Tuesday, October 30, 2012

TV: Halloween And New Shows

So Halloween is in a couple of days but I won't be having a special post as I'm already done with my horror watching month and already did a post titled 10 Childhood Nightmares earlier this month along with a review of Sinister [2012]. So instead today I'll be writing about a few new TV shows that I've been watching and a special Halloween episode of a regular sitcom I follow.

# Modern Family: Open House Of Horrors (Season 4 Episode 5)

I written before in a post on how I wished my country celebrated Halloween and how great it would have been if I had experienced a childhood of Trick-or-Treating. Well Modern Family [2009-present] epitomes what I've always dreamed a Halloween celebration would be like. Each season their Halloween episode is just so imaginative and this year's special is no exception.





 Gif photo taken from here

 Despite winning three consecutive Emmys for Best Comedy Series (and dominating multiple other categories), people have said its second and third season hasn't been as strong as the first. I've enjoyed both of those mentioned seasons but in a way agree that the first one was just a level above. But now five episodes into the current one and I think it has shown the form that is level with that debut season. I mean I still can't stop laughing from episode 4's Phil's-osophy advices in life.

# Elementary

Cast: Jonny Lee Miller, Lucy Lie, Aidan Quinn, Jon Michael Hill
Quote: "It has costs. Learning to see the puzzle in everything. They're everywhere once you start looking. Once you start looking, its impossible to stop. It just so happens that people, and all the deceits and delusions that inform everything they do, tend to be the most fascinating puzzles of all. Of course, they don't always appreciate been seen as such."



This is about Sherlock Holmes and his crime solving activities set in modern-day New York. I really like the idea of putting Holmes in the current era and actually before this had no idea that the BBC series, Sherlock also had the same concept. I might want to check that one out too now. Sherlock Holmes here is a recovering drug addict that has relocated to New York to help the NYPD. He is brilliantly played by Jonny Lee Miller, who of course, is mostly recognisable for his work as Sick Boy in the movie Trainspotting [1996].

The catch to this version is the character of Dr. Watson, who happens to be a female and played by Lucy Liu. She's being described as a former surgeon who now works as a sober companion for recovering addicts - in this case it is Sherlock. Apart from being extremely intelligent, Holmes is also sarcastic and arrogant - all ingredients to making a compelling character.  Its has only been four episodes in and I'm already very hooked. Most of the negative reviews I found on this show seems to come from viewers in the UK and fans of the show, Sherlock. Just let it go folks, both can exist together...

Image taken from here

I've written before on great Opening Title Sequences, and Elementary's opening credits can easily be categorised as one of the best. You can interpret what the sequence represents how ever you like, but I see it as the process of Holmes' analytical mind in solving crimes (actually I took that thought from a comment on Youtube, but hey, great artists steal).


# Revolution

Cast: Billy Burke, Tracy Spiradakos, Giancarlo Esposito, Graham Rogers, Elizabeth Mitchell, David Lyon, Zak Orth
Quote:"There's a lot of men out there, okay? Sooner or later they're coming in. So we, are gonna Shawshank our asses outta here."


A post-apocalyptic future where electricity isn't functional thus rendering whatever that happens to use it (lemme see, that just about covers.... everything!) useless. Apart from Elizabeth Mitchell, I'm not familiar with any of the remaining cast but Billy Burke who plays the character of Miles Matherson makes a pretty bad-ass protogonist. New comer Tracy Spiradakos provides the eye-candy to the show (her acting isn't too bad, but a little rough around the edges). A lot of complaints have been on logical issues, but isn't that the case for most post-apocalyptic stories? I mean take zombies shows for example. They'd be no end to the logical issues on that one. Revolution won't be winning any awards but is just interesting enough to make me a follower so far.

