Sunday, 28 June 2009

Review: Blood: The Last Vampire

Year: 2009
Director: Chris Nahon
Screenplay: Chris Chow
Starring: Gianna Jun, Allison Miller

Despite only watching the Micheal Bay's eye rape a little over a week ago. Transformers: Revenge of the fallen isn't even close to worst film I've seen this year. Hell, it isn't even the worst action/adventure film I've seen this year. Right now that dubious title falls to either The Spirit or Blood: The last Vampire.

Based on a 45 min anime about an Demon assassin who appears to be the last of her kind (a vampire). This live action "adaptation" (lengthened to average feature film running time) gives our lead character Saya (played by Jun Ji-hyun) what the screenwriter believes is a back story. From what I'm told the beginning is a cropped version of the anime before the filmmakers decided that a cliched, thinly layered, half arsed teenagers idea of a screenplay is the way to go.

I don't dabble in Anime as much as much as I could, but watching hackneyed shit like this doesn't make me wanted to venture further down that route. Blood is so full of inexplicable plot moments that questioning them became futile. How do they know this? Why is she doing that? These story holes aren't little blips that can be easily avoided, but huge gaps in logic just waiting to bitchslap the intelligent viewer. Yes the running time is longer but the screenplay does nothing to explain any rhyme or reason to the bad action sequences given to us on the screen. I should have known not to trust the trite exposition scroll at the beginning of the movie.

But it's bad narrative is only a lead up to some truly woeful action scenes. Sequences that could have been entertaining are hyper edited by what one could only suggest is a speed freak overdosing on the last of his cheap wizz. I don't understand why we are consistently force fed action scenes that are almost impossible to see. Aren't we supposed to see the stunts and the choreography? Am I missing the point? Surely not. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon is full of superb fight scenes taken with stunning unbroken shots. This is supposedly by the "makers" of the former film but somehow holds none of the beauty of the earlier film. The makers look to be going for style over substance but clearly have none. So we are left with a garish, choppy movie that sets a viewer at a distance.

Acting wise the films actors are horrifically one note and dull and not worth noting in any shape or form. Although the lead actress Gianna Jun and the completely unnecessary Allison Miller are easy on the eye which make the garish look of the film bearable. God knows why Colin Salmon is in this, I believe that he has boat payments.

Chris Nahon's forgettable direction gives us a boring film which rolls from cliche to cliche at break neck speed. This is helped an insufferable script by Chris Chow which is full of stiff dialogue as well as the aforementioned basic story. A story which is cobbled together by elements of other (better) screenplays but with nothing to hold the narrative in any shape or form. Originality and freshness aren't in Blood's resume, neither is co-coherence.

I'm sure I could mention more into why I disliked Blood: The Last Vampire but I'm sure it would be as drining to read as the film as was to watch. It's clear that the film was rushed into development to try and ensnare anyone who may care about such a project. With more time and effort Blood could have been an interesting entry into the action genre, instead we get this. Ah well, Cest la vie.

Friday, 26 June 2009

26 June 2009 - A Day of Death

In a very bizarre day I discovered very late today that my Uncle's wife had past away in the U.S.

And with this I say my thoughts are with you Uncle.

Also today that Micheal Jackson and Farrah Fawcett have also passed on.

I'm not going to say too much about these people which have been said already. There is no point.

I will say however these people were true iconic creatures who brought happiness to those who followed them. From the infamous Farrah poster to The "king of pop" breaking the MTV Race barrier.


Monday, 22 June 2009

Review: Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen

Year; 2009
Director: Micheal Bay
Screenplay: Ehren Kruger, Roberto Orc, Alex Kurtzman
Starring: Shia LaBeouf, Megan Fox, Josh Duhamel, Tyrese Gibson, John Turturro, Isabel Lucas, Rainn Wilson

I don't shit on Micheal Bay movies for the hell of it. It's easy to do that. Anyone who states he's the "worst director ever!" can't have seen many movies. In fact he's probably one of the most unpretentious directors out there. Really? Yes really. He knows his target audience and makes films for them. Also who else is making action set pieces like him? The man has an inspired flair for blowing shit up.

But here's where I take issue with his rabid fans. The ones who say IGNORE THE CRITICS! IT'S JUST A MINDLESS ACTION FILM! I can't switch my brain off for movies, not because I don't want to or because I'm stuck up or anything. But because it doesn't make sense to switch your brain off and stare at a screen like a lobotomized monkey. I don't want to "mindlessly" clap like a seal at naff humor or gaze vapidly at things that go boom. Why pay money to "switch your brain off?" Some people do it. That's cool, but for me that doesn't make sense. The very best action films don't require "effort", but they're not stupid.

