Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Babe-O-Licious: Laura Vandervoort

Okay, today I feel like humouring myself with my self-indulgent segment, Babe-O-Licious. Again, I'm pathetic like that, I know.Today features a Canadian-born actress, the ultra-alluring hottie known as Laura Vandervoort.

Just like the first babe to be featured in this segment, the sizzling hot Odette Annable, I first noticed Laura from a TV series, which is the reboot of 1980s classic "V". As was the case on that show, she again plays the role of an alien, only this time from planet Krypton, in popular series Smallville. Yup, she was the person behind the character of Kara Zor-El or better known as Supergirl.

Darn! If all aliens looked as ravishing like this, let them all invade us this very instant! Take me to your leader, please!

In terms of films, she had a role alongside Joseph Gordon-Levitt in the rather under-rated movie The Lookout [2007] and will also be featuring in next year's This Means War with Reese Witherspoon, Chris Pine, and Tom Hardy. She also stared in straight-to-video films like Into The Blue 2: The Reef [2009] and Damage [2009] alongside Stone Cold Steve Austin.

Alert! At the age of 16, she earned a second degree Black Belt in karate.

I think its rather cliché when beautiful celebrities say they were tomboys and weren't popular back in high school. Sometimes they say that they were dorky during those young days too. I feel most of the time that's bullshit, it just a way to endear themselves to the average man. But in Laura's case, she might actually have been a tomboy because other than karate, she also competed in football, basketball, tennis, and baseball. Quite the jock there. But then again, she might have secretly been using her powers as Supergirl to gain an advantage all this time.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Review: Submarine [2011]

Release Date: 3 June 2011 (USA)
Directed By: Richard Ayoade
Written By: Richard Ayoade, Joe Dunthrone
Starring: Craig Roberts, Yasmin Paige, Sally Hawkins, Noah Taylor, Paddy Considine
In A Nutshell:
A coming-of-age story set during the 1980s in picturesque Swansea, Wales; where 15 year old Oliver Tate (played by Craig Roberts) falls for fellow classmate Jordana Bevan (played by Yasmin Paige) and is determined to be the best boyfriend in the world. At the same time his parents are having relationship problems and he suspects his mother is having an affair with her old boyfriend (played by Paddy Considine) who has just moved back near to their home.
Thumbs Up:
+ Quirky and offbeat tone to the movie (the self-narrative at times even reminded me of Amelie (Le Fabuleux destin d'Amelie Poulain) [2001], another favourite of mine)
+ Smart, witty, and hilarious script
+ Wonderful performance from the cast
+ Neatly executed and naturally integrated filming techniques (freeze-frames, sudden close-ups, 360 degree pans, etc.)
Thumbs Down:
- The fun in the second half of the movie kinda drops off a little bit when compared the the first, comparatively only though, because it still is largely enjoyable.
The Verdict Is In:
Every now and then comes a movie that is extremely good but goes completed undetected by the radar that you would think its some kind of of alien weaponry. It seems that this particular submarine has cloaking technology that is too advanced for its own good, heh! Because according too Box Office Mojo, this absolute gem of a movie has so far only managed to gross around $800,000 worldwide. What a shame. Looking on the bright side of things though, films like The Shawshank Redemption [1994] and Once [2007] also didn't fare too well upon their releases but look at the stature that they hold now. I'm sure this comedy-drama will also soon achieve cult status. One of my favourites of the year and must definitely be the most over-looked movie of 2011!!
9.5 out of 10

Friday, November 25, 2011

Review: 50/50 [2011]

