Sunday, August 23, 2009
INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS... I saw Quentin Tarantino’s latest flick last night, and I must say, it was a pretty good film. As a whole, that is. Before I get to the positive aspects of the movie, here are a few gripes I have about it:
-Inglourious Basterds at times felt like it was a film history course disguised as a World War II flick. The gist of some of the scenes: "Hey guys, I'm letting you know that old movies were once printed on lethal, explosive material that was projected at theaters! Google 'silver nitrate film' to know what I’m talking about! Oh, and look up 'Marlene Dietrich' on Wikipedia while you're at it."
-I obviously understand that Tarantino's signature trademarks in his movies are long scenes with witty dialogue in 'em. However, the long scenes in my opinion were only interesting when they dealt with German SS officer Hans Landa (who was terrifically played by Christoph Waltz. More on him later). The opening scene with him and that French dude at the farm was pretty intense. For other scenes with other characters, though, I was thinking, "Get to the f***in' point!"
-I was waiting for Mike Myers to break out with a "Yeeaaah baby, yeeaaah!" during his brief cameo. Though I will admit he still did a nice job keeping a straight face as the British general.
Now onto the positive parts:
-Christoph Waltz = A recipient of the Best Supporting Actor award next year (for both the Golden Globes and the Oscars)? His character may have had an extremely sudden change of heart at the end of the movie, but Waltz sure did an AWESOME JOB playing this Nazi "Jew Hunter".
-Brad Pitt totally kicks ass. He was amusing in the Oceans film trilogy by Steven Soderbergh, though I never saw The Curious Case of Benjamin Button last year. I was rooting for Pitt's Aldo Raine (a.k.a. "Aldo the Apache") to "kill some Nazis" whenever he showed up on screen. Carving swastikas into Germans’ foreheads was kinda cool too. And when he said he "wanted the scalps of a hundred dead Nazi soldiers", Raine wasn't joking.
-The guy who played Adolf Hitler should get props for his performance. Hell, everyone in the film should get props for making the movie feel more authentic with their all-out French and German conversations... They put the 'British-accents-on-Nazi-soldiers-'cause-Tom-Cruise-can't-speak-German-for-s**t' aspect of Valkyrie to shame.
-That was ONE COOL way of fictionalizing the end to the European front in World War II. Two Jewish "Basterds" blasting away at Hitler's corpse and hundreds of hapless German moviegoers inside that French theater = WIN. And what Aldo the Apache does to Hans Landa in the final scene of the movie = Another Win.
Thursday, August 20, 2009
SINCE I HAVEN'T TALKED about Transformers in a while, just thought I’d post these two funny pieces of artwork...courtesy of Matt Moylan on LilFormers.com. The original "Pokemon/Smurformer" comic strip can be found here. The original "Devastator & His Promiscuous Son" strip can be seen here. I came up with those titles myself. Have a good day.
Sunday, August 16, 2009
DISTRICT 9: The Review... I saw the critically-acclaimed sci-fi film twice this weekend (the first time I watched it was during a midnight screening on opening day last Friday. The second viewing was yesterday), so I think you can guess where this review is going. The movie was AWESOME. First-time feature film director Neill Blomkamp (with the help of Oscar-winning producer Peter Jackson) did a masterful job making a flick that was not only action-packed, but also carried a serious, intelligent message: If living beings from another world came to our planet one day, would we treat them the same way we occasionally treat fellow Earthlings who are completely different from us? With violence and extreme prejudice? District 9 handles this topic with intense and gory results. And I mean that in a positive way.
I’m not gonna do a full synopsis on District 9...since you can just read about the story online (or, um, watch the movie?). The main character, Wikus Van De Merwe, was superbly played by Sharlto Copley...a South African director/producer who made his debut acting performance in a feature film with this flick. If anyone accuses this movie of not having any character development, then that person is, how should I say politely, a friggin’ idiot? Not to spoil anything, but Van De Merwe goes from a bumbling pencil pusher at a shady security organization called MNU (for Multi-National United) to a figure who most decisively has a good reason to relate with the alien creatures—known derisively as prawns for their lobster-like appearances in the movie—whose ship settled over Wikus’ hometown of Johannesburg, South Africa 20 years earlier. Van De Merwe just wants to be a normal person and go home to his hot-ass wife Tania (played by Vanessa Haywood) at the end of the day, but fate has something else in store for him. Van De Merwe eventually has to team up with a prawn that goes by the name of Christopher Johnson, who along with his young son (Little C.J.?) has to recover a mysterious fluid that was responsible for Wikus’turn of fate, and is vital to Johnson saving his people after learning how they were treated by MNU outside the walls of District 9.