# Arrow

Cast: Stephen Amell, Katie Cassidy, Paul Blackthorne, Willa Holland, Colin Donnell, susana Thompson
Quote: Oliver: "Which one is she?" Tommy: "The one that looks like the chick from Twilight" Oliver: "What's Twilight?" Tommy: "So better off not knowing"


Based on the character of Green Arrow from DC Comics. For those unfamiliar with the world of superheroes and comics... you know how there seems to be similar characters in both Marvel Comics and DC? Of course you don't. If you did, you'd know who Green Arrow is. Silly me! Well, I'm gonna tell you anyway (consider this like a villain in movies self-indulgently monologging his plan to the hero). So, for Marvel's Sub-Mariner, DC has Aquaman. Marvel has Quicksilver, DC has The Flash. There's The Black Cat that lives in Marvel's universe, while Catwoman inhabits the realms of DC. Now, I'm guessing you've all seen The Avengers [2012] and are already familiar with the character Hawkeye right? Well, Green Arrow is DC's equivalent of that character.

They're trying to make the story similar with Bruce Wayne's in Batman Begins [2005] but honestly from the two episodes I've watched so far, there seems to be a bit of spark missing. If it wasn't for my love of superheroes I'd have already given up on it, but for now I'm wiling to give it a few more episodes.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Express Reviews: Ruby Sparks, Safety Not Guaranteed, Seeking A Friend For The End Of The World

For the first 3 quarters of every year I am lucky that I live in Malaysia. Movies are released relatively early here plus our time zone and the fact that opening day is on Thursday means that I get to see films before most of the world. But then comes October, a.k.a awards season and I start to get left behind. For instance my most anticipated film left for the year, Django Unchained [2012], will only be released sometime in mid January to mid March. WTF? The DVD might already be out by March! In the geek world that I live in that's like having the iPhone 4 you ordered arrive a month before the release of iPhone 5. Worthless! Okay, semi-worthless.

With Skyfall [2012] only opening next week, there was nothing truly interesting to me these couple of weeks (with the exception of the mind-blowingly awesome trailer for Iron Man 3 [2013] that is), I've decided to do Express Reviews of these wonderful indie movies instead.

# Ruby Sparks [2012]



Directed By: Jonathan Dayton, Valerie Faris
Written By: Zoe Kazan
Starring: Paul Dano, Zoe Kazan, Chris Messina, Annette Benning, Antonio Banderas
The Story: Calvin Weir-Fields (played by Paul Dano) is a novelist struggling with writer's block. He begins to write about his dream girl and gives the name Ruby Sparks to that character. Suddenly, Ruby (played by Zoe Kazan) appears in his life for real.
The Verdict: There are mainstream rom-coms and there are indie rom-coms. While the former has a reputation of being predictable chick-flicks, the latter are usually quite entertaining. Belonging to the second category, Ruby Sparks [2012] shows us how ridiculous the concept of the manic-pixie-dream-girl or perfect partner actual is. There's also the question of the danger that ultimate power can provide. As expected this is quirky, smart, funny, and one of the more entertaining features of the year!
Rating: 8.5 out of 10

# Safety Not Guaranteed [2012]



Directed By: Colin Trevorrow
Written By: Derek Connolly
Starring: Aubrey Plaza, Mark Duplass, Jake Johnson, Karan Soni, Jenica Bergere
The Story: An ad in the newspaper put-up by a mysterious man named Kenneth (played by Mark Duplass) reads: "WANTED: Someone to go back in time with me. This is not a joke. You'll be paid when we get back. Must bring your own weapons. I have only done this once before. SAFETY NOT GUARANTEED". Magazine writer, Jeff (played by Jake Johnson) brings along two interns, Darius (played by Aubrey Plaza) and Arnau (played by Karan Soni) to investigate.
The Verdict: If there was the same ad in real life I would be interested to know the story behind it, so I found the premise of the film very appealing. Although the final part/reveal of the story doesn't really match my expectations, overall it does have enough charm to it plus a compellingly complex character in Kenneth. The very final scene is a real beauty!
Rating: 7 out of 10