This brings me to Transformers 2: Revenge of the fallen. A film I didn't find engaging or fun in the slightest. I found it overlong, dull, lacks tension and empty. To say a Micheal Bay movie is like a video game is a something usually said by elitist film critics who don't play video games. However to me I felt like I was watching someone else play a video game. If I put on my Xbox (and soon a PS3) the game I'll play will entertain me because I feel part of it. Revenge however, isn't involving in the slightest. People/Robots do things and say things but none of it is very interesting. This is why story and character is needed, because usually an audience are entertained by a person with character. Unless of course you can "turn off your brain" which makes you an amazing human being worth filming yourself due to your defiance of logic.

The film becomes uneven because the actors with charisma and charm (John T and Shia LaBeouf being the strongest) are still vaguely appealing because they can do a bit with very little. Watching Lebouf riffing shows his talent despite have such a flat character. The same goes for the unnecessary part played by Turturro, a brilliant character actor who again takes up his odd little role as the (now fired) secret agent. There is no reason to bring this character up again but hey, a guy like Turturro must have boat payments or something. I would have enjoyed the film even more if the voice talents of Peter Cullen and Hugo Weaving were utilized more but the film is all about the titular Fallen. Now when you hear that this Robot is the master of Megatron I was thinking "Shit! This motherfucker is badass!" Unfortunately he's not, and for all the time spent talking about him...his presence is more vapid than a Megan "serious actress" Fox GQ interview.

But story and character is not important (Nor is acting if your a certain M Fox) so what about the action, action, action! The reason why you would watch something like this. Well this is another bane of contention with me as Bay's action is nothing particularity special. None of the set pieces have the ballsy bravura that was seen in parts of Bad Boys 2 or The Island. Am I the biggest fan of those two movies? Not at all, but there's moments within those two movies which are quite simply jaw dropping. Revenge of the fallen has a lot of action but none worth noting. Bay isn't a storyteller, therefore, these moments have nothing at stake, so I don't care. Watching a Transformers 2 action sequence is like premature ejaculation. All climax and no build up. But hey, you get this from the man who believes that spinning the camera violently around the main characters during a "quieter" moment is the best way to display tenderness on screen.

To add even more injury, the films screenplay (two of the writers wrote Star Trek!!?!?) is not only full of tinned eared dialogue but breaks almost what little amount of tension and atmosphere that was around with irritating comic relief. usually stemming from some of the dubiously voiced "lesser bots". If your not an ignorant "hip hop" (read: Black) robot with gold teeth who can't read, then your a sell out Italian gangster wannabe who humps the white goddess. But then maybe I should switch my brain off and stop taking it so seriously it's just a mindless action flick (wasn't the black robot in the first film the only one that died?)

An accurate representation of how Micheal Bay views all black people

I re-watched the first film yesterday after 2 years of avoiding it and found that although I softened to it more than when I first saw it. I was still disappointed at it it's uneven pacing, bland story and uninteresting action. This is even more of the same but worse because I've seen it all before.

This is merely one mans opinion, and this critic proof movie will blast it's way to the top of the box office and reap in a ton of money and as much as that's cool for everyone involved, it has a piece of me dying a little inside. Jaws was summer entertainment too, but it also had a story.

An accurate representation of how Micheal Bay views some black people after meeting me.

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Review Terminator: Salvation

Year: 2009
Director: McG (Dickish name)
Screenplay: John D. Brancato and Michael Ferris
Starring: Christian Bale, Anton Yelchin, Sam Worthington, Bryce Dallas Howard, Moon Bloodgood, Common, Helena Bonham Carter, Micheal Ironside

Plot (what there is of it) is here.

Terminator: Salvation reminded me of my favorite footy team Arsenal (shut up!) and their 08/09 season. Forth is well placed, respectable and better than most. However I'd rather be winning the league. That's the best allegory I could come up with and I feel it's better than the Christ imagery that is placed in this forth installment (it's laid on thick).

I've realized for a little while that the narrative within Hollywood blockbuster is slowly imploding in front of my eyes. Gimmicks (3-D, Imax and the like) are becoming the in thing and the executives are slowly beginning to get what they wanted: hyper edited, kiddy friendly (read: toy friendly) franchises which are more a series of moments than an actual full length story. I've realized this and I'm begrudgingly coming round to Hollywood's way of thinking. The days of Jaws, Star Wars and the like are gone. I get it and I'm almost kinda fine with it.

Terminator Salvation has no real plot and the tiny bit it has is shoved in right at the end to try and make people believe that the film makes complete sense etc. It's all very silly. Never the less McG succeeds in making a watchable sci-fi action movie that managed to keep my attention for the most part. Terminator canon is messier than a baby eating pasta sauce and T4 will not improve things. BUT and it's a big one here If you want good action, a ton of bravado and some smart effects McG is your man.