Release Date: 30 September 2011 (USA), 24 November (Malaysia)
Directed By: Jonathan Levine
Written By: Will Reiser
Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Seth Rogan, Anna Kendrick, Bryce Dallas Howard, Anjelica Huston
In A Nutshell:
Adam (played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is a 27 year old man who learns that he is diagnosed with a very rare form of spinal cancer. The chances of survival is around 50%. Not only does he have to cope with the crushing news, but so does the people around him like best friend Kyle (played by Seth Rogan), mother (played by Anjelica Huston), and girlfriend (played by Bryce Dallas Howard). He also seeks the help of a young therapist named Katie (played by Anna Kendrick).
Thumbs Up:
+ Emotionally engaging story
+ A splendid blend of both drama and comedy
+ Coping with cancer is not only from the perspective of the protagonist, but also from the people close to him
+ Distinguished performance from Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Thumbs Down:
- Seth Rogan's character (Kyle) while at times is funny, at other moments is rather annoying
- The chemistry between Adam and therapist Katie is rather lacking
The Verdict Is In:
First of all I enjoy how the story of coping with cancer is not exclusively seen through Adam's perspective but also from the viewpoint of those close to him. Yes, other people are also affected, and different people have different ways to cope as shown by the characters in this film. I also love how they got the perfect blend of emotional drama and comedy right especially the latter, as it demonstrates that we need not only see the down side of tragedies. Its like the lyrics to Jason Mraz's hit song (which was also written for his cancer-diagnosed friend) The Remedy: "I won't worry my life away..."

The movie also gets the audience to genuinely sympathize for Adam, there's no feeling that we're being manipulated to do so. The screening I attended had plenty of people shedding tears. My guess is that the same thing happens everywhere this film is being shown.
8 out of 10

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Short Film: Numerica [2010]

Year Of Release: 2010
Directed By: Kevin Lacey
Written By: Kevin Lacey
Starring: Joshua Cameron, Tatum Haugen
Running Time: 17 minutes
In A Nutshell:
In a new future, overpopulation is becoming a serious problem, so a new law has been passed: "For every person born, an adult must volunteer to die". Jake and Ava are a couple whom have been trying for years to conceive, and now Ava is pregnant. The only problem is she is pregnant with twins and has only prepared for one volunteer.
View The Film:

Monday, November 21, 2011

This Is Gonna Be A Great Series... "Life's Too Short"

From Left To Right: Helena Bonham Carter, Ricky Gervais. Warwick Davis, Stephen Merchant, Johnny Depp
After only 2 episodes in, I am already hooked on new British sitcom series Life's Too Short. It is created by the same people who created the original British version of The Office, Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant. The series chronicles the life of a "showbiz dwarf", where Warwick Davis plays a fictionalized version of himself. Warwick Davis whom in the series refers to himself as "the U.K's go-to dwarf", is of course the star of the movie Willow [1988] and has also among others been in Return Of The Jedi [1983] (as a Wicket the Ewok), the Harry Potter Series (as Professor Flitwick), The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy [2005] (as the body of Marvin the Paranoid Android), and also in the Leprechaun series (which stared a then-unknown Jennifer Aniston). Gervais and Merchant will also be playing themselves as will other guest stars such as Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, Liam Neeson, Sandra Bullock, Steve Carrell, Cat Deeley, Sting, and a few others.

The 2nd episode last week was where they really hit gold. Johnny Depp was guest where he tagged along and studied Warwick supposedly in preparation for playing dwarf Rumpelstiltskin in a new movie directed by Tim Burton. What was even more priceless was when Depp joined in a meeting with Gervais and Merchant. If you didn't know, when Ricky Gervais hosted the Golden Globe Awards earlier this year, he made jokes mocking various celebrities including Depp's movie with Angelina Jolie, The Tourist [2010], hence the awkwardness of the situation. The clip shown below is only part of the exchange, and let me tell you the rest of the scene especially Depp's antics while leaving the room had me in tears from laughing. And in case some are wondering (like some Youtube commenters), yes, the scene is scripted and not real. Just goes to show that he doesn't hold grudges and has a great sense of humor. He even made fun of himself. Watching the rest of the clip also reminded me what a good actor Johnny Depp is, well deserving of his A-List status right now.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Review: Happy Feet Two [2011]