# Seeking A Friend For The End Of The World [2012]



Directed By: Lorene Scafaria
Written By: Lorene Scafaria
Starring: Steve Carell, Keira Knightley, Rob Corddry, Connie Britton
The Story: As a gigantic asteroid heading for earth cannot be stopped, the world will come to an end in three weeks. Dodge (played by Steve Carell) is left by his wife on the night of the announcement. Depressed, he decides to spend the remaining days searching for his long lost highschool sweetheart. He is accompanied on the journey by his neighbor whom he has never talked to before, Penny (played by Keira Knigtley).
The Verdict: Steve Carell and Keira Knightley seems like an odd couple together, but although not having the best of chemistry, they do complement each others roles nicely. Before this I used to be indifferent with Steve Carell, but after seeing his performance here, I'd say he is very underrated. Despite the fact I think total mayhem would explode in real life if there was an impending apocalypse, I found this film to be entertaining and emotionally engaging. The music featured was very good too. This film's Rotten Tomatoes summary says it has a disappointing final act, which I completely disagree with. I actually think the ending was mesmerizingly beautiful and perfectly made.
Rating: 8 out 10

Friday, October 19, 2012

Review: Sinister [2012]


Background:
Release Date: 18 October 2012 (Malaysia), 12 October 2012 (USA)
Directed By: Scott Derrickson
Written By: Scott Derrickson, C. Robert Cargill
Starring: Ethan Hawke, Juliet Rylance, Clare Foley, Michael Hall D'Addario, James Ransone
Duration: 110 minutes
In A Nutshell:
Ellison Oswalt (played by Ethan Hawke) is a true-crime novelist who has passed his primed years ago. He moves into the house of a murdered family in preparation for his newest book. His wife - Tracy (played by Juliet Rylance), son - Trevor (played by Michall Hall D'Addario), and daughter - Ashley (played by Clare Foley) are not particularly fond of moving. Ellison discovers a box in the attic containing footage of not only the murder of the previous family but also those of connected murders. Strange things begin to happen in the house.


Thumbs Up:
+ Genuine scares, suspense, and tense moments. Watch out for the dead kids to appear, shit is just about to get serious.
+ Creepy musical score complements the scences nicely
+ Ethan Hawke does well in his role here... I've always found his face looking tensed-up and full of burden anyway
Thumbs Down:
- Some of the best scenes can be found in the trailer
- Quite a few jump-scares
- The climax could have carried more impact


The Verdict Is In:
Finally I remembered the main reason why I never really liked horror movies..... I'M CHICKEN! Perhaps not in real life, but my imagination always gets me immersed in the films that I'm watching that it doesn't take a lot to scare me. But that's why most of the horror films I've seen in my adult life have disappointed me... they didn't scare me! And this is where Sinister [2012] succeeds... I felt genuinely scared during a few scenes. Despite having already seen a few of the creepiest scenes in the trailer, the anticipation of something to happen managed to instil fear in me.


The film teases us with the mystery of whether the killings were done by a psychotic murderer or whether it was something supernatural. They also tried to give us another possibility - Ellison was drunk and imagined most of the things. But come on, who would have ever believed that possibility. Then again I have seen worse screenwriting in my life.

 However, despite all my fear in anticipation, I felt the pay-off never really arrived. While the ending had a nice little twist, it felt like it didn't really climax. There was no powerful exit. It wasn't bad, but if it had the impact like the ending of, say, The Blair Witch Project [1999] or Paranormal Activity [2009], this would be a truly good horror movie (well from the perspective of someone who doesn't see much horror at least). I guess it is true that fear of the unknown is usually worse than the real thing.
Rating:
7 out of 10

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Retro TV: My Two Dads [1987-1990]


A few weeks ago I met up with a couple of friends from elementary school which I haven't seen in God knows how long. I became all nostalgic again as we reminiscence about the past. Among the many memories we talked about were the movies and TV shows we used to watch. I've always been very attached to my 80s childhood but I completed forgot about a favourite TV show we all shared: My Two Dads [1987-1990]. As I spent the last week re-watching a few episodes, I was reminded how much I enjoyed the show and 80s sitcoms in general.

