Femme Fatale" ~ Lola


Played By: Kate Nauta
Movie: Transporter 2 [2005]

If for whatever reason, God forbid, anyone wanted to assassinate me in the future, please send someone as hot at Lola. Same skimpy outfit too please!

Selected Quote: Frank Martin: "Didn't your mother ever teach you to say 'thank you'?" Lola: "Yeah. She tried and failed miserably"

#5 "The Fairest Of Them All" ~ Queen Ravenna


Played By: Charlize Theron
Movie: Snow White And The Huntsman [2012]. Review here.

Ultimately, the movie didn't live up to its trailer. But, like I mentioned in the intro, I still adore this wonderful performance despite what some critics say.

Selected Quote: "Mirror, mirror, on the wall"

#4 "Hey, Look! I'm Not In A Tim Burton Movie" ~ Bellatrix Lestrange


Played By: Helena Bonham Carter
Movies: Harry Potter And The Order Of The Phoenix [2007], Harry Potter And The Half-Blood Prince [2009], Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows: Part1 [2010], Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows: Part 2 [2011]

I enjoy the Potter films although I can't really say that I'm a fan. I don't read the books and think that, at least in the earlier films, Harry isn't even all that great and Hermione is the better wizard. Not bad for a muggle. I also think Bellatrix is much more creepier than that guy whose-name-must-not-be-mentioned. Helena Bonham Carter is perfectly cast too.

Selected Quote: "I killed Sirius Black!"

#3 "Flying Monkeys" ~ Wicked Witch Of The West


Played By: Margaret Hamilton
Movie: The Wizard Of Oz [1939]

Almost everyone I know who'd seen this movie when they were young were frightened or even terrified of this creepy character. Thank God she had a stupid weakness to kill her.

Selected Quote: "You cursed brat! Look what you've done! I'm melting! melting!"

#2 "Loves Romance Novels" ~ Annie Wilkes


Played By: Kathy Bates
Movie: Misery [1990]

Leave it to Setephen King to turn one of the most beloved professions - a nurse, into such a hatred character. Kathy Bates won an Oscar for this role, and rightly so too because I felt like wanting to jump into the screen and punch her in the face.

Selected Quote: "He didn't get out of the COCKADOODIE CAR!!!"

#1 "Damn You To Hell, Biotch!" ~ Mrs. Sylvia Ganush


Played By: Lorna Raver
Movie: Drag Me To Hell [2009]

I've seen a few interviews of Lorna Raver and she seems like such a nice person in real life. But just like Annie Wilkes at #2, I was so drawn into the movie that I absolutely loathed Mrs. Ganush. I actually cheered out loud in the theatre when Alison Lohman's character [*spoiler alert begins] burries the button along with Ganush [*spoiler ends]. But darn to that twist ending.

Selected Quote: "Soon it will be you who comes begging to me"

Friday, June 1, 2012

Review: Snow White And The Huntsman [2012]


Background:
Release Date: 31 May 2012 (Malaysia), 1 June 2012 (USA)
Directed By: Rupert Sanders
Written By: Evan Daugherty, John Lee Hancock, Hossein Amini, Rupert Sanders
Starring: Kristen Stewart, Chris Hemsworth, Charlize Theron, Sam Claflin, Sam Spruell
Duration: 127 minutes
In A Nutshell:
After Revenna (played by Charlize Theron) is made Queen, she kills the King on her wedding night and starts her reign over the kingdom with terror and cruelty. Informed by her magic mirror that Princess Snow White (played by Kristen Stewart) whom had been imprisoned for years will soon take over her as the fairest of them all, Ravenna seeks to eat her step daughter's heart to gain eternal youth. Snow White manages to escape from the castle and runs into the Dark Forrest. A Huntsman (played by Chris Hemsworth) is hired to capture Snow White, but he soon feels a change of heart after learning who she is. Meanwhile the news of Snow White's escape has let her former childhood flame, William (played by Sam Claflin) to search for her too.



Thumbs Up:
+ Impeccable visuals created from magnificent CGI, wonderful cinematography, and great camera work.
+ Charlize Theron creates a sinister villain in the form of Queen Ravenna
Thumbs Down:
- Another needless love triangle for poor old Bella Swan Kristen Stewart
- The story is at times lethargic and dull with uninspired dialogue
- The climatic scene has nothing special and is pretty understated



The Verdict Is In:
Following previous Hollywood traditions such as Deep Impact [1998]-Armageddon [1998], A Bug's Life [1998]-Antz [1998], The Illusionist [2006]-The Prestige [2006], and The Truman Show [1998]-EdTV [1999], this movie will be the second Snow White movie to come out in quick succession following the release of Tarsem Singh's Mirror Mirror [2012] a few months back. The trend isn't about to end anytime soon as two movies based on the life of Steve Jobs will be released next year. I don't think its a surprise to anyone that this particular retelling of the classic Brothers Grimm tale is the better one of the two. But better only in comparative terms, because as a standalone feature, it is far from being outstanding.




This feature turns out to be not as exciting as its trailer suggests (which it has to be said is one of the best seen in years - still can't believe the shattering mirror scene featured in the photo above isn't in the movie at all). The story is pretty uneven because for every entertaining moment in the film there is probably just as much dull scenes. The problem just might be that the film takes itself too seriously. There is hardly any humour and the dialogue is rather uninspiring. Charlize Theron plays a good villain whether in normal human form or in other magical incarnations. I've read some reviews saying that she gave a poor performance specificly her slow delivery of dialogue. I have to disagree. I actually think her dialogue delivery embodies her persona and stays true to the history of her character. Plus, compared to Julia Roberts in Mirror Mirror [2012], Charlize Theron is really someone you can believe to be "The Fairest Of Them All". Not so sure about Kristen Stewart threatening that title though. Sure, not many people on this planet can, but in this instance, it isn't even close.
Rating:
6 out of 10
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