Release Date: 17 November 2011 (Malaysia)
Directed By: George Miller
Written By: George Miller, Warren Coleman, Gary Eck, Paul Livingston
Voices By: Elijah Wood, Robin Williams, Pink, Hank Azaria, Ava Acres, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon
In A Nutshell:
Mumble (voiced by Elijah Wood) and Gloria (voiced by Pink) faces a problem when their son Erik (voiced by Ava Acres) can't dance thus having problems fitting in with the rest of the emperor penguins. Along with two other friends, he runs away by following Ramon (voiced by Robin Williams) back to his penguin colony. There they meet The Mighty Sven (voiced by Hank Azaria), a penguin which apparently can fly. Meanwhile a natural disaster occurs that threatens the existence of the emperor penguins.
Thumbs Up:
+ Beautiful visuals and impressive integration with live human actors
+ Hilarious characters, especially Ramon
+ Decent enough storyline
+ Some enjoyable songs
+ Environmental message (hey, I'm an environmentalist, that's always a thumbs up in my book)
Thumbs Down:
- The origins of The Mighty Sven could have been explored a little more
- Some songs dragged on a tad too long
- Although the movie succeeded in creating a little fear, it didn't deliver the emotional connection in other departments
The Verdict Is In:
I liked the fact that the movie had three major plots involving Erik running away and meeting The Mighty Sven; the adventures of Will and Bill The Krills (voiced by Brad Pitt and Matt Damon); and the natural disaster threatening the penguin colony. Having said that, the Mighty Sven storyline could have been explored a little bit more. Seems like a lost opportunity there.

As for the natural disaster, the movie did manage to get the audience to feel worried for the lives of the penguins. However, in other aspects of the movie, and I'm being a bit nitpicky here, I feel it didn't quite reach the level of emotional connection required to make it a really good movie. For example, you couldn't really empathise or feel the despair of Erik being outcast. It didn't have the amount of heart which is always present in a standard Pixar movie for example or even compared to the first Happy Feet (2006).
6.5 out of 10

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Awesome Video: Filmography 2010

I know I'm about a year late in posting this video, but its sheer awesomeness just has to be shared (also I need to escape this Twilight-Breaking Dawn pandemic starting today... sorry just not a fan). I first discovered the video while collecting material for my Christopher Nolan post where I featured a tribute clip towards that great director. Apparently that clip was inspired by this video here. Created by Youtube user genrocks, it features scenes from a whopping 270 movies that was released in 2010. As of writing, it nearly has 3 million views. For a moment there I thought there was something wrong with Youtube and it only counted my views alone ;P.

First of all the editing is majestic and some of the movie clips selected have formidable camerawork and cinematography. The scenes works cohesively together to seem like they were interacting with one and another. The song list selection is impeccable and the final video captures various emotions and themes. More essentially it showcases how good 2010 has been in terms of movies released. Its already November now, but although 2011 has had some great movies, I still feel its trailing quite some distance behind the previous few years in terms of overall quality. The silver lining, like I wrote in this blog's very first post, is that 2012 has what looks to be a good line-up. I just can wait for genrocks to come up with a Fimography 2011 video after this.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

List: 10 Favourite Tom Hanks Movies

I've been wanting to watch Larry Crowne, the latest movie from Tom Hanks (which also stars Julia Roberts) for quite some time now but only managed to do so last week. This eagerness of mine is mainly driven by Tom Hanks. He has stared in some of the biggest and best movies in cinematic history. According to Box Office Mojo, he is the actor whose movies has grossed the most money ever in the U.S with over $4 Billion. On top of that he has also won 2 Oscars. Hence, its only fitting that I come up with a list like this one.

Although Larry Crowne was largely ill-received by critics, I have to say that I actually enjoyed the movie. It was an easy and laid back film with plenty of laughs. Does it rank amongst his best movies? Easy question. No. Not even as an "Honourable Mention". But I have to say that I was entertained. So which movies of his does earn a spot on the list? Here they are:

# Honourable Mentions:
Catch Me If You Can (2002), Charlie Wilson's War (2007), Big (1988)

#10 You've Got Mail (1998)

Cute and charming. I might be in the minority, but I actually prefer this movie than that other Tom Hanks-Meg Ryan romantic comedy which was also directed by Nora Ephron, Sleepless In Seattle (1993).

Selected Quote: Nelson Fox: "Perfect. Keep those West-Side liberal nuts. Pseudo-intellectuals...". Joe Fox: "Readers, Dad. They're called readers". Nelson Fox: "Don't do that son. Don't romanticise them".