My Two Dads tells the story of two guys with very different personalities - the "down-to-earth" Michael Taylor (played by Paul Reiser), a successful financial adviser, and the "head-in-clouds" Joey Harris (played by Greg Evigan), a struggling artist. They inherit the 12 year-old daughter of a woman that they both used to date. One of them is the biological father of that girl, Nicole Bradford (played by Staci Keanan), but it is never revealed and a Judge (played by Florence Stanley) rules that they have joint custody. I know, rather silly, but just play along. The Judge also happens to be their landlord and checks-up on them regularly.

If the show were made in the present day, it would be about a couple of gay dads. But considering its era, both dads happened to be straight. As was the nature of 80s sitcoms, each episode was family-friendly and carried a message/lesson-learned at the end. Shows from that time-period also carried a catchy theme song, and this was no different. This past week I've had You Can Count On Me (which was sung by Greg Evigan himself) on my music player loop. So what happened to the stars of the show?


Paul Reiser, who in my opinion was the funniest on the show, joined fresh from his appearance as the jerk in James Cameron's Aliens [1986]. After this show ended he starred in the hugely successful TV series, Mad About You [1992-1999] alongside Helen Hunt. He recently return with another show, The Paul Reiser Show [2011] which unfortunely didn't last too long.


Greg Evigan provided the sex appeal to the show. I've lost count of the times I've heard girls say how dreamy he was. He was good-looking but also a good actor as well. His IMDB page shows that he has had plenty of work since, but I don't think I've seen any of them.


When I list the many childhood crushes I used to have, most of them used to be grown-up actresses. So people ask me did I ever have one around my own age at that time? Well, the only one I could remember was Staci Keanan. I haven't seen her other work since but I'll say grown-up Staci is hot! Shockingly, when researching for this post I found out that she had passed away last year! Her IMDB, Wikipedia, and many other pages aren't aware of it and doesn't list it. A simple Google search will reveal a few articles of her death like this one here. I guess her name drifted away from the limelight so much that it wasn't newsworthy. Luckily further research shows she is actually still alive and kicking as she makes an appearance in this clip, which I believe was made recently. False alarm then. The TV show, Step By Step [1991-1998] was her other most notable work.

So, to the memories of My Two Dads, here's that catchy theme song:

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

List: 10 Childhood Nightmares

Around this time last year, when my blog was still in its infancy, I decided to write this post: Happy Halloween: A Tribute To Horror Movies. In that post I wrote that I wanted to make a list of my favourite horror movies for Halloween. However I wasn't able to do so as I haven't seen much films from that particular genre. Now, it has been almost a year later and I still haven't seen an ample number of  horror movies. What can I say? The genre just doesn't appeal to me a lot.

I think it gets worse with my current age as I don't get scared as much as I used to. I actually do believe in ghosts in real life, but watching most horror movies just doesn't give me enough thrills. It doesn't help that I find most of them predictable. Every now and then, there will be a movie that creeps me out, but those are very rare indeed. Instead I've dug deep into my memory to find movie characters that used to give the child version of me nightmares. Because of the particular age, some of these aren't even horror, and in fact are family-friendly films. I didn't get to see classic horrors like The Exorcist [1973] until my teens, so I'm leaving them out. This list is also in no particular order of preference.

p/s: until this very day I haven't seen a single film from the Scream franchise.

# "The Resident Quote Of My Childhood Nightmares" ~ Jerry Dandrige

 

Movie: Fright Night [1985]
Played By: Chris Sarandon

The original Fright Night [1985] is the first full horror movie that I can recall seeing. I might have seen a few scenes from other horror films before but never in its entirely. There's a scene in this movie where the vampire Jerry Dandrige is confronted by "Vampire Hunter" Peter Vincent (played by Roddy McDowell). Vincent shows the cross, but Jerry nonchalantly takes the cross while proclaiming: "You have to have faith for that to work on me!".

