Monday, May 13, 2013
How should I write this entry without spoiler ? I'd better not write anything :) Ok, let's try something brief. Because what's essential for "Star Trek Into Darkness" is that somehow it managed up to the release date to keep the subject pretty hidden. It's essential because it turned to be a pretty pleasant surprise not knowing much in advance. Even the negative character, although listed in the IMDb published cast since a while ago still had a question mark upon him. It even got to fake "leaked screenings" of the final credits that gave identity (either fake or real) to ...
Khan. Khan Noonien Singh. That's as much as I'll leave as "spoiler" - nothing more. Sorry, but to "enjoy the movie" is better like this, with the risk of an entry that's too short. I still can make some recommendation though. To get a complete enough view of what the last Star Trek offers, it would be good to see the previous one that starts an alternative temporal line for Kirk & Co. Alternative to the generation and the facts from the first series (the old old one, before Picard), having the connection point in "the old Spock" (Leonard Nimoy). Even more recommended before watching the last installment is to see "The Wrath of Khan" aka Star Trek II = the 2nd big screen movie from 1982. In case it wasn't obvious already, Khan is not a new character. More important is that the script of the new movie "recycles" in very nice manner what it gets from there. I'll refrain from saying more but it deserves attention. If you've already seen the movie from 30 years ago, the current one will certainly bring up memories. I hope in a positive way :) although there are opinions saying that J.J. Abrams has lost the Star Trek spirit and that the commercial aspect (= action, explosions, violence) dominates instead a sufficiently complex and intelligent subject that would me more in line with the series. Partially I agree, partially though the subject is not (yet) so superficial to throw the movie in .. how to say it nicely .. well .. "Transformers league".
Besides that, as in the previous big screen "episode", the cast is really up to the level of the original one (I'll keep my opinion that at least the doctor: "Bones" McCoy played by DeForest Kelley before '90 is perfectly reprised by Karl Urban now). To avoid any spoilers, I'll keep the discretion on the negative character ( but this is also with a plus :) ). On the positive side I would also add the sound + the score by Michael Giacchino for who I don't have much respect, but I have to admit that he catched "the feeling". On the minus side, besides the ultra commercial factor + the typical U.S. "flavor" (even if it would stand written on the credits that the production is 100% European you'd still be convinced that it comes from Hollywood), something else, well ... the 3D. I've never been too attracted to 3D, but there are movies (e.g., "Life of Pi") on which I had to admit that it works, and that it makes a difference. Not in this case. For me it could have been 2D without doubt, especially given some action scenes in which the frame is not fixed for at least a second. In any case, the general conclusion is positive. So, enjoy the movie, and .. live long and prosper ;)
Rating: 4 out of 5
Sunday, May 5, 2013
I write on a hurry = this is a short entry. Since I don't have anything better, I'll stay in the story area with one of the adaptations appeared in the lately trend: "Snow White" - 2 versions, "Oz", and this title: "Jack the Giant Slayer". Let me try to be short and to the point.
You know the story. Or not :) Well, is somewhere around the classic version. Jack gives a horse for some beans, from the beans a stalk rises, at the end of the stalk there are some giants .. ok, stop; we already have differences - a horse instead of a cow; giants - the plural - instead of giant .. we can add also a princess, an evil plot, and I should stop since the trailer tells you already enough.
What surprised me when I heard about the movie was the directing: Bryan Singer and the script: Cristopher McQuarrie. A couple known for .. "The Usual Suspects", "Valkyrie", "X-Men", etc. So ... not that close to classic fantasy. Still, I was optimistic because most of the titles where the two were involved didn't have extremely negative points (even though X-Men is quite far from my preferences). After seeing the movie I can say that I was right. It's not a masterpiece, but the story that I avoided detailing above is interestingly enough transposed into a script and directed. Gives you the impression that you have a sort of season 1 and season 2 condensed = at some moment when you're about to say ok .. the end credits will follow and the next year the sequel will follow, surprise .. we have the sequel on the spot. I hope I won't start to ramble incoherently, but the effect created is for the viewer as an upgrade from a vacation short film: bad things happen, hero saves the day .. to .. :) a vacation longer film: bad things happen, hero saves the day, really bad things happen, hero really saves the day :). It's not much, but somehow it propells the movie from superficial to an actual decent level. Even more, I was expecting something relatively "light" as deepness, since the story doesn't have much substance being a sort of campy child's tale. This is confirmed, but still there is some try for dramatic nuances on several characters. Only some try, doesn't get very far :) but it's still enough to feel it a little bit.