#9 Road To Perdition (2002)

The thinking man's movie. Each and every character has conflicted motivations and feelings. Just the way I like it to be then.

Selected Quote: "Natural law. Sons are put on this earth to trouble their fathers".

#8 Splash (1984)

I'm sure everyone has been asked the question: "Who was your first ever crush?". Well I'm not entirely sure who the EXACT first one was to me. It definitely wasn't a teacher of mine, it could possibly have been a childhood friend, but Daryl Hannah from this movie was definitely one of my earliest crushes.

Selected Quote: "I'm a really nice guy. If I had friends you could ask them".

#7 Saving Private Ryan (1998)

I have never been in an actual war. Ever. I don't think I have any relatives who've fought in a war. Not a granddad, not a long distance uncle, none to my knowledge what so ever. I don't even personally know of  anyone who has been in one. Not even as a Navy cook. But I do however wholeheartedly believe that the opening scene in Saving Private Ryan is the most realistic depiction of war ever!

Selected Quote: "He better be worth it. He better go home and cure a disease, or invent a longer-lasting bulb".

#6 The Terminal (2004)

For starters, let me say that I was intrigued by the premise of the story even way before the movie was been released. This film received mix reviews from critics. As for me? I've probably seen it around 8-9 times. And for every single viewing, Its been nothing short of entertaining.

Selected Quote: Salchak: "You've been waiting years for me to either drop dead or retire...". Frank Dixon: "No, I haven't been waiting for you to retire".

#5 Apollo 13 (1995)

An amazingly stunning film. It also boasts one of the most memorable quotes in history (see below).

Selected Quote: "Houston, we have a problem".

#4 Cast Away (2000)

Note to the contestants of reality TV show Survivor: True survival is achieved when you are all alone like Chuck was in this movie.

Selected Quote: "I couldn't even kill myself the way I wanted to. I had power over nothing!"

#3 Forrest Gump (1994)

Photo credit to crimecontrol@deviantart
Won the Best Picture award at the 1995 Oscars which is an outstanding achievement because to me, that year was the tightest Oscar race so far in history (Pulp Fiction and Shawshank Redemption were also contenders). Although my pick for the win was that certain prison movie with Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman in it, that doesn't change the fact that this is a complete gem of a movie.

Selected Quote: "Run, Forrest! Run!"

#2 The Green Mile (1999)

There are sometimes movies that leave you stunned and overwhelmed. You need some time to compose yourself while taking in all the awesomeness you've just encountered. These types of movies offer what I like to call "The Ultimate Cinematic Experience". The Green Mile is one such movie. The scene in the photo above is just one of many proofs.

Selected Quote: "I've done somethings in my life I'm not proud of, but this is the first time I've ever felt in real danger of hell".

#1 "The Toy Story Trilogy" (1995, 1999, and 2010)

If you've read this blog before you'll know what colossal affection I have towards Pixar movies. Its a good thing I've decided to combine all three movies for one spot, otherwise first, second, and third place on this list would all be taken by a Toy Story movie from the trilogy.

Selected Quote: "There's a snake in my boot!"

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Short Film: Logorama [2009]

Year Of Release: 2009
Directed By: Francois Alaux, Herve de Crecy, Ludovic Houplain
Written By: Francois Alaux, Herve de Crecy, Ludovic Houplain, Gregory J. Pruss
Voices By: Bob Stephenson, Sherman Augustus, Aja Evans, David Fincher
Running Time: 16 minutes
In A Nutshell:
In a city where EVERYTHING including all humans and animals are made up from corporate logos and mascots, a criminal tries to escape from the police.
Fun Fact:
# Won Oscar for Best Animated Short Film
# More than an estimated 2,500 contemporary and historical logos and mascots were used
View The Film:

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Review: Immortals [2011]