Since then every horrible creature in my childhood nightmares would repeat that same line instead of dying. I try to save a pretty girl by chopping off a zombie's head, "You have to have faith for that to work on me". I shoot a werewolf with a silver bullet, "You have to have faith for that to work on me". I run over a lion chasing another pretty girl with a huge truck, "You have to have faith...". I push a serial killer off a cliff. "You have to have faith...". I cut Darth Vader's hand off with my lightsaber. "You have to have faith...". I finish a 100m sprint in first place. "You have to have faith...(while taking away the gold medal)". What the f**k man!! Some doesn't make sense at all except for the purpose of annoying me. I don't remember ever waking-up to a happy ending. Darn you, Fright Night!!

Selected Quote: "Welcome to Fright Night!..... for real!!"

# "She Has An Army Of Flying Monkeys" ~ Wicked Witch Of The West


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

While Fright Night was the first horror movie I remember seeing, Jerry Dandrige wasn't the first movie character to frighten me. That honour belongs to The Wicked Witch Of The West. That green face, voice, and army of flying monkeys basically traumatised me. It was the only downside to an otherwise extremely enjoyable movie. Of course she had one of the most stupid weakness ever. But even when dying she creeped me out with her squealing voice (see quote below). That stupid weakness didn't work in my nightmares however. You know the drill: "You have to have faith for that to work on me!".

Selected Quote: "You cursed brat! Look what you've done! I'm melting! Melting! Oh, what a world! what a world!".

# "The Tribute To Roger Moore" ~ Jaws & Baron Samedi


Movies: The Spy Who Loved Me [1977], Moonraker [1979]
Played by: Richard Kiel


Movie: Live And Let Die [1973]
Played by: Geoffrey Holder

As we now enter the month of October, Bond fever goes into hyperdrive stage. Sadly for me, Roger Moore is often placed at the bottom of favourite Bond actors. I actually quite like him. A major factor for that is because of the two villains above.

First of all, Jaws is utterly daunting. Not only does he have metal teeth, he is unequivocally gigantic. I swear he looks to be 13 feet tall!! The scary thing is I'm only half-exaggerating. Time-travel out of the way, he could easily be cast in a Jack And The Beanstalk movie during the pre-CGI era (before 1940s). Baron Samedi on the other hand is the guy who introduced me to vodoo. I might be wrong, but I think he is the only Bond villain who didn't die during the movies. Oops... spoiler alert!

Quote ~ Jaws: "Well, here's to us" (his only ever dialogue)

Selected Quote: ~ Baron Samedi: (At the end of the movie while sitting infront of moving train): "Hahahahahahaha....."

# "We All Need To Stay Awake Now" ~ Freddy Krueger


Movies: A Nightmare On Elm Street films [1984-1994]
Played by: Robert Englund

There's not much I remember about the Nightmare On Elm Street films. But I do remember it being darn scary, in particular this guy with the stripy red shirt and long razor claws.

Selected Quote: "This, is God!"

# "The Legend Of South-East Asia" ~ Pontianak


Movie: Misteri Rumah Tua [1987]
Played by: Noor Kumalasari

This is the ghost that I can relate to the most, as it comes from my culture. As I live in a part of the world that still heavily believes in the supernatural, the "Pontianak" is probably the most popular one. Its basically a female vampire, dressed in white with long hair and fangs. According to legend/myth, if men manages to put a nail to its neck, it would turn into a beautiful woman, and the men would then marry her. I know, creepy. But you do have to have faith for that to happen.... or maybe that's just me.

There are plenty of incarnations of Pontianak in my local movies, but the state of my local film industry is in VERY poor condition. The very first Pontianak movie made 1957 for example is lost forever as the studio owners threw the only remaining footage in a river after an argument (read here). So I went for a movie which was made by a callobration between Malaysia and Indonesia called Misteri Rumah Tua [1987]. That terrible image above is the only photo I could find on the Internet.

Selected Quote: (Translated) "Mr., do you believe in ghosts?"

# "That Crazy Girl From Sam Raimi's Cult Classic" ~ Linda


Movie: The Evil Dead [1981]
Played by: Betsy Baker

Believe it or not, a teacher showed this during primary school after we had finished exams. I believe most of us back then had only seen very few horror movies during our infant lives. All the boys tried to act all macho and cool in front of the girls. We all failed miserably with each girlie scream we (me) made. The character I feared the most was Linda, just because of her sinister laugh, singing, and her resemblance to a Pontianak.