Overall, an enjoyable movie.
Rating: 3 out of 5
Saturday, May 4, 2013
After two other SyFy mini-series seen in the last years, "Tin Man" and "Alice", variations of "The Wizard of Oz", respectively (and obviously) "Alice in Wonderland", I had serious doubts about giving a chance to "Peter Pan". Especially since the director and the screenwriter was the same, a certain Nick Willing who seems to build a career in this genre. As I said when I've seen the previous, these were barely saved by the story that had sufficiently solid variations so it didn't end up in a total failure. "Neverland" is not far, but as "Alice" compared to "Tin Man" is a step in front so you won't say that you lost almost three hours for nothing.
If in the previous cases we had a sequel to the classic story, here we have a prequel. I think it's the most interesting of the three, and I could start from the fact that it gives a sufficiently enough credibility (to be read: non-hilarious) in the area of the stories that connect a fantastic realm to the nearby street. I've always rolled my eyes when I've seen transitions like the train from "Harry Potter", the wardrobe from "Narnia", or others that make the rabbit hole from "Alice", or even the hurricane going to Oz (since we have both of them close) to look like rocket science compared to making paper planes (in the original versions, "Alice" actually explains itself coherent enough through a dream, and some magic shoes with teleporting power to the "Land of Oz" are at least more stylish than a train or a wardrobe + I guess they have some background in the oriental fairy tales). But to come back to "Neverland", which in the current movie is nothing else then a planet in a different galaxy, habitable and to which you can travel a la Stargate, only that this time through an orb. Well .. there would be some more details, and more exactly what's already known from the classic story = the residents that get there do not age + the indigen alien race = a sort of small winged creatures (Tinkerbell species in brief - not to get ridiculous with trying to describe it at late night hours). As the ending, or better said the sequel written long ago by J.M. Barrie is already known it doesn't make sense to give much more details about how it's getting there, but still I cannot jump completely over a key character, even if it will give some spoilers ...
Hook. James Hook. Although this variation changes some of the base story, Hook's origins in this version make some justice (sort of speaking) to the character. I'll limit myself to the beginning which presents Hook as lord fallen into disgrace from London's high society and who manages the activity of a pickpocket gange formed by kids he picked up after being abandoned or from orphanages = Peter Pan & the company. Despite the image created for one second, it's nothing like a Dickensian nightmare which the poor kids have to endure. Hook seems to be a guy who actually cares about them. How the situation evolves and how we get to the well known rivalry, this will be told by the movie. To notice though the part made by Rhys Ifans who, despite some overacting, makes the best Hook I've ever seen on screen, and without any exageration (of course helped by the story) one of the most complex negative characters that I've seen in a while.
Unfortunately, as the others, the movie suffers terribly from the direction. It's clear that we hav something of TV budget here, because it's a made-for-TV production, but there are plenty of series which you could say that are shot for the big screen. Here you have the impression that we have soap-opera direction, not one for a fantasy. To complete a schedule change verdict for outside the prime time for any station that would buy the movie, the effects are sometimes very lame. But well .. we can't have a Peter Pan without seeing him flying, so some hilarious result might be better than missing it completely. Something else, to get the critiques to extreme :), even if we have a much more complex Hook than other versions have, he still seems "unexplored" at the maximum. Even so, it's a definite good reason to watch the movie.
Rating: 3 out of 5
I've heard for the first time about "The Place Beyond the Pines" quite a long time ago. Somewhere soon after "Drive" when somebody was saying on a forum that Ryan Gosling will redo his role, but on a motorbike. Time went over, the movie got an anemic initial release being an indie, but apparently managed to get enough interest to be distributed (in something like half an year) also where I'm located.