Release Date: 10 November 2011 (Malaysia)
Directed By: Tarsem Singh
Written By: Charley Parlapanides, Vlas Parlapanides
Starring: Henry Cavill, Mickey Rourke, Freida Pinto, Luke Evans
In A Nutshell:
King Hyperion (played by Mickey Rourke) has declared war against humanity and is in search of The Epirus Bow. With this mythical bow, he can release the imprisoned Titans to rain destruction on earth. The Gods/Immortals via Zeus (played by Luke Evans) however has secretly chosen a peasant named Theseus (played by Henri Cavill) to stop him.
Thumbs Up:
+ Awesome final battle between the "Gods/Immortals" and the "Titans" (although pretty brief)
+ Visually impeccable
+ This really depends on individual taste as it can easily be "Thumbs Down", but I loved the violent kills
Thumbs Down:
- Messy and rushed storytelling
- Thin and forgettable plot
- No character development resulting in zero emotional connection with the audience
- The "War Speech" made by Theseus is pretty tame
The Verdict Is In:
Some people say that in action movies, the story and character development isn't important. Well I beg to differ. Character development or depth creates an emotional connection where the audience becomes invested/attached to those said characters. They generate suspense and also establishes who to root for and also who to hate. When someone is in danger, the audience will gasp and feel genuinely scared. When a character which they like dies, a feeling of shock creeps throughout the entire theatre atmosphere. We might even hear a cry of "nooo!!!". An example will be in Harry Potter And The Half-Blood Prince [2009] where (spoiler alert... if you've been living under a rock all these years) Dumbledore dies, there is absolute stunned-silence. We also might hate a character so much that we feel like standing up and punching him in the face like we did towards Percy from The Green Mile [1999]. When he actually does get punched we hear yells of "Yeah!!".

Well considering the story in Immortals is so messy and rushed, with zero character depth, it is no surprise that there is none of that said emotional connection/attachment. When a character close to Theseus is murdered, we don't really feel anything because we aren't emotionally invested in that character. When a "God/Immortal" which was supposedly important dies near the end, no grief is present in any of us. And the plot is so thin and messy I actually had trouble writing the "In A Nutshell" segment above because I couldn't remember what the story was actually about . Top Hollywood critic, Roger Ebert wrote this: "But a lot of time I had no idea what was going on. Characters would turn up for the first time, seem terrifically important, and disappear. If at any moments I had stopped the film and asked anybody around me, 'who is that, and what are they doing, and why?', I think they'd have been stuck for an answer". I totally agree.

 As someone who has played a lot of competitive football (soccer) in my life, I really do value the importance of motivational speeches. My coaches were no Alex Ferguson or Jose Mourinho but even though we were down at half-time, their speeches were full of inspiration they managed to galvanise us so much that by time the final whistle came, we managed to turn the score around and win instead. So as for the War speech made by Theseus goes, let's just say if moral is on the low (as was the case in this particular scene) it wouldn't actually lift the spirits up. Now compare that to some other movies. Who can forget the gusto of William Wallace's speech in Braveheart [1995]: "They may take away our lives, but they'll never take... OUR FREEDOM!!". Or the chill down our spine that Archilles' speech in Troy [2004] gave us: "Let no man forget how menacing we are, we are lions! Do you know what's there, waiting, beyond that beach? Immortality! Take it! Its yours!"

Having said that the final battle between The Gods and The Titans was pretty impressive although too short for my liking. In fact that final battle actually added an extra 0.5 points to my rating below. But we had to go through a tedium 2/3 of the movie to get there. The visuals are pretty amazing too, and that is why by the end of the day Immortals is pretty much a paradox: A visually pleasing pile of mess.
3.5 out of 10

Friday, November 11, 2011

Babe-O-Licious: Odette Annable

OK, I've decided to add a new segment to this blog appreciating a few hot actresses. You're right, this is beginning to turn into that kind of blog ;P. I know, kinda pathetic but who cares?

Today features the newest star from the TV series House MD, one uber-hot chick who goes by the name of Odette Annable. Before she got married (noooo!!!!) in October 2010, she went by the name of Odette Yustman. As an avid fan of House MD, I know that it takes a certain amount of attractiveness (besides talent) to replace Olivia Wilde on the show. I mean Olivia was once voted by Maxim magazine at the pinnacle of their Hot 100 list while she was on the show. Odette also stars in another TV series, Breaking In, which I just discovered and becoming a massive fan of (cool and entertaining series, check it out).