Selected Quote: (singing): "We're going to get you. We're going to get you. Not another peep. Time to go to sleep"

# "Now This Is Supposed To Be A Children's Film?" ~ Gmork


Movie: The NeverEnding Story [1984]
Voiced By: Alan Oppenheimer

There's plenty of scary things in this film such as the giant turtle known as Morla/The Aged One. There's also the whole concept of "The Nothing" which can also be scary. But Gmork takes the nod for being the scariest.

Selected Quote: "If you come closer I will rip you to shreds"

# "Another One That Is Supposed To Be A Child's Movie?" ~ The Goblin King


Movie: Labyrinth [1986]
Played by: David Bowie

Confession: I used to be a conspiracy theorist (more like wild imagination) because for a long time I thought David Bowie really was a Goblin in real life. His rock star persona was just a cover-up. He entered my nightmare once with the "You have to have faith...." line. I answered with: "If someone as wimpy-looking as you have come to scare me in my sleep, I've already lost all faith".

Selected Quote: "I ask for so little. Just fear me, love me, do as I say, and I'll be your slave."

# "If Someone Asks If You Are A God, You Say: YES!" ~ Gozer


Movie: Ghostbusters [1984]
Played by: Slavitza Jovan

Gozer The Gozerian was pretty scary, but she emerged at one of the funniest moments of a truly great movie. Yes, the genius of Bill Murray does it once again.

Selected Quote: "Are you a God?"

# "Coulrophobia" ~ It


Movie: Stephen King's It [1990]
Played By: Tim Curry

Caulrophobia. Fear of clowns. I'm now actually amazed to find out that there are a lot of people who are afraid of clowns. As young kid I couldn't even imagine anyone being scared of them. Until I saw this film that is.

Selected Quote: "I'm every nightmare you've ever had. I'm your worst dream come true. I'm everything you were afraid of".

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Review: Taken 2 [2012]


Background:
Release Date: 4 October 2012 (Malaysia), 5 October 2012 (USA)
Directed By: Olivier Megaton
Written By: Luc Besson, Robert Mark Kamen
Starring: Liam Neeson, Maggie Grace, Famke Janssen, Rade Shirbedzija
Duration: 91 minutes
In A Nutshell:
Taking-off from the last film, Taken [2008], the bodies of Kim's (played by Maggie Grace) kidnappers have arrived back in Trapoja, Albania to be burried. The family of these dead prostitution-syndicate members vow to take revenge. They are led by Murad (played by Rade Shirbedzija), who is the father of Marko, the guy who was not only killed but tortured by Bryan Mills (played by Liam Neeson). They get information that Bryan, his ex-wife, Lenore (played by Famke Janssen), and Kim are on holiday in Istanbul.


Thumbs Up:
+ Bryan Mills unearthing the kidnap location with the help Kim
+ Random bad guy chasing Kim on rooftop suffers stupid death. I'm sure it wasn't meant to be comic relief but I laughed-out loud at that one.
Thumbs Down:
- Now at 60 years-old even the mighty Liam Neeson is slow. The guy is mortal after all it seems.
- Uninspired action and lacking scenes with intensity and suspense


The Verdict Is In:
If I were to name just one guilty pleasure action movie outside of those made in the 80s (the zenith era for action heroes), it would be Taken [2008]. You can talk all you want about thin and illogical plot, or the current rotten 58% rating it has over at Rotten Tomatoes, to me that movie was uber-AWESOME!!! Why? It had the greatest telephone monologue in the entire galaxy (I don't think other planets use telephones, so lets change that to the greatest in cinematic history), it had the strikingly intense kidnap scene involving the alluringly hot Maggie Grace, and it also had great action sequences performed by a bad-ass Liam Neeson.