I didn't have high expectances, hearing that's either too long and boring, or that it doesn't have a beginning and an end, or that is overdramatized, and many others. To be read = somewhere in subconscious I was expecting to be pleasantly surprised. Well .. not really, but I can't say that it "invited" me to leave the cinema. I would prefer to say only this instead getting into more details about the subject, because I might have liked it better if I wouldn't have read a short review that gave away pretty much everything. I have to say though, not to leave it completely hidden, that the action idea starts with an attempt of a guy, the motorcycle rider above, to rebuild a life lived doing stunts, circus style, across the country. This comes after he finds he has a son in one of the cities he had been. The trailer is quite suggestive about how he tries to "straighten-up". About the role played in this by the other main character (Bradley Cooper), member of the police force in the respective town, I'll refrain from spoilers.
Probably the main plus is the cast. And I'll get over the names on the poster, and move to a secondary one - Ben Mendelsohn, who after "Animal Kingdom" and "Killing Them Softly", makes another exceptional complex role of a "law non-abiding citizen", apparently a pretty cool guy, but who in the end you don't know exactly where he's placed between malefic ( as in the deepest dark corners ) and just oportunist. For the rest, the movie is not bad. But for me it doesn't surpass the level of an ordinary life-drama. You could say fter you see it that's ok, that the story has also original parts which you don't see in every movie. Debatable .. There's nothing coming now to my mind, but I wasn't really surprised (and is not just to the fact that I've read the synopsis before seeing the movie). More, the idea that it doesn't have a head and tail is sort of true, especially regarding the tail. I don't know .. I still want to avoid telling too much, but it sort of fits even better on a real-life story that has nothing to show in the end except that life just goes on. My point is not that I would have wanted a spectacular ending or something like that (although to be honest although commercially, it would have probably raised the level of the movie ...), but .. I've seen/heard (and unfortunately also sort of lived ..) real life stories that are more .. "movie prone" than what we have here. At least the last part, which seems to a be an episode of a regular drama series, only that we don't have the following one to conclude the plot.
Rating: 3 out of 5
Saturday, April 20, 2013
I don't even know where to start from. The impression that 2013 is a good year for SciFi seems to be a good point, at least quantity related. "Oblivion" was the first released. It's good that not the last too ...
I have to admit that I was pleasantly impressed by the story. Even if the trailer gives enough info, it's far from giving everything, especially related to the twists in the movie. In brief, we have a pair - him & her - assigned for surveying Earth after a war which caused the evacuation of the entire population. Their role is to ensure maintenance for a set of protection drones which are programmed to eradicate what's left of the enemy resistance. Meanwhile, a series of extraction platforms gather the necessary resources needed to establish the new human colony. Other info: for security reasons, the memory of the two was wiped when they were sent to Earth, and their activity is monitored from a gigantic space station located on the orbit. That's all. I won't say more. Well, maybe just that it's not an action packed SciFi like "heroic fight against the alien invasion ; we win ; the end". No .. the story is nice .. there is romance, some nuances (relatively vague, it's true, but still there) of a psy thriller a la PKD, twists as I was saying. But, there's a problem ...
Actually, two. The script and the directing. I would be extremely critic towards the movie, but I'm stopped by the fact that the screenwriter an the director is also the story's author. So, for that we cut a bit from the guilt. To be fair, everything's rolling on pretty well up to two thirds of the movie. When I was starting to believe that I have chances to witness one of the best SciFi in the last years. Point where .. avalanche .. everything you can get .. cliche lines, dumb syncs a la Hollywood (pay attention to the last two drone attacks), inconsistencies in the action, overdramatized scenes, overacting ... everything. True, the mess is sort of saved by some twists, but these have also downsides (because they add to the inconsistencies - we have DNA tracking capacity from outer space, but to differentiate between a man and a woman at a distance of a few meters is impossible - it will get some sens when you watch the movie, and we have others). So ...
So, I'll try to give some credit to the story and imagine it's ending in another movie done properly :) As in with the ending written differently in the script. Because, as feeling for the first two thirds is after all one of the nicest SciFi's I've seen in a while. You have a dystopian air that gives enough intensity to feel it like a silence between two storms. A romance on top, which, as weird as may sound, remembered me of a scene in "The English Patient" (weird for a SciFi, but if the movie is able to get that from me has a subjective plus). And you have at least a twist which is not announced by anything, it's quite original, and hard to foresee .. but again, the script looks like forgetting it quickly enough after to cut almost all the added value ...
Rating: 3 out of 5