Thursday, September 29, 2011

Review: Warrior [2011]

In A Nutshell:
Former wrestling prodigy and ex-marine Tommy Conlon (played by Tom Hardy) returns home for the first time in fourteen years and decides to enter the biggest mixed martial arts event in history, SPARTA. He enlists the help of his father (played by Nick Nolte) whom he hasn't talked to in a long time (and still doesn't like) to train him for the event. At the same time, Tommy's brother, Brendan (played by Joel Edgerton) whom he also hasn't met in along time also enters SPARTA in a desperate bid to save his family from financial ruin.
Thumbs Up:
+ Incredible performance from the main actors involved
+ the family conflict between father and both brothers are emotionally engaging while the characters have plenty of depth and richness
+ Tommy Conlon at SPARTA is reminiscent of Bill Goldberg's debut in WCW
+ MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) is currently one of the hottest sports around
Thumbs Down:
- quite a few sport movie cliches
- hard to believe it took people so long to discover Tommy's background
The Verdict Is In:
As a male member of the species, I always find something very compelling about fight scenes. Blame it on testosterone if you will, but us guys always enjoy viewing a good fight-sport. In recent years though I can't help but feeling a certain void. You see, although I still love fight-sports movies like Rocky and those old Karate Kid features, there's a sense that they're pretty dated for this era. Nobody watches any real karate or Taekwando matches, while real Boxing has lost its appeal significantly. WWE? Yeah CM Punk has bought back some excitement recently but its still largely PG (no thanks to a certain John Cena).

Nowadays MMA seems to have filled that adrenaline void for me, so its very fitting that a movie (a good one at least) is being made about it. The fights are awesome but the best and main aspect of the movie is the emotional drama created by the family conflicts. This is helped by the fact that the 3 main actors (Hardy, Edgerton, Nolte) gives superb performances and must be considered contenders for awards season.

Owh, also as a wrestling fan its fun to see one of my all-time favorites, Kurt Angle have a role in the movie and also the similarities of Tommy's character to Goldberg's debut in WCW (background mystery-no fuss entry-short impact matches-leaves quickly).
9 out of 10

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

List: 7 Favourite Movie Secret Agents

In conjunction with the movie Johnny English Reborn being released in Malaysia last week, I've decided to come up with my list of favourite movie secret agents. Yes, the world of espionage. We've all probably dreamt of doing it at some point in our lives, and much of that was most likely influenced by what we saw at the movies/TV.

#7 Undercover Brother (played by Eddie Griffin in the movie "Undercover Brother [2002]")

Undercover Brother has "soul", funky style, a rocking afro, knows "Bruce Lee Kung-Fu" and gets to make out with an ultra-sexy Denise Richards. The latter has just gave him the bonus points needed to land him on this list. Plus, the movie features Neil Patrick Harris in one of his obscure roles between Doogie Howser and Barney Stinson.

Selected Quote: "Today is a great day for black people of all races"

#6 Hanna Heller (played by Saoirse Ronan in the movie "Hanna [2011]")

Okay, technically Hanna isn't a secret agent. Although it is claimed she is to be off government "property". But she has all the characteristics and skills needed for a top notch secret agent. Deadly martial arts. Multilingual. Hunting skills. Adaptive. But you would expect that if you too were drilled to be an assassin from basically the womb.

Selected Quote: Hanna: "Adapt or die". Erik: "Think on your feet". Hanna: "Even when I'm sleeping"

#5 Bryan Mills (played by Liam Neeson in the movie "Taken [2008]")

You know someone is awesome when he can take on the entire French police force like this guy did. But who can forget one of the greatest monologues in cinematic history (see below).

Selected Quote: "I don't know who you are. I don't know what you want. If you're looking for ransom, I can tell you I don't have money. But what I do have are a particular set of skills; skills I have acquired over a very long career. Skills that make me a nightmare for people like you. If you let my daughter go now, that'll be the end of it. I will not pursue you. But if you don't, I will look for you, I will find you, and I will kill you."

#4 Jackie/Chan Ka Kui (played by Jackie Chan in multiple "Police Story" movies)

In terms of entertainment value and uniqueness, not many can top Jackie. Using basically anything around him as a weapon while still infusing humour sets him apart from others. Whether fighting on top of a moving train or in a tank full of sharks, Jackie really proves he is indeed a "Super Cop".

Selected Quote: "Super Cops in Hong Kong are cheap and plentiful like commodities in supermarkets"

#3 James Bond (played by Sean Connery, George Lazenby, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, Pierce Brosnan, & Daniel Craig in various "James Bond" movies)

Photo credit to hitokirivader
While the debate goes on whether Sean Connery or Daniel Craig is the best James Bond, I'd like to give a special shout-out to Roger Moore. His Bond films featured two villains that literally gave me nightmares as a child: Jaws/Zbigniew Krycsiwiki and Baron Samedi. Oh, and for the record, although I much prefer the grittiness and realism that Daniel Craig brings, Sean Connery wins the title of best 007. Slightly. You have to win when you have a Bond girl that goes by a name as exotic as "Pussy Galore".