For a movie with a ‘mere’ $30 million budget, District 9 looked phenomenal. The FX work done on the prawns was well-done, and I just totally dug the scenes where you see the massive alien mothership hovering silently and ominously over the city of Johannesburg. I don’t want this to sound awkward, but am I the only one here who thought Little C.J. was, um...adorable? If you thought like I did, then you would feel more sympathy for Christopher Johnson (I’ll call him C.J. from this point on) because of his smart and heroic son who helped him on his plan to reactivate the mothership and start the process of freeing his people from their current predicament outside of Johannesburg. The rich characterization by C.J. and Little C.J. is testimony to the hard work done by several FX houses, including Peter Jackson’s own company Weta Digital...which also did the epic special effects for Jackson's The Lord of the Rings trilogy. If I would have to take a wild guess for the Oscars next year, I would have to say that District 9 should be vying for the Best Visual FX award...along with Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen and, um, G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra? HAHAHAHA! Just kidding about that last one.
Besides the alien creatures and the mothership, I also dug the FX work done on (Spoilers ahead) that robotic exosuit that Van De Merwe dons during the climax of the film...when he has to protect C.J. as he makes his way to his son and that alien shuttle that will take them up to the mothership. That suit reminded me of ED-209 from the first Robocop film, and the mech suits used during the 'Battle of Zion' sequence in The Matrix Revolutions. Speaking of Robocop, and Paul Verhoeven’s other smart action satire, Starship Troopers, District 9 had a lot of gory scenes like these two films. Most of that is attributed to the numerous shots of humans exploding whenever they were blasted by alien weaponry. The prawns are made to look pathetic as they wander around their squalid home in District 9, but me thinks that if they were in their home environment, with each of them armed with those large cannons that they casually exchanged for cat food during the film, then they would be to the humans what U.S. forces were to the Taliban in 2001. I’m talking about the war in Afghanistan, of course.
One last note before I end this review, the music in District 9 was pretty cool. But I think the African chant used by Hans Zimmer in Black Hawk Down (which you can clearly compare Neill Blomkamp’s film to, in a complimentary way) sounded a lot more unique. That is all. Along with The Hurt Locker, District 9 is the second best film I’ve seen this year...so far.
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
SO I watched Return of the Jedi (a.k.a. Star Wars: Episode VI) on Spike TV earlier today...and I forgot how utterly kick-ass a film from the original Star Wars trilogy is. The space battle above Endor... Luke Skywalker goin' berserk on Darth Vader in that climactic lightsaber duel onboard the Death Star 2... Emperor Palpatine goin' berserk on Skywalker with that Force lightning attack... Yep, Episode VI rocks.
Monday, August 10, 2009
DISTRICT 9... This Friday, Peter Jackson’s sci-fi sleeper hit of the summer will be released in theaters. I’m totally lookin’ forward to watching it. In case you’re wondering why I’m already labeling District 9 as a hit, it’s because it was made for 'only' $30 million, and it’s rated R. Considering the positive reviews that it has been getting (one reviewer said that it's Alien Nation meets Black Hawk Down... SWEEET), plus how awesome it looks in the movie trailers and TV ads (I know, I know— G.I. Joe also looked...fun in its TV commercials), I’m sure District 9 will easily make its money back. In terms of its rating, I’ve read online that the aliens have many interesting weaponry to blow the humans up with—so that’s an even more compelling reason to check out this flick. I don’t know the meaning of the word ‘sadist’... Haha. Anyways, I have 4 words and a digit before I end this journal entry: Neill Blomkamp for Transformers 3.