As for movies, she started out at a young age in Kindergarten Cop [1990] along side Arnold Schwazenegger, and years later went on to headline The Unborn [2009]. She has also stared in Cloverfield [2008], And Soon The Darkness [2010], and You Again [2010] amongst others. But it is believed that being cast as a regular on House MD will really skyrocket her popularity into the mainstream, just like how the show did for Olivia Wilde.

Darn, I always love girls with long legs! Some have said she looks a lot like Megan Fox. In fact in an episode of Breaking In, they even played to that fact to their advantage. As far as physical comparison goes, that is indeed a huge compliment. But I have to say though that to me Odette is a much better actress than Miss Fox. Interesting enough though, Odette had a minor role in Transformers [2007] (which Megan Fox gained stardom) playing an unnamed socialite.

 Her mother is Cuban, so she also speaks Spanish. In their wedding vows, she made her husband Dave (whom she met on the set of tv series, Brothers & Sisters [2006-2011] ) promise to learn Spanish. She also hopes to pass down the language to her kids one day.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Chick Flick Cliches

Yeah, its the date most guys dread.... going to watch a romantic comedy a.k.a the "chick flick". Well at least that's what guys will tell you. Most of the time it is true but I actually can enjoy a romantic movie, granted if the story is interesting enough. But there lies the problem, most of these type of movies are riddled with cliches nowadays. Its the same basic formula over and over again. The main perpetrator nowadays seem to be a certain Katherine Heigl. A guy must really like a girl if he regularly agrees for night out watching movies that has Heigl in it. Okay, I guess she is kinda hot, but still. Meg Ryan she is not.

Anyway, here is a video featuring 10 cliches often found in these "chick flicks". Its presented to you by Justin Long, Bradley Cooper, and Kevin Connolly from the movie He's Just Not That Into You [2009]. What's ironic is that I've actually haven't seen this movie yet.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Movie Vault Review: Kiss Kiss Bang Bang [2005]

* To be categorised in the "Move Vault" section, the film must have been released at least 5 years prior to the current blog posting date

Year Of Release: 2005
Directed By: Shane Black
Written By: Shane Black
Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Val Kilmer, Michelle Monaghan
In A Nutshell:
Harry Lockhart (played by Robert Downey Jr.) is a small-time thief whom after a certain turn of events is mistaken for as an actor. He is then brought over to Hollywood where he is taken under the wing of a private investigator named "Gay" Perry Van Shrike (played by Val Kilmer) to prepare him for his upcoming role. Harry meets his old high school crush (played by Michelle Monaghan) there and somehow then finds himself in the middle of two murder cases.
Thumbs Up:
+ Hilarious scenes and fun-poking of everything Hollywood
+ Witty dialogue and great banter between the leads
+ Excellent performances and chemistry between Downey Jr., Kilmer, and Monaghan
+ Multiple genres (action, comedy, crime, drama, romance, thriller) all rolled into one
Thumbs Down:
- The crime plot at times can be over complicated
Selected Quote:
"Don't worry, I saw Lord Of The Rings. I'm not going to end this 17 times"
The Verdict Is In:
A deliriously fun movie as you'll get laughs from the witty dialogues and banter between Downey Jr. and Kilmer, intrigue from the crime mystery, and also be entertained by the action sequences. This movie at the time of its release was considered the comeback vehicle for both Downey Jr. and Kilmer as well as the breakthrough role for Monaghan. Can't wait for the reunion of director Shane Black and Robert Downey Jr. in the upcoming Iron Man 3  [2013] movie. I have a feeling its going to come out great.
8 out of 10

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Movie Vault Review: The Iron Giant [1999]

* To be categorised in the "Movie Vault" section, the film must have been released at least 5 years prior to the current blog posting date.