Ah yes, Liam Neeson. This is the guy who was Zeus and Aslan; he trained Obi-Wan Kenobi, Darth Vader, Batman, and Bane; and as Col. Hannibal Smith, loves it when a plan comes together. If ever there was a guy worthy of those Chuck Norris meme jokes it was Liam Neeson (he's also a giant of guy... take a look at his hands when holding a cellphone. He looks like he's 11 feet tall... okay not really). But sadly, at 60 years-old, age has caught up with him. We can see that he is now notably slow during both the fights and chase sequences in Taken 2 [2012]. The fast editing does manages to conceal it a bit though.


But a slow Liam Neeson only contributes to half the problem. I might be too hard on Neeson, he of course could still easily kick my ass, but the action really was just average. It lacked the intensity and suspense the first one had. With that gone, what do we have left to enjoy? The story? Come on! I know I spent more time writing about the first movie and "Mr. Oskar Schindler" here, but truth be told is there's not much to talk about this meaningless sequel anyway. Oh, maybe that Maggie Grace plays a big part in rescuing this time instead of being rescued. Well at least I'm sure this will do much better than that other movie currently playing in cinemas which has a similar story (I think similar... don't care if I'm wrong) and title. In case you don't know it stars Nicolas Cage and is titled Stolen [2012].
Rating:
5 out of 10

Monday, October 1, 2012

Review: Looper [2012]


Background:
Release Date: 28 September 2012 (USA)
Directed By: Rian Johnson
Written By: Rian Johnson
Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Bruce Willis, Emily Blunt, Noah Segan, Jeff Daniels, Paul Dano, Pierce Gagnon, Piper Perabo, Garret Dillahunt
Duration: 118 minutes
In A Nutshell:
In the year 2072, time-travel has been invented but is been out-lawed and used only by the mob. It is also near-impossible to dispose of a body in this future, so when they want to get rid of somebody, that person is sent back 30 years to be killed by "Loopers". The mob has also sent back a representative, Abe (played by Jeff Daniels) to manage their affairs in this time period. Loopers will be paid silver for every person they kill but to close loose-ends, they will also have to kill the future versions of themselves before retiring. Joe (played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt) runs into problems when the future version of himself (played by Bruce Willis) escapes and plots to change his fate. The younger Joe's pursuit of his older self leads to him waiting at the house of a potential target of the future Joe, Sara (played by Emily Blunt), who lives with her son, Cid (played by Pierce Gagnon).


Thumbs Up:
+ One of the most engaging and unpredictable storyline in years
+ Great dialogues and solid performances from the cast
+ Child-actor, Pierce Gagnon is PERFECTLY casted for the role of cid
+ Extremely cool guns
Thumbs Down:
- The make-up (or is it CGI?) used on Joseph-Gordon Levitt to make him look like a young version of Bruce Willis... I find it slightly distracting.


The Verdict Is In:
As we enter the final quarter of the year (awards season), the more interesting films, story-wise at least, are being release. With elements of sci-fi, action, and thriller, Looper [2012] could have easily been made in the hands of a different director with extravagant special effects and action sequences. Instead director Rian Johnson didn't do anything over the top with those two elements and kept things focused on telling the story. Kudos to him for doing so, as I feel this film has one of the most interesting stories I watched on film in a while. After the movie, my friend who went to see this with me complained about noisy people a few rows behind us. I actually didn't notice as I was fully engaged on what was unfolding on screen. This of course is the movie lover's dream.... being transported momentarily into the realm of the film he is watching. There will be some questions of logic to certain aspects of the story, but as a massive fan of time-travel movies (take a look at this blog's header and title if you need a hint), there's nothing here that truly bothers me. You just get those in time-travel movies.


There are solid performances all around from the cast (even the supporting characters like Jeff Daniels as Abe and Noah Segan as Kid Blue) but I just have to make a special praise to Pierce Gagnon who plays the 10 year-old son to Sara (Emily Blunt), Cid. Without giving too much away, the character is reminiscent of what you would find in a few horror movies (and comic books too). Gagnon manages to play it with maximum creepiness.

This is my first exposure to the work of Rian Johnson. I am aware though that his debut feature, Brick [2006], (which also stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is critically acclaimed. After seeing Looper, I might as well push that film to the front of my watching-list.
Rating:
9 out of 10
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