Selected Quote: "Bond, James Bond"

#2 Ethan Hunt (played by Tom Cruise in multiple "Mission Impossible" movies)

Just like James Bond, Ethan Hunt gets to play with a lot of gadgets and works with sexy girls (Maggie Q tops the list). But Ethan is way much cooler, just take a look at the picture above.

Selected Quote: "This message will self-destruct in 5 seconds"

#1 Jason Bourne (played by Matt Damon in the "Bourne Trilogy" set of movies)

It is generally acknowledged that Jason Bourne is the inspiration behind the rebooting of the campy James Bond character to the more gritty and realistic version currently played by Daniel Craig. Although there are plentiful of sublime scenes, my favourite from the Bourne franchise just has to be that scene in The Bourne Ultimatum [2007] where he guides reporter Simon Ross through the train station away from the CIA.

Selected Quote: "Listen people - do you have any idea who you're dealing with? This is Jason Bourne. You are nine hours behind the toughest target you have ever tracked. Now I want everyone to sit down, strap in, and turn on all you've got. That would mean now!"

Review: TrollHunter (Trolljegeren) [2011]

In A Nutshell:
Made in the mockumentary/found-footage style, TrollHunter (or its orginal Norwegian title, Trolljegeren) tells the story about a group of students that set out to investigate what they initially thought to be bear killings. They follow a hunter and eventually find out that the government has long been covering up the existence of trolls.
Thumbs Up:
+ Breathtaking Norwegian scenery (its now earned a spot on my vacation bucket-list)
+ Hey, government conspiracy/cover-ups theories are always interesting in my book
+ Surprisingly, rather funny
Thumbs Down:
- Lacking genuine suspense or scares
- Ending lacked solid impact
- As usual with shaky-camera format, may cause motion sickness (as in my case) although very minimal with this film
The Verdict Is In:
For a found-footage film, this doesn't really offer scenes with suspense. I never felt sacred during the movie and this includes at the climax. Surprisingly though, the movie turns out to be pretty funny, which I cannot recall being for any other movie in the same genre. Although not a comedy, dry humour is at an abundance here, and that is where its strength lies. Whether the movie intended it to be that way or not is another matter altogether. The ending of found-footage movies usually leaves the viewers with a sense of "what happened next?", but here it really feels like missing enough punch to make an impact. But still, Norway is a beautifully captivating place. Saving up money for a visit already!
6.5 out of 10

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Life-Cycle Of A Movie Geek

I found a VERY interesting article from thedroidyourlookingfor discussing The Six Stages of Movie Geek Evolution. The chart they created is not only hilarious but is also familiarly true. In fact after a few years it could even be used as a college theory or as THE standard reference for movie geeks around the globe. No I am not joking. 

Yeah everyone starts off at Familymovius Cartoonata, so this can be easily relatable to most people. Heck, a matter of fact I don't think I've ever left this stage because to this very day I still am massive Pixar fanboy and proud of it. Now then, the notion that I was a movie geek probably first entered my mind back during my early teens. This was the Blockbustericus stage of my life. During this period of life, I probably watched more blockbuster movies than most people that I know and was often left frustrated when those movies wouldn't even get a nomination come award season. The movies that did get nominated on the other hand I often perceived as being boring. Truth is, I didn't really see much of those type of movies. Although to be fair, some of those movie at that time didn't even  reach the shores of Malaysia where I live either because of our strict censorship back then or just because the distributors didn't think there was a profitable enough market over here. Other reasons include that as a student, I was on a tight budget, so money was spent mainly on the blockbusters (where I knew I'd have fun). But mostly the main reason was that  as a teenager, my general view of life naturally hadn't evolved that much.

So, as I reached my mid-to-late twenties and able to earn my own income, I started to discover and love movies that were not from the blockbuster category. How things have changed because nowadays I actually prefer those independent and award-winning movies (although I still do enjoy good blockbusters... give me a superhero movie anytime). I am now also aware that I'm nowhere near to being a proper geek. Before this, I had only seen few movies released before 1979 (the year I was born), so only now am I discovering that there are a galaxy of great movies from that time. I am catching-up though. So this is stage that I currently find myself at, which is a combination of the Sundancicus Robustus-Oscaria Subtitlus with a little bit of Filmsnobicus Hipsterata.

I've read a comment from the mentioned site that said the evolutionary process above can go on to full circle. After the final stage (Celluloid Sapien), you go back to stage one where you eventually go and watch movies with your children. 