Sunday, August 9, 2009
THE HURT LOCKER... I saw the film yesterday, and I must say, it really is the best movie I’ve seen all summer. Actually, make that all year. The Hurt Locker reminded me of Black Hawk Down (yes, I know... DUUUH. They’re both, um, war flicks?) in that it conveyed nonstop suspense and intensity whenever we followed our three main protagonists (two infantrymen and a reckless bomb tech they have to protect) through the streets and desert of Iraq. In Black Hawk Down, of course, the film was one long street battle (I mean that in a good way) as special forces battled their way through the city of Mogadishu in Somalia to rescue fellow troops from a downed military chopper.
I’ve seen other Iraq-themed movies like Jarhead, Courage Under Fire and Three Kings, but The Hurt Locker feels the most realistic of them all. Of course, in Jarhead, we spend much of the movie watching Jake Gyllenhaal waiting around to see actual combat during Operation Desert Storm (which his character never did...since the 1991 war was already won through U.S. and allied air power by the time ground forces rolled into Iraq). In Three Kings, the story is obviously a lot more fictional as George Clooney, Ice Cube and company are too busy throwing around a football and going through the Iraqi desert searching for gold. Still... That was an interesting movie. I don’t remember much from Courage Under Fire since I saw that flick waaay long time ago. Did Meg Ryan get nude in that movie? No? Well okay, The Hurt Locker is a better film.
What makes The Hurt Locker even more exceptional is the fact it was helmed by Kathryn Bigelow. You heard right. Kathryn Bigelow. As in, a female director. Call me sexist all you want, but the fact a woman conveyed the most interesting and realistic action of all the military-themed flicks released this summer (Um, G.I. Joe and Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen?) speaks volumes. I mean, sure, G.I. Joke and Revenge of the Fallen are escapist flicks...but what does it tell you when Bigelow (who also directed Patrick Swayze’s Point Break and Liam Neeson’s K-19: The Widowmaker) pulled off a much better portrayal of the U.S. military than Stephen Sommers and Michael Bay did? Michael Bay had F-22 Raptors, B-1 bombers, Predator unmanned aerial vehicles, C-17 cargo jets and M-1A1 Abrams tanks to play with in Transformers 2. Bigelow merely had Humvees and a couple of armored personnel carriers at her disposal, and despite the fact we see U.S. soldiers constantly getting preyed upon by Iraqi insurgents in Locker, I would still find this movie interesting enough to get me to join the military. Which I wouldn’t. Just sayin'.
All-in-all, The Hurt Locker was great. This film better get some Oscar recognition next February...seeing as how it’s one of the best reviewed flicks this year (98% Fresh at RottenTomatoes.com). Would I say that Locker is even Best Picture material? ABSOLUTELY! Especially considering the fact the Academy is planning to nominate up to 10 films for the top trophy next year. Anyways... I actually got to see one of the bomb suits used in the movie at ArcLight Cinemas more than a month ago. Here’s a photo I took of it. That is all.
Saturday, August 8, 2009
VANESSA HUDGENS is at it again... So a few days ago, new nude pics that the High School Musical star apparently took with her camera phone for her, um, boyfriend Zac Efron leaked out onto the Web. Since that time, Hudgens’ lawyers have frantically been browsing the Net to have every blog and news site remove the photos (or else)—since they were allegedly taken when Hudgens was 17. Which means, of course, you’re a sick perverted pedophile if you bothered to search for the pics on Google. Despite the fact that if you did see the pics, you’ll realize that Hudgens looks a lot hotter in those images than she does in the ones (which she took when she was 18) that were leaked out in 2007. Ironically, she seemed to have lost interest in mowing the lawn (which I referred to in the link provided at the start of this entry) since it's trimmed in the recent photos but not in the ones shown 2 years ago. Um, I probably shouldn’t have typed that last part.
Anyways... It seems like this incident is more of a publicity stunt this time around...seeing as how Hudgens’ new movie Bandslam comes out in theaters next Friday (To Summit Entertainment and/or Walden Media: PAY ME, b*****s. I was kind enough to show the poster above). Which is the same day District 9 gets released. Darn you, Hudgens. So not only did she supposedly freak out when she discovered that Efron was hangin’ out with Megan Fox (Don’t worry Vanessa— They were probably chattin' and swoonin' over Brian Austin Green), but Hudgens is presumably worried that her next flick isn’t gonna do well at the box office. For someone who apparently enjoys being a nudist, Hudgens sure has confidence issues.