After a ludicrous prologue involving a prisoner named Marcus, T4 goes into full swing. jumping from action sequence to action sequence with unabashed pride. Memories of the pile of LSD fuelled piece of shit that was Charlies Angels 2: Full Throttle, left me extremely quickly. For me McG has matured as an action director and gives us some strong set pieces that would have Micheal Bay nodding in approval. You wanna blow some shit up? Ask the 'G' Man.

If only they had the writing to back it up. John D. Brancato and Michael Ferris (the writers of Catwoman...jesus) have taken on a franchise which unfortunately very difficult to continue on with. Despite the film blabbering about fate being in their hands and that, the roles have already been predetermined. In fact this and Rise of the machines (also watchable enough despite it's dubious tone) have cause a hellish timeline loop which has Kyle Reese (played in this by an energetic Anton Yelchin) royally boned. This should be an undetermined future for these characters however, the source material will not allow this. Why? Because of who they are. It's hard to see any thing happening to John Conner and Reese because like Wolverine, we know their future. Because of this, it's hard to truly love the good work McG has put forth. We kinda know they will pull though so why care? Take away the Terminator elements, a bit of re-tooling and we have a brand new franchise. Oh well.

Some of the other elements work better. Despite a hokey beginning, Sam Worthington's character of Marcus is a strong one. A man whose lost his sense of identity and is the only character who has more free will than the other supposed main characters. Worthington slips into the role well and I honestly didn't pick up on his Oz accent. it's a shame that the films marketing (and writing) ruins the film only interesting plot twist. Moon Bloodgood has a silly name but is an interesting side character who could be given given a good story in the sequel (not a spoiler as the fifth film is just waiting for a good box office report)

Christian Bale's display is harder to nail down. There's a lot of ballsy yelling but Bale's Connor is a very flat creature. However despite this odd lack of conviction, a mediocre Bale is better than well....a lot of actors. He still holds a hell of a lot of screen presence, which is more than I can say for Common and Bryce Dallas Howard...who can claim the crown of king and queen of non-entities (your pregnant...and? your fucking purpose?). Helena Bonham Carter and Micheal Ironside are placed in roles that pay the bills. Nothing spectacular but not shite. In fact Ironside is clearly channelling Jean Rasczak which is something I have no problem with.

Terminator: Salvation could have done with some story tweaks but the film is what it is; dumb summer action. When it's not shoehorning "homages" into scenes for no reason or trying to explain plot it's pretty damn watchable (if a little bit forgettable). When the fifth film makes it's appearance, it could do worse than having McG on board, who, despite having a stupid name, is competent enough to make a well paced (until the last third but that's a writing thing again) action flick which is for the most part fun. So much like Arsenal....pretty to look at but not a complete package. 4th is qualifies*.

*To those across the pond who don't "do" football.....It's means we get into the champions league.

Note: I'm am fucked off that both this film and Rise of the machines have rendered the death of Miles Dyson useless. Skynet's face should have been his for shitz and giggles.

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Trailers: Gamer, New Moon, Pontypool , Toy Story 3


In watching the trailer I could only think of two things; The running man and Avalon. The Running Man (The Stephen King adaptation with Arnie in) people may be aware of, but few may have heard of the bizarre, visually stunning (although a little dull) Japanese flick made in 2001 by Mamoru Oshii (creator of Ghost in the shell). Gamer reminds me alot of Avalon and that's not too much of a bad thing. However Avalon is a rather ponderous film with a pace that requires you to do a bit of thinking. Gamer (made by the nutters behind Crank) will probably leave that thinking nonsense to Stephen Hawking. Looks like stupid, derivative nonsense, could be a laugh.

New Moon:

Thank God these people are pretty....because they sure can't act! Like Harry Potter, the twilight saga only needs to have people that look good/like the characters to be successful. However while the potter books have interesting elements to them, The twilight films come across as fan fiction from a 13 year old who wants her panties wet. I did see the first film to see what the fuss was about...and found it to be quite a bore. Even if the movie is not aimed at me as the target audience it could have still know...entertaining. New Moon is more of the same. Robert Patterson straining his eyes and calling it acting while Kristen Stewart looks dumbfounded in every shot. Yes I'm being harsh on the teen movie but doesn't matter what i think. The film is critic proof and the fans will flock to see it even it was a two hour picture of Edward Cullen taking a shit. Each to his own.


After hearing a review of this on the filmjunk podcast I was more than a little intrigued about this film. I'm sure it will only get a limited review but the idea of people turning into Zombies because of language? Fucking weird but it gets me going. The trailer....meh, doesn't give much away, but it's a film that wants to play with the sub genre a bit...and there is nothing wrong with that.

Toy Story 3:

It's been 15 years since the first toy story and while that thought alone has got me wondering what I've fucking done with my life, it's also had me realize the power Pixar has had over the animated world. These guys are 10 for 10 and the Toy story movies are two of the brightest Jewels in their crown. Yes it's just a teaser but I can't see me having one once of hate for this one.