So, which stage of movie geek evolution are you currently in?

Friday, September 9, 2011

Whoa, Back To The Future Shoes (with auto-laces)!

Its been a long 22 year wait. Ever since the release of Back To The Future 2 in 1989 we have waited to see if that version of the future would ever come true. There's still no flying cars, hoverboard, Jaws 23, or self-growing pizzas yet, but at least one item is becoming a reality.

Michael J. Fox today was on the Late Show with David Letterman and unveiled to the eyes of the world the auto-laced shoe he wore in the movie which is being released as Nike Air Mag. Nike has issued an official press release: 

The NIKE MAG is no longer the "greatest shoe never made". The mythical shoe that originally captured the imagination of audiences in Back to the Future II is being released - and they're here to help create a future without Parkinson's disease.

1500 pairs of the 2011 NIKE MAG will be auctioned on eBay with all net proceeds going directly to the Michael J. Fox Foundation. Each day for the duration of the ten-day auction, one hundred and fifty pairs of the 2011 NIKE MAG shoes will be made available via eBay's fashion vault. The auction starts September 8, 8:30 PST, and will end September 18. Thanks to previous 50 million dollar match given to the Michael J. Fox Foundation, all donations will be matched, effectively doubling the contributions from the auction.

Now lets hope those hoverboards can become reality!!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

List: 7 Favorite Movie Musical Scores

Ever listen to music and pretend imagine your in a movie? Especially while driving with the wind blowing ever so pleasantly in your face? Of course you have. That just goes to show how much music goes hand-in-hand with movies. It evokes pure emotion.

Here are my 7 personal favorite movie music scores. Remember these are scores, not songs.

#7 Driving With The Top Down (from "Iron Man [2008]" by Ramin Djawadi)

Probably the most contemporary sounding score on this list. This ultra-cool video is made by Youtube user LouieMoe16. The editing is awesome!!

#6 Star Wars Theme (from "Star Wars [1977]" by John Williams)

The main theme is probably one of the most recognizable scores ever made. It covers a wide range of emotions and just embodies the entire Star Wars saga. Legendary!

#5 Back To The Future Theme (from "Back To The Future [1985]" by Alan Silvestri)

Okay, I realize this won't be on most people's list but it probably earned its spot here due to nostalgic reasons. Back To The Future [1985] is arguably my all-time favorite movie. Heck, just look at the name of this God damn blog if you need reminding!!

#4 Superman Theme (from "Superman [1978]" by John Williams)

Yet another musical score that is immediately recognizable. Once again composed by the legendary virtuoso who is John Williams.

#3 Married Life (from "Up [2009]" by Michael Giacchino)

My mind always goes back to the featured scene above whenever my ear catches this score. And every time without fail my heart is filled with warmth and joy when seeing what a beautiful relationship Carl and Ellie have. It also an absolute certainty that I cry get sad and teary when it reaches part 1:25-1:45 of the clip.

#2 Gonna Fly Now (From "Rocky 2 [1979]" By Bill Conti)

Always gives that extra motivation when working out. Sure, this score is featured in all of the Rocky movies, but I mentioned Rocky 2 specifically because of the associated training scene featured above. Especially when Rocky starts to accelerate and separate himself from the kids at 1:34 and eventually he goes up those legendary steps. Darn, just writing this makes me feel like working out again ;P.

#1 Concerning Hobbits (From "LOTR: Fellowship Of The Ring [2001]" By Howard Shore)

Just an utterly pure and magical score. Listening to this masterpiece makes me feel as I've just been to heaven.

Honorable Mention:

Okay, this isn't particularly a clip about a specific music score, but rather a medley dance performance at the 2010 Oscars for Best Original Score. The performance combined with the scores are simply scintillating. Featured are the scores for Sherlock Holmes (by Hans Zimmer), The Hurt Locker (by Marco Beltrami & Buck Sanders), Fantastic Mr. Fox (by Alexandre Desplat), eventual winner Up (by Michael Giacchino), and Avatar (by James Horner). The dancers are known as The LXD (The Legion Of Extraordinary Dancers).

Friday, September 2, 2011

Actual Batmobile Replica For Sale

An article from The Hollywood Reporter has a story about an actual replica of the Batmobile featured in 1989's Batman which stared Michael Keaton and directed by Tim Burton which is currently being sold on eBay. Offered at price of USD620,000.00 and is being billed as the world's only Turbine Power Bat Car. Its features among others are a 365 Boeing turboshaft engine, digital avionics and centrally mounted iPad with 3G, and can run on Jet A, kerosene or diesel fuel.

Among some other interesting points are that the cars drives just as well on the highway as it does on city streets and is operated similarly to any other production car, and the engine is of US Military origin.

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