The Background:
Year of Release: 1999
Directed By: Brad Bird
Written By: Brad Bird, Tim McCanlies
Cast Voices: Eli Marienthal, Jennifer Aniston, Harry Connick Jr, Vin Diesel, Christopher McDonald
In A Nutshell:
Hogarth (voice by Eli Marienthal) is a 9 year old boy who lives with his single mother (voice by Jennifer Aniston). An incident one night sees Hogarth saving the life of a giant alien robot (voice by Vin Diesel). The two of them begin to bond and strike up a friendship. A government agent named Kent Mansley (voice by Christopher McDonald) arrives in town to investigate and destroy the giant. Hogarth in turn seeks the help of a junkyard artist named Dean McCoppen (voice by Harry Conrick Jr.) to hide the giant.
Thumbs Up:
+ Warm and charming story with endearing characters
+ Plenty of laughs throughout the story
+ Beautiful animation despite largely been hand-drawn
+ A good moral message is subtlety planted without being preachy
Thumbs Down:
- I don't have anything bad to say about this movie. Maybe the only negative thing I can think of is that not many people has seen it. And that definitely is not the movie's fault.
Selected Quote:
"Look, its none of my business, but who cares what these creeps think of you? They don't make you what you are, you do. You are who you chose to be."
The Verdict Is In:
In my review for the movie Real Steal [2011], I pointed out the similarities of the boy and robot relationship in that movie with this one. But the truth is, the movie that The Iron Giant has most in common with is E.T [1982]. This is very much an adventure movie with plenty of heart.

I also mentioned in my Favorite Christopher Nolan Movies that The Dark Knight Director is currently the only person with 100% awesome movies. But that is because Brad Bird has so far directed too little movies to be bestowed a similar accolade. That may change this December if Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol is as good as his 3 previous movies, this one included.

Its no coincidence that Brad Bird went along to make 2 movies with Pixar after this one because this movie has all the qualities that have made Pixar movies great. The elements I like to call "the tug of the heart". That deep stir of emotions you get while watching a movie. This is basically the Pixar movie that Pixar never made. It is such a masterclass in the art of storytelling. If you haven't seen this movie yet, go see it now!! I'd definitely put it in a "movies you must see before you die" list.
9.5 out of 10

Saturday, November 5, 2011

November 5th: Happy Movie Geek Day!!

In cinematic terms, the 5th of November is significant in at least two classic movies. One of those movies is V For Vendetta [2006]. Evidence of the impact this movie has culturally created is that various rebel groups and protesters wear the stylized Guy Fawkes mask made popular by the movie as a symbol of anti-establishment. The most recent example is the ongoing Occupy Wall Street (OWS) demonstrations being held worldwide.

An OWS protester wearing a Guy Fawkes mask
People working in Cyber-Security like myself will also be familiar with the hacker group Anonymous, which also uses the Guy Fawkes mask as their symbol. Fawkes and his involvement in The Gunpowder Plot is established very early on in V For Vendetta. Here is the famous dialogue from that movie:

"Remember, remember, the 5th of November. The Gunpowder Treason and Plot. I know of no reason, why the Gunpowder Treason, should ever be forgot".

Another significance of this date is that time-travel was invented on this particular day of 1955. Well, according to the movie Back To The Future [1985] that is. Yes, November 5, 1955. On that day Doctor Emmett Brown was standing on the edge of his toilet hanging a clock. The porcelain was wet, and he slipped, hit his head on the edge of the sink, and when he came to, he had a revelation. A vision. A picture in his head. A picture of the Flux-Capacitor. And the Flux-Capacitor is what makes time-travel possible. As Marty Mcfly would say: "Whoa, this is heavy!".

So there you have it. Today's date and its integral part in two classic movies. Yeah, I realise this post makes me look even more geeky. But truth be told, I am indeed a geek, so there's no need in denying it. Also I'm taking inspiration from the late Steve Jobs' commencement speech at Stanford Unversity: "Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life". By this, I am self-proclaiming this day Movie Geek Day. So, Happy Movie Geek Day!!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Review: Tower Heist [2011]

In A Nutshell:
Josh Kovacs (played by Ben Stiller) is building manager for a highly luxurious residential tower in New York. Kovacs has struck up a friendly relationship with one of the tower's top and wealthiest client, Arthur Shaw (played by Alan Alda). Kovacs even had Shaw handle the tower's employee pension fund. However the FBI shows up and arrest Shaw for a Ponzi Scheme he pulled with all his investors' money including the mentioned employee pension fund. Kovacs in turn decides to assemble a team to steal $20 Million that he believes Shaw has hidden in his apartment.
Thumbs Up:
+ A sequence near the end of the heist involving an old Ferrari (I don't want to give too much away) offer a little bit of thrill (keywords here: "a little bit")
+ Eddie Murphy, Michael Pena, and Tea Leoni gives somewhat decent comedic performances albeit nothing really to get excited about
Thumbs Down:
- The heist sequence provides very little excitement or suspense. I never got the feeling that anything was going to turn wrong. There was also nothing that you can categorize as being clever involving the entire scheme.
- Maybe the point mentioned above was partially caused by the music score, as it fails miserably to ignite any sense of suspense or excitement
- The jokes at its very best are only able to reach "amusing" level
- The story is full of implausible scenes and plot holes
The Verdict Is In:
As far as heist films goes, I actually don't mind a few implausible scenes here and there. These types of movies are after all very much a medium of escapism and are meant for having fun. However, this suspension of belief can only happen if other elements of the movie are well executed. This unfortunately is not case for Tower Heist. The actual heist sequence itself leaves much to be desired. I can name plenty of other movies which heist scenes offer at least double the excitement and cleverness. As for the comedy, I got a few smiles here and there, but I certainly can get more giggles in a 20 minute sitcom than this entire movie which happens to be 5 times longer. At the end of the day, this movie is ultimately forgettable.
5.5 out of 10

Thursday, November 3, 2011

List: Favourite Christopher Nolan Movies

As I wrote in a previous post, the release of Cars 2 finally halted the record of 100% movies being awesome achieved by Pixar. So now in my view that only leaves Christopher Nolan as the sole developer to have ALL his movies being sublime in terms of quality. Although still considered relatively new, his cerebral and noir style of story telling has established him alongside the elite of film directors. The Dark Knight Rises next year has unbelievably high expectations.

#7 Insomnia [2002]

The only movie so far that wasn't written by Nolan. Adapted from a Norweigian film of the same title it stars Al Pacino, Robin Williams, and Hillary Swank. Just like the title of the movie, the characters and story are so interesting they literally will not put you to sleep.

Selected Quote: "I can't judge. There are two type of people in Alaska... those who were born here and those who come here to escape something. I wasn't born here".

#6 Following [1998]

Very few people have seen this directorial debut by Nolan because it was only shown at film festivals and had a very limited release (opened to only 2 theatres in the US). That happens to be a major loss because this character-driven psychological thriller is simply captivating.

Selected Quote: "Just because you break into people's homes doesn't mean you have to look like a fucking burglar".

#5 Inception [2010]

Many people will be shocked that this movie only landed on 5th spot, but I then say many of those people haven't seen most of Nolan's movies. That doesn't mean I don't think this movie is awesome though, because it definitely is. One of the most groundbreaking and ambitious movie ever made. And no inception was needed to be performed on me to make me say that.

Selected Quote: "You create the world of the dream. We bring the subject into that dream and fill it with their subconscious".

#4 The Prestige [2006]

A magical (pun intended) showpiece that is full of twist and turns. Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale gives dazzling performances too.

Selected Quote: "Are you watching closely?"

#3 Batman Begins [2005]

This is probably the movie that made superheroes realistic and believable. Also capitulated Nolan from a "talented, upcoming director" to "one of the best in the business".

Selected Quote: "You must become more than just a man in the minds of your opponent".

#2 Memento [2000]

As if the story of short term memory lost wasn't interesting enough to me, the fact that Nolan told the story in reverse sequence just blew my mind away.

Selected Quote: "Facts. Not memories. That how you investigate".

#1 The Dark Knight [2008]

To illustrate how much I love the film is that I believe even after 20 years from now, it will still be among my all-time favourite movies.

Selected Quote: "How about a magic trick? I'm going to make this pencil disappear"


Oh, to close things off, check out this ultra-cool tribute video made by Youtube user djcprod. Cool editing, cool music score, cool tribute altogether. The only thing keeping it from being perfect is that the video includes very little clips of Insomnia and doesn't have any clips from Following at all, unfortunately